The last speaker of Audiosolutions I reviewed was Figaro M. You can read the full review here. The M story continues with the latest loudspeaker, which was added to the manufacturer's portfolio last year.
As always Gediminas Gaidelis, the CEO of Audiosolutions raises the bar in terms of price-performance ratio with every new loudspeaker. And as you can read on, it is no different with Virtuoso.
There is much to say about the Virtuoso line. Gaidelis always seems to find additional and additional material to make his proud creation sound different, special, and above all great-sounding.
So let me Cut to the chase and go straight to what makes the Virtuoso M so irresistibly different and interesting.
BOX -IN-A- BOX
Virtuoso and Vantage 5th anniversary share the box-in-a-box cabinet design. This system is based on an internal structure with extensive bracing that ensures the rigidity of the cabinet and controls primary vibrations generated directly by the drivers. This internal skeleton is clad with lightweight material to form an internal box. Lightweight walls have very low inertia and do not store energy. For this reason the ring properties of the inner box are very good.
The outer box is fixed directly to and above the inner box. By using denser material with higher internal losses, all high Q-peaks that can result from a light internal structure are we eliminated. The outer box works in tandem with the inner box and dampens each other outwards. Specially selected corner connexion points and shapes further increase the structural forces. The resulting enclosure has the same properties as aluminum or composite enclosures but does not add the high-frequency noise and harmonics that are common with this type of enclosure.
Virtuoso benefits from walls of varying thickness across the entire cabinet (bottom, top, rear, front, side). The materials of different thicknesses are used and they are combined so that each layer has different resonance frequencies. The combination of these different materials helps to dampen vibrations in these materials. A polyurethane adhesive layer between the layers has a thickness of 0.1-0.15 mm when cured and forms a unique layer that helps transfer energy from the walls to heat (absorb mechanical energy) and helps to dampen the entire structure comprehensively. The thickness of the front half of the side walls, the front baffle and the rear of the speaker (where the greatest influence of driver pressure occurs) is not the same along the entire circumference. It changes every centimeter. This technique not only gives a more pleasing appearance to a domed cabinet but also promotes even greater vibration damping when the driver is operating at high-pressure levels. Together with the "Box in a Box" technology, this technology forms a complex enclosure system that only a few high-end manufacturers can afford to produce.
ADJUSTABLE HARMONICS CROSSOVER
Virtuoso is equipped with a new type of speaker tuning device that includes three different crossovers in one speaker for selection. This system does not change SPL of the speaker nor the response, and should not be confused with room/system tuning devices where the output levels of the individual drivers are tuned. With Virtuoso, AudioSolutions decided to go one step further and use natural drivers' distortion patterns to manipulate the listening experience.
As is well known, all loudspeaker drivers exhibit some distortion over the entire spectrum, which is in line with the natural behavior of the driver. However, the distortion pattern of each driver is different, which makes each driver a unique sounding unit. This is why aluminum cone driver has a metallic-hard sound or ceramic diaphragm drivers have an analytical sound, or better yet, this is what makes two different violins sound different, especially in music this is called overtones and not distortion, but the origin of this phenomenon is the same. The pattern of different overtones creates a unique sound character in the instrument. This is why the same tone sounds different on piano and violin, i.e. by adding drivers to the speaker, a speaker system is created that has its own unique distortion pattern described by the characteristics of each driver. By manipulating crossover steepness of slopes different sets of distortion patterns that affect the sound as a different character (but not as a different tonality) can be created. This is a unique feature that gives us three different listening experiences without actually changing the characteristics of the speakers on the axis.
This is completely new to the market, but in the pro-audio industry (usually when mixing a track) these techniques have been used for some time to achieve the desired effects of drama, joy, calm and other emotions.
Let us look closer to the three different crossover profiles.
1. Balanced - this mode is a sweet spot with great musical clarity and an eerie sound stage.
2. Moderate - this mode is ideal for long listening sessions and times when the speakers are pushed to their limits, especially when listening to rock or metal. The continuous evolution of high-end audio components and speakers means that today's equipment reveals many imperfections in the recordings that can make them sound distorted, loud, and tiring to your ears. This is especially true for classic rock albums. The soft mode applies a technique similar to recording studios and manipulates distortion and very sharp nulls in the frequency domain.
3. Enhancednced - Activating this mode allows listeners to experience the finest musical details of their recordings. This mode is particularly well suited for quiet evening listening sessions when urban ambient noise is reduced and micro details in the music come alive. This mode can make the difference between simply listening to music and making an emotional connection to your music by prompting you to stand up and dance or shed a tear when listening to your favorite music.
All loudspeaker series from Audiosolutions are equipped with Mini Horn loading. This is a special treatment for soft dome tweeters. Soft dome tweeters are known for their high distortion when driven loudly.
The distortion increases exponentially because the middle part of the dome stops moving at certain levels and therefore the frequencies thus bend uncontrolled by the suspension. This is due to the soft nature of the dome. Some manufacturers use an "ark" over the dome of the tweeter with damping material that touches the center of the dome to dampen this unwanted bending.
The problem with such a system occurs at different listening levels. It is simply not linear because the force with which the center of the dome is rammed by damping material is fixed and does not change as the tweeter deflects. Others use some stiffening materials, such as titanium triangular struts glued to the dome, so this solution is far better, but also not flawless. Yes, it stiffens the structure, but gives it more mass and thus inertia of the dome, which affects the impulse response and sensitivity.
Moreover, this is quite expensive to produce with small tolerances, so the electrical parameters would not differ between samples. Virtuoso mini horn, on the other hand, is based on acoustic damping, just like ordinary horns. AudioSolutions carefully measure at which frequencies the tweeter starts to bend and emit an avalanche of distortion. Mini Horn is calculated and manufactured according to the desired specifications to attenuate these frequencies.
The result is the proportional damping of the movement of the tweeters. The louder the tweeter plays, the more damping it receives from its own radiated sound. This is called acoustic impedance and is strongly dependent on the shape of the mini horn. Another aspect is that Mini Horn increases sensitivity (because of the - horn) and not, as in previous examples, reduces sensitivity (because of the restriction of movement).
EXTENDED MID BAND
A human ear has unequal sensitivity to the audio band. We are less sensitive to low and high frequencies, which explains why old people with a hearing ability of 12kHz or sometimes even 10kHz maximum can still enjoy music. There is of course a psychoacoustic effect when the brain adds missing information, but that is another issue. Our ear is extremely sensitive to mid frequencies in the 1000-2000Hz range. It is explained by human evolution. In fact, most predators (or other potentially harmful incidents or events) emit sounds that are approximately concentrated at these frequencies.
|Those with appropriate amplification can also explore and enjoy bi-amping|
Mostly, manufacturers calculate transition points in exactly this band 1000-2000Hz, where our ear is most sensitive. Since each driver has a completely different spectrum of "additions", also known as distortions, we can actually hear that the transition from one driver to another and the resulting sound is somewhat unnatural, or as they say - sound has color, it's not neutral. Sometimes it can be tiring or even uncomfortable because of the sharp transitions, especially when a high order crossover is used.
This is one of the reasons why AudioSolutions has switched only to three-way loudspeaker systems - to avoid a crossover point in this 1000-2000Hz range. But three-way systems do not solve all problems. Yes, it shifts the crossover points a bit around this band. But in general, the upper crossover point is usually at 2500 Hz, 3000 Hz at most, and the lower point is usually at 700-800 Hz. AudioSolutions has specially designed Egyptian papyrus cones, introduced with the Vantage 5th-anniversary speakers. these cones have an extended operating range, are light and stiff, but at the same time they are not like full-range driver cones, which suffer from stiffness problems, and not like ordinary paper cones, which have an uneven response unless overdamped which is a wrongdoing in the first place. Designer Gediminas Gaidelis wants to get as far away as possible from this most sensitive region. The main question is, why avoid it? Put simply - apart from the negative effects of signal shifting between drivers, which has a different sonic character, all crossovers have an electrical phase shift, an acoustic phase shift in the crossover range, and give off increased levels of distortion that are audible. So why should this point be placed in an area where our ear is naturally so sensitive? AudioSolutions Virtuoso Speakers extended midrange covers the band from 500-7000Hz.
EXTENDED FLOW LOW TURBULENCE PORTS
A fully customized cabinet port is the pride of AudioSolutions. What might look like an ordinary port is in reality a true masterpiece according to Gaidelis. It took him several months to design a narrow but turbulence-free port that allows two woofers to "breathe" fully.
This opening has similar aerodynamic properties to an airplane wing, allowing the air to flow at very high speed with low surface friction. Turbulence is one of the main factors causing the noise of the opening, which can be heard as rumbling.
The wide opening of the cervix slows down the escaping air and reduces "hissing" noises. Carefully modeled geometry lowers surface friction, allowing air to generally move much closer to the port surface and make more efficient use of the available diameter.
Virtuosos like Vantage 5th anniversary uses very unique surfaces that you rarely see, and which seem to not been used by any other manufacturer. Its purpose is purely decorative. Although speakers are purely technical devices, they interact with our everyday lives. In the era, we are living the aesthetics of the speaker are as important as its ability to reproduce recordings.
SPECIAL TEXTURED PAINT
All loudspeakers from AudioSolutions used the same greyish color, which looks like a split stone surface. The color itself is highly scratch-resistant and above all - fingerprint-proof. The surface is resistant to acids and solvents, which makes it one of the most suitable surfaces for the end-user. It is very decorative and fits greatly in modern interiors.
These paints are produced especially for AudioSolutions in Germany, the city of Wuppertal, and consist of polyurethane varnish, crushed stone flour, and some coal. A complex mixture that looks good and wears perfectly...
AudioSolutions Virtuoso continues the legacy of all previous lines, but with an even more refined and somehow transparent character.
Although the Virtuoso M loudspeakers have a lively hearth, they also have a certain clarity, which makes them somewhat different in the portfolio. They are not particularly genre-specific but offer seamless enjoyment of all music.
Yevgeny Mravinsky St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos.4, 5 & 6 "Pathetique" album is a great help when it comes to the transparency and live feeling of an orchestra. I especially like "Symphony no. 5 in E minor, op. 64: I. Andante - Allegro con anima", in which the dynamics of the orchestra can be easily recognized. Under the direction of Mravinsky, the orchestra momentum spells with pace and sudden dynamics shifts were easily transmitted through the AudioSolutions Virtuoso M speakers
The most beautiful live track "Nocturne (Live)" from Julian Lage album Live in Los Angeles shines on a great system with speakers that can show the "real thing". If you are looking for a loudspeaker with the ability to reproduce a great sound, you will find a happy place at Virtuoso. Also "Nocturne (Live)" requires a proper formation of deeper tones as well as enough air to let the song blossom fully and to reproduce the necessary attitude to life and energy. Virtuoso was designed from the ground up with a clear focus on a good balancing act, and it shows. There is enough foundation in the low, middle, and high registers to allow for more than just an appropriate formulation of the "Nocturne (Live)".
"Stop Go Start (Live)" from the same album extends the drum and percussion battery. It takes almost three minutes for the song to develop and slowly introduces the remaining instruments. Virtuoso M is not shy when the call for complexity and spatiality is needed, and "Stop Go Start" plays without the usual dynamic restraint.
"Seven by Seven" from Dafnis Prieto the album Si o Si Quartet Live at Jazz Standard NYC confirms the Virtuoso dynamic ability as well as the ability to follow the tempi. Rhythmically, "Seven by Seven" is not exactly the easiest music to convey yet AudioSolutions Virtuoso M lets the groove easily develop and expand with the music in the forte.
"Pomelö" has shown that the virtuoso's clear musical focus was not a happy coincidence. Quartetto Minimo The album Pomelö creates a mirthful reality in which not only the performers but also the music easily reinhabit the space.
And talk about delicacies. I like the warmth and exponential musical feeling of Tatsuki Narita, Yun-Yang Lee from the album Ravel Violin Sonatas No.1&2. This piece was originally recorded on a 2-track 15 ips tape. The DSF files were transferred directly from the digital recorder with only metadata added.
This particular recording is one of those rare recordings that offer an unexpectedly high level of qualities that are appreciated in the analog field.
The three-dimensionality, natural warmth, immediacy, tone accuracy, credibility, and the feeling of being there are on a different level. Here, Virtuoso M has perhaps best revealed its true nature and allowed the musical drama to unfold unreservedly.
When music sounds right, it's not hard to make audio notes. The audio notes have their natural flow and it is easy to make a rounded summary.
But for music to sound right, it necessitates a suitable medium, a properly balanced system, and a potent transmitter that allows interactivity.
With Tatsuki Narita, Yun-Yang Lee Virtuoso M loudspeakers delivered the basic mechanism of the music exemplary good. This should be noted as an outstanding feature, that is too often overlooked with many of the speakers, regardless of the price tag.
Virtuoso M consistently refined and complex design allowed for a dynamic upper-level music reproduction with a bountiful and palpable sound palette that was more permeable than absorbent. The latter is all too often the case even with much more expensive speakers.
As with all loudspeakers submitted for review, the AudioSolutions Virtuoso M goes beyond the usual frontiers and above the common expectations.
Virtuoso M combines stylish esthetics with modern surfaces. Add a refined voicing and dynamic capabilities that are well suited for the audiophile and music lover of the 21st century, and the final result is a product that combines what market demands! Gaidelis seems to understand and listen to the industry input and applied the needed accordingly to the time and circumstances.
It seems a long time ago when Gaidelis passed by any traits of the newcomer territory and all the utensils associated with it. He establishes himself and his brand as one of the more forward-thinking speakers manufacturers with quite a following.
Virtuoso M is by no means cheap. Nevertheless, these loudspeakers have a long tradition. AudioSolutions was founded in 2011 and over the years Gaidelis has proven to be a highly qualified loudspeaker manufacturer supported by AudioSolutions' strong global distribution network and many satisfied customers around the world.
Over the years, AudioSolutions has introduced a variety of models and explored many concepts, which not only gave the designer a necessary playground to find the right materials, built-in parts, and yet the right voicing. It also allowed Gaidelis to fully explore his unique thinking and push his beloved creations beyond the expected standards.
As with all loudspeakers from AudioSolutions, the golden trinity of timbre, tone, and the color is more than well balanced. In addition, the Virtuoso removes a few more layers of covering by revealing the denser number of anchor points, giving further insight and a more diverse and richer sonic canvas.
While other loudspeakers I have heard from AudioSolutions so far have a pinpoint tuning and voicing direction that closely follows the natural, warm-dark nature of music, Virtuoso M explores this sonic direction even further. All the proven sonic qualities are there, but the Virtuoso M loudspeakers allow a new level of translucency.
There is nothing artificial about this newly adopted quality. It is only a matter of revealing the next level of transparency with additional clarity. Quite a feature!
With the adjustable harmonics crossover feature, Virtuoso M are not strictly bound to one type of experience. They allow further exploration of stand-out sonic performance, but with a subtle twist, that allows the right amount of safe tweaking, without destroying the original sonic raison d'etre.
Compared to the competition, the Virtuoso M loudspeakers offer an interesting high-quality tonal balance that is not accentuated. The bass, midrange, and treble are arranged side by side. This results in a more coherent frequency over the entire frequency spectrum.
Unlike many speaker manufacturers that have moved their production facilities to the east, all AudioSolutions loudspeakers are still proudly manufactured in Europe. In Vilnius, Lithuania to be exact.
AudioSolutions Virtuoso M loudspeakers are the result of conscientious craft. They come with instantly recognizable design codes, and unlike some of the high-end loudspeaker manufacturers, AudioSolutions does not sacrifice the benefits of technological progress in favor of market acceptance. Gaidelis has chosen to act proudly and courageously, and so far the market seems to follow and accept such a decision with a very successful result.
For what they represent in terms of sound and performance, I grant AudioSolutions Virtuoso M Mono and Stereo 2020 Upper Echelon Class Award.
As always, I am looking forward to finding out what Gaidelis keeps in and what he plans to reveal in the not too distant future. Stay tuned!•
- Dimensions (HxWxD) : 1240mm x 444mm x 621mm; 48.8 x 17.5 x 24.5in
- Weight : 75 kg/165 lbs each
- Shipping weight : 110 kg/220 lbs each
- Sensitivity : 92 dB @ 2.83V 1m
- Nominal power handling : 170 W rms
- Maximum unclipped power handling : 340 W;
- Impedance : nominal 4,0 ohms
- Crossover frequency : 500 Hz; 7000 Hz
- Frequency response (in-room environment) : 25-30000 Hz
- Drivers : 3cm silk dome tweeter, 16.5cm Hard Pulp paper cone mid, two 19cm Hard Pulp cone bass drivers