Audiovector Factory Tour

Audiovector Factory Tour

Audiovector invited the Kronos AV Team out to their new factory in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was an essential trip, not only to see around the new factory, but also to get training on the new R Series range of speakers!

 

2020 got off to a great start for a few of our staff as we got to visit Audiovector in Copenhagen in Denmark. This was not only for product training but we were one of the first dealers to get a tour of the new factory & get a full breakdown of the brand new R Series Speakers.

 

This was my first visit to Copenhagen ( I had been to Denmark before but it was in the far North to visit the Jamo factory and it was quite a few years ago) so I was looking forward to not only seeing the Audiovector factory but also Copenhagen itself.

 

We arrived quite late on a wet dreary Monday evening so we didn’t get to see much of the City on the way to the hotel. Tuesday was also wet but weirdly much warmer than we expected. We were told that temperatures were significantly higher than normal. We drove

though some of the city on the way to the factory and it looked very nice, there were canals and in the City centre there is a large outdoor amusement park with cafes which are open all year round.

The Factory is about 30 minutes by car outside the city and is in a built up industrial area. I’m not sure what I was expecting as the outside of the building looked pretty much like most industrial buildings.  However inside it is seriously impressive, with Audiovector taking up two stories, with the warehouse and the QR speaker assembly on the ground floor and offices, showroom, demo rooms, canteen and assembly area for the SR6 & R series speakers all on the first floor.

On the floor above there is a cafe which serves multiple clients in the entire building.

The first thing that strikes you is that everything is very clean, open plan and uncluttered (very Scandinavian) with minimal fuss. Even the assembly areas for the speakers are pristine, no clutter and everything is clearly labelled and in its place. Its almost like a medical facility and unlike a few other manufacturers I have visited which were considerably less impressive.

While I appreciate this is a new facility for Audiovector, as the photographs and videos which accompany this article will show, the factory exemplifies the standard which Audiovector strive to maintain in the quality of their products.

 

Many of the Audiovector models sit on display around the factory, demonstrating the vast range of options, but also some of the stunning custom finishes you can have commissioned.

 

The first morning was spent with a complete tour of the facility which showed the full manufacturing and assembly areas, the warehousing and the general offices and showroom. We were welcomed by Martin Dunhoff the UK/ European Sales manager and also by Mads Klifoth the CEO and his father Ole Klifoth the designer of all the speakers and company founder.   We had a general run through of all the model ranges which are of course on display in the showroom including the statement R8 and R11 speakers which have to be seen in the flesh to really appreciate them. The photographs really do not do them any justice.

 

During this time we were taken through the assembly area, and Martin explained exactly how each speaker is built and assembled, and allowed us the opportunity to actually watch speakers been assembled from scratch. Although we weren’t actually able to watch an entire speaker being constructed, as it easily took 1-2 days for one person to completely assemble a pair of speakers, which is amazing in this day of age, to see a craftsman build a speaker from scratch for a customer to their specs is something special, especially as many of their speakers are a very reasonable price.

I know many companies talk of “hand made” products, but with Audiovector that is really the case. It is not built in foreign countries and then screwed together in the Audiovector factory, with a PR Team cleverly wording it to sound good, with Audiovector it is built in the Audiovector Factory from scratch!!

 

One thing we should mention at this point is that Audiovector will only allow an employee to assemble or build a speaker once they have been with the company for a minimum of 2 years, in order to complete training. With this in mind, one employee we met used to work for AMG Mercedes (so not a bad CV to begin with) but again he had to go through two years of training before he was allowed to build any speakers. This may sound a little bit extreme, however when you see the quality and attention to detail, as well as the fact everything is made in front of your very own eyes, you understand why they do it this way, because the expectation is that high!

 

The absolute epitome of this was watching one of the Arette tweeter being built from scratch. We were able to watch as the tweeter was built piece by piece, all hand soldered and tested right in front of our eyes. We were then able to see the drivers being tested, both by testing machinery, but also by ear, which we thought was fantastic, as at the end of the day, its your ears that judge these speakers, and Audiovector weren’t happy to see the driver was within specs on a  computer screen, but it must be verified by human ear as well (and again one of the reasons so much training is expected) to make sure the driver was at the exact specs that Audiovector designed it to be. Cabinets were being polished to perfection, with the employees pointing out things they weren’t happy with to us (hence the continued work) which truthfully I couldn’t see. Thats the level this company works too! The finish on any of the speakers is stunning, and the cabinets in their “raw” finish are almost perfect to begin with. Being able to see the crossovers, drivers, and tweeters being assembled and built, as well as the attention to detail they go to when adding the dampening inside, polishing, checking really begins to help you understand exactly why these speakers are as good as they are. It all makes total sense now!

 

Crossovers are hand built in the factory

Finished cabinets are stored, ready for assembly

Speakers are being prepared with each employee building each speaker personally

The AMT Arette tweeter being assembled by hand...

Left: The tweeters and crossovers are all assembled and built, before everything is each set is tested together to make sure they all work perfectly in harmony with each other.  

Right: The finished outer plates are created, ready to be joined to the handcrafted tweeters.

Left: The completed speakers are stored, ready for despatch to countries around the world.

Right: Martin from Audiovector shows David several of the different finishes available, and explains how they are produced.

Here you can see several cabinets which are now ready to go for lacquering to receive that amazing gloss finish...

 

Here you can see an employee doing a final test of a set of R1 Arette Discreet speakers, before they got o final polishing, followed by packaging and despatch.

Here are several of the Arette tweeter which had been created by the previous day...

The main assembly area, located right in the heart of the first floor.

 

After lunch we sat down with Martin to listen to the QR speaker range consisting of the QR1 standpoint speakers and two floor standers the QR3 and the brand new QR5 models. We were familiar with the QR1 (£999) and 3  (£1800) models but this was the first time we had a full demonstration of the QR5 (£3000) and very impressive they are too, easily eclipsed the performance of the two smaller models. The QR3 are unusual in that they all use a AMT ribbon tweeter ( Air Motion Transducer) which is very unusual at the price. The midrange and bass units are manufactured specially for Audiovector as well however the tweeter can go up to 43Khz. Obviously while you cannot hear anything close to that frequency, it is an incredible achievement from a  tweeter at this price point, and eclipses most of the competition.

 

 

Martin explained that most dome tweeters especially metal dome tweeters distort around 20Khz and this distortion is translated as brightness whereas the Audiovector speakers won’t distort and therefore sound sweeter and more musical while still allowing great detail retrieval.

On the new R 1 and 3 series speakers and at this point Ole Klifoth came in and explained the improvements between the older SR models and the new R models. There are no fewer than 146 changes Ole explained so the new R series speakers use a lot of the technology in the reference R8 and R11 models. The tweeter is virtually the same one they use in the R8 model (£54,000) and the mid range drive unit is now carbon fibre with a new basket and the bass unit is also updated. The crossovers are improved and upgraded and even the cabinets which look similar have different front panels and rear panels. The biggest upgrade is in the Arette models which now feature grounding technology which really makes a huge difference to the sound especially at the frequency extremes. We gained a huge amount of knowledge about both the products and the company from Ole which is very helpful when you are selling his products because you can explain why their speakers are different and more importantly why they sound so good. It’s also refreshing in these days of mass produced speakers coming from China that you can buy hand crafted speakers from a family company which are made and assembled in Denmark by craftsmen at prices which are very competitive. Most customers who are buying so called British speakers don’t even know that the majority of them are Chinese or Indian owned and are now produced for the most part in China.

We ended the day having gone through all the R1 and R3 ranges which we knew well from demo models in the shop it was still interesting to hear all about the designs and the company from the designer and founder. That is something that you can’t get from reading brochures and reviews.  Many customers will also know that you can buy one model in these ranges and upgrade it to a higher specified model. That is something quite unique to Audiovector.

 

We were then taken out to dinner by Martin, Mads and Ole and we had a fantastic meal in a traditional Danish restaurant in the centre of Copenhagen.  Walking though the city it is very nice particularly the areas round the canals which I assume are attracting the most tourists. The Danish Royal Family also live in Copenhagen which would also be a large tourist attraction.

 

Left: The brand new QR5 which is the latest addition to the QR Range, being demonstrated with Primare Electronics.

Right: The Limited Edition SR3 Arette RAW speakers, limited to only 100 pairs, all of which have now been sold!

Left: The reference R11 Arette features 8 rear firing bass drivers, covered by a CNC Machined aluminium grill.

Right: Ole, (designer & founder) with the R8 Arette speaker in the custom Porsche Blue Finish, demonstrated with Griffin Electronics.

Left: Mads, David, Ole & Martin enjoyed a meal in a traditional Danish restaurant

Right: A small cafe style area for relaxing in the Audiovector factory

 

The following day we were treated by Ole and Mads to the high end speakers, the R8 and R11. As I mentioned earlier while I have heard the R8 at the Munich High End Show nothing prepares you for listening ( and seeing in the flesh) these speakers. They are stunning both sonically and visually.  Sometimes with high end audio products it is difficult to justify the prices however both the R8 and R11 models buck that trend. These are among the best loudspeakers I have ever heard and everyone was captivated by the sound. We have the SR6 Avantgarde models in the shop and at £16,450 they are not exactly cheap but the R8 are at a different level. The blue pair we listened to were absolutely beautiful and the photos we took do them no justice, the quality of the finish was sublime. Likewise the R11 in the Gloss Walnut finish were equally impressive.

One of the amazing things about Audiovector is that they will do custom finishes and the quality of these is amazing. We have already supplied SR3 in Italian Gloss Grey and R3 in a special Porsche blue to two customers who are delighted with them. In these days of mass produced products the fact that you can have a pair of hand built speakers in almost any finish you want is quite unique and a great testament to Audiovector.

 

The R8 speakers retail for £54,000 which is a great deal of money however in my opinion they outperform many more expensive models from other manufacturers and they are one of, if not the most attractive speakers I have even seen.

I was a bit apprehensive about the R11 as their price of £171,000 is quite frightening and I did not think that it would be possible for them to be that much better than the R8. WRONG - while I cannot say in all conscience that they are three times better than the R8 they are significantly better in a few areas, particularly the bass extension ( they have eight bass drivers in the back of the speakers) particularly from such a slim speaker. The midrange was also a little more open and the R11 feature two AMT ribbon tweeters so the top is even more open but with no hint of brightness.

Several tracks including Lou Reid’s Walk on the Wild Side were played and they were absolutely amazing, I was hearing things that I had not heard before. There was a percussion track where you could tell what part of the cymbal the drummer was hitting and how hard he was hitting it.

There are times a Hi Fi system produces a sound that is so lifelike that you feel the artist is in the room with you and you feel the music almost like a palpable presence. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up and it feels like you are at a concert because the music produces an emotional reaction. Listening to the R8 and R11 evoked that for me and I cannot give anything a higher recommendation that that.

If you ever get the chance to hear either of these speakers I urge you to do so and I hope you get a similar reaction to the one I felt.

As we had to catch a flight on Wednesday night that concluded out visit but it certainly ended on a high note.

If this feature has interested you come and have a listen to the QR and R models in either of our stores, they are well worth a listen.

Thanks to everyone at Audiovector particularly Martin, Mads and Ole who all looked after us so well. We also must give a mention to Birthe & Jeanette in the office, who are absolutely fantastic and always helpful! The visit certainly reinforced our admiration for both this company and their speakers which are a favourite of many of our staff and our customers.

 

Finally I have not mentioned until now what the rest of the systems we were listening to were as this is an Audiovector feature however the electronics in the smaller demonstration room was Primare and in the larger room was Gryphon, both Scandinavian companies and both are excellent products. However we were delighted to notice that they were also using Titan Audio mains cables ( another of our favourite cable brands) in their demo room.

 

Left: Several of the different R3 models are on display, as well as the fantastic R Series Subwoofer!

Right: The R8 Arette, in a custom Porsche Blue, which has to be seen in person to be appreciated

Left: Several offices and conference rooms in the factory around the main assembly area

Right: Titan Audio mains cables are used in the Audiovector demo rooms!