A few years ago I had the pleasure of auditioning a set of components from Elettromedia, the Hertz MLK165′s. I was quite impressed with the set, and now here we have the Audison AV K6 VOCE components from the same parent company. These components are a less expensive than the MLK165s were. At $699, compared to the $999 for the MLK165′s, the AV K6 VOCEs are significantly more affordable. There have been three years of development time since that last review, so I was anxious to see what had happened in that time as far as new technologies goes. I also wanted to see what these babies sounded like compared to their more expensive predecessors.
As I unpacked the box housing this nice looking set of components, I was greeted by a pair of attractive grilles made of perforated metal that should let all of the goodness through without any restriction. Also on the first layer of packaging I found a pair of 28 millimeter soft-dome tweeters that, according to the information I received from Audison, are made of a material called Tetolon, a combination of silk and cotton with a proprietary damping treatment said to provide low mass and resonance-free response up to ultrasonic frequencies. They use a Neodymium motor structure and a double-layer voice coil wound with very light Copper-Clad Aluminum wire for good transient response. These tweeters also employ a Rear Damping Chamber to extend the response to lower limits and reduce harmonic distortion. On the next layer of parts was the tweeter mounting hardware which will allow all the common mounting schemes to fit most any vehicle I can think of: surface, angled surface, and flush mounting. The tweeters also have a perforated metal grille that shouldn’t restrict their output.
Then there was the low frequency drivers for the system. These are a pair of 6.5” cast aluminum frame woofers with a four bolt pattern that fit my test boxes perfectly, meaning they use a standard dimension pattern as opposed to the multi-bolt patterns some of the competition uses. One interesting thing I noticed upon examination of the frames of these woofers is the aerodynamic shape of the spokes that support the motor structure. This shape helps reduce backwave reflections and the coloration such reflections can add to the sound projected from the front of the woofer. These drivers also incorporate a butyl rubber surround that’s pleated to aid in linearity of travel of the cone. Speaking of the cone, it’s made of a cotton-fiber pressed paper with a special damping treatment to help control breakup. The voice coil is a 30mm unit wound with copper-clad aluminum wire to provide high efficiency and great thermal dissipation. And there’s what’s called a radial venting system incorporating vents all the way around the frame where it meets the magnet that also aids in cooling. Another nice addition is the screw-equipped terminal to secure the speaker wire to.
The crossover point for the system is 2.5KHz at 12 dB and the system is rated at 125 watts continuous, 250 watts peak with an impedance of 4 ohms. There’s also a three-way level adjustment switch that allows settings of -2dB, 0dB, and +2dB for the tweeter in relation to the woofer. All of this is housed in an attractive plastic box with a viewing window so you can admire the beauty of the components housed within.
The installation manual for this set is pretty basic and generic but contains the necessary information needed to do a quality installation of these components, even for a do-it-yourselfer.
Installing these components into my test boxes was a piece of cake since the four-bolt pattern of the woofer matched the pattern on my boxes perfectly. This could be a problem if they don’t match the stock pattern in your vehicle, but any installer worth his salt will be able to overcome this minor inconvenience. These woofers aren’t overly deep and will fit the majority of applications in the real world.
The tweeters mounted very easily, too, as they come with all the necessary hardware to adapt them to most any application I can think of. Their small size is a plus too.
The crossovers are small enough to mount behind a kickpanel or under the dash of your vehicle so their adjustments are readily available to tune their response to your vehicle and your ears.
In summation, this should be an easy set of components to install in general.
Now on to the fun part, listening!
When testing these speakers, I powered them with an ARC Audio KS300.4v2 bridged to 2 channels for a total of 350 watts per channel. These speakers are rated at 250 watts per channel, so this way they’ll never see a clipped signal at any sane volume. My philosophy is, just like in a car, there’s no such thing as too much power. It’s how you use it that counts!
The source unit was my old standby, a Denon R1 CD player with the tone controls set to flat. This unit has served me well since I started doing these reviews back in July, 2005. It’s an oldie, but still a goodie.
The boxes the speakers were mounted in have a volume of 1.25 cu.ft. each, sealed, loosely stuffed with polyester fiberfill; and they’re positioned on-axis for all but the off-axis portion of the test, and sit six feet apart. I sat in the “sweet spot” eight feet back and right between them. For the off-axis portion of the test, I canted them inward approximately 45 degrees.
As far as tweeter attenuation, after trying all three choices, -2dB, 0dB, and +2dB, I ended up setting them in the 0 dB position. This was the best sounding of the three to my ears.
GRP All-Stars Big Band, “Senor Blues”
This jazz piece starts with some drum work on upper and floor toms. The Audison speakers rendered the sound quite naturally, with good attack and the proper low frequency content to the toms. The drums are followed by the entrance of the piano and the natural sound continued as the sax/trumpet ensemble made their debut. All this happens in a very progressive manner until the much louder entrance of the full brass section, where there’s a good separation of the full instrumentation of the band. It didn’t get muddled as the sound got more complex, and the crystalline sound of the cymbals added just the right touch of spaciousness to the mix. At this point, things get quiet as a solo flute starts to play. The flute is very closely mic’d and had the appropriate airiness and, again, sounded quite natural without being harsh. The walking bass line accompanying the flute also sounded good with reasonable low-end extension. The lack of a subwoofer caused the bass to sound slightly thin. If these speakers were installed in a car with a sub and the transfer function of a small space, I would have to say the sound would probably be quite satisfying. The piano solo that starts at 2:15 also sounded like it should without any notes “biting my ears”. Even when things on the recording are loud and brash, there was no breakup or discernable distortion. All in all, quite a commendable, above-average performance. Score – 7.5/10
Dire Straits, “Sultans of Swing”
This is an old standby of mine because their music is almost always impeccably recorded and because Mark Knopfler is an incredibly talented writer/performer. On “Sultans of Swing” the group sounded almost as though they were performing live in my living room. The drums and cymbals sounded particularly good, just as they did in the previous selection, with a very nice, sparkling effect to the cymbals. Mark’s voice could have been a little more forward in the mix, but it was hard for me to decide if this is the fault of the speakers or the recording. The guitars had a live-sounding presence that gave the recording a realistic sound. The stage had very good depth and breadth. If there was anything that detracted from the realism of this recording, it was the fact that the lower bass lacked somewhat,
but I have to go back to my previous comment that when installed in a car, with a subwoofer, this would be a non-issue. Overall, Audison has done what appears to be a pretty good job in the design of these drivers. Score – 7.5/10
Dixie Chicks, “Landslide”
I know what some of you are thinking right now. What the heck is he doing testing these speakers with country music? Nobody listens to that stuff. Well, there must be somebody out there listening to it or there wouldn’t be so much of it being sold! “Landslide” starts with an acoustic string ensemble that was rendered here beautifully. It sounded very realistic, with very nice separation of the various string voices. Each instrument was easily identifiable while blending seamlessly. One thing I noticed on the opening is that the sound of the bass was considerably more robust on this recording, something I didn’t expect, which was a pleasant surprise. When the sisters start to sing together you feel like it’s obvious they’re siblings, as the voices blend in a way seemingly possible only for family members, and the Audisons captured this trait faithfully. Following the vocal ensemble, there’s an instrumental verse that also sounds very good, with natural timbre of the strings and a full bodied sound with good spatial effect. Again the VOCE speakers reproduced that well. When things get quiet in the song, the detail wasn’t lost and the imaging stayed in the correct position with virtually no wandering. Kudos to Audison! Score – 8/10
Keb’ Mo’, “Perpetual Blues Machine”
This was an easy choice for this category. Keb’ Mo’s rich, throaty voice can send chills down your spine when played on a good pair of speakers. I was eager to hear what these Italians could do with America’s original music. “Perpetual Blues Machine” is a minimalist recording utilizing only an acoustic guitar, Keb’s voice, and a harmonica in one verse. The selection starts off with a guitar intro and the Audisons did a fine job of replicating the sound of the guitar right down to the sound of Keb’s fingers on the strings and fretboard. You could hear obviously the hollow body of the guitar. When he starts to sing, the robustness of his voice shone through convincingly with all the appropriate weight and emotion intended. In other words, he sounded like the incredible blues singer he is! The harmonica solo was rendered with all the realism I could ask for and it was placed in the correct position relative to the guitar. There was also a good sense of space conveyed by these Italian drivers. Nothing was lost in translation on this all-American genre of music. Score – 7.5/10
Vivaldi, “Flute Concerto in D"
I chose this beautiful piece for my classical music selection. This piece starts with the full orchestra and conveys the sense of great spaciousness. With the Audisons there was a reasonable sense of the ambience of a large hall and I could discern the positions of the various sections of the orchestra, i.e. the violins, cellos, contra basses, percussion, reeds and brass. When the solo flute made its entrance, my attention was focused on this single player as the rest of the orchestra dropped out. The detail of the flutist’s breathing and even the sound of the pads of the flute opening and closing was evident, in addition to the realistic airiness of the flute. When the orchestra re-entered, the fugue between the solo violin and the harpsichord was portrayed very convincingly. The interplay between the flute, harpsichord, and violin was a true pleasure to behold, and there was s a realistic weight and thickness to the sound of the lower voices in the orchestra that I hadn’t noticed on all the tracks I sampled for this review. Image stability and positioning were very good, especially considering the complexity of this selection. All in all, a very fine performance. Score: 8/10
This audition was truly a pleasure, as these components sounded very good, especially for their price! I was impressed with their imaging and natural sound on the majority of the material I used to test them with. There was also very little compromise when they were mounted off-axis, and this is the orientation they’ll find themselves in for most of their intended applications. It’s no wonder that Audison received EISA’s (European Imaging and Sound Association) award for best in-car speaker system (for more information on that, visit the “AWARDS” area on the Elettromedia website). If you’re shopping for new front stage speakers, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with Audison’s VOCE component set.