Audiofilia make a range of loudspeakers, electronics and accessories, here Dominic Marsh tries out the Italian company’s AF-S6 floorstanding loudspeaker that costs € 6160.

Audiofilia are an Italian company specialising in loudspeaker and electronics manufacture, founded in 2011 by Alessio Paolizzi and Francesco Stocchi.  The unique feature of this company’s loudspeaker lineup is their “S System” which the company claims tackles head on the problems associated with cabinet resonances, which I have no intention of explaining, but it will be mentioned in the review body.AF_S6reviezpics

CONSTRUCTION

The pair of loudspeakers submitted for review were the AF-S6 model, large three and a half way floor standers.  Natural wood finishes are also available, as are piano gloss black and white.  I must also mention that the supplied speakers were fitted with the optional (at extra cost) Fountek ribbon tweeter rather than the standard issue dome tweeter.  The remainder of the drive units are sourced from Morel which already intimates this isn’t going to be a “budget” speaker by any means, rather one that certainly has aspirations towards high end sound quality.  Unusual too in this day and age is having a domed midrange driver fitted.  I still don’t understand why this driver isn’t as popular as it once was, as it helps to avoid critical crossover points in the upper midrange.  Cabinet loading is by a front mounted reflex port.

These are substantial cabinets weighing some 20-odd kilograms each and fitted with Audiofilia’s own design of feet, which they say should not be replaced by spikes, or placed on plinths.  No doubt, but my listening room has thick carpets and a thick underlay beneath that and these speakers almost swayed around like a palm tree in a hurricane, so despite Audiofilia’s best advice, some thick solid Oak slabs went underneath which increased stability hugely, yet still allowed a small amount of movement.  At least I could relax during the listening sessions knowing that the speakers weren’t going to topple over at any minute.  The speakers arrived without any jumper links fitted, so I pressed into service a set of pure silver jumpers that I keep in a spares drawer for just such eventualities.

The cabinet is built with Audiofilia’s “S System” which is designed to harnesses the drive unit’s natural vibrations to generate a “hybrid waveguide” of a pneumatic nature, which interacts with the air flow and pressure inside the cabinet by accelerating or slowing it until a precise point, previously set in the design phase, is reached.  It is akin I gather to a piano’s or violin’s body, whereby the strings excite the whole instrument so it is the wood itself not the strings themselves which creates the sound that we hear, hence why Stradivarius violins and Steinway pianos are not made of concrete.

One last thing to mention before I move onto how these speakers sound and that is I was told they needed around 400 (Yes, that FOUR HUNDRED) hours of running in before old Dominic’s ears could even begin to assess their sound qualities. And that was on top of three other components with similar break in periods at the same time.  Gulp!

SOUND QUALITY

It is not easy “ignoring” speakers for 400 hours or so and then turning your attention to them.   They do however run in exponentially as most other speakers do and after around 80 hours or so the rate of change decreased so I could at least hear what they were capable of at that point without analyzing them too deeply.    Even at that milestone I could formulate a good take on what they were capable of and I wouldn’t say they were a “Hifi” sounding speaker full of verve and fireworks to grab your attention and I’d say they were rather grown up and sophisticated in fact, consistent from the lowest octaves right up to the highest treble, with no peaks or troughs along the way.  It is that very sophistication in sound that draws you into the music, so deep that you become totally immersed in it and the listening time just seems to fly by without you even realising it.  One could be forgiven then for assuming they are a rather mild or polite kind of speaker, but trust me they can produce fireworks when you ask them nicely and my listening tests will demonstrate that, so bear with me.AF_S6-02

They are not a power hungry speaker by any means and I drove them easily with a variety of amplifiers ranging from an EL34 valve amplifier from Fezz Audio, a compact streamer/amplifier from Cabasse, the Aaron “The Chrome One”, a diminutive little TAGA valve/hybrid amplifier, plus of course my resident amplifier and all produced a sound I could easily live with, so matching them to amplification of whatever persuasion shouldn’t prove to be difficult.

As my regular readers will know, I don’t generally listen to orchestral or jazz music, but the Audiofilia speakers simply begged me to play some through them.  In to the CD drawer then went my trusty old compilation CD that has around 15 or so excerpts from well known, popular orchestral recordings.  I particularly enjoyed Eric Satie’s “Gymnopedie”  played on a Concert Grand and the luscious tonal palette produced by that instrument had the hairs on the back of my neck bristling.  PHEW!  I can though now understand how orchestral aficionados get so energized by listening to this kind of music, as performed well it has a lot going for it – but still not for me and my classical excerpts CD is plenty enough for me.

Jazz isn’t my thing either, but I will admit to liking Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” occasionally and some while ago I transferred the direct cut recording “A Cut Above” vinyl to CD when I sold a turntable, so I could at least enjoy the dynamics of this recording for the times when a turntable didn’t grace my system (I used to change them frequently).  Anyway, the drum solo in Take Five is something else and if there ever was a recording with no compression and big fast dynamics, then this was it.  The Audiofilia AF-S6 speakers certainly could kick up a dust cloud when required to and however much I turned the volume up I couldn’t detect any signs of distress from them.  There are some drum rolls and snare drum strikes in this recording that can certainly make speaker drivers jump around  and if you, like me, revel in fast transients, this recording will no doubt please.

Down to the nitty gritty when I finally hit the four hundred hour mark in the running in process and the gloves were then off and the real evaluation process began.  In to the CD player went Porcupine Tree’s “Deadwing” album which is a raw, uncouth recording that either sounds rough and ragged, or smooth as silk and it is the kind of sound that shows up a speaker’s true characteristics.  The Audiofilia’s, much to my surprise, managed to walk along the hair’s breadth sized tightrope between revealing all the harshness this album contains that makes it a real wince listen, filing off the rawer edges to make it at least tolerable to listen to.  Had they rounded everything off and made it sound smooth, pleasurable and musical, I would have been concerned.drivers

Of course, the stock reference recording had to be played and Fink’s “Wheels Beneath My Feet” live album was inserted into the CD player so I could really get to grips with the AF-S6’s sonic palette.  The opening cymbal strikes in “Biscuits For Breakfast” didn’t quite muster the sheen and polish from my resident speakers (Russell K Red 100), the shimmer of the cymbal was there, but without the level of refinement I have been accustomed to.  We are talking a very subtle effect, but noted nonetheless.  Ambience cues from the venue were well conveyed though and the audience was heard without any “shooshing” sounds and I could pick out individuals easily.  Kick drum had a firm pounding crisp beat to it and I could tell a hard beater was being used.  Snare drum rims shots came across very realistically, so good marks there.  Fink’s voice can sound rather nasal on this track with some speakers, but thankfully the  AF-S6’s managed to avoid that, so again good marks there.  Moving on to the “Sort of Revolution” track, this has some very powerful strikes to the Floor Tom on the drums and this is my test for bass control.  Yes, the force and power must be relayed, but I also want to hear a good clean leading edge and no overhang, yet still be able for it to make me feel the energy being released in the pit of my stomach, like a mule kick.  No problem with any of those criteria from the AF-S6’s.  Throughout this album I should be able to hear the different reverb and ambience cues from each of the venues the album was recorded in and this wasn’t as easy to determine with these speakers as clearly as I can from my resident speakers.  I could hear them, but I had to work at it rather than let the speakers do it for me.  Contrary to that though, the sound staging was impressive, being well out beyond the speaker boundaries and with good depth too.

CONCLUSION

All in all then, a good performance from these speakers with only one exception.  It seemed to me that the tweeters were reaching high up the frequency range, but at the very top end they lacked the absolute power, clarity and resolution I was expecting from the ribbon tweeter, which I felt was ever so slightly rolled off.  That can be a blessing of course, depending on partnering equipment where that silkiness at the very top end could be beneficial.  It didn’t offend me as such and if you asked me if I could live with these speakers full time the answer would be in the affirmative, as overall they gave a fine performance with many genres of music, especially so with acoustic, classical and jazz where the speakers gave of their best.   With that small proviso, I will give them a recommendation and an audition is well advised before purchase.

Build quality: 8.3/10RECOMMENDED LOGO NEW

Sound quality: 8.9/10

Value for money: 8.6/10

Overall: 8.6/10

Price at time of writing 6160 Euros

 

Pros:

A good solid all round performer with no major vices.

Cons:

A slightly rolled off upper treble – could be beneficial in some systems

 

Dominic Marsh

SPECIFICATIONS

Drive units: 2x woofer 6”, 1x dome midrange 2”, 1x dome tweeter 1” (or ribbon 1,5”)

Tecnology: “S” system transverse channeled

Type: 3½ way Reflex

Frequency response: 16Hz – 25kHz (or 40kHz) +/- 3db

Sensitivity: 90 db SPL (1W 2.83V / 1m)

Harmonic distortion: < 0,9% 63Hz – 25kHz (or 40kHz)

Impedance: 8 Ω

Recommended amplifier power: 3W / 200W

Dimensions: H 1100 x W 200 x D 380

Finishes: Wood or Lacquered

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