Arendal Sound 1723 Monitor THX Loudspeaker Measurements & Conclusion
The Arendal 1723 Monitors were measured in free-air at a height of 7.5 feet at a 2-meter distance from the microphone, and the measurements were gated at a 10-millisecond delay. In this time window, some resolution is lost below 250 Hz and accuracy is completely lost below 110 Hz. Measurements have been smoothed at a 1/12 octave resolution.
The above graph shows the direct-axis frequency response and other curves that describe the speakers’ amplitude response in a number of ways. For more information about the meaning of these curves, please refer to our article Understanding Loudspeaker Measurements Part 1. While this measured response isn’t quite as perfect as what is shown on Arendal’s product page, it still is quite good nonetheless. The on-axis response exhibits a slight treble elevation from 2.5kHz to 10kHz, and this might make the speaker sound a bit bright if listened to at a dead-ahead angle. We can see from the ‘listening window’ curve, which is a much more important curve in determining the character of the speaker’s sound, that slight treble brightness does get ameliorated not far from the on-axis angle, so, on the whole, I wouldn’t expect this speaker to be bright. Indeed, that wasn’t my experience in listening to the 1723 Monitors, but I didn’t listen to them right on-axis. Another feature of this graph that we can see is a small crossover dip at 1.5kHz which might add a slight recess to some sound in that region, but it won’t have a dramatic effect on the sound relative to a speaker with a flat response there. The ‘early reflections’ curve is very nicely flat, which means that much of the off-axis sound should have a very neutral character overall as well as the resultant acoustic reflections. Abetting that flat ‘early reflections’ curve is a very smooth early reflections directivity index, and that indicates that the 1723 Monitors have very good directivity control and would be very predictably equalized for those who want to change the tonal balance of the sound.
The above graphs depict the 1723 Monitor’s lateral responses out to 90 degrees in five-degree increments. More information about how to interpret these graphs can be read in this article: Understanding Loudspeaker Review Measurements Part II. In these graphs, we get a better look at what exactly is occurring at off-axis angles. Here we see the 1723 Monitor’s superbly controlled directivity. The waveguide is really putting in work in maintaining a consistent dispersion out past 10kHz. There is an off-axis bump past 10kHz, but that isn’t likely to be a significantly audible artifact except perhaps for an elevated ambient sensation for those whose hearing still senses that frequency range. If we look closely, we can see the elevated on-axis treble settle down fairly quickly as we move off-axis. The small crossover dip stays pretty steady across all angles, which isn’t quite like some speakers where the crossover dip can get worse at further off-axis angles.
Expanding the view from the previous graph, the above graph takes a close look at the on-axis response and compares it to the 15 and 30-degree angle responses. The on-axis angle has a slightly elevated treble response, while the 15-degree angle is very nicely flat, and the 30-degree angle is very slightly recessed in the treble region. The angle at which you hear the direct sound from the speaker will play a major role in the overall tonality that you experience, and with the 1723 Monitors, you can adjust their tonality simply by angling the speaker for a different direct response. While this is true of most speakers, the directivity of the 1723 Monitors enables the user to temper the response using angle positioning with a better degree of control since the changes only affect the tweeter’s range, but it does so smoothly throughout the tweeter’s frequency band. So the toe-in angle acts like a tone control on the tweeter. If you want a brighter, more forward sound, aim the speaker directly at the listening position. If you want a neutral, more balanced sound, give the speakers a 15-degree angle aim at the listening position. If you want a warmer and more mellow sound, use a 30-degree or greater aim at the listening position. The magnificently flat response at 15-degrees also makes these a superb candidate for the above-mentioned time-intensity trading positioning on account of their controlled directivity.
The above polar map graphs show the same information that the preceding graphs do but depict it in a way that can offer new insight regarding these speakers’ behavior. Instead of using individual raised lines to illustrate amplitude, these polar maps use color to portray amplitude and this allows the use of a purely angle/frequency axis perspective. The advantage of these graphs is they can let us see broader trends of the speaker’s behavior more easily. For more information about the meaning of these graphs, we again refer the reader to Understanding Loudspeaker Review Measurements Part II.
From the polar map of the 1723 Monitors, we again see some very nice directivity control. Output rapidly falls off outside of a 50-degree angle, but it is fairly uniform up to then. One significant feature is the dark red center blotch which indicates a steady output range of nearly 90dB; it holds a relatively stable pattern within a 30-degree angle meaning that this speaker will have the most consistent sound within that angle. Outside of 30-degrees, it is OK until 50-degrees, but I think few listeners will be seated that far off-axis.
The above graph shows the 1723 Monitor’s response behavior along its vertical axis where zero degrees is directly in front of the tweeter, negative degree values are below the tweeter, and positive degree values are above the tweeter. It should be said here that the vertical response isn’t nearly as critical as the horizontal response, so an imperfect vertical dispersion is much less of a problem. The vertical dispersion is good and is pretty much what I would expect to see from an MTM design such as this. Off-axis cancellation starts taking a bite out of the bass driver’s frequency band, and lobing patterns develop from the woofers fighting each other as their respective distance from the microphone becomes unequal. One unusual and counter-intuitive aspect of the vertical axis is that the tweeter’s dispersion widens as frequencies increase. Normally the opposite occurs, although many waveguides can sustain a wider dispersion out to higher frequencies. However, I don’t recall seeing this before. It is an interesting feature but a largely academic one, since such high frequencies do not reflect as easily as midrange frequencies, and therefore the audible consequence is likely nill. The overall lesson of this graph is that it’s best to be listening to these speakers within a 15-degree vertical angle of the tweeter, but that is almost certainly how these speakers will be set up anyway.
The above graph shows the vertical response pattern of the 1723 Monitor in a polar map. I don’t normally include this graph in reviews, but since the 1723 Monitor will have identical performance on a vertical plane to the 1723 Center in a horizontal plane, I thought it would be good to include it to illustrate the performance of the 1723 Center’s horizontal dispersion pattern. The MTM design of the 1723 Monitor/Center makes a lobing pattern along the axis of the woofers inevitable at off-axis angles. As discussed above, the woofer cancellation starts to take a toll on the response up to the 1.5kHz crossover point at about a 20-degree angle. So if the user is going to have a 1723 Center speaker, they should be seated within 20 degrees on either side of the on-axis angle for a full sound. (Audioholics has discussed the matter of MTM center speaker designs at length in these articles: Vertical vs Horizontal Center Speaker Designs, Vertical vs Horizontal Center Speaker Designs - An Alternate Perspective, and Center Channel Speaker Design Additional Considerations).
The above graphs show the 1723 Monitor’s low-frequency responses that I captured using groundplane measurements (where the speaker and microphone are on the ground in a wide-open area). The 1723 Monitors come with port plugs so the user can configure the speaker for a sealed response. The ported low-frequency response of the 1723 Monitors is very good and flat down to 60Hz. The response does taper off a bit down to port tuning which looks to occur just above 30Hz. Room gain will shore up the deep bass, so, in any normal-sized room, users will get a significant boost in bass. On the whole, the ported response is very deep for a stand-mount speaker. We normally see this kind of extension in tower speakers. One thing to note is that we seem to get a deeper extension than the graph shown on Arendal’s product page for the 1723 Monitor. Port output seems to be pulled down about 10Hz deeper in my measurements compared to what Arendal shows. Low-frequency responses can vary quite a bit per measurement technique, so this discrepancy wouldn’t be surprising on its own. However, when we see what the electrical performance is like below, we see that this difference is more than just an acoustic anomaly of the measurement technique.
The sealed response is fairly textbook below 80Hz, and that is exactly the kind of slope recommended by THX. Of course, users do give up headroom by sealing the ports, but it does make it easier to blend the speakers in with the subs, especially if it needs to be done manually. In most circumstances, however, I would recommend these speakers be operated with ports open.
The above graphs show the electrical behavior of the 1723 Monitors. Most of the impedance response hovers just above 5 ohms, and the shape of our measurements generally follows what Arendal posts on their product page - except for one thing. The dip in the low-frequency saddle shows us where the port tuning frequency is, and in our measurement, it is about 10Hz lower than what Arendal shows. Port tuning looks to be about 30Hz by our measurement, whereas Arendal shows port tuning to be about 40Hz. The difference in our respective low-frequency measurements also corresponds to the differences in the impedance response. Somehow, I have a lower tuned speaker than what Arendal displays. It might be argued that since there are two ports, if I had forgotten to remove one of the port plugs, this is what would be the expected difference, but that isn’t what has occurred. I also have measurements for a single-ported configuration which show an even lower port tuning frequency. The above measurements are for when both ports are open (I don’t recommend using the 1723 Monitors with only a single port plugged, and Arendal doesn’t support such a configuration either). It isn’t a big deal because either measurement set shows a good performing speaker, the only difference being some low-frequency extension. The measured electrical load is not an especially tough one, and pretty much any decent AVR or amplifier should be able to handle this load.
I measured sensitivity at 89.9dB for 2.83v at 1m. Arendal states 89dB for 2.83v at 1m, and that is a pretty close agreement. These are relatively high sensitivity speakers, and that is not surprising seeing as how they use two 8” bass drivers with big motors and a tweeter loaded into such a substantial waveguide in a large ported enclosure. That would be a recipe for a high sensitivity loudspeaker. The 1723 Monitors don’t need a beefy amplifier to get loud, although they can take the current of a beefy amp to get even louder if you happen to have one handy.
Those who have read this review up to this point will know that my opinion of the Arendal 1723 monitor is very favorable. They would be right, of course. Before we get into the summary of why I feel that way, let’s go over the pros and cons of the product under review, and, as is my custom, let’s start with the cons. That will be a short list.
What is likely to be the biggest ‘con’ of the 1723 Monitors for many people is their size. As was discussed before, they are stand-mount speakers, but they are fairly large ones. At nearly 60 lbs. each, they need some sturdy stands too. Arendal Sound makes a pedestal-like stand shown in the pic here suitable for the task. However, to criticize them for their size would also undermine one of their strengths, which can’t be had in a small loudspeaker. You can not get the kind of audio performance that this speaker provides from a small enclosure, so the size is a necessary trade-off. In this light, they can’t really be criticized for their size. However, the size does rule them out for a number of speaker shoppers.
Another con of the 1723 monitors is that owners who want a matching horizontal center will have to use the 1723 Center speaker, but, as discussed before, the MTM design leads to a narrower horizontal dispersion when laid on its side, so users will want to be sure that listeners are seated within 20 degrees of the on-axis angle for the best sound. In most situations, that will probably be the case, but if you have a wide seating area that isn’t very far from the speakers, those who are off to the side will end up in an area where some of the midrange frequencies are heavily recessed. It might not be fair to hold that against the 1723 Monitors which are the subject of this review and not the 1723 Center, but it’s worth keeping in mind for certain setups. It’s a nitpick, but I will list it anyway to counterbalance the long list of these speakers’ strengths.
With the cons out of the way, let’s talk about the pros. First and foremost is the sound; the 1723 Monitors offer superb sound quality. They are very linear, they have a tremendous dynamic range, and they have terrifically controlled dispersion. The frequency response is nicely flat; I recommend a 15-degree toe-in for the best response, especially for an inward toe-in so that the speaker’s aim crosses in front of the main listening position for some time-intensity trading magic. That will get you very accurate tonality as well as a very precise soundstage. They can get loud without running into distortion, as one would expect from a THX Ultra certified speaker of its design. If you like to rock hard, these can accommodate your tastes. They also have unusually low bass extension for a stand-mount speaker; as I said before, a 30Hz extension is what I would expect from a tower speaker, not a stand-mount speaker. If you need speakers that can output serious bass but don’t have floor space for a subwoofer or tower speakers, the 1723 Monitors are a terrific choice.
One nifty aspect of the 1723 Monitor design is the versatility for a range of applications. They would be great for a dedicated home theater environment, or just a living room home theater, or a pure two-channel system, or a two-channel system with subwoofers. Being a high-fidelity stand-mount speaker with serious bass ability makes them a great choice for any of these applications. It also helps that they are not demanding of a heavy-duty amplifier; with an impedance minima of 5 ohms and a near 90dB sensitivity, they don’t present a very taxing load for any competently engineered amplifier, although a more powerful amp helps them to fulfill their potential dynamic range, of course.
Another very impressive attribute of the 1723 Monitors is the build quality. The massive HDF cabinet is as solid as a rock, and there is near-obsessive attention to detail: interior enclosure painting, interior lining with butyl damping, rhodium-plated binding posts, a sunk backplate for flush-mounted binding posts, brushed aluminum backplate and waveguide, the very generous amount of stuffing that fills the enclosure, the large crossover circuit with beefy components, hulking driver motors, heavy-duty grille magnets, among other features. Let’s not forget the rayon satchel or the included cotton gloves for handling the speakers without fingerprints.
Another important aspect of the build quality is the fine finish, which brings us to the looks of the 1723 Monitors; they may be large but they do look quite nice. The pristine gloss finish is very much worth the $100 upcharge, but I would guess that the matte finishes are very nice also, although I have not seen those in person. The beveled edges and simple driver design give them a clean look that can help take the edge off for those who prefer not to have such large speakers. They should fit in well in a wide variety of decors on account of their sleek aesthetic.
All of these design cues add up to a stylish yet high-performance loudspeaker with superlative build quality. At $1,200 to $1,250 each (includes shipping), it isn't a cheap speaker, but you do get an astonishing amount of speaker for the cost. As I said before, I had to double-check the price when I unpacked the 1723 Monitors, because these seem like they should cost considerably more than they do. Most other speakers in this price range have to give something up to stay focused on a narrower set of strengths, so they will have a balance of build quality, sound quality, dynamic range, and a nice appearance, with the scale tipped toward a couple of those attributes at the expense of some others. Somehow Arendal manages to hit all of those attributes at a high level for an extremely reasonable cost.
One of the ways in which they accomplish so much for the money is by having the speakers manufactured in China, of course, but for those who think that Chinese-manufactured goods are subpar, they ought to see the craftsmanship of this speaker. It is superb. Another way they hit this cost is by cutting out the middlemen and going for a serious manufacturer direct business model where they don't even have distributors in other continents. Everything you buy from them comes right from their warehouse in the Netherlands no matter where you are in the world. As was said before, this creates a more cumbersome shipping process, but it does save on cost.
Arendal Sound has a well-thought-out plan for shipping, warranty and returns. Their speakers come with a 10-year warranty which is virtually unheard of for loudspeakers. Their product pricing structure includes shipping and they will handle all shipping costs on their end for any warranty issues. They allow for a 60-day at-home trial period in which the buyer can return the speaker for a full refund. The buyer still has to pay for shipping fees, though Arendal Sound covers part of this expense too. They also uphold this generous return policy for European customers too, and that is a mark of confidence in their own products; they are not expecting many returns. Indeed, by all indications, Arendal has been very successful in the European market. Based on what I have seen in the 1723 Monitors, I believe that if North Americans discover what Europeans have already been shown with these speakers, Arendal will have similar success here. Highly recommended!
The Score Card
The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:
Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating
Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.
Audioholics Rating Scale
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- — Very Good
- — Good
- — Fair
- — Poor
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Recent Forum Posts:
Bullroof, post: 1513878, member: 97144Nice! Looking forward to your thoughts!
Thanks for the input. Im very impressed with the knowledge some people have on this forum. I ordered the 1723s. Will post again after I receive and listen to them thanks.
shadyJ, post: 1513513, member: 20472Thanks for the input. Im very impressed with the knowledge some people have on this forum. I ordered the 1723s. Will post again after I receive and listen to them thanks.
The 60Xti is a 3-way floor-standing speaker using an AMT tweeter and very different tuning points as well as drivers. The 1723 Monitor is a 2-way stand-mount speaker with a horn-loaded dome and larger woofers.
For movies, I would give the 1723s the edge since it digs deeper in low-frequency extension. For music, that is tough to say but I might still swing for the 1723s. They are probably a bit more linear.
Bullroof, post: 1513430, member: 97144The 60Xti is a 3-way floor-standing speaker using an AMT tweeter and very different tuning points as well as drivers. The 1723 Monitor is a 2-way stand-mount speaker with a horn-loaded dome and larger woofers.
Would greatly appreciate if you could elaborate on what makes them so different. Would one be suited more for music or movies over the other?
For movies, I would give the 1723s the edge since it digs deeper in low-frequency extension. For music, that is tough to say but I might still swing for the 1723s. They are probably a bit more linear.
shadyJ, post: 1513419, member: 20472Would greatly appreciate if you could elaborate on what makes them so different. Would one be suited more for music or movies over the other?
Very different speakers. I suppose they are roughly comparable in that they are in the same price class.