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Arendal Sound 1961 Monitor Measurements & Conclusion

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The Arendal 1961 Monitor was measured at a height of 4 feet at a 1-meter distance from the microphone, and the measurements were gated at a 4.5-millisecond delay. In this time window, some resolution is lost below 600 Hz and accuracy is completely lost below 300 Hz. Measurements have been smoothed at a 1/24 octave resolution.

1961 monitor spin o rama 

The woofers’ transition to the tweeter is seamless.

The above graph shows the direct-axis frequency response and other curves that describe the 1961 Monitor’s 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. This is an excellent showing by the 1961 Monitors with a superbly flat response that stretches from upper bass out to 10kHz. The on-axis response in upper treble becomes a tad rocky, possibly due to throat diffraction in the waveguide, but even then, off-axis response is still good although it does narrow considerably above 15kHz. These small errors in upper treble are inconsequential since there is not much content up there nor is human hearing very sensitive in that range. The off-axis response holds a terrific correlation to the on-axis response as well as the listening window as can be seen from how much the early reflections curve and sound power curve resemble the on-axis and listening window curve. These measurements just tell a lot of good news about the 1961 Monitors and no real bad news. 

1961 monitor 3D waterfall response 

1961 monitor 2D waterfall response 

This is an excellent showing by the 1961 Monitors with a superbly flat response.

The above graphs depict the speaker’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. Here, we get a closer look at the 1961 Monitor’s controlled directivity. The woofers’ transition to the tweeter is seamless, and I see no evidence of the crossover circuit, which itself is evidence of a terrific crossover design. All of the off-axis responses correlate highly with each other, and that means that this speaker will sound the same over a wide swath of its coverage. It also means that the acoustic reflections will not depart from the direct sound from the speaker, so this is a speaker that does not need a room with heavy acoustic treatments to sound good; indeed, it should sound good in a normally furnished room, so no extra acoustic treatments needed in most cases. We also get a closer looking at the nature of the tweeter’s beaming, and users who want to get hit with treble all the way past 20kHz should listen within 10 degrees of the on-axis angle. This response as a whole is beautifully neutral. This is a loudspeaker that accurately reproduces the source signal. The 1961 Monitor could easily be used as a studio monitor to mix and master content because it’s accurate enough to let you know exactly what is happening in your mix. No frequency range is disproportionate with respect to anything else.

1961 monitor polar map 

The 1961 Monitor could easily be used as a studio monitor to mix and master content.

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 in 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.

What we can see from this polar map of the 1961 Monitor is its outstanding controlled directivity from just above 1kHz to past 10kHz. Most of the midrange and much of the treble keep a very even keel with the angle. Below 1kHz, the woofers are too small in diameter to constrict dispersion. Arendal’s speakers with larger woofers can be seen to constrict dispersion down to lower frequencies, but even their 1723 Monitor with its 8” woofers only gain a few hundred Hz of tighter dispersion over the 1961 Monitors with their 5” woofers. While upper treble dispersion does begin to narrow a bit above 10kHz, it’s a testament to the efficacy of the tweeter’s waveguide that it can maintain an even dispersion pattern to as high of a frequency as we see here. The performance exhibited in this graph is very good overall.

1961 monitor vertical waterfall response 

These speakers provide a wider angle of optimal vertical listening than most MTM designs.

The above graph shows the 1961 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. If we squint, we can see many of the attributes of the frequency response of the waterfall plot reflected in this graph, especially within the tweeter’s frequency bandwidth. However, the woofers’ bandwidth is changed dramatically. The most important difference is the off-axis dips between 500Hz and 1.5kHz where the distance difference between the woofers causes cancellation nulls at outer angles. To put it another way, the woofers are playing the same signal, but at off-axis angles, the far woofer has a time delay versus the near woofer to the microphone (or listener), and this delay of an identical signal causes a phase mismatch where the pressure waves cancel out each other, much like how sound cancellation in active noise reduction headphones work. This is an audible artifact if the user listening at these angles, but that is not likely, since they mostly kick in at fairly high and low angles with respect to the tweeter. The horizontal dispersion is much more consequential than the vertical dispersion since most people will be listening at around the same height but not the same lateral angle.

1961 monitor vertical polar map 

The above graph shows the 1961 Monitor’s vertical response in a polar map. Here we can get a better sense of the width of the vertical angle to which this speaker holds a consistent response. The 1961 Monitor offers about a +/- 20-degree angle from the speaker center where it will yield an even response. Listeners at angles higher or lower than this will start to lose big chunks of the mid-range due to the cancellation nulls. As we mentioned above, it is unlikely that anyone will be listening outside of that vertical angle range, so anyone who is concerned about how tightly MTM designs can constrict the vertical listening angle does not need to worry about the 1961 Monitors. These speakers provide a wider angle of optimal vertical listening than most MTM designs.

1961 Low Freq Plot

The above graph shows the 1961 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 response is very smooth down to 90Hz where it begins the traditional 2nd-order 12dB/octave rolloff downward that is typical of sealed loudspeaker designs. Everything is ordered and well-controlled with no surprises in this range. The 1961 Monitor doesn’t really do deep bass which is no surprise, but its higher bass range reproduction is very even and balanced.

1961 monitor impedance 

The above graph shows the electrical behavior of the 1961 Monitor. There isn’t much odd here, but one nice feature is that it maintains impedance in a pretty steady range above 150Hz. This is a solidly 4-ohm speaker, much like Arendal specifies. This impedance load might be a handful for a cheap receiver amp to drive at loud levels for prolonged periods, but any reasonably built amp will have no problems with this electrical load. The good news that we can see in this graph is that there is no bad news.  I measured the sensitivity to be 88dB for 2.83v at 1 meter, and that is pretty close to the manufacturer’s spec of 87dB. This is a good sensitivity for this class of speaker, and you don’t need a monster amp to make it get loud. Although, with a recommended amplifier spec of “up to 250W RMS,” bigger power will yield a wider dynamic range.


1961 mtm20Before bringing this review to a close, I will briefly go over the strengths and weaknesses of the product under evaluation, and, as usual, I will start with the weaknesses. The Arendal Sound 1961 Monitors have no weaknesses that I could reasonably criticize them for. Some might say that it could stand to have deeper bass extension, but that would compromise its other performance targets which are more important to its goals. It’s a wide dynamic range loudspeaker that isn’t large, and there is no way to get deeper bass without either making it larger or reducing its headroom. It’s meant to be used with a subwoofer, and subwoofers are so prevalent nowadays that is a perfectly reasonable requirement.

They don’t lack in any particular respect so then let’s talk about their strengths, the first of which is their sound quality. The 1961 Monitors have a magnificently neutral response and have an even tighter response window than their higher-end 1723 Monitor siblings. They are tonally accurate and simply reproduce whatever signal they are fed with no coloration or ‘voicing.’ As I mentioned before, these speakers could easily be used for studio work and content creation because they don’t ‘have an opinion’ on what the source content should sound like. Their seat-to-seat coverage is also very good, and the great sound does not change over a wide angle, on both the horizontal and vertical axes.

The 1961 Monitors aren’t large speakers but they can kick hard. They have lots of headroom and are ideal for small-to-medium-sized home theaters. They could also be used as side or rear surrounds in large home theaters. Their modest size belies their output capability.

The 1961 Monitors have a magnificently neutral response.

Outside of their superlative audio performance, the build quality is really good. The enclosure, drivers, and crossover circuit are all made to a high level. Yes, they are not cheap at $1,100/pair, but anyone who handles them in person would not complain about the pricing. The industrial design is good, and they wouldn’t be out of place even in more upscale rooms.

1961 mtm9 

There is just not much to complain about with the 1961 Monitors. If you need a stand-mount or wall-mount loudspeaker for a home theater that isn’t huge but can pack a punch and does not sacrifice sound quality, these fit that bill perfectly. They are well-designed and well-made products that I can recommend without any reservations or caveats. Arendal makes it very easy for interested parties to find out for themselves if these speakers are right for them since they offer a 60-day trial period with free return shipping. I think they can afford to do so because few people will return these speakers; they are keepers and built to last as evident by their full 10-year warranty.

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

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
Build QualityStarStarStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
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About the author:

James Larson is Audioholics' primary loudspeaker and subwoofer reviewer on account of his deep knowledge of loudspeaker functioning and performance and also his overall enthusiasm toward moving the state of audio science forward.

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