Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2015 • Hot Product

RMAF afforded a rare opportunity to appreciate Avantgarde’s “one below the Trio” Duo Mezzo, now in its latest XD form. The German company’s smallest all-horn design, the Mezzo XD pairs two of the characteristic spherical horns with an actively equalized folded-horn bass unit, creating a vertical array that whilst deep has a surprisingly narrow frontal aspect, which combined with the ability to use it hard up against a wall makes this possibly the most practical full-range horn system out there -- something that just improved even further with the XD’s inclusion of a full ten-band, frequency-agile parametric DSP EQ system to dial in the bass. Similar in concept to the EQ system employed by the Vandersteen Model 7 Mk II, it offers remarkable adaptability to different rooms and situations.

But in some ways the most intriguing aspect of the XD upgrades (which have been applied across the range) is the development of a new driver diaphragm for the midband horn. This uses a soft gel membrane, supported by an acoustically transparent fiber grid, to create what Armin Krausse described as an “anti-driver” -- in the same sense as anti-matter. Where most drivers use a dope or damping gel to control the behavior of a driver’s cone material, here the gel actually is the driver diaphragm.

Too new to have US pricing as yet, the Duo Mezzo XD sells in Europe for €39,900/pair -- around a 10% increase over the previous version -- but even a brief listen under show conditions suggests that performance has taken a huge step forward.

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