Arendal 1723 S Speakers & Subwoofer 2S Review Page 3


Edge of Tomorrow, you know why I chose this one. I want to determine if Arendal had programmed their subwoofer protection mechanism such that the brutal opening sequence wouldn't cause any untoward reactions. Spoiler alert; they did and there wasn’t any. No matter how high I cranked the volume the 1723 Subwoofer 2S would not loose its cool. What I got was window blinds that rattled, and a wave of bass sent hurling my way, but it remained poised and in control. That's without the subsonic filter enabled, it protected itself even when I deliberately didn't.

Battle Los Angeles, a movie renown for its intense fighting scenes. The confrontation on the bridge is where I went to first. The deep bass produced by the subwoofer as a result of the heavy artillery blasts was omnipresent, yet subtle undertones from the smaller caliber weapons were still evident. The 1723 speakers supported the low end incredibly well. Debris hitting the ground and the unmistakable crunching sound of boots walking over it were apparent despite the bedlam. Voices calling out echoed all around me, piercing through the noise. Even the 'ting' of spent brass cartridges hitting the pavement was noticeable. Arendal expertly rendered a busy soundtrack.

Tears of the Sun is about a Navy SEAL team assigned to extract an American doctor from war torn Nigeria. As they're crossing a small valley in the jungle rebels launch a fierce attack. Mortars rain down on them, each represented with a percussive kick that sent a rumble through the floor and into my chair. Grenades exploded with authority and had a sharp, crisp sound. Bullets whistled past and ricocheted everywhere, creating an almost 3D holographic effect. No matter how chaotic things got this Arendal system didn't seem the least bit fazed. The soundstage didn't collapse, dynamics were exceptional, all the elements had varying levels of intensity just as they should. During the mayhem I was also focusing on something you might not consider, voices.

The human voice is perhaps the most recognizable sound there is; male, female, young, old, accent, it doesn't matter, your ears know them better than anything else. In my opinion if speakers can't do voices right they can't do anything right. This movie has just about every type, exactly what I want. When someone spoke they sounded clear and natural, each carrying the appropriate weight and tone you would expect if you were standing next to them. It was really quite impressive.

How to Train your Dragon is another good choice for test material. I jumped to scene 15 where the Vikings sail to the dragon's lair to confront it. In order to get at the enemy the Vikings blast open the mountainside by hurling large boulders with their catapults. The Subwoofer 2S immediately let me know it was ready to play; the roar from the catapult launch and the impact of the boulders was fearsome, creating a sense of doom that a battle such as this should.

Red Death—the dragon the Vikings were after—comes barreling out of the mountain to confront his attackers. The ensuing landslide reverberated throughout my room. No matter how much low frequency there was the soundtrack still had every background noise and subtlety that, when combined, make a scene like this enjoyable. What really distinguishes a system is it's ability to cleanly replicate the deepest notes without overwhelming the more subtle aspects. That’s assuming your speakers can produce those subtle aspects, which the 1723 S most certainly can. They paired perfectly with the sub, creating a very engaging experience.

Let's look at the score card thus far. Deep, meaty, articulate bass? Check. Precise speaker imaging? Check. Able to handle high volume? Check. Remain accurate at lower volume? Check. Really enjoying the Arendal 1723 system? Check. OK, what’s next? Music of course.

To say that music has been an instrumental (no pun intended) part of my life would be an understatement. An argument could be made I wouldn't even exist were it not for music; my parents met while both were dance instructors at Arthur Murray's, an institution that was a cultural icon at one point in this countries history. For my mother and father music was life and it's no different for me (except I can't dance a lick, go figure). When testing any audio system I place an extreme on how well it reproduces music.

Hans Zimmer is possibly the most storied and prolific composer of movie and TV soundtracks there ever was. I have watched his Live at Prague Blu-ray countless times, primarily because the audio quality is excellent. The opening medley will test every aspect of your system, from quiet interludes to soaring orchestral sections to pounding bass the first 10 minutes will tell you everything you need to know about your system.

Invariably I play this one at a volume I shouldn't, but I simply can't resist. My lack of restraint proved to be a non-issue as this Arendal system treated me to a stirring rendition of some complicated material. Despite how congested the soundtrack becomes at times—all but inevitable when 70+ musicians are playing simultaneously—the 1723 S speakers and Subwoofer 2S simply shrugged it off. They were unperturbed, at ease with the challenge confronting them. Drums, bass guitar, tympani pounded away while woodwinds, brass, stringed instruments swirled around and engulfed me. Enthralling is the best way to describe it.

"Paint it Black," Rolling Stones. Simply mentioning the song probably makes you hear that driving rhythm in your head, but what you don't hear is what that sounds like when the 1723’s are playing it. Once started there was but a few seconds before my brain said "this is going to be good", and it surely was. Bill Wyman (bass) and Charlie Watts (drums) turn up the intensity and anchor this lively number. The two musicians blended seamlessly, yet each of their instruments remained distinct. At various points there’s an organ, maracas, castanets, even a cowbell and sitar for goodness sake. Somehow, in spite of the unusual variety of instruments, Arendal effortlessly coalesced them into a seamless whole. None overshadowed the other, there was space for each to shine.

Considering how long ago it was recorded, "Come Together" from the Beatles has a surprisingly good mix. You can attribute some of that to the exquisite Hofner bass Paul McCartney played, the sound of which is like no other. It absolutely poured out of the Subwoofer 2S, a virtuoso performance which helped create the signature heavy riff that is the very foundation of this song. Offsetting the bottom end were the 1723 S speakers belting out George Harrison's distorted guitar, providing additional weight. John Lennon's voice pierced through the instruments as if it was leading a parade. The sizzle from Ringo Starr's symbols gently laid on top of it all. When I closed my eyes it was as though I could place each of them in the room.

The 1723 S speakers are balanced and neutral, placing no undue emphasis on any part of the frequency range. They are indifferent to volume and comport themselves when pushed, yet played with restraint they are just as revealing. I heard nuisances in familiar songs that aren't anywhere near as evident with other speakers. I'm not kidding, I literally experienced details I didn't know were there. I could listen to these speakers all day every day, there is absolutely no fatigue or strain.

The 1723 Subwoofer 2S was no less impressive. During day-to-day listening it was content to play along, reproducing the low end with extraordinary detail and precision. Don't be deceived because it's merely lying in wait, when the time comes to be aggressive it springs to life. It can create impact with enough authority to fill a medium sized room. Visually it doesn't look like a brute but it can certainly become one if the situation warrants. It remained unflappable at all times producing deep, rich, powerful bass. Place your hand on top of the cabinet during the most intense scenes and you'll feel nothing, there's no perceptible vibrations. My house was rocking but the enclosure was dead still.

I have been evaluating speakers and subwoofers for over a decade and in that time I've always prided myself on finding flaws. Not that I'm a huge fan of negativity mind you, I just feel there is no such thing as perfect. The Arendal products left me with very few things to harp on, they're remarkably good. I'm a nitpicker when it comes to this stuff yet I have almost no nits to pick. Arendal makes extraordinary speakers and subwoofers, there's simply no other way to say it. This is first class hardware, everything is well thought out and executed to near perfection. You get the feeling these folks left no stone unturned in their pursuit of excellence, they are clearly passionate about what they do. Arendal should definitely be on your short list.

udayuma's picture

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trynberg's picture

Prices for each speaker are not included in the review or specs...

Also, a 2-way MTM center channel design at this price point? Surprising, given the large compromises inherent in such a design.