Avantgarde Trio G2 Speaker System

Horn-based speakers have been around since the earliest days of audio reproduction, and they continue to find favor among audiophiles today. Germany's Avantgarde Acoustic is no stranger to horn speakers, basing its business on them since 1991. At the top of the company's considerable lineup is the Trio, shown above in the Classico configuration with a massive Basshorn subwoofer.

The Trio is also available in a more rectilinear form factor as seen here. Either way, it consists of three horns covering the highs, mids, and low mids of the audible spectrum. At the throat of each horn is one of Avantgarde's low-compression Omega drivers, which utilize high-impedance voice coils and exhibit high efficiency and power handling as well as low distortion in their respective passbands.

Horns may be highly efficient electronically and acoustically, but they're not so efficient with physical space. The low-mid horn measures 37.4 inches in diameter—more than a yard across—while the midrange horn is 22.4 inches and the high-frequency horn is 7.1 inches. Add to that the Classico's circular framework, and you'd better have a pretty big room to achieve good stereo separation.

Speaking of space, you'll need a huge room with reinforced floors to accommodate the Basshorn super-subwoofer, which includes multiple horn-loaded modules—the six-module stack shown here measures 7 feet wide by 3.4 feet deep by 7.5 feet tall, and it weighs over half a ton. Each module uses two 12-inch drivers and manages to reach all the way down to 18Hz despite the relatively small horn-mouth area thanks to Avantgarde's Active Dynamic Radiation Impedance Compensation circuit in the integrated 350W amplifier. If your room can't deal with that much sub, two smaller options are available.

The Trio's frequency range extends from 100Hz to 20kHz, while the Basshorn takes over in the low range down to 20Hz with an active crossover that's adjustable from 40 to 200Hz. At the German High End Show in Munich last year, Avantgarde announced the next-generation G2 models, which include improvements to the support structures as well as the crossover components and cabling.

As you might expect, a full-blown, 2-channel Trio system ain't cheap—the standard model starts at $62,000 with two SUB31 subwoofer modules and goes all the way up to $149,000 with six Basshorn modules; add $2400 for the Classico configuration and $6000 for a custom color. But if you appreciate the sound of horn speakers, I doubt you can do much better than this.