Arendal 1723 Monitor S THX - powerful speaker system in compact size
The brand Arendal already caused quite a furore with the 1723 system back in summer 2017. Now they raise the stakes presenting the 1723 Monitor S, an equally powerful speaker set including THX certificate, but in a more compact package.
Final verdict: Reference-grade, Outstanding
By Michael Voigt, Hifi Test. (original version can be read here).
Hifi Test readers may remember our 9-10/2017 issue, where we introduced the first loudspeaker package of the Norwegian brand Arendal in exclusive for Germany. The high-grade finished 1723 Series impressed immediately, earning serious credit with massive dynamics and crystal-clear home cinema sound. On top of reaching the best marks, this THX-licensed system offers an excellent price-performance ratio, costing well below 6.000EUR even with its colossal subwoofer. However, the considerable dimensions of the 1723 speakers make them more suitable for rather large dedicated home cinema rooms, rather than middle-sized and small living rooms.
Therefore, the Arendal engineers revised the design of the 1723 series to create the 1723 S THX and thus developed a considerably smaller, more manageable version of the meanwhile renowned 1723 series at a lower price point. The “S” in the product name stands for “small” just referring to the dimensions, because the Norwegians did not want to cut any corners in the sound quality or enormous dynamics of the THX-licensed package. Apart from the cabinet size and woofer diameter, the only difference between the “big” 1723 system and the “smaller” 1723 S is the maximum SPL at the lowest octaves. Because physics demand big cabinets and huge membrane areas for high SPL at low frequencies.
LEGEND Triaxial photo:
The diffuse surround sound field required by the THX norm is absolutely mastered by the 1723 Surround S.
LEGEND Center photos:
A treble horn in front of the 28mm soft-dome tweeter ensures a perfect polar response and huge dynamics at high frequencies.
The recessed connector panel includes bi-wiring terminals.
One sample of the 1723 Monitor S THX front speakers in our 5.1 surround system weights full 18kg, with dimensions of 24 x 59 x 32 cm. The excellent finish with scratch-proof matte black lacquer and the perfectly rounded corners of the cabinet are additional evidence of Arendal being a brand that highly values serious quality. On the packaging of Arendal products it is stated “Made in China”, which is not a surprise, as manufacturing in the Far East is indispensable for Arendal due to financial reasons, not being different to 90% of all EU-products. However, the important fact is that the whole development and product design takes place in the Norwegian city of Arendal. Besides, no off-the-shelf standard drivers are used. All parts in the Arendal loudspeakers are developed in-house and custom made to a high standard. Speaking of standards, Arendal relies on the extra dense and solid HDF material (High Density Fiberboard) instead of the regular MDF in order to maximize stiffness and practically cancel all the resonances of the cabinet. On top of this, particularly high panel thickness and additional bracing is applied in order to achieve the ideal cabinet. All Arendal speakers are available not only in black matte, but also in a black gloss, or white gloss or matte finish.
The design of the Monitor S is the cardinal point of our 5.1 system, as the 1723 Center S THX mounts exactly the same components and has exactly the same construction as the 1723 Monitor S THX for the left and right channels, besides the intended horizontal arrangement. The Norwegians could choose from a wide selection of drivers to equip the Monitors (and Center) and decided for no less than two 130mm powerful woofers. In principle, the Monitors are built as bass-reflex speakers with two reflex ports on the rear, but convenient foam plugs are included to allow using the speakers as sealed enclosures. Arendal fits the same big 28mm silk dome from the bigger 1723 speakers to achieve a dynamic treble, coupled to the same really big waveguide for improved dispersion. This waveguide not only provides a perfect polar response, but also huge dynamics at high frequencies. By the way: all Arendal loudspeakers come with firm bi-wiring terminals and are delivered with two massive metal bridges for connection of the terminal pairs, just in case you were planning to use a regular single wire-pair connection. These terminals and bridges are made of pure copper and plated with rhodium, being thus as conductive as it gets, while staying perfectly protected against corrosion.
Dipoles are classically required for the diffuse surround field of a real home cinema sound. Arendal offers a proper playback partner with their 1723 Surround. Using the same high-frequency waveguide and one of the same 130mm woofers equipping the front, this surround speaker matches the system tonally to a T. In addition, each chamfered side includes one full-range 80mm driver, so Arendal calls this rear speaker “Triaxial-Speaker”. In the end, this is an extremely capable rear speaker, matching perfectly the dynamics and tonal balance of the front.
LEGEND Monitor photo:
Center and main speakers of the 1723 Monitor S THX system fit exactly the same components and also the cabinets are identical.
Arendal has four different subwoofers in their portfolio. We chose the Subwoofer 1.5, second smallest model of their subwoofer range, which is still a really impressive representative of its kind. Its 48kg weight, 45 x 63 x 55 cm dimensions and a strong 300mm-membrane woofer mounted on its side clearly talk business. The Subwoofer 1.5 is driven by a powerful 500W amplifier and its solid, low-resonance cabinet has a slit-shaped bass-reflex port for better efficiency at lowest frequencies. Unfortunately, Arendal does not provide a remote control or any parametric EQ, just a switch to increase deep bass or leave the natural bass roll-off. However, the huge reflex port can be optionally sealed with the included long foam plug to convert the strong bass-reflex monster in a rather subtle, very precise sealed subwoofer.
The front and center speakers exhibit a remarkable linear frequency response in our test bench. Deviations from the ideal curve fall within -3dB even at 30° off-axis. Terrific! The bass extends down to about 40Hz, though the SPL of this compact speakers rolls off a bit already at 100Hz. Thus, a subwoofer is recommendable in addition for a powerful sound. The Center S pleases with low levels of the 1kHz dip at angles above 30° typical for horizontally mounted center speakers. The Subwoofer 1.5 used with our speaker package delivers distortion-free SPL way above 110dB at 0.5m distance and a more than remarkable depth reaching below 20Hz. The very low distortion of all speakers in the set is also very pleasant. The components k2 and k3 stay way below critical levels even at high SPL. The impulse response of the Arendal speakers is excellent, practically no ringing or resonances are found above 800Hz.
The compact Arendal system performs equally well in our testing cinema room. The 1723 Monitor S THX set portrays action movies high-spirited, yet with precision. The Arendals thrill with impressive dynamics and a powerful impact in the deep bass, while resolving dialogue or sound effects transparently and delivering a coherent and realistic spatial representation. At the same time, the subwoofer astounds with an extremely deep bass rumbling in our stomachs without losing an ounce of precision and timing during dynamic swings. Close the bass-reflex ports of the Arendal speakers with the included foam plugs and you will miss some deep-bass mightiness, but the already mentioned precision in the impulse response gets even better, considerably better. In the end, it is just a matter of personal taste.
LEGEND Subwoofer 1.5 photo:
Plenty of woofer power: one driver with 300mm membrane in a bass-reflex cabinet delivers a true punch on the stomach (see the exploded assembly drawing of the Subwoofer 1.5 depicted here).
Arendal has delivered another Highlight for home cinema enthusiasts with its 1723 Monitor S THX system. Being only marginally less dynamical than the bigger “sister models”, the Monitor S system plays with extreme precision and can also show off with a THX license. The Hollywood sound in original quality is thus guaranteed. The 1723 Monitor S THX system has a very pleasing price point about 600 EUR below the “bigger system”, despite of mounting almost identical components and exuding the same outstandingly good quality in the finish. Arendal 1723 Monitor S THX: an absolute recommendation for fans of ambitious home cinema sound!
By Michael Voigt (German original).
Arendal 1723 System
+ Brilliant workmanship
+ maximum dynamics
+ precise transient response
Reference-grade, Outstanding, 1,0
Read the full review here (German).