Avalon Eidolon Speaker Page 2

You might well suspect that a loudspeaker with a highly natural, even restrained or unfashionable tonal balance might, as a result, lack both clarity and transparency, but that's certainly not the case here. This speaker's ability to consistently reveal inner detail turned out to be one of its most valued features, general character notwithstanding. In fact, as the listening process continued, I became aware that I could not characterise the performance in the usual way, namely from the viewpoint of typical loudspeaker qualities and defects.

Truth Teller
The absence of the usual speaker-related defects is so extreme that the Eidolon's minutely subtle deviations from notional perfection were judged to be so mild that the vocabulary used for the analysis of amplifier sound quality was found to be more appropriate. In fact, in trying out several top class amps, I found that this loudspeaker was happily measuring the amp, rather than the other way round.

Compared with typical speakers the Eidolon may be found to sound drier in the bass, particularly the midbass. The lower-mid is richer, the treble more restrained and more integrated than most. Such is the difference that it might be possible to peremptorily reject the Eidolon for lacking slam and overall, percussive, 'Hollywood'-style impact. But you'd be wrong to do so. As the Eidolon began to prove it was not merely delivering a version of the truth, but in fact was demonstrating a powerful approach to defining the truth, such misgivings fell away.

This speaker had no favourite material. Electronically generated sounds were the least convincing – indeed they are made to sound, well, electronic! However, natural sounds present no problems at all to the Eidolon, anywhere in the spectrum, of any complexity and at virtually any sensible loudness.


Shot of the Eidolon with its grille removed showing the ceramic treble and mid drivers mounted above the Eton bass unit. This is capable of delivering an extended low-frequency performance thanks to the enclosure's 75-litre volume

The hallmark of a great speaker is the ability to sound well balanced, realistically distant and yet well resolved when playing at really low levels. The Eidolon passes this test with ease. Unlike some competitors, there is not just one particular level at which the sound appears to be 'right'. Its inner balance is extraordinarily independent of level. For me it is essential to convey just what this means to the reproduction. A singer should soar up the scale, and be able to sing louder and louder, yet not overload your ears or the speaker. This is rarely achieved, but the Eidolon nails it. You become aware that dynamics are very well judged, and that this speaker adds very little that could get in the way. I thought singing voices were the best I've heard from a cone speaker, rivalling the Quad Electrostatic in its finest region but with greater dynamics, air and transparency.

That midrange alone would score an ace for any speaker and yet the Eidolon's seamless presentation carries that quality down to the upper bass and then on into the deep bass. This very high quality also continues through the treble to the edge of audibility.

On The Floor
You don't realise how much self-generated noise is present in so many speakers until hearing an electrostatic, and now also the Eidolon, a moving coil. Its noise floor – that present when audio is being reproduced – is orders of magnitude lower than usual and provides a special degree of aural contrast, almost perfectly rendering transients.


Test notes from original review show speaker's measured specs, price, dimensions and observations regarding its subjective performance

The finely judged balance gives a great sense of poise and foundation, allied to very good coherence and integration. There are also near inaudible levels of resonance and colouration overhang. The Eidolon is upbeat, involving and highly rhythmic, all achieved without a trace of emphasis or exaggeration.

Tower Of Power
Rounding out the story, this speaker will play loud and clean, if not to deafening levels. If used sensibly, a 400W per channel input is possible though prolonged abuse is not recommended by the designer; treat this speaker as you would a musical instrument. Disconnect it for parties!

Subjective distortion is very low. The speaker remained sweet and clean even in the low bass throughout the test period, despite using very demanding material.

Finally, we come to another great strength. Stable, sharply focused, deep and spacious stereo images go hand in hand with very good design and low cabinet diffraction. The Eidolon excels in its delivery of stereo images, which are simply state of the art. The technical issues for good stereo also rely on low coloration and natural balance. In this speaker they come together to create superbly resolved perspectives with the soundstages illuminated way back into the far field. My experiences indicate that, aside from the programme quality, soundstage, depth and transparency limitations will generally be imposed by the matching electronics and not by the Eidolon itself. Does all this make for a good sounding speaker? Yes. I believe the Eidolon to be a towering achievement in the art of speaker engineering. Its wholly musical delivery rings true again and again.


Acoustics' owner and chief designer. With a background in neuro-physiology, before becoming involved in high-end audio in the 1980s he worked in cancer research

This loudspeaker challenged what I knew about sound reproduction on multiple fronts. Designer Neil Patel has demonstrated an uncompromising attitude to the very essence of recorded performance and musical expression. His Eidolon could have been bigger, louder, and possessed greater slam, but it couldn't have simultaneously demonstrated the most serious approach to perfection I've heard.

Summarising the technical performance, as costly speakers go, this floorstander has a moderate footprint, superb finish, average sensitivity and amplifier loading, but very good power handling. It delivered a very smooth, very extended frequency range with superb off-axis consistency and low distortion. Its build and technologies are essentially of the highest quality while self-noise and stored energy are at an all-time low.

All Is Revealed
As for the sound, the Eidolon is highly persuasive by virtue of its sheer naturalness, subtlety, speed, delicacy, resolution, pinpoint focus, depth, strong rhythms and excellent timing plus wholly natural macro and micro dynamics. Highly analytical, this speaker was able to ruthlessly reveal the character of the reference system components used during the listening. It marries the speed and transient definition of top-class electrostatics with the tailored directivity and fine dynamics of a moving-coil design. I rate the Avalon Eidolon as a landmark achievement in the evolution of loudspeaker system design, and as such I am compelled to recommend it.