Does the Avantgarde Duo GT live up to expectations?
By Roy Gregory
It was around 14 months ago that I first heard the remarkable Avantgarde Trio G3, with its iTron active current drive and the new Spacehorn subs. Once I’d appreciated the scale of the advance they represented (which didn’t take very long!) my next question was, “Can you do this to the Duo?” Well, it’s taken longer than I’d hoped, but I’ve finally got the answer to that query. Sitting in the avant-garde listening room in Lautertal, I’m faced by a pair of the new Duo GT: let the fun begin…
Smaller (much smaller!) than the Trio, the Duo was always supposed to be the sweet spot in the Avantgarde range. With no separate subs, a conventional footprint and a far more approachable price, everybody seemed to assume that this was the volks-Trio. Except that the Duo, in all its various iterations never really did it for me. The narrower range covered by the spherical horns mandated a higher crossover point, while building the subs into the base of the frame led to inevitable issues with optimising placement (do you work on the ideal position for the horns, or the best location for the subs?) and intermodulation distortion with the sub cabinet energising the skeletal frame. Whatever the reason, I never heard the bottom-end of the Duos integrate as seamlessly as required, or keep up with the output from the horns.
But the Duo GT is a completely different animal. On the face of it, the addition of active current drive to the horns risks widening the quality gap between them and the bass units, arguably making things worse rather than better. But despite that, there are reasons for optimism. Avantgarde has been hard at work revamping the form-factor and function of the Duo’s bottom-end. Not only has the cabinet grown upwards to enclose the tweeter cabinet, the box and frame structure of old replaced by a single, monolithic column developed from the strikingly attractive Uno, the electronics module that drives the bass has changed out of all recognition. Add in the fact that the substantial bass cabinet is both larger and far easier to mechanically control than the old, small cabinet/three-legged space frame combination, that it’s now a vented enclosure and that it houses the latest generation bass drivers, and the quality of the acoustic system should be significantly better before you even look at the quality of the associated electronics.
The cabinet is finished in high-gloss lacquer, with magnetic grilles that clip over the front-firing bass drivers and wrap around the embedded tweeter trumpet. The end result is an imposing speaker, its solid cabinet, bladed side supports for the midrange trumpet and the overall height resulting in an appearance that is as attractive as it is striking – at least to these eyes. The two-way iTron module fits neatly into the rear of the cabinet, along with the bass amplifier. Looks are always an individual choice, but there’s a solidity and visual authority to the Duo GT that I really like. The contrast between the dense, black column of the cabinet and the trumpets of the spherical horns can be as subtle or as stark as you wish. Indeed, given that the horns simply screw into their respective cylindrical housings, colour coding them to a changing décor (or even a change of mood) is a matter of moments.