Take Two…

The rear panel of the Duo GT, with connections for part active (top and bottom panels) and full iTron drive (the narrow, middle bank of connections and dip-switches). Note the available adjustment on the rear feet.

Having complained about both the quality of the spikes fitted to the Trio G3 and the range of adjustment they provided, I was really pleased to see a massive – and massively improved – spike system fitted to the Duo GT. Easily adjustable from above, the domed covers drive a huge thread that has a counter-threaded locking collar and replaceable tips. Avantgarde supplies a choice of blunt, ‘skate’ feet or shallow cones, but the M8 thread in the bottom of the adjustment shaft means that you could easily substitute carpet piercing spikes or third-party coupling feet if you choose. Even the angle of the outriggers can be adjusted, allowing users to avoid clashes with furniture or floor-mounted obstructions. This is an object lesson in exactly how a speaker cabinet should be mechanically terminated. It is beautifully executed/engineered and many a manufacturer could learn a thing or two from the Duo GT’s feet!

So much for the physical aspects of the design, the real questions concern whether or not the Duo’s actively driven mid and treble can match the astonishing quality of the Trio G3’s – and whether the bottom-end can keep up?

The short answers are “Yes” and “Maybe – just maybe…” These days I’m getting pretty familiar with the Avantgarde listening room and associated equipment, so in many ways this was far from being an ‘away fixture’. Sources available were the Esoteric K-03XD CD/SACD player and Clearaudio Reference Jubilee turntable with Universal tonearm and Jubilee cartridge. Phono-stage is an in-house ‘mule’ while the pre-amp is the well-established XA Pre. Like the Trio G3, the Duo GT is available in both an active and a passive form, but despite Avantgarde feeling that the differences are less obvious with the two-way horn, they still seemed pretty obvious to me! So much so that given the price difference, I’d really only consider the passive version as a stepping-stone or stopgap. Pricing on the Duo GT is as follows:

Cabinet and drivers – €42,280 pr. (plus sales tax)

Passive Crossovers – €2,190 pr. (plus sales tax)

Active iTron modules – €11,480 pr. (pus sales tax)

Given that you need either the active option OR the passive, the difference in cost is actually minimal, compared to the difference in performance. More importantly, the active Duo GT is around one quarter the price of the Trio G3 with a pair of dual Spacehorns!

Oh, you’ve got an Ongaku (or some other, fabled SET)? I don’t care: the iTron will kill pretty much any standalone amplifier – and it will do it at a fraction of the price! It’s faster, more accurate, more dynamic, more precise and with far more natural timing, presence and immediacy than any voltage amplifier at anywhere even close to its price. But don’t you need a nice, low-powered tube amp to drive horn speakers? Actually, it’s the other way around: the low-powered tube amps need the horns if they’re going to have any chance of generating realistic scale and dynamics. Take the strengths of a well-designed horn and pair it with the qualities of a good solid-state amplifier (and in this context, the iTron is about as good as it gets) and you are onto something really special.