Avalon was the first brand of speakers I ever stocked. In point of fact, the Avalon ASCENDANT floorstander was the single piece of equipment that inspired me to become a hifi retailer. You see I used to own a pair and their performance was so unlike anything else I had ever housed that it instilled in me the desire to bring the knowledge of this and other similarly special products to a wider audience. “Why don’t other people know about these speakers” I surmised. Like many Brits I had grown up on Heybrook, Ruark, Monitor Audio, Linn, B&W, Epos, Keff, Celestion and the like. The ASCENDANT then, with all it’s beautiful refinement and eerie dimensionality was like an alchemical wonder from a foreign galaxy.
Whilst my love of the brand has never faltered and for a good 7 years I have evangelised my ‘Vitus with Avalon’ philosophy far and wide, it is fair to say that the brand from Colorado have evolved significantly with the passing years. Ten to twenty years ago, the affordable Avalon produced then gave us unsurpassed levels of imaging, spaciousness and sheer openness from a cabinet. Emotion over grunt, music over pyrotechnics. An Avalon – affectionately referred to by insiders as an “electrostatic in a box”- could recreate Jazz, Classical, Acoustic and more relaxed reflective music in a way that few other products could match and only a panel, ribbon or a stat could compete in certain key areas. Even today if you hear a well setup pair of EIDOLON Diamonds they will surely do certain things that you probably won’t have heard before or might never again. And Avalon’s flagship models of this era, the ISIS and Sentinel, were not only statements and technological lessons for the entire industry but such was their design prowess that they would probably still hold their own in today’s ultra highend arena.
Approaching 2015 and beyond the industry had witnessed a period of accelerated advancement in loudspeaker technology and a noticeable trend to champion speed and resolution as the golden chalices. It was time to keep step with all of this but of course combine it with Avalon’s famed sense of naturalness and coherency and so the much loved and heralded EIDOLON, INDRA and ASCENDANT made way for a new breed of design seen in the TRANSCENDANT, IDEA and COMPAS. These new offerings built considerably on the huge strengths of the old guard but with new levels of transparency, speed and dynamics. The bass response for cabinet size and/or price was also more generous and finally in step with rival manufacturers.