Avantgarde UNO set-up tips needed

A local dealer let me try a pair of Avantgarde UNO speakers in my own system at home. I have an Accuphase system (A-45 amp, C-2410 pre and DP-600 sacd player). The dimension of my room are 4.7 x 3.6 x 2.4 meters, i.e. 15.4 x 11.8 x 7.9 feet (L x W x H) - just a bit larger than the minimum 16 square meters recommended by Avantgarde.

So far, I have obtained decent results with the speakers firing perpendicular on the long wall. The singers are dead center and most often I get a rather good 3D soundstage. The speakers are 3 meters, i.e. 10 feet, apart and 3.1 meters away from my listening chair. A scheme of the room layout can be seen here:

Room layout

However, very often the size of the instruments is much larger than in the real life. I also need to crack up a bit the UNOs to sound their best. Finally, I should mention that compare to my Focal Micro Utopia Be & REl Stentor 3 speaker set up, the sound of the UNOs, while faster and more detailed, is not always as well balanced.

The settings I currently use for the UNOs are:

SUB-S: 20 Hz
FREQ.: 9
RANGE: high

I would like very much to keep the speakers as the prices is very very good. Consequently, any set-up tips to improve the performance of the UNOs will be greatly appreciated. (I still have a bit more than a week to decide whether or not I will keep the speakers.)

I thank you all in advance!

Which uno's do u have? Nano, 2.1, 3.1...?
I would offer to pay the local dealer to come to your home and set them up properly. Then you will know for sure if it is to your liking over the long haul.
Paul: I saw this because you posted to A-Ball's system page, asking for set -up tips, and I'll defer to him on the G2 Uno. I have had the older Duo for quite a while and can give you a few ideas in the meantime.
First, the speakers do require some burn-in.
Second, they are hyper-sensitive to everthing else in the system chain, not just noise, but character of associated electronics. I use mine with SET amps and they are a marvel. Of course, there are any variety of amps that will mate with Avantgardes, and you don't have to use tubes, but the combination for me has been quite magical.
Here are a few thoughts on positioning:
given that the woofer is integral to the horn, you are somewhat limited by where you can position for best bass vs. imaging of the mid-highs. I'm wondering whether you could work from the corners, rather than a conventional long wall vs short wall set up.
You may need to get them out into the room a bit more, and maybe try to take advantage of corner loading for the bass. It requires some experimentation, a helper and perhaps some basic 'testing' for bass modes.
The rule of thumb for the Duos was to position the toe-in so you could see the knobs that hold the horns- this is described in some of the Duo set-up threads here on the 'Gon. Look for posts by Jim Smith, the former US distributor, and a user named Triode (and me, too). Get it right, and they just 'lock.' Unfortunately, I do not know if these parameters are the same for the G2 Uno.
You may have to fool around with the angle of the horn and height relative to ears. Again, I don't know if that's the same on the Uno as my older Duo.
Also, I use footers on mine- Grand Prix Audio, but I'm not suggesting you have to buy those. They do sound better than the spikes or regular feet that came with the speaker.
You really have to experiment with crossover setting and gain on the woofer to get the best integration. Some room treatment, which you have, helps, but adding bass traps to my room improved things. Also, as I have continued to improve upstream electronics, most recently my line stage, the bass integration is better and better.
Finally, I think I read that you don't believe in power cords. I don't necessarily want to provoke a debate about that, because I know there are strong views on both sides, but I did hear noticeable differences using different power cords on the powered woofer. The speaker cable will also make a difference. I don't know how the Uno is set up for wiring- do you hook directly to the mid driver and then use a jumper to the woofer? That's how my Duos work and having a custom cable made improved things enormously over the stock jumper, and then again, when I changed from one well-regarded brand of cable to another that just seemed to sound better- richer, more nuance.
The Avantgardes are great speakers if set up right, with good associated electronics. I know several people who have heard my system who said that when heard at shows, the speaker was too bright, or didn't have the warmth or naturalness they heard in my set-up. I attribute that to all the other stuff in the chain, as well as good set up.

The master at this is Jim Smith. He is no longer the Avantgarde 'guy' here in the States, but offers consultation services. I don't know if he'd be willing to do a phone consult, given that you probably don't want to pay him to travel to the Netherlands, but he is a great guy and a wonderful resource for these speakers.
Hope you wind up getting them set up to your satisfaction.
Oh, one other thing, if you can get the stuff moved away from between the speakers, they will probably sound better, and you won't have to move them out into the room as much, given that you have some constraints on the the distance from front to back wall.
You can also buy Jim Smith's book and DVD and do a very thorough job yourself... Excellent references for a lifetime!

As a long time omega duo owner I would like to comment re the speaker need to be cranked up to sound good. Most likely your amp is the culprit. I guess it is a medium powered ss amp which is NOT made to drive high efficient horns. I heard trios with 300 WAC tenor amps. Sounded good at extreme high levels. At moderate levels sounded like a cheap system. In case you decide to keep the UNOs you may want to try to good quality set tube amp!
Hi Paul

Ok, first thing is that these speakers take FOREVER to fully break-in. If they don't have at least 500 hours on them, imaging will not be perfect. These types of drivers essentially don't move at all. I thought mine were great until I had them a year and suddenly one night, I experienced teleportation. It’s been that way ever since. The midrange's excursion is minuscule so it takes tons of play time for it to properly loosen up. I bet most AG dealers have no idea how good they can sound because they don't use them enough before selling them. You basically have to live with them for months to discover their true capabilities.

Now having said that, the main problems you are hearing are not due to lack of break-in. Whart and Duomike are exactly right: you are hearing your electronics. And you don't like them as much as you thought! Hopefully you won't take it personally but your brain will constantly try to trick you in believing this is not true. It has happened to me many times. These speakers are capable of extreme resolution and dynamic range - levels that go beyond the design considerations for most amplifiers/preamps/sources. When this is the case, the flaws in the amps' designs will become apparent for the first time. Once you have tried several combinations of electronics with the Nanos, you will hear how significant the differences are even when you're only changing one component. People who think all amps sound alike have never experienced properly-setup Avantgardes.

Which leads me to my final point, and Whart mentioned this too: You need to experiment with your sub settings. Freq of 9 is definitely too high for your room and it will cause an imbalance, especially with the speakers that close to the back wall. My room is a similar size and I generally use Volume 5.5 and Freq 5. Even one little tiny click will be an audible change. I recommend you turn Freq down to 3 and then very gradually raise it back up until it sounds right and stop there. The sub settings can accommodate a lot of rooms/positions when they are set right – that’s one of the beauties of having adjustable bass, so take full advantage of it. The electronics play a role in the optimal settings, but it is minor compared to the room’s impact.

Contrary to popular belief, tubes are not a requirement with AGs. In fact, one of my favorite amps on my Nanos is a 450W solid-state amplifier. If you do go with tubes and can find an amp that uses the EL84 power tubes, you should definitely give it a try. Lovely tube. Kora of France made a lot of magnificent amps that used it, Manley Labs does too, some older VTL, and of course Tom Evans. The Nanos will tell you very quickly which amps have “magic” and which don’t. There is no other way to predict it. This does not mean they have to be expensive – they simply need to be designed by people who truly know what they are doing.

Keep us posted on the evolution!
First, I should thank you all for the thoughtful replies. Whart and Arthur
thanks for taking the time to write such long posts. Whart, you have even read
my past comments on my virtual system threads. Thank you very much!

I will start by saying that after following Whart's advices things have improved
quite a bit. I am already very happy with the sound I am getting from the
UNOs! The most important thing I did was to toe-in the UNOs even more than
they were before. Now the "shooting" direction of the horns
intersects in front of me – a meter or so. (Initially, I have followed the
directions in the Avantgarde manual and made almost an equilateral triangle
between speakers and my listening chair, with the horns "shooting" directly at
me. As mentioned, in this configuration some instruments, e.g. double bass
and drums, had a much larger size than in reality. To correct this, I have
played quit a bit with the toe-in, unfortunately in the opposite direction - that
was my feeling after looking at the dispersion drawings in the Avantgarde
manual.) I have also moved my rack with electronics so now it does not sit
between the speakers anymore.

Regarding my electronics, my experience is the Accuphase electronics work
very well with Avantgarde speakers. It is certainly not an uncommon
combination here (in Europe). A few year back I went to an Avantgarde show
organized by a dutch dealer. He was using Audio Note electronics, but when I
told him I have an Accuphase class A integrate at home, he has immediately
switched the AN electronics with Accuphase without any fear of compromising
his demonstration. He knew it is a good combination, and indeed it was - I
had a wonderful audition.

Accuphase class A integrated amps and power amps play very well music even
when using 1 watt or less so. My "problem", however, is that I
have changed all my electronics in the last month. This has screwed up quite
a bit my reference sound. I moved from an Accuphase class A integrated to
separates, i.e. C-2410 pre-amp and an A-45 power amp (45 Class A watts
into 8 ohms). I have even changed my cd player to a much more expensive
sacd (also Accuphase). These changes brought about a much blacker
background and also a much faster and detailed sound - this with my old
speakers (Micro Be + REF Stentor 3). The UNOs made these things even more
apparent. It is not difficult to imagine that a "slower" and
"fatter" sound can at first sound better balanced.

On top of all these changes, I have spent two days measuring the sound
response of my room with the UNOs in it looking for the position that gives
me the best bass response. As some of you know, one has to crack up a bit
the volume to get a good signal for the microphone. Listening for two days at
80 - 90 dBs for hours is tiring for one's ears. Consequently, the last
statements made in the end of my initial post were not entirely accurate. That
is, after taking a listening break of two days (but letting the music play all this
time) the system sounds very nice and very well balanced - also when played
at 60 - 70 dB, which is the level of most of my listening sessions. (I use a
Radio Shack digital level meter - C weighting.)

I still have a week (till next Thursday) to decide whether or not I will keep the
UNOs, but I am already 95% sure I will. As most of you have mentioned,
further improvements can be achieved when playing with speaker cables,
connections and power cords. Also, like Arthur was pointing out, burning in
the speakers (my electronics are probably also not fully burned in yet!) should
bring further and significant improvements. I also did not play at all with my
Accuphase DG-38 room correction system.

Thanks again guys!
Hi guys, here are my answers to each of your comments:

Stereo5, the dealer has delivered the speakers to my home in person. I have
asked him to help me set them up (paying him would not have been a
problem) but he was certainly not eager to do it. My impression is that he
really has no idea what to do.

Douger, is it worth while to buy both (i.e. the book and the DVD)? I would
assume one will get more from the book, right? (I am a physicist doing
research on vibrational spectroscopy, so I am quite familiar with the way the
waves interact.)

Duomike, your comment certainly makes sense. Many SS amps do not do the
1st watt right so they sound terrible when driving very efficient speakers. As I
have mentioned in my previous post, I do not think that Accuphase class A
amps fall into this category. However, if I am mistaken, than I will most likely
choose the Accuphase electronics over the UNOs. This week-end I will install
back the Focal Micro Bes and the REL. I will report the differences.

Bmwmcab, I have the current generation of Avantgarde UNO. They are called
G2 (generation 2).

Arthur, you are probably right that the speakers and not yet burned in.
Apparently, the guy has them in his shop for a year and a bit. However, I have
visited his shop twice in the last 6 months, and every time the speakers where
in different rooms, i.e. one speaker was on the ground floor while the other
one on the 1st floor. It was like he was using them as decorations....
Regarding the settings you have suggested, they do not work in my room.
Because my room is decently treated (I have tracks on the walls that allow me
to easily move my acoustic panels so there are not clapping hands echos at
the listening chair), I spent most of the time finding the position of the
speakers/sub and the sub settings that yield the best bass response. When
doing this I perform measurements and also listen to double bass jazz
walking lines (the goal is to have all notes of the double bass equally loud).
For crossover setting below 9 I hear a clear gap between the high and low
notes of the double bass. The current setting are 10 for the crossover and 5
for the subwoofer level.

Any other thoughts and suggestions are very welcome and much appreciated!
Paul, thanks for the nice words, I'm hardly an expert, but I've lived with the
speakers (Duos) along time and have learned alot about them and
associated equipment through them. I do not think they are a speaker you
can get 'right' quickly due to how sensitive they are to the other equipment
in the chain. It took a long time for me to get them to sound fairly
integrated, low to high, and even then, i could hear some discontinuity. In
fact, although I had a highly regarded line stage and phono preamp, they
still didn't perform as well as they could. Although they sounded wonderful
in the midrange, I still wasn't getting the best bass from them and there was
still a lack of homogeneity until those components were recently changed.
Before that, I could get the bass to sound good but it then plainly sounded
'different' in kind than the horns (louder and slower) , and if I got them to
integrate smoothly, the bass seemed too feeble. I attribute this in part to
the inherent differences in the dynamic, self powered woofer and the
crossover-less midrange horn, as well as the associated equipment. And
that doesn't address placement or burn-in either. The only additional
thoughts I have, beyond what has already been suggested here are:
-email jim smith and see if he is willing to do a paid phone consult for a
reasonable fee (buying the book is fine, I don't own it, I gather it has a lot of
good advice on system set-up that is useful), but Jim really knows
Avantgarde (although he may have less familiarity with the current line) and
now makes his living doing set ups because he is really good at that. He
knows how to tune a system- it won't be the same as his spending time in
your room, but it may be worth a modest fee by phone, if he will do that;
-if the speaker uses the factory supplied jumper cable , replace it with a
better cable; it will make a big difference; that was the first change I made
once I got the speaker;
-get the dealer to loan you a high quality tube amp, just for comparison
sake; I know the Accuphase is highly regarded, but when you hear just how
dramatic component changes are over these speakers, it will show you
how revealing they are, and how very important synergies are. It sounds
crazy, but my wife- who is very much a tolerant non-enthusiast, spent an
hour with me a few months ago comparing footers on the power supply to
my phono stage- she could readily hear the differences and she is not a
'brainwashed' audiophile. The fact is, the speaker can be that revealing (or
intolerant) of everything in the chain, which is why I think they are often
criticized when heard at shows or dealers where they are not properly set
up. One last minute, but very important thought: I didn't realize how
important the noise floor in the system and ambient noise in and
surrounding the room was until I lived with these speakers. They are
capable of reproducing extreme nuances if the system is quiet enough and
the electronics revealing enough to let the information through. This means
even more work to get everything to be as quiet as possible. This may also
have something to do with gain issues among various components. You
then are not listening at very high volume to hear the full measure of the
music on a good recording, and when you get the volume to a 'natural
volume' for that recording, and the system energizing the room properly,
they can be startling; very alive and 'in the room' which is the real magic of
these speakers.
Get it wrong, and they are playing 'at you' and sound intolerable.
Good luck and let us know what happens.
I'm glad they are coming around for you. You definitely
need to make sure your electronics are burned in before you
judge the speakers. AGs will point out all the changes your
electronics are going through. You may even find that you
will need to readjust the subwoofer settings after they are
burned in.

As for the crossover at 9, the Stereophile measurements
indicate this means your system needs a boost of about 6dB
beyond normal at 300Hz. This is probably due to your room
having a strong midrange null, which can be quite
significant in small rooms. Despite this however, I'd say
you would find a tube amp would require a more neutral
response from the speakers.

I generally listen in the 85dB range and I do that for hours
at a time and never get tired. Hopefully your system will
change so that you can do that too if you want. Live music
is often in this range, if not more, and I often listen to
recorded "live" shows.

I have tried toeing them in to cross in front of me and I do
like that presentation, but have since realized that I can
get a very similar effect by toeing them out the same
amount, and have it look better IMO. It depends which amp
I'm using, but in general they point at my shoulders. I've
never liked them pointing straight at me. I'm not sure why
AG suggests that because it hasn't worked for any AG owner
I've talked to.

And finally I want to say, even though we've already said it
a few times, that Whart's last couple paragraphs are
absolutely accurate, no matter how much you love Accuphase.
My driver integration is magnificent and seamless
top to bottom. It took a while to get it all worked out,
and getting the right set of electronics, but now I rarely
hear conventional speakers have coherence as good as my Unos
(I owned Focal Electras before). AGs are absolutely capable
of being stunning performers in every regard.

I am happy to report that I have decided to keep the UNOs. The MicroBes
and the REL are up for sell already.

However, a lot has happened since my last post. Using the settings listed in
the opening post (9 for crossover and 5.5 for sub level) I have started to
just listen to music. The plan was to listen as many CDs as possible.
However, I have quickly realized that the system was sounding
good/decent only with audiophile recordings. Most other discs sounded
very thing and fatigue (bass while strong and good at times was missing in
most songs). After hearing this, I have installed back my MicroBe - REL
combo, only to hear how boxy they sound. (Though compare to the UNOs,
the MicroBe - REL combo had a much more balanced sound overall). The
situation was desperate to say the list.

Luckily, I have remember Arthur's advice about the crossover and
subwoofer volume settings, and I have started playing with them again. The
current settings are 4 for the crossover and just below 5 for the subwoofer.
The sound is very similar to what I remember hearing a few year back when
I have listen to the UNO - Accuphase combo I have told you about. That is,
very quick, dynamic and detailed sound with full midrange and not at all

(Somehow after reading the Avantgarde manual, I got the idea that I should
start with a high value for the crossover setting and gradually move down.
Thus, I have started with the maximum value, i.e.11. Unfortunately,
because, as reported, for settings below 9 there was a clear difference in
loudness between the high and low double bass strings - which I could not
correct by adjusting the subwoofer level - I have never used settings below
6 for the crossover. Thanks a lot Arthur for pointing out this crucial detail.)

Regarding your suggestions to try a tube amp, I certainly have nothing
against it. I'll keep the Accuphase for now and let the system settle in, but I
will ask the dealer who a few years back has demoed for me the Accuphase
- UNO combo to lend me some tube amps (he carries 47 Labs, Audio Note,
Manley and a few others). If the tubes sound that much better than my
Accuphase pre-power rig then I'll go with tubes. My only requirement,
beside good sound, is a balanced knob which I often used while working at
my desk (the desk is not situated between the speakers).

Arthur, regarding listening above 80 dB, my ears are more sensitive to
prolong listen session because of my drumming. It has nothing to do with
an unbalanced sound spectrum. I have also asked my wife, who is rather
sensitive to such anomalies, to come and listen to the UNOs and she had
absolutely no complains.

Finally, Whart and Arthur, I would like to thank you again for your very
helpful replies. Most likely I would have returned the UNOs if not for you
very helpful advices about toe in and crossover settings.

Best wishes,
Hi Paul,

What fine speakers you have!! I scanned this thread and did not see mention of Jim Smith's wise advice on setting the crossover and woofer level. I apologize ahead of time if I missed such mention and am repeating something already mentioned.

I owned Duos for a number of years and agree with other posters that Jim Smith is the man for AG setup. Per Jim, and counterintuitive to expectations, the best way to get the woofer adjustments right is to make these adjustments while listening to the midrange while playing vocals, typically female vocals. I used this approach and it was effective. Using music with bass content in my experience results in incorrect settings leading to endless tweaking of the woofer.

The following provides some detail on this topic. Likely I found this in a previous thread on Audiogon. If you search on Duos or possibly Avantgarde (as I recall you'll find more info searching on Duos) there will be lots of discussions on this topic and on other aspects of AG setup. Have fun and enjoy your lovely speakers.

--From jim smith 10/2000. So often, when I've heard of a system where the subs (217, 225, whatever) just didn't integrate well with the midrange horns, here's what I found - the sub crossover point was set too low. I think the owner thought cutting the woofer out at a lower frequency would somehow make the system sound "faster." In fact, this left a bit of a hole in the response. In order to balance the levels now, the owner (or dealer, or exhibitor) would then raise the sub levels a bit. So we were left with a sub that obviously did not blend smoothly. The bass did make its own, somewhat unrelated sound.

A technique that I recommend is to position the speakers and the listening seat for the smoothest overall bass. Then, I find using female voice is a geat tool. If the voice sounds too chesty, the crossover may be a tad too high, but often it's that the bass is too high. Go too far the other way, and the voice is disembodied, lacking in "thereness."

Feel free to make very fine - almost imperceptible visually - level and/or crossover adjustments. The click stops are simply reference points - the controls are infinite. When you get female voices right, usually it'll mean you're through tweaking levels. Setting the bass level with bass information means you're forever feeling the urge to readjust the bass according to the sound of that source.

Finally, a final technique is listening to the sound of a wooden drumstick striking cymbals in a drum set. This is the finest bass level setting, after doing all I can with voice.

--Someone added:
I found 'Baltimore' on Lyle Lovett's Joshua Judges Ruth album to perfectly illustrate what you (jim smith) mean. Its a very close miked recording. Set the x-over one notch too low and you'll notice marked sibilance and edginess to his voice. In the correct position the sound is beautifully natural. Similarly, turning up the bass from too lean adds presence to the point Lovett is truly in the room but one step too far and his voice begins to lose presence and become chesty. The reason this particular track is so good is the distinct contrast between the right and wrong positions, rather like focussing Leica binoculars.

--I think Jim wrote this:
The BEST way to adjust the bass is listen to the midrange (unless you have a RTA analyzer and trust it). Put on one of your favorite vocalists or a recording of an instrument you are familiar with and adjust the bass till you get just the right amount of warmth. It might take a few hours or days to get it *right* but there should be a definite area of adjustment where the instument or voice sounds whole and cohesive with good recordings. Find that spot and it should all come together.
Good stuff there, Tubes 108! Makes sense too, since you are treating the sound of the woofer as part of the midrange, rather than a disconnected device. Paul will be rocking soon enough. The only thing he has to do is invite Jim to his house. Me, I'd come over too, since I love Amsterdam. :)

Tubes108, thanks for the very useful information. I am fully aware of what
you are saying. I use Norah Jones' "Cold cold hear" song (track 3 on the album
"Come away with me") when setting up speakers. First, I make a loop with my
CD player and play only the first measure of the double bass intro. While
having this loop going I move the speakers around the room looking for the
place where all notes sound equally loud. (I've moved the UNOs, my drum kit
and furniture, so the UNOS were firing agains each of the 4 walls.) After that, I
play the whole song and adjust further the crossover and level of the
subwoofer so I do not hear any sibilances in her voice. It is rather easy to
make Norah's voice thing and edgy. For the time being I am very happy with
the sound. I am sure I will tune further the crossover and sub level settings.
So, far I went only form click to click on the adjusting knobs. It is good to
know that I can go in smaller steps. I will report back as things progress.

Whart, I am rocking already! Yesterday morning I made the mistake to go into
my music room to listen a song or two before going to work, I ended up
taking the whole day off. :) Regarding Amsterdam, if any of you are heading
this way just pm me. I've be happy to have you for an audition.

Thanks again guys! I will keep you posted.
Although I have watched this thread (since the first post) with interest, I have never heard from Nvp, which of course is perfectly fine.

Glad to hear that his system is coming around to him.


Jim Smith