Argon Audio Fenris A55 is the largest model in the new Fenris series, which is (even) more affordable than the same company’s other active speakers.
While the Fenris A4 and Fenris A5 models are compact speakers, the Argon Audio Fenris A55 is a full-size floorstander. Like the two smaller models, the Fenris A55 is available in matte white, matte black and light ash finishes.
The configuration is also well known. Same 5 inch midwoofer as the A5 model. But here two units are used for extra power in the bass range. The tweeter is the same ¾ inch silk dome used throughout the range. The units are surrounded by metal trim rings, and the front grille is held in place with invisible, recessed magnets.
The electronics are also a revelation. Since the Fenris A55 is an active speaker, there’s a separate amplifier for each frequency band, for a total of four built-in amplifiers. The midwoofers are powered by 2 x 50 watts, while there are 2 x 25 watts for the tweeters.
There are analogue inputs for turntable and line signal. And optical digital and HDMI inputs. And, of course, Bluetooth wireless connectivity.
All the electronics are in the left speaker. The right speaker is completely passive, but fed via a special three-metre four-pole cable. Since the Fenris A55 is powerful enough to play up a larger living room, a longer cable may be needed so that the speakers can be placed at an appropriate distance. It can be purchased from the webshop.
As a floorstanding speaker, the Argon Audio Fenris A55 requires a little more space than its compact siblings, which can be tucked away on a shelf or on top of a cabinet. On the other hand, the sleek A55 requires no more floor space than a set of compact speakers on stands. And the extra space is put to good use. Namely cabinet volume – and thus the possibility of better and deeper bass.
The speakers should be positioned well away from the back wall and corners for even bass response; at least half a metre, preferably more. Unfortunately, there is no toggle switch to adjust the frequency response to the position. There is also no option to choose whether the active speaker should act as the left or right channel.
Having tested the two smaller models in the same series, I now know the Fenris sound signature rather well. After all, the same ingredients are used in all three. There’s just more of them in the Fenris A55.
And that’s what it sounds like: more. For a start, it can play louder and more powerfully. The extra bass/midrange unit may only add 3 dB more sound pressure and sensitivity, but the Argon Audio Fenris A55 clearly has more power behind it.
It also goes deeper. 9 Hz and 14 Hz deeper, respectively, than the Fenris A5 and Fenris A4. Which doesn’t look like much on paper. But it does make the difference in whether the deepest string on the bass is reproduced freely rather than a bit semi-quietly. And on whether you’re listening to music or experiencing music.
The Fenris A55 is fine rising above background music and playing up to a party. And since everything is controlled by a DSP, the risk of killing the speaker units when the mood and music get loud is minimal.
Like the other models in the same range, the Argon Audio Fenris A55 has a fresh and open sound where no tonal range is left behind. This makes it easy to listen to and invites you to play louder than just background music. Which is always a good thing. After all, that’s what music and electronics are made for.
So when you are tempted to turn up the volume, you also discover, on the other hand, that there are, after all, limits to what you can get for the very modest price.
It never gets downright ugly – but it does get pressed. When you turn up from respectfully loud to really loud, the ability to reproduce the difference between small details and powerful transients disappears. The dynamics, in other words. All the notes are still there, but the music becomes a wall of sound. At the same time, the treble, which at neighbouring levels gives the cymbals and highhat a fresh boost, gets a bit more bite than is pleasant.
As on the other Fenris models, perspective and spatial reproduction are in order, considering the price. In this price range, it’s not about sitting around and geeking out over the precise placement of musicians in an imaginary concert hall or counting the choral voices in Koyaanisqatsi (which I otherwise find a lot of enjoyment in doing), but about enjoying the fact that this is bloody real stereo rather than the diffuse room feel of a Bluetooth table speaker or a Sonos Play:5. Which is what you can get for the same price.
The Argon Audio Fenris A55 is a real floorstanding speaker that, by its mere presence in the room, can emphasise that music is taken seriously here. That’s no mean feat for less than seven hundred. Like the smaller models in the same range, the Fenris A55 plays openly and engagingly – and fairly cleanly too. If you want a bit more, you might do well to sacrifice a quarter more and buy the Argon Audio Forte A55, which is so suitably more nuanced that it actually makes sense for Argon to retain two parallel and almost identical model ranges.
As a first stereo in the teenager’s room or as an inexpensive but perfectly adequate system for the cottage, the A55 is perfect. And thanks to the HDMI input, you can get sound on the TV in a way that can’t even be matched by a soundbar in the same price range.