Argon Audio tries to change its image as the Hi-Fi Club’s cheap brand, but at the same time keep its low prices. We have previously tested, among other things, the active speakers Forte A4, which sounded extremely convincing despite a low price.
With the Argon Audio Forte A55, Argon Audio has raised both ambitions and prices. It is a full-grown but slim floor-standing speaker, and as the numbers in the name suggest, it is equipped with two five-inch bass / midrange units (Forte A4 had a 4 “unit). The tweeter is the same 1” dome as in the smaller models.
The design is similar to the smaller model, with cabinets in silk matt white finish and with rounded edges. But the height has grown to 85 cm. The units are surrounded by an aluminum decoration. The speaker is also available in a black version with brass-colored decorations. The front fabric is held in place by invisible cast magnets. A white, rounded base provides a stable foothold.
At the back you will find two bass reflex ports, which can be cushioned with foam rubber plugs to your liking. Everything looks absolutely beautiful and extremely discreet, in a way that should not give rise to much debate around the dinner table.
The active electronics are located in the left speaker. It is practical and good, as it makes economic and technical sense to have everything together on one plate, where all the inputs and outputs are located.
There are two optical digital inputs as well as analog inputs for turntable and line signal (AUX), both with RCA sockets. There is also a subwoofer output and a USB charging port for e.g. Chromecast. However, most people will probably use the Bluetooth wireless connection that supports aptX, which provides acceptable sound quality via Bluetooth. The better aptX HD is unfortunately not supported.
There are two amplifiers for each channel: 80 W for the treble and 80 W for the two bass/midrange units. By the way, there is twice as much power as in the Forte A4. The division is digital and DSP-controlled, and the DPS also takes care of organizing the frequency response.
A special four-pole connector with screw connection is used for the signal to the other speaker without built-in electronics. It is practical and simple, and fortunately the cable is longer than on the Forte A4 so that it fits larger living rooms (if five meters is not enough, longer cables can be ordered on Argon Audio’s website). However, it would be nice to have a right / left switch on the active speaker, so that you do not have to decorate the living room after this speaker, which must be in the left corner of the living room.
You WILL need a friend!
Argon Audio Forte A55 is delivered packaged in pairs. The reason is that you want to avoid mistakes where the customer comes home with two right or two left models. But while the co-packing was no problem with the small Forte A4, it is a task for two people to handle the large and 26 kilo heavy cardboard box. Getting the two speakers out of the box was also one of the most difficult unpackings in my many years of career as an electronics and hi-fi tester! Harder than even the handling of the much larger and several times heavier Q Acoustics Concept 500.
The sound quality
Following up on a success like the Forte A4 is difficult. But the Forte A55 keeps up the quality. And when it comes to the bass, it has significantly more capacity than the A4. In a moderately large living room (25 square meters) there is full volume down to the cut-off frequency of 35 Hz. And what the little five-inchers say is noticeably meaningful. Deep synth drones or organ voices fill the room, while drums sound wonderfully dynamic. I had go extra loud on “The Rhythm of the Heat” from Peter Gabriel 4 to get lost in the crowd before the writing work could continue.
The midrange reproduction is very nice. Singing voices sound natural, and not least the room reproduction is a pleasure to experience. For a speaker under £1000 and with four amplifiers included in the price, the Argon Forte A55 has a very good ability to recreate the difference between an intimate club recording and a concert in a large hall. This of course also applies when the acoustics are added electronically during production.
Should I tackle something that shows the difference between Forte A55 and expensive hi-fi, it will be the nuance ability. It never sounds ugly or rude, but the differences between individual voices are not so clear. It may also be related to the fact that the two bass / midrange units cover the same tone range all the way up to the treble. And it will inevitably be less precise than if only one unit were to do the task. It is very common for speakers with two bass units to be designed as “2.5-way”, where one bass unit is limited to the actual bass range.
The treble is well-resolved, and gives a bright and delicious sound image, where you are fascinated by the amount of detail. In fact, it almost gets a little too bright and fascinating. It was not directly sharp, but if the living room is sparsely furnished with bare surfaces (it is not mine), the result can be a little cold. But this is tile nailing when you remember the price tag.
While the Forte A4 was largely unrivaled in its price range, there is a bit more on the leg when it comes to twice as expensive active floor-standing speakers. Dali Zensor 5 AX and Tangent Spectrum X6 BT Phono are the closest competitors. Both are wireless, and when it comes to equipment and design, cut over the same load as the Argon Forte A55. However, in contrast to the A55 – it is technically not a question of real active speakers, but of passive speakers with a built-in amplifier and passive crossover between the units.
The Argon Audio Forte A55 is a great value speaker. You simply get the same good sound that was characteristic of little brother Forte A4 – only for larger living rooms and with the possibility of deeper bass and higher sound pressure.
The price has doubled along the way, which means that there are several similar competitors. However, the Forte A55 ultimately benefits from being thoroughly digital, and the only truly active speaker in the price range.