ALR Entry 2M Loudspeakers Reviewed

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As the gun next to my head is loaded if not cocked, let's deal with other contrasts which will help you place the pair in their respective corners. The ALR needs 1W to deliver 89dB of sound at 1m, the Tannoy provides 87dB for the same power. The ALR has a 4 ohm impedance, the Tannoy is an 8 ohm design. '2M's frequency response is stated as 50-23kHz, while R1's is down as 55-20kHz. Our German's woofer uses a 'Jordan Alu Cone membrane' while the Scot opts for paper. Essen wraps its speaker in sub-MFI black, while Coatbridge prefers a gorgeous cherry veneer. See what I mean? There's more than just a thirty quid difference, but the Fink Link is too strong.

In practice, though, the sibling rivalry turned into a Cain v. Abel scenario. Listening sessions involved Partington stands, A.R.T. speaker cable, the Gryphon TABU AT, NVA Personal and Roksan Caspian integrated amps and the Musical Fidelity X-Ray and Roksan Caspian CD players. And all I could think of were siblings where their likenesses were to great to ignore, but where individuality ensured that even a total stranger could tell Noel from Liam or Kylie from Danii. (Or, for that matter, Sigfried from Roy...)

From the upper midband onto heaven, the speakers sound enough alike to suggest that you could mix'n'match 'em in a surround-sound scenario, or fit both pairs with the same badge and none would be the wiser. Either speaker will satisfy a craving for clean, extended treble with a trace of sweetness and an absence of nasties. Both ooze a sense of accuracy, of exactness, but the smaller-baffled R1 has a slight edge in the precision of its image location. What the 2M provides that eludes the R1 is a much more convincing sense of scale.

None of this would matter to any R1 fan until they heard the ALR in the same set-up, because the R1 is damned good. But then the 2M kicks in with its extra measure of bass, and the situation changes...if you accept that bass (and, for that matter, extra level) do more than merely make a system sound bigger. In the case of the 2M v R1, the midband is also affected, the richer, more extended bottom somehow warming up vocals and acoustic instruments.

Repeatedly, the R1 sounded livelier, the 2M more considered and natural. If you were to add ten or fifteen grand to their prices, you would have a face-off as per Wilson (the Tannoys) versus Sonus Faber (the ALRs). Neither betters nor negates the other. These personality traits merely define the purpose, the sonic requirements of the partnering equipment and - inevitably - whether or not they suit you. The 30 difference? Too little to matter unless you're homeless, unemployed or merely a cheapskate.

But, and this is a big 'but', never discount the BWFH*. Although there's only a few millimetres between them, the R1s look tiny and cute in a micro-system sort of way, the 2Ms substantial in a 'my owner is an audiophile' sort of way. And that scowling third party might be just enough to make the choice for you. Me? I'm keeping both.

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HTR Product Rating for ALR Entry 2M Loudspeakers

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