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AudioSolutions Figaro L speakers Review

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I am a lifetime member of the Los Angeles Orange County Audio Society and their monthly meetings give the members opportunities to be introduced to some great sounding lesser known audio components. This was the case one Saturday afternoon in March, 2019, when our meeting was held at High End by Oz in Westwood, CA. The owner of the store, Mr. Ozan Turan (Oz), was a gracious host and played some beautiful music through a pair of speakers made by a company from Vilnius, Lithuania called AudioSolutions. I told the person sitting next to me these are a pair of great sounding speakers, and he concurred. I was sitting on the most comfortable seat in the house; however, I moved to a different seat to get a more complete listening experience. Oz put on a recording of Chick Corea’s “Spain” and I enjoyed the entire performance. But, there were a lot of people waiting to listen to these speakers, so we had to rotate seats. I asked Oz if I could review a pair of AudioSolutions speakers for Dagogo.

I ran into Oz again at T.H.E. Show. He was in a room playing copies of safety master tapes on a pair of AudioSolutions Figaro L speakers driven by the Vitus RI-101 integrated amplifier. This was an awesome combination. I again requested a pair of speakers to review and he suggested this pair. I immediately accepted and we made arrangements for delivery and set up.

The AudioSolution Figaro L speakers are a very large and heavy three-way speaker with five drivers.  The shipping weight according to the shipping receipt was 568 pounds for the pair. They have two extra rigid paper cone bass woofers at 9.17 inches with two ports in the back. There are two 6-inch extra rigid paper cone midrange drivers and a mini-horn loaded 1-inch silk dome tweeter. You can pick from 17 different piano gloss finishes. The Figaro L is two feet deep, there is a single pair of WBT Nexgen pure copper connectors in the back. The fit and finish of these speakers is first rate. The cabinet is solid and aesthetically pleasing and would look great in any room.

The very heavy Figaro L requires at least two people to set up. We were very meticulous when putting the speakers in the room where they would sound the best because I could not move them by myself afterwards. The pair of Figaro L ended up in the middle of the room with the drivers toed in directly towards the listener. I usually listen to speakers pointed straight ahead about 4 feet from the front wall. I have vaulted ceilings and I was afraid being right underneath the highest part of the ceiling would suck the bass completely out of the music. Fortunately, it did not. Once Oz felt they were properly set up, he left and told me they needed some additional break in time.

I was concerned my equipment would not be up to the standards of these wonderful speakers, so when discussing these speakers with Oz, he told me the Figaro Ls are not particularly demanding of the equipment you use. They will sound great with inexpensive quality gear and will improve as the equipment improves.  They are very amplifier friendly, although they deserve much more than your typical audio-video receiver.

I used my Parasound HCA 1200 high current power amplifier, which has similar power to the Vitus amplifier Oz had been using. The preamplifier was my NAD Monitor 1000 with a built-in phono stage that also includes a moving coil step up. The turntable was the Goldring GR1, a Rega 2 clone. The Goldring was fitted with a Talisman A low-output moving coil cartridge retipped by Soundsmith.The compact disc player was an inexpensive Sony.  I was excited to listen to these new speakers in my system as my experience finds that speakers more than any other component have the biggest impact on the sound.

I first put on Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite with the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Eiji Oue on Reference Recordings. I noticed the very deep bass that only large floor standing speakers can give you. The Figaro L’s also had that big speaker sound that could carry the scale of a full orchestra. Although some Dagogo readers are willing to sacrifice deep bass for a purer midrange, missing the bottom octave(s) of an orchestra makes it very difficult for speakers to transport me to the event. Deep bass requires a larger cabinet with bigger, costlier drivers, and this makes a modern speaker more expensive.

Next up was some big band jazz by the Joe Henderson Big Band. After that, I played several more CDs to burn in the speakers and then switched to playing records.

Playing my LA&OC Audio Society 25th anniversary record of the Shoji Yokouchi Trio plus Yuri Tashiro (I guess this makes it a quartet) let me hear how beautiful the midrange was. A great midrange should be a given nowadays with any high-end pair of speakers and the AudioSolution Figaro L was no exception. I wanted to listen to these speakers with a wide variety of music, so I played my Steely Dan Aja album and a JBL “Superecord” album that I won at a stereo show in the 1970s. There was a wide-open sound, although I did notice the drum sets were a little exaggerated on these multi-miked recordings. There was also a nice integration between the bass and midrange. This is normally a problem when you add a separate subwoofer to extend the bass of a pair of smaller speakers, which is why I prefer a single pair of floor standing speakers over a mini monitor/subwoofer combination.

The highs from the Figaros were very sweet with almost a softening of the music as opposed to being overly detailed. The music was never harsh. They had a very nice, pleasant sound no matter what music I played. Recorded cymbals had a natural shimmer.

I have been using the Acarian Systems Alon 1 speakers for the past 26 years. I really like the wide-open sound of the Alons and find them to be a wonderful pair of speakers, but have come to recognize some weaknesses. They are a bright and forward sounding pair of speakers, so they are not compatible with some transistor amplifiers and preamplifiers. It took a tube preamplifier and tube power amplifiers to really tame the Acarian Systems. It also lacks the last octave of bass. The AudioSolution Figaro L matched the wide-open sound of my Alons and also gave me the missing bottom octave of bass along with no brightness or forwardness at all. Acarian Systems went out of business in 2003 and Carl Marshisotto formed Nola Speakers right after that. The comparable Nola speakers to my Alons would be the Vipers and their last price before being discontinued some years ago was $4,000 per pair. Adjusted for inflation, today’s price would approach $5,000. When comparing the two, I felt the AudioSolutions Figaro L speakers were easily worth the price difference.

After using the 200 watts per channel (300 watts 4 ohms) Parasound amplifier, I switched to my low powered tube amplifiers —the wonderful sounding Quicksilver Mini Mite 25-watt tube power amplifiers using the 4 ohm taps and KT77 output tubes. The Quicksilver tube amplifiers created a magical experience with a more focused placement of all of the musicians. Although this was a large pair of speakers, they created a distinct image and, combined with a credible soundstage, they were just like a pair of small mini monitors except with great bass. I could picture the musicians right in front of me. There was really good spacing between the instruments as well as front to back layering of them. I did not crank up my Quicksilvers because the amplifier seemed to struggle a little and I did not want to risk damaging either the speakers or the amplifiers by clipping the amplifiers. This was my favorite combination despite being slightly under powered. It is interesting that the Quicksilvers drove my 87 dB Alons with ease, however, they seemed to struggle when driving the 92 dB Figaro Ls.  Maybe the deep bass took a lot of extra power. Careful matching of components is a must if you use lower powered amplifiers.

T.H.E. Show 2019 had several rooms with speakers with 5-figure price tags and expensive electronics that did not sound very good. I was told that it was due to room conditions at the hotel. Well, these AudioSolutions Figaro L speakers were in a similarly sized room and had no problems sounding wonderful. I do not want to call a $10,000 pair of speakers a bargain, however, when you listen to speakers in the $10,000 to $20,000 category, the AudioSolution Figaro L at the lower end of that range is very competitive.

Drawbacks? The Figaro Ls are large and heavy, so they are best suited to a decent sized room. And they are difficult to move around being so heavy. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to find the optimum placement for them.

The AudioSolution Figaro Ls are an outstanding pair of speakers. I went down my checklist and they exceed every expectation I have for a speaker costing 5 figures. If you are looking for a pair of speakers and have a budget of up to $20,000, you should include the AudioSolution Figaro L speakers in your audition process. I would recommend you try them with tube amplifiers because you may find them at the top of your list.

 

Copy editor: Dan Rubin

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