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It goes without saying that such an advanced casing won’t get stuck with B-rated drivers. Au contraire, the Ardora reaches for expensive transducers from the house of Thiel/Accuton to keep things in Germany again. Two 17ers share bass duties though the lower unit fades out at 550Hz to designate this a 3.5-way. A 50mm midrange covers 1’200 to 3’650 cycles before handing over to the 25mm inverted dome. The bass reflex port fires out the back, at roughly half mast up the 108cm tall speaker.

Accuton’s ceramics have a reputation for being impulse true, resolved and of low distortion but occasionally also sharp. Responsibility for the latter is usually cone breakup. That's a material resonance which occurs at the top of the pass band. Szentiks implements a number of features to counteract that. First off—and as trite as it may sound—it included deciding against a 2-way or 2.5-way concept to exploit a dedicated midrange driver. One obviously could take the 17ers higher and kick in the tweeter lower. But that’d run them beyond their comfort zone to increase the likelihood of the dreaded breakup distortion. Szentiks thus expressed surprise that his 50mm ceramic midrange driver shows up so rarely. He actually modifies it by removing its rear assembly to chase further resonance subtractions. Obviously the midrange unit and encapsulated tweeter work in their own sub chambers to avoid resonance pollution from the woofers which each are loaded by ~50 litres.

For ideal handovers the filter slopes are 12dB/octave electrical. Whilst some designers prefer 1st-order filters for greater phase consistency, Szentiks’ double-decker filter is claimed to not only assign optimal pass bands but maintain quite clean impulse behaviour. Quality parts include ribbon coils and Mundorf MCap Supreme caps. Another feature to counteract hardness and distortion are special waveguides for the mid and HF units – a world's first for ceramic drivers we’re told. This loading also affects sensitivity. To put it casual, if you go louder on your own, you needn’t be kicked in the arse as hard. The less excursion a driver requires for a given SPL, the less distortion accompanies it.

Wolfram Szentiks (kneeling) and Johannes Krämer (responsible for marketing)
Single or biwire terminals according to customer request

The primary purpose of ‘guiding the waves’ is of course to achieve dispersion continuity between the drivers and a wider sweet spot. Increased efficiency is merely a welcome bonus. Very intentional too is the moving closer of the drivers’ acoustical centres to pursue point-source behaviour and phase consistency as a function of the waveguides' insets. The Ardora incidentally also exists as an active variant where each channel gets 4 x 300-watt class D modules fed from a linear supply which are steered by a DSP management system well beyond a simple active crossover. This means that the speaker can be fully adapted to a customer’s room. Personalized measurements and setup are included and the passive version can be retroactively – well, activated. That option adds €16’000. For today we’ll suss out what our passive wave has to offer.

Did it ever happen to you that for obscure reasons you forgot to deactivate your alarm and the darn thing went off right in the midst of a relaxed listening session? Very annoying. There I was luxuriating in Laurie Anderson’s Bright Red for the full duration, was enveloped in the ultra-transparent sonic universe the Audiograde Ardora laid out… and suddenly, piep, piep, piep. I nearly was through the door when I realized, hey, stop, that’s not my alarm but the speakers. Quelle surprise! Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one to invest untold thou into a rig to listen to test tones. That said, being tricked like this wasn’t bad. It also came off because I rarely make it as far as "Same Time Tomorrow". I don’t know this cut very well. Being taken unawares certainly played a role. To check I quickly rolled in my Dynamikks Monitor 8.12 references. Thankfully this only involved moving 110kg, not a quarter ton. Quick game. Sure, the element of surprise was gone. Still, I was certain that the Dynamikks didn’t capture the alarm bell with the same realism as the heavyweights from Aachen. They simply didn’t trigger the same nervous-system frisson. Of course nobody would know outside such a direct A/B. But I did.