AVID Reference Three Loudspeaker Page 2

So, who are the Reference Three speakers for? Well, AVID indicates they're suited for rooms that the larger Two and One models might overpower, suggesting that they are 'capable of performing to the same high level as our other Reference loudspeakers, just on a more intimate basis'. We certainly encountered no problems with the speakers set up in PM's listening room, where they were no more imposing than a pair of modest floorstanders – despite the uncommon depth of the cabinets – while the design enabled them to be used well back, positioned close to the rear wall.

sqnote Complete Control
From the off they grabbed the attention, with a dramatic rendition of the Aldeburgh Strings' recording of Britten's Young Apollo [Linn Records CKD478]. There was a wonderful sonority to the piano against the orchestra, and a completely integrated balance. The weight of the lower octaves of the keyboard was suffused with a real sense of the vibration of the strings in the frame, and then speed and rhythmic acuity in the right hand. So there was substance, but with tight control, too, this contributing to the sense of space and precise soundstaging.

And that detailed sound was also in evidence with Art Of Noise's 'Moments In Love' from Noise In The City [Music on CD MOCCD14069]. True, this isn't the most obviously live sound, but rather just packed with information. Yet things get a bit livelier with the closing cover of 'In The Mood', with very well-disciplined clapping along with the music, and a great grumbling bassline. Superb, silly fun!

The (Le) Concert Spirituel recording of Handel's 'The King Shall Rejoice' [Coronation Anthems; Alpha ALPHA868] sounded magnificent, complete with powerful drums and a fine unforced sense of live performance. There was nothing artificial or studio-y here, but instead a real impression of experiencing the music in a live space. It was a big, exuberant sound, but one with bags of detail to back it up, and those very 'Handel' vocal flourishes had a glorious ringing quality.

With the unusual instrumentation of Sachse's 'Concerto In F major' from Clare Farr's Loudmouthed Beauty recital [Lawo LWC1242, see p94] – bass trombone accompanied by church organ – the AVID Reference Threes delivered a persuasive impression of the two instruments in a church acoustic. Both the low-frequency power and harmonic richness of each was evoked, their notes ringing through the space. In the theme and variations of the third movement the effect was even more striking, with the extraordinary power of Farr's instrument holding its own against the mighty organ.


The two-and-a-half way crossover is split between bass/mid and treble arms at ~1.5kHz, the upper unit with a gentler roll-off. The four 4mm cable posts support both bi-amping and bi-wiring

Good Vibes
Give these speakers a somewhat lower-fi recording, such as 'Ain't No Secret Thing' from guitarist Snowy White's Driving On The 44 album [self-released, SWWF 2022], and the effect is just as captivating. The vocal is slightly recessed and suitably careworn, while the guitars sing against a driving rhythm section, powering out a slow blues, complete with power chords and the odd solo. It's a curiously old-fashioned sounding album, and some way short of an audiophile recording, but AVID's Reference Threes brought it out into the room with real impact – and just the right 'old blokes sitting around making music' vibe.

That ability to dig deep into the tonality of instruments was equally clear with the soundscapes of Robert Fripp's Washington Square Church [Panegyric DGMSP103]. With the guitars and the washes of electronica behind them, it was a spacey, at times unsettling experience, helped enormously by the weight of the speakers and their ruthless control, ensuring that every element of the sometimes-frantic sound was readily apparent.

'Little' Beauties
Pushing their low-frequency ability with the appropriately-titled 'The Drum Thing', from Hungarian jazzers Reservátum Orchestra [Towards South; Hunnia Records HRES2211], showed the speakers could slam hard without smothering the subtle tones of the winding percussion. All this, before the whole track shifts into a full-on assault with seemingly everything including the pots, pans and kitchen sink being struck.

Returning to audiophile turf with the simple 'straight to single microphone' recording of Paul Berner & Michael Moore's The Gift [Sound Liaison SL1058A], and the sheer presence of the clarinet and bass before the listener was spellbinding. This is a truly 'in the room' recording, and the Reference Threes' remarkable imaging and clarity really made it spring to life in an entirely 3D fashion, with every breath apparent. There is real beauty in the sound of these beasts!

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Put aside the jaw-dropping price for a moment, for these speakers really are something special, with a performance as monumental as their build, projecting sensational detail and musical involvement. Unless you live in a converted hangar, these are probably as big as you'll need to go in the AVID range, delivering a sound easily the match of many a larger floorstander, with breathtaking imaging and soundstaging.

AVID Hi-Fi Ltd
Kimbolton, Cambs
Supplied by: AVID Hi-Fi Ltd
01480 869900