by Anthony Kershaw
This is the second German speaker I’ve had for review and the quality of the ASW Genius 400 echoed that of the Elac 310.2 JET Loudspeaker that had a short but sweet stay chez nous. Canadian distributor, Tri-cell, was very kind and offered the speaker for as long as was needed. For pure pleasure, the Genius’ stay could have been indefinite, but gauging their quality took but a few moments.
They are very well made, with rich veneers on solid casework. ASW’s cabinetmakers are not quite in the ProAc/Totem league, but very fine, nonetheless. The speakers are slim, but make a statement. Not so much, though, that the WAF will be breached. I took some time to admire the look of the speaker, and many guests thought they looked just right in a modern, cool setting. They will fit in an audiophile’s basement power system or a downtown loft.
My pair were covered in a very nice walnut finish. They were very easy to setup. Platforms and spikes are provided. I had mine firing straight out into the listening room. The soundstage was wide and deep that way but still maintained tight imaging. Toeing them in sharpened the image somewhat, but I preferred the straight shooting approach. A goodly distance from the back and side walls helped, too. No blur or smudge.
Sitting in my medium sized room, the speakers easily filled the room to ear-bursting levels. In a friend’s very large room (large enough to rehearse a small chamber orchestra), the ASWs did not miss a beat. They went as loud as the amp could bear.
At 93dB efficiency, the speakers enjoyed the Kallisto Audio SET 8 watt amp I had in for review. I hooked up this amp first. A lovely sheen was heard on Reference’s Symphonic Dances, if missing the last bit of oomph from the power chords in the introduction. Carol Welsman’s gorgeous vocals on The Language of Love gave the amplifier little to fret about. She sounded lovely through the ASWs. Effortless vocals, subtle Latin percussion, all bathed in the latest quality sound. Both these CDs demonstrated the high level of the speakers with regard to both soundstage and imaging. The SET topology added the luster that I love. Rich.
Switching to the Audio Research VS110 had the 400s losing a little in sheen but growing in leaps and bounds in ‘confidence’. They pounded out anything that was thrown at them. The bass was deep and evenly matched with the upper tessituras. Really deep, thumping (and clean) bass.
The German’s are known for technical expertise and for advanced production values. Both are shown here in the Genius 400. The driver arrangement is of the D’Appolito design, with a large, 25cm side firing woofer. All the drivers’ integration was seamless and remained so for the entire review and with various software. Much like the previously reviewed Amphion Xenons (and my one time reference), the side firing bass driver works a treat. The slim profile is maintained and the bass is delivered. Interestingly, the ASWs do without the slight bass ‘hump’ that made the Xenon so ‘effective’ in the lower regions, and the Germans sound the better for it. In this way, the bass was nearly as natural as my reference fabaudio Model 1s. And at twice the price for the fabs, that’s high praise indeed.
I very much enjoyed the sound of the speakers played via the Roksan Radius 5 turntable. The vinyl sound was very detailed but retained the warmth that we need and admire. Simple classical guitar albums, such as those by 12 stringer Goran Sollscher, sounded refined, even from the DG pressing. Bluebacks of sopranos such as Renata Tebaldi belting out Puccini gave the speakers absolutely zero problems, either in resolution or power handling. It was amazing to hear such refulgent sounds in the larger room. The speakers filled the space with ease.
A test disc par excellence discovered fairly recently is With a Twist, LA hornist Richard Todd’s toe dip into jazz. It’s a great album, full of interesting sounds and bloody good jazz. On one track, Days of Wine and Roses, Todd overdubs all four horn parts (no other instruments are used on this track). The conical bore horn(s) are very difficult to resolve cleanly and require lots of power. The Genius 400s displayed this tour de force for all its musical worth. No hiss, buzz, or soundstage implosion. Great stuff!
As such, I recommend this speaker for anybody looking for superb engineering, good looks, and a competitive price. The ASW Genius 400s will fill your medium or large space with very musical sounds that will last the test of time.
[It is with great pleasure that we award the Audiophilia Star Component Award to the ASW 400 Loudspeaker. Congratulations! - Ed]
Woofer: 1 x 250 mm
Mid-Range: 2 x 130 mm carbonfiber-cone
Tweeter: 25 mm High quality fabric dome tweeter
Cabinet finish: Real wood, or eggshell painted Strutted and interlocked cabinet
Size: height 1165 mm / width 170 mm / depth 430 mm
Continuous power RMS: 200 Watts
Maximum power hdlg.: 250 Watts
Frequency range: 28 - 30000 Hz.
Sensitivity (2,83 V/m): 93 dB Suitable for amplifiers: 4-8 Ohms
Impedance: 4 Ohms
Weight: 37 Kg. each
Manufactured by ASW Lautsprecher GmbH
48691 Vreden Rentmeisterskamp 26 Germany
Phone +49 (0) 25 67 / 34 34 • Fax +49 (0) 25 67 / 6 33
Source of review sample: Distributor loan