I’ve covered my fair share of audio shows in the past decade, and while most rooms and setups tend to congeal into a hazy memory, Avantgarde Acoustic’s rooms always stand out from the crowd. The German company’s horn loudspeakers look—and sound—different from anything else offered in the high end. Florida International Audio Expo 2023 marked the global debut of the new Duo GT loudspeaker system, presented by House of Stereo, a high-end dealer located in Jacksonville, Florida.
House of Stereo owner Joseph Parvey explained that the Duo GT is the newest iteration of the company’s longstanding Duo model, one that boasts several interesting technical improvements and presents buyers with some fascinating setup options.
The Duo GT nominally retails for $58,000 per pair (all prices in USD), but you have two avenues to explore when spec’ing a pair out. The passive version requires the purchase of the $3050-per-pair Passive Nature Cap Frequency Crossover, bringing the total to $61,050. In this configuration, the three-way Duo GT’s supertweeter and midrange operate passively, allowing for the partnering of the big German loudspeaker with your amplifier du jour.
Alternatively, Avantgarde offers its bespoke $16,000-per-pair iTRON Current Drive 2×100W amplifier modules, which turn the Duo GT into a fully active design—hook up your preamp and source of choice, and you’re dancing for a cool $74,000.
Parvey also mentioned an optional wireless streaming module that supports Roon and DLNA, but did not confirm the price. I only heard the active version, though Parvey explained that day two of the show will see the passive iteration of the Duo GT partnered with Phasemation’s 25Wpc MA-2000 tubed monoblock amplifiers.
The Duo GT is a pretty big loudspeaker, and I found it attractive despite it being so avant-garde in appearance—with its massive midrange horn dominating the system, the Duo GT is not exactly a shrinking violet. The high-gloss black-and-gray colorway was tough to suss out in the dark room, though it’s worth mentioning that the finishes of the cabinets, midrange horn, and trim pieces are available in a wide variety of colors. If you’re in the market, you owe it to yourself to consider something bold, like the Total Eclipse high-gloss orange finish or Audiophile Heaven matte blue.
If we dive into the details, the Duo GT leverages the company’s third-generation horn platform, which features the XT3 200mm (7.9″) “long throw” supertweeter, which boasts treble extension out to 28kHz. The 670mm (26.4″) XM2 midrange unit—the entire big horn sitting atop the loudspeaker—on its own has a 107dB sensitivity, a staggering figure.
Inside the lower half of the chassis is the powered bass section, which comprises two 12″ XB12 woofers with diaphragms made of a paper / carbon fiber compound and a 1000W class-D amplifier designed by Avantgarde. The G3-1000 amplifier has DSP-enabled eight-band EQ and room-tuning functions.
In the setup I heard, music was streamed from a Roon server to a T+A SD 3100 HV streaming DAC, which fed a ControlMeister CM-2200 passive attenuator preamplifier. Synergistic Research cabling was used throughout.
When Parvey queued up a DSD128 version of “Hold On” from singer-songwriter Amber Rubarth’s Sessions from the 17th Ward, I was graced with a wall of sound that was almost larger than life. The rooms at the Embassy Suites Westshore are on the small side, but the Duo GTs produced a soundstage that was quite wide and very deep.
I was struck by several aspects of Rubarth’s performance. The first was the utter effortlessness exhibited by the horned midrange and supertweeter tandem. The Trio GT sounded fleet of foot with Tom Snider’s accompanying violin and Rubarth’s guitar opening, and yet supremely textured and detailed at the same time. Combine that with strong central imaging and an impressive three-dimensional quality that I found compelling despite the suboptimal listening space, and I was smitten with the Avantgarde speakers’ talents. Done right, horns have a magic to them. The Duo GT would do well in a medium- or large-sized listening space that permitted the horns to breathe and kept the prodigious bass output from those 12″ woofers from overloading the room. On this track, the only bass I heard was the subtle drum work on “Hold On.” Hotel rooms. What are you going to do?
All in all, I found Avantgarde’s Duo GT to be a special loudspeaker and a propitious start to my time here at the FIAE. Horns—you gotta love ’em.
Senior Contributor, SoundStage!