Anssi Hyvönen - Amphion

Founded in 1998, Amphion has been designing and constructing loudspeakers from the very beginning, distinguished by something that many commercially available designs lack - extremely low sensitivity to imperfections in the acoustics of the listening room. Thanks to well-thought-out technical solutions, the brand's sets can fill any space with high-quality sound, or at least that's what Finnish designers, their foreign representatives, satisfied customers, and installers claim. Not to mention the dozens of musicians and sound engineers who trust Amphion's professional monitors to provide them best results in commercial or home studios and appreciate these monitors for their reliability, transparency, and truthfulness.

The company's founder, Anssi Hyvönen, certainly has a lot to be proud of, but the growing number of positive reviews has not encouraged him to abandon his original goals, to move away from proven patterns. Amphion is certainly not one of the manufacturers who, on average, once every few years, come up with some offbeat idea and replace the entire range, explaining to brand fans and potential customers that everything will be different from now on. Finnish speakers seem to be the quintessence of simplicity and audiophile minimalism, but they hide secrets that make them work well in many rooms and systems. I decided to find out exactly what these solutions are by asking at the source. I can't hide the fact that the prospect of interviewing Anssi initially made me a little apprehensive, as Finns are generally not very effusive. Fortunately, my interlocutor told me a bit more than "yes" and "no."

In preparing for this interview, I realized that while I know the Amphion brand and have had the opportunity to review its products many times, I don't really know much about you. Could you tell us your story and how the Amphion story began?

Sound is one of the most beautiful and exciting aspects of human life. Trying to understand it has been a lifelong journey. How things sound is naturally important, but the main question I continue to ask myself is 'How does it make me feel?' Amphion Loudspeakers Ltd. was established in 1998 to support our effort in designing and building loudspeakers that are characterized by honest and accurate sound reproduction. All products are handmade in Finland to ensure enduring listening quality. Our job as a speaker manufacturer is to open a large, clean window to sound and allow the customer to experience music in an intimate, touching way regardless of his or her surroundings. The goal is to come up with a pure, highly transparent loudspeaker that will vanish leaving just the music.

Anssi Hyvönen - Amphion
Amphion loudspeakers are famous for performing well even in rooms that are moderately suitable for listening.

Some loudspeaker manufacturers are involved in both home and professional loudspeakers. What was it like in your case? Which came first?

We are one of the rare ones that made the transition from homes to studios. 2023 will be our 25th year in the home audio and 10th in the professional market.

I get the impression that the pro audio market is more important to you these days. Is this true, or have you already achieved what you wanted in the amateur market, and developing the pro segment gives you more satisfaction?

It is true that the professional market generates more turnover for us. For me, music is one of the most beautiful things people can create. The way it can touch, heal and unite people all over the world is quite unique. While it naturally gives great satisfaction to contribute - however slightly and indirectly - to something you love and feel passionate about, my true calling is in trying to do my little part in order for people to experience the music in involving and emotional manner every day without huge financial or other sacrifices. Releasing emotion is not possible without creating and capturing emotions, so both markets continue to have a high value in my mind.

Anssi Hyvönen - Amphion
A very large portion of Amphion's professional monitors now end up in Dolby Atmos rigs.

Do professionals and amateurs have different needs and requirements, or do they share a common goal and only the form, appearance, and equipment of the loudspeakers that go to them differ?

The common goal is having a clear image of the sound delivered by the speaker. Otherwise, there are quite a few differences in pro and home markets. Listening environment is one, arrangement and listening distance is another, as is the choice of amplifier. One difference at home than in a studio environment is placing the speakers closer to the wall which boosts the bass response because of the wall proximity. The Acoustic center point is with a two-driver speaker/ should be the pointing to the ear level, that is the best height for speakers. You point the sound directly to your ears so the mixer can hear all the information clearly. Studio environment demands precision to get the honest image of the sound. On the Hi-Fi side the placement is angled right outside the shoulder area. As for the amplifier, a studio amp delivers the clear image of the sound without any flourishments, whereas the Hi-Fi amplifier does add a richness and other color to the sound. We do have more audiophile customers who want to hear what the mastering engineer hears. Correct sound is what the mastering engineer hears. This is where the artist and engineer define how the sound should be. This is the point of reference. This is very different from the traditional Hi-Fi home side; the truth doesn't matter the pleasure of sound was the motivator. Many audiophiles now are interested in hearing the recording as purely as possible. Audiophiles are also buying pro monitors because they are highly revealing transparent speakers.

Anssi Hyvönen - Amphion
Home monitors from the Argon series and their professional cousins in the photo. Sweet!

Professionals often use active speakers and audiophiles prefer passive ones, but Amphion's studio monitors are also passive. Didn't you have a problem convincing the pros to go with this solution?

Going against the trend with limited resources is totally idiotic. The truly crazy part is that we managed to get our ideas across and nowadays disproportioned part of Billboard chart-toppers are made by Amphion users. I strongly believe that too much emphasis is placed on how instead of what. What I mean by this is that one should evaluate products based on their performance merits, not on their operational principles. Top professionals tend to evaluate their products based on how they sound and how quickly and easily they can achieve their goals. Sure, it would have been easier to follow the trend, but at that point, we could not have achieved our sonic goals regarding phase coherence, transparency, and detail unless we kept our products passive.

A kind of ready-made solution for professionals is Amphion's power amplifiers - one stereo with 700 watts per channel at 4 ohm, one eight-channel, and separate amplifiers for subwoofers. Do customers often opt for this option?

A majority of Amphion studio customers purchase the whole system i.e. monitors, an Amphion amplifier and even and Amphion speaker cable. Not only does this make the purchase easier, but it also ensures the quality of the sound. Yes, the multi-channel goes for the Atmos rigs. They usually buy the whole system this way because it's been proven to work.

I must admit that subwoofers in the form of monitor stands seem like a great idea. Don't you think this could also be adopted in the world of hi-fi equipment, not just in recording studios?

Technically there is no reason why it can't be done like that. It seems like a marketing decision, it might be more difficult for the common consumer to grasp because the idea of bookshelf and floor standings are common.

Anssi Hyvönen - Amphion
Thanks to the white waveguides, it's immediately clear what kind of speakers we're dealing with.

Amphion's two largest series of home speakers are Helium and Argon. At first glance they look similar, but I get the impression that the former were intended to be more civilized, calm and musical, while the Argon series models are simply civilian versions of professional speakers, and as a result their sound is more uncompromising. Was this what you had in mind?

We normally say our Helium is our family cars and the Argon is our sportscar. Both will give you a pleasurable experience. As a sports car requires more the Argon's require higher quality signal chain in general to achieve the wanted results. Otherwise, the Helium's are a pleasant every day solution that work well with lower quality amplifiers.

One of the distinctive features of your speakers is the relatively low division frequency, usually set at 1600 Hz. Is this the lowest value allowed by the design of the tweeters? Would you lower this frequency even further if you could?

At some point we had a product with 1200 Hz crossover, we did not feel we gained anything more compared to the current one. Since then, we have used the current 1600 Hz crossover which provides all the benefits were are after.

The Helium series uses woofers with paper diaphragms, but in all other models we can see aluminium drivers. Some manufacturers are afraid of metal or fight its resonances by installing various dampers and using sandwich designs, with a layer of paper, foam or glue. Do you think this is unnecessary?

The aluminium has a lot of good qualities if you use it within the range it's suited for. The problem for many manufacturers is their tweeter crossover is too high, which means the aluminium cone starts ringing. This is not happening with our low tweeter crossover point. So, we have all the benefits without the problems.

Anssi Hyvönen - Amphion
The color of the grilles can be changed quite easily to suit the new interior design.

In the flagship Krypton 3, in addition to speakers with interesting papyrus diaphragms, we see one very unusual solution - enclosures covered with holes, which, together with the speakers themselves, form a cardioid column. Will you explain to me how this works and what benefits it brings?

The perforations alter the dispersion pattern to a cardioid which helps us eliminate unwanted wall reflections and keep the product acoustically stable in all environments. The highly innovative cardioid midrange minimizes unwanted reflections from both side and back walls (up to 20 dB), and allows Krypton3's to perform exceptionally well even in small rooms or close to large windows.

One of the distinctive features of Amphion speakers are the coloured grilles. Do customers often opt for such an extravagant step, or do they start with standard finishes and install the coloured grilles later? Can you replace them yourself, or is it more complicated?

A lifetime of a high-quality passive speaker is very long. Many things can happen in the living room during that time. Therefore, we wanted to come up with a system that allows the customer to modify the looks of the speaker once their décor changes. It is easy to replace and can be done by the customer themselves. This allows the customer to be a bit bold when choosing the colors and a timeless color palette can be chosen later on.

There is a belief among audiophiles, including many dealers, that Amphion speakers are worth checking out when nothing else plays well. In other words, that they are sets ideal for very difficult rooms with uncontrollable, live acoustics. Would you agree with that, or do you think it's a bit unfair?

One of the reasons why the studio products have gained momentum is due to the fact that the speakers work in untreated and treated rooms. This applies naturally to home speakers. It is not a belief it's a fact.

Anssi Hyvönen - Amphion
All Amphion products are made in Finland, recently in a new, larger factory.

You've used a passive diaphragm in the Argon 3S model, but it's not a standard design, as it has a weight in the place where the voice coil would normally be. Will you tell us how this works? Was the weight of this element determined by calculation and simulation, or empirically, during listening?

The weight is used to tune the passive radiator. It is done by calculation and simulation. Using a carefully tuned passive radiator eliminates the problems of a reflex box, improves bass performance and energy transfer, and loads the room more evenly and naturally. With a sealed cabinet, drivers are not exposed to similar pressure changes, which improves precision of the midrange in addition to the low frequencies.

Amphion is one of the companies that very rarely make changes to its catalogue. Once introduced, a model remains in the offer for many years. Isn't this a problem from the point of view of marketing, maintaining audiophile interest in the brand and media presence?

Naturally, it is. But we do not want to make changes just for change's sake. The design of our products is closely connected to the laws of physics and they don't change every week. We see a lot of manufacturers making products worse when they are under the pressure from the marketing department. We are working on some new products that will offer something truly new and innovative to the customer.

Anssi Hyvönen - Amphion
The flagship Krypton 3 speakers have a cardioid dispersion pattern thanks to holes in the side panels.

Some time ago, Amphion's headquarters were located in the building of a defunct gas station on the outskirts of Kuopio, on road number 533. I understand that you had to move the company to a larger facility due to an increase in sales.

Yes, that is correct. The rapid growth during the past few years forced us to look for a new home that will give us a solid foundation for the future. We moved to a new 1700m² lakeside facility in March 2022 with purpose-designed R&D rooms, and demo areas and which doubled our manufacturing and stock space.

How is Amphion's column production done? Does everything, including the enclosures, get built at your facility, or is it more of a place where you assemble loudspeakers using parts coming from external suppliers?

We are using specialized subcontractors and focused mainly on assembly and R&D in our factory.

We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, please see our Privacy Policy.