Audel CG Tower
People behind Audel Art Loudspeakers say that their main goal is to involve more people in high quality audio and in a way show them that listening to the music can bring even more fun than they thought. However, Italians don’t do this by organizing social campaigns, but through the creation of original looking speaker and electronics that can be used almost anywhere. Each model is a little piece of art and thus has to be different than the electronics standing next to the TV set or a home cinema receiver. Speakers are hand-made by highly skilled craftsmen. This should draw the attention of customers who appreciate high-quality materials and objects with a heart. All of the speaker cabinets are made of glued laminated birch wood elements, shaped by computer-controlled machines. Boxes put together this way are much stiffer than similar structures made of MDF panels. Cabinets are finished with natural wax polish. And I have to say, it looks wonderful.
Audel’s catalogue is divided into three series - Reference, Design and Home. In the first one we find monitors and floorstanding speakers for audiophile systems, in the second line there are such things as Hi-Fido dogs or a pair of speakers called Fred & Ginger in the shape of a boy and a girl. Perhaps the most interesting thing for normal, domestic use are Nika monitors and Audamp amplifier. The company is not afraid of unusual solutions, not only in the field of design, but also the internal structure of the speakers. For example, Nika monitors use transmission line instead of the typical bass-reflex ports. Real audiophiles will be most interested in CG 509, CG 618 and CG Tower. The last one is the flagship model.
Design and functionality
For our test we received a pair of speakers equipped with optional stands. They were built using the same technology as cabinets - glued pieces of birch plywood layers, cut by CNC machines. This solution is called ‘Multipanel System Structure’. The specific technology was used to get the curved shape of the legs. You can notice it especially when you put speakers upside down. The operation is not simple, because they weigh a lot (exactly 22 kg each). Even for this reason the optional stands seem worth investing in. Not only do they prevent the speakers from falling over. There is another practical benefit - set with dedicated stands is much easier to carry and positioning in the listening room. In this configuration, there are three points of contact with the floor - two in the front and one in the back. Thus, we can gently tilt the speakers backwards, which should have a positive effect on the sound. Spikes are equipped with a robust, metal studs and detachable tips. In the room with soft carpets you can leave full spikes and on a hard floor the tip of each cone can be unscrewed. But either way you still get the opportunity to level the cabinets or tilt them backwards. There is even a small spirit level built in each stand. So maybe the original stands require a large fee, but at least you really get a nice accessories for your money.
Speakers themselves look simply beautiful. The specific design means that the front and rear have a different texture than all other surfaces. In addition, there are also ebony wood panels - the two biggest are of course on the front and back wall, but the dark elements can also be seen in the stands, at the end of each leg.
Thinking about the functionality, the speakers terminals sticking out straight from the cabinets are excellent and very convenient to use. Because of the protective plastic shields, owners of the cables with banana plugs will have a slightly easier life. For some users, the lack of grilles may be a small problem. The tweeter is soft, but the designers didn’t think about any further protection. The rear panel looks almost like a control center of active speakers. A lot of screws and a large screw heads looking as if the speakers were mounted from the rear. However, the height at which the screws are placed does not fit into the positioning of the speakers. What is the matter? I'll find out only when I unscrew speakers.
Let’s not mess about - the CG Tower is a brilliant speaker! I did not expect it. I was convinced that some likeable guys in leather shoes decided that they will make nice looking speakers and they thought only about the design. Leafing through a catalog I even suspected that the speakers were only a pretext to create beautiful furniture. Looking at the pictures and press materials you might think so, but this is a big mistake. Italians know the good sound, someone in the company has to be a specialist in electro-acoustics. Otherwise they would not be able to create speakers sounding as good as CG Towers. It simply can’t be done by accident.
The basis for success is the preservation of the natural proportions and Audels implement this in one hundred percent. However, neutrality is often associated with boredom, but here it is not like that. The sound is dynamic, highly elastic and saturated with positive energy. Several plus points emerge from the overall neutral tone balance and they are easy to notice even during the first listening session.
The first advantage is the ability to connect a nice, slightly warm sound temperature with speed. These features rarely go hand in hand and that is why their connection is a great achievement. The vocals have a bit of natural warmth, bass is nicely saturated. The sound as a whole is very consistent, but also very fast. Not only rate of pulses impresses, but also the ability to cut them in one point in time. It can be heard very clearly in electronic music, which is a severe test for audio equipment. Usually we get the speed and dynamics for the price of colours, timbre and overall pleasantness. But here we have both. If you can imagine a nice combination of Audio Physic and Harbeth speakers - this is it. We can have it without any seams, without cutting the bandwidth into warm midtones and fast high frequencies. Here we perceive sound as perfectly uniform.
The second biggest advantage of the Italian speakers is the soundstage. CG Towers generate three-dimensional and precise stereo imaging that we begin to wonder if someone is cheating us. Position of speakers relative to the rear wall of the listening room has a greater impact on the amount of bass than the soundstage. Audels have a natural ability to push the sound away from the cabinets. Sometimes we can hear the sound from the side or even from the back of our heads. Instruments on the base line have sharp edges and are suspended in clean air. Even as a longtime user of Audio Physic speakers, in a blind test I would say that CG Tower is a new model made by Germans.
The third advantage is the bass. It dives so deep that the sound of the Italian speakers can be called full-range without humility. This type of subwoofer rumbles are usually offered by large, three-way boxes or models equipped with a 25-30 cm woofer. Here we have two 16.5-cm speakers working in the 38-l cabinets. And the effect is as if each cabinet employed a really powerful active subwoofer. And it's not about the amount of low frequencies, because it’s just adequate to the whole sound, but rather their range. Even at the very edge, the sound is still coherent and well controlled. High frequencies are transparent and shiny, but they know when to stop. In fact, this part of sound range is closest to the ideal neutrality.
All the advantages of the Italian boxes make up the last one - musicality. With the Audels we can pass through the music with real pleasure. First, I listened to all the albums that I found recently, then I went back to those that have not seen the disc tray for a long time, and at the end of the test I was looking for more music news on the web. I have not found a musical genre with which the CG Towers are not able to cope. They were also not picky about the rest equipment. They can easily play with an amplifier such as Audiolab 8200A, which costs twice as much as stands for the speakers. Many models in that price range would complain on the amplifier, but here it just worked. It seems that the Italian boxes can be the pride of a living room or a fantastic gift for audiophiles, but also an investment for the future.
Build quality and technical parameters
Audels are beautiful, but as for undoing screws I don’t remember such a difficult opponent. Removing ten screws in the front panel did not give any results. Even shaking the boxes didn’t help, so I moved to the back wall. There we have 24 screws with a small head, most of them are rather reluctant to leave their place. There are also still six larger bolts and I had no idea what to do with them - removing any screws without knowing anything about their function can be risky. I began with those on the edge and it was a right decision. The rear panel revealed the entire interior of CG Tower. Six mysterious screws hold the crossover and the thick plate of birch plywood. Ebony cover is there rather for decorative reasons. Crossover was built with high quality components.
The cable routing draws attention - cables are strung together in a bundle just behind the crossover, and then hang almost to the bottom of the cabinet freely. There, each of the three wires enter the hollow channel in plywood frame, possibly cut at the stage of making subsequent layers. Cable coming into the lower speaker goes through the middle channel of the front wall and the cables going to the second woofer and tweeter pass through the corners of the enclosure. It looks very interesting, but what I think that only the designers know what they wanted to achieve this way. There is also a stiff crossbar connecting the side walls of the cabinet. Internal damping is done by a couple of pieces of artificial wool, huddling freely to each of the walls.
As for the drivers, we have a 27-mm soft dome tweeter and two 16.5-cm woofers with diaphragms made of reinforced reed pulp. Plywood, wood, beeswax, paper, reeds... Italians probably like natural materials. Drivers are not shielded, but it is unlikely that an owner of a CRT TV set will place Audel speakers in their living room. From the outside you can see that drivers’ baskets are separated from ebony front through thin pieces of gray foam. At first I thought that ebony board is just decoration, which by the way covers the screws mounting the speakers or their non-sexy little baskets. But if that was true, the designers would not fix the ebony board with ten screws. As for the technical parameters, Audel unveiled only three - 91 dB efficiency, 8 ohm impedance and recommended amplifier power of 50-200 W.
Audels played with two amplifiers - Audiolab 8200A and Creek Destiny 2. I know that a soul mate for them should come from a completely different price range. If I suddenly became their owner, I would start my search from the powerful transistors with a neutral sound temperature. I used a Naim CD 5 XS as a sound source, AriniAudio Individual speaker cables and Albedo Geo analog interconnect. Power was distributed through Enerr Tablette 6S with Gigawatt LC-2 mkII cables.
I was really surprised that such beautiful speakers can still present a brilliant sound. According to my definition, CG Towers easily crosses the border of high-end audio. They cost a lot, but the price is justified by the sound and the looks. It doesn’t matter whether we look at them from the point of view of appearance, quality of workmanship or sound performance. Italian speakers gave such a show that it was a shame to stop them, even with the much cheaper amplifier. The CG Towers hit the high spot of my private list named ‘one day’, which is also occupied by the Electrocompaniet AW 180 monoblocks, AVID turntable and the Bentley Brooklands. If you look at the case from that perspective, the Audels seem to be inexpensive, really.
Speaker type: floorstanding, dynamic
Sensitivity: 91 dB
Impedance: 8 ohms
Dimensions: (H/W/D) 97/24.5/26.6 cm
Weight: 22 kg/piece