Amphion One15 - Pair by squizz
So a couple months ago I was in the market for some new nearfields, and could not really find any thing I loved. I've owned or worked extensively on all the usual suspects over the past few years, (Adam S3a's and S4a's, Jbl 4328's, NS10's, Lipiniski 505's, Tannoy DMT's, Genelecs, Dynaudio BM series, Proacs and a few other in spots) but nothings really stuck for me. All have had plus's and minus, Dynaudio's being the only constants; mostly cause i'm a fan of the tonality. I started researching studio monitors to see if anything fulfilled all or at least most of my requirements. I've always felt the quality I want and what I think is acceptable to pay for near-fields never seems to line up. I figured i would start my search in the audiophile blogs, thinking maybe i'd find something a little outside of the box that suited my need. I stumbled across a company named Amphion with great reviews everywhere. I researched them a bit and found a number of mastering studios and Bruce Swedien with these Amphion speakers, which peaked my interest some.
I decided to shoot them an email. The company owner Anssi got back to me immediately. After a couple emails back and forth he asked what exactly i'm looking for in a studio monitor. I replied "something with extreme clarity/detail in the mid range, a soft yet detailed top end, and a strong emphasis on transient response. I'm also an ex-hiphop guy, so i do love a solid low end but its not of the utmost importance as my mains can give me an accurate representation there. I do not need these monitors to be particularly loud so much as detailed; being able to judge dynamics, balances and reverb trails are of the utmost importance. I'm essentially looking for my ideal speakers to mix on. I've come to find i prefer passive monitors, as all my favorite speakers seem to be passive and the ability to upgrade the amp to suit the sound I am after is a plus."
Anssi explained to me he believed his new studio monitor line would be an excellent fit and pointed me toward his One15 model to get me started (in later discussion with him, I mentioned wanting something semi portable cause i travel a bit, and like eliminating variables when I work in unfamiliar places. I'm trusted to produce some fairly important projects, consistency and efficiency are of the utmost importance.) and I figured I could add the bigger pair at a later date if fell in love with them.
Before I discuss the actually monitors, I must say dealing with the company Amphion particularly Anssi was a great a experience for me; simply based on the customer service alone my purchases was worth it. There was an issue with shipping that was completely my fault as I accidentally double booked NAMM/Grammy weekend, where I was suppose to pick my One15's up. Anssi saw the whole situation thru made sure I got the product and there were no issue (even with the 12 hour time difference between him and I). Also saw to it that i was happy with my purchase.
So now to the monitors. I first set them up in my office with a Crown K2 I had lying around, cause I was working on a project and did not want to swap out my monitors just yet. In just listening thru a few records the clarity can be a bit startling at first, alot like the Lipinski's; just not as boring sounding or overly clinical (not a dig at the Lipinski's at all, great speakers just not for me). I could hear all the reverb trails, I noticed all of the subtle dynamic and volume things in records I had studied for years.The big thing was I still could enjoy the music, it didn't feel lifeless. I was pretty excited to get them in my studio.
I got them set up in my production/mix room first. I had a mix to complete for this band i'm currently working on (indie rock band with EDM elements). First thing I noticed is they go surprisingly low for such a small speakers. Nothing over exaggerated in the bass region at all but I was able to clearly hear where everything sits in the bass region, on even the most bass heavy parts. I did not feel like i lost the much down there when switching to my midfields. Detail is the name of the game with these speakers from the top of the high end to the bottom of the low end.
First I pulled a few songs i'm familiar with just to familiarize my self with the monitors some in the new space. I then pulled up the mix and began hacking away at it. Immediately noticed I how much quicker I made choices with tones and instrument placement. Its not so much if its wrong it sounds bad but more I could hear clearly what effect each change made. With dialing in eq's, distortions and harmonic stuff, the smallest changes and side effects of such are very apparent. Since moving to working almost entirely "in the box" that has become more and more important to me, this is the one thing i missed after moving on from the Lipinski's. The huge difference here tho is these monitors do not sound overly clinically and the detail is in no way distracting. On the Lipinski's I would catch myself spending endless amounts of time fiddling with reverbs and compressors cause I could really hear the minute changes, but deciding what I liked best was fleeting.The One15's gave me that details but the way its present really makes the difference for me. They allow me to make those minute changes and get on with my decisions. I wish I could explain why or how this is better, but its one of those this you just have to experience for yourself. I believe the way they are voiced have a lot to do with.
Mix finished!! Balance and tones were the 100% on point and translated great when checking on other systems. My only complaint was I didnt experience what i was expecting in regards to micro dynamics, coming from lipinski's and NS10's things like setting compressors (especially plug in ones) were extremely easy (probably because they were sealed cabinets). Not to say the One15's were slouches by any means. They are better than my Dynaudios in that regard, just not quite where the other 2 monitors are in that area. Either way mix went well song came out surprisingly good considering this was my first time really getting into the monitors; I was sold.
However the real difference and special moment for me came in production and tracking. I usually do this primarily on my mid fields (custom built, Tannoy style dual concentric 3 way, dual 12" floor-standers), mainly cause they are relatively accurate, go extremely low, loud, and have a huge stereo field sweet spot. Basically there fun to listen for long periods of time. I do tend to switch back and forth from time to time to the my near-fields just to for accuracy and give my ears a rest. On my first tracking session with the One15's I switched over once and rarely switched back. This is where these speakers really shined for me. Again I was making better decisions faster, choosing better synth tones, dialing in my guitar tones quicker, even making some better arrangement and voicing decisions. And again doing all this quicker and more efficiently. While they are no where near as loud as my mid fields, the accuracy in the bass region does not make me feel as tho I'm missing any thing, when switching back and forth. In fact i only switch to the bigs when I wanted to listen loud, in a room filling sort of way. I just find i'm working ALOT more efficiently with these speakers, and for me at this stage that is a HUGE plus.
After a couple months of usage, and familiarizing my self with the Amphion One15's, I can honestly they are an indispensable a tool for me now. I love them, my staff loves them; I went from going back and forth on as many as 4 sets of monitors down to 2. I'm a working professional, and as much as I love gear, this is a business so every tool I keep and use daily is a tool that either helps make my final product better or helps me work faster; the One15's do both.
Note: I used the One15's with a few different amps, all sounded good but when I landed on one the newer Parasound amps, I noticed most of my micro-dynamic issues I mentioned earlier got significantly. To me the Bryston 4b and Parasound were my favorite amps. The difference was negligible between the 2 so I decided to stick with cheaper smaller option.