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Audio Physics Loudspeakers Model Tempo 25
The Audio Physics line is from Germany where precision engineering is a way of life. But while there is a lot of engineering in this design, and though important and of interest to the manufacturer and some audiophiles, I am of the opinion that engineering alone does not guarantee good sound. Therefore, this review is going to focus on the loudspeakers’ performance and sonic accomplishments when they are used in an audio system to reproduce music. However, the loudspeakers have numerous indicators that point at design proficiency and quality, likely based on Audio Physics’ 25-some years of experience. I have heard APs at trade shows, but have never auditioned them under controlled conditions, so I can’t comment on the company’s history and/or its past achievements. I do know that they enjoyed good press with the Tempo 25 — the 25th anniversary edition — often compared with the lower priced Tempo model, both belonging to the company’s high-end series. AP actually produces 22 models divided into four categories/series of loudspeakers and includes home theatre components.

The slim, immaculately finished enclosures are stylish and present a tastefully designed almost understated elegance that fits almost any decor. They are slightly tilted toward the rear (for time alignment) boast great single-wiring terminals and adjustable spikes. For a truly nice final touch, the supporting structure is covered with four black covers, which adds to the visual appeal and shows the company’s regard for precision as well as appearance — a touch of class. A number of finishes are available — check the AP website.

The Sound
For the initial auditioning session, I had the Tempos connected to the Genesis power amplifier, pre-amplified with the Allnick (tube) and a Dolan (solid state) designs, with the source components an Atoll CD player and Origin Live turntable/arm with a Dynavector moving coil cartridge and cabling by XLO and Argentum. Earlier, these electronics had been connected to a pair of Genesis 5.1 speakers (about $25K) and I have listened to the system for months thus familiarizing me with every component’s voice. I reasoned that by simply replacing the Genesis with the Tempos, I should get a pretty good first impression and a general idea of the Tempos’ sonic temperament. Well, it didn’t take long to find the speakers’ voice, but what should have been routine for this reviewer, became a bit of a thrill and a lot of anticipation. Thrill, because the Tempos sounded real good; and anticipation because I wanted to test them with the other amplifiers I had at hand — the Bryston 7BSST Squared monoblocks and the Atoll 400 series integrated amplifier.

With the Genesis power amp, the Tempos sounded entirely relaxed. I never had the feeling that the amp labored or that there were restrictions relating to dynamics. Surprisingly smooth highs, clear midrange and solid deep bass made this system sound musically pleasing with but a few slight upper midrange dips (around 900 -1000Hz). Outstanding imagery and the speakers’ knack to delineate detail, led me to believe that I am actually hearing the amplifier’s characteristics, while the loudspeakers faithfully reproduced the musical signal they received. That’s a good thing, of course. With the Bryston 7BSST-Squared connected, the Tempo 25s didn’t sound as relaxed as with the Genesis amp and, in fact, exhibited a bit of tension — the kind that borders on anticipation for things to happen. When I played back my favourite Beethoven recording of the 5th with Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony (JVC CD) my anticipation turned into appreciation as the speakers faithfully reproduced this very complex musical material. Basses and cellos —stage right, violas in the centre, first violins —stage left, percussion way back centre and horns and woodwinds just in front of the percussions. In other words, the loudspeakers easily recreated the space, the position of all instruments and the many subtle tonal shades and dynamics of the 50-some-piece orchestra. While I heard plenty of detail, I was impressed with the way it was presented, not as a highlight, but as a beautifully realistic blend and part of the orchestral arrangement. The loudspeakers’ ability to recreate a solid three-dimensional soundstage image was in the same league as the one I recently enjoyed at a live performance at the famous Musikhaus in Vienna. I believe that the Tempo 25s do not add spatial expansion or contraction, but do provide the impression of proper boundaries and out-of-the-box sound that doesn’t seem to emanate from their slim enclosures. The Bryston amps introduced a little more bass resolution and a slight increase in harmonics above fundamentals. The midrange segment from about 170Hz to 1300Hz was almost the same as with the Genesis amp, but in the mid-highs from about 2500Hz to 5kHz, the Bryston amps had a warmer tonal character with additional presence as this relates to harmonics. Top frequencies were identical with both amps and showed that the Tempos’ tweeters never sound edgy, extend well into the dog-whistle range and handle harmonics — the element that provides listeners with the essence of instrumental timbre and tone. Goes to show — there is never too much power even with an efficient loudspeaker.

The Atoll integrated amplifier, when connected to the Tempo 25s, didn’t impress me. While it did provide decent bass, mids and highs, this system combination lacked harmonics and sounded rather clinical (coldish) when compared with the other two amps. Nevertheless, imaging was great, resolution was in line with the other amps and I’d call the all-round sound quite good, but not yet high-end.

The Tempo 25s never sounded less than involving with all amp combinations, thus showing a relatively neutral quality. Though I didn’t have a good vacuum tube amp in house with which to try them, I’d say that any such design would sound great. However, in my system with the 700watt/channel Bryston 7Bs the Tempos reached peak performance elements usually reserved for much higher priced designs. Not only was the bass more harmonious and tighter than with the other amps, there was more of the midrange presence, better transparency at top frequencies and significantly better harmonic complement around fundamental tones. The company’s slogan No Loss Of Fine Detail is appropriate and spot on.

As with all system combinations, it is important pay attention to every component’s contribution to the end result — the music. Though manufacturers will make claims about the quality of their products, and there are, of course, specifications, it is wise to use the information carefully. It is best to listen and trust you own ears (or mine). Synergy has no guide and cooperative interaction is found only by trial and error. Some folks have developed a sixth sense, but most have to rely on their audio guru — and he/she could be wrong as well. Having said this, I believe that the Audio Physics Temp 25 loudspeakers feature a high degree of sonic neutrality and allow the electronics — amp, preamp and source component — to perform at their best (or worst, as the case may be). Therefore, the sound of your favourite components will be reproduced rather faithfully. This, of course allows the end-user to choose the kind of sound he/she prefers.

As the Tempo 25s were the first I have reviewed of the Audio Physics brand, I couldn’t compare them to the standard model or any others in the line-up. However, considering how well they performed, their build quality and their superb musical caliber, I can only recommend them to anyone looking for high-end sound at a relatively reasonable price.
Tempo 25  

From $6995.00 to $7495 / pair (US) depending on the finish


The loudspeakers feature many technology-driven innovations, all of which can be read on their website The highlights you should know are that they are a three-way design employing three different types of drivers with two side-firing woofers. The crossover network divides frequencies between 150Hz to 300Hz and (from the midrange to the tweeter) between 200Hz and 3000Hz. I am not sure why the company has stated a range rather than a crossover point, though I think that each pair is voiced to reach the desired results.

One of the design features is what the company calls Active Cone Damping (ACD) to avoid resonances. It’s done with a silicone/rubber ring mounted on the outer ring of the cone where it directly applies pressure. As the Tempo 25s have two woofers, ADC is an effective method to eliminate ringing and its side effects. Audio Physic chose to arrange the woofers on both sides of the cabinet (ported at the rear) where they operate in phase (all woofer cones move simultaneously in the same direction) in a so called push-push configuration — not be confused with the push-pull principle commonly used for power amplifiers.

Audio Physics also employs a unique tweeter and midrange driver, which are called Hyper-Holographic designs. The tweeter is a cone driver with new lightweight, soft materials, implemented to reduce the overall moving mass. The materials feature just enough rigidity to function effectively in their geometrically designed environment. There isn’t the customary dome; instead the tweeter’s membrane in the design handles high frequencies while it diminishes ringing, thereby allowing resolution at fundamentals and additional harmonics to emerge.

The midrange driver is a similar design and features what’s called a hard shell with a soft core It has an innovative double basket construction that employs a combination of aluminum and plastic. Apparently aluminum is stiff and conducts heat better than plastic material, which, in turn, allows for much better internal damping as their properties complement one another while providing mechanical and thermal stability.

The driver’s design allows the moving parts — the diaphragm, the surround, the centering device and the voice coil — to achieve a maximum degree of damping assisted by a powerful neodymium magnet located in the die-cast aluminum basket.

In addition to these innovations, Audio Physics also addressed time correct cabinet construction by tilting the enclosures back by 7 degrees. Internal resonances seem very small (I used my stethoscope to test this), helped by solid speaker terminals and adjustable large spikes. All in all, the Tempo 25s are excellent examples of great engineering without compromising their visual appeal.

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