Relative newcomers on the speaker manufacturing scene, Finnish brand Amphion is best known for its stylish upmarket floorstanders.
But as the company has grown, it has started to introduce smaller models, while fully maintaining its reputation for both style and innovative thinking.
The two little standmount two-way Ion models are a relatively new initiative.
The original (£600 per pair) Ion first appeared about two years ago and has since been supplemented by the slightly larger £750 per pair Ion L.
Either version might have been chosen for this test, but we opted for the larger of the two, the Ion L, as its price, main driver and enclosure size is closer to the group norm than the original Ion.
In fact, the Ion L is a little larger than most rivals, its unusually tall cabinet enclosing a volume of approximately nine litres.
At the same time, although the main driver is specified at the same 135mm as most of the others, its Nomex cone is a slightly larger than average being 100mm in diameter.
The reason that it's taller is to make room for the large tweeter waveguide sculpted into the front panel. Amphion describes this as its UDD technology (Uniformly Directive Diffusion), which it claims helps the 25mm titanium dome tweeter deliver more even dispersion.
It also sets the tweeter back behind the line of the front panel, closer to the position of the main driver's voice coil, which makes crossover integration easier. And it allows the crossover frequency to operate almost an octave lower at around 1.6kHz.
The enclosure is both unusual and exceptionally stylish too. The surface finish is painted, either white, black or silver, and all four horizontal edges are heavily post-formed.
With the only grille a perforated metal cover that fits snugly over the bass/mid driver, the result is reminiscent of the designs that Dieter Rams produced for the German Braun brand in the 1950s and 1960s – timeless classics which still look modern today.
The best thing about the Ion L is its fine mid-to-treble coherence. Add to this a very sweet, smooth and well ordered treble and the net result is a relatively rare and very welcome combination of open voicing that's free from any unwanted aggressive tendencies.
However, the midband does also have some coloration, possibly related to the c800Hz peak seen in the in-room balance, and this adds a degree of pinched nasality that's most obvious when listening to speech.
Although it sounds reasonably weighty for a speaker of this size and type, the bass delivery here does sound a little softened and lacking in punch and drive.
Destined for success
Under our listening conditions the sound was probably best with the ports open and the speakers at least 50cm from a wall.
But the overall tonal balance is rather lean and a little thin, so that cellos and the left hand of piano playing sound a trifle undernourished.
One suspects that the Ion L will be commercially successful purely on the basis of its excellent styling. The good news is that the sound quality is pretty good too.