Amphion is a Finnish brand that has been in existence for about a decade. Its speakers have tended to be relatively upmarket as well as notably stylish affairs. But recent additions like the £1,600 Prio 520 are more affordable, while still maintaining those super-clean Scandinavian lines. Our Prio 520s came beautifully finished in a classy birch wood veneer, but that's a relatively costly option at £300 extra. A pair of Prio 520s are also available for just £1,300, provided you settle for a graphite black or white painted finish.
Twin bass/mid drivers are mounted above and below the tweeter, in a configuration named after developer Joseph d'Appolito. And, because these are relatively small units, the speakers are remarkably slim. Both these diaphragm main drivers operate in parallel, so their combined acoustic centre effectively coincides with the location of the tweeter.
In fact, the piece de resistance is the tweeter. Although at heart a conventional 25mm metal dome affair, its 'waveguide' mounting is anything but. A species of horn, but with a very wide flare, its ultimate core function is to allow the crossover point to be lowered by about an octave, from the 3kHz norm down to 1.6kHz, so moving it below the zone where the ears are most sensitive. Because it also recesses the tweeter, this improves its potential time alignment with the two cone units.
The enclosure comes complete with a proper plinth to improve the stability footprint, but the spikes put cosmetics ahead of function, with short shafts and no locknuts. This not only prevents the spikes being properly secured, it also makes it difficult to tilt the speaker slightly backwards, which is worth doing if you're tall or sit quite high off the ground.
Because the two main drivers of a d'Appolito arrangement operate in parallel - effectively simulating a single driver - best focus will be obtained when the two are precisely equidistant from the listeners, with the ears precisely on the tweeter's vertical axis. A single pair of high-quality terminals is fitted close to the floor, just below the generous rear port.
Delicious and delicate, are the adjectives that first spring to mind. Best suited to free space siting, well clear of walls, the Prio 520 doesn't 'do' really deep bass. But that's a sensible choice in view of its lively disposition through the rest of the bass region.
Tonally it has a warm, rich and essentially neutral character that's very easy on the ears, with impressively clean voice reproduction, albeit with a slight tendency to exaggerate chestiness. Throughout the listening work it became apparent that the Prio 520 is very sensitive to both positioning and orientation.
Although results are never unsatisfactory, once both speakers and the listener are positioned exactly right, the whole image snaps sharply into focus. At its best this speaker is capable of fine focus and very superior imaging, with good depth perspectives and precise soundstaging.
While it is a trifle laid back, voices in no way sound 'shut in' here. Rather, the voice band has an engaging openness, yet also sufficient restraint to avoid becoming unpleasantly fierce or aggressive - a persuasive combination that makes this speaker particularly inviting for long term listening.