The A500 is Buchardt Audio’s first active loudspeaker. €3750 with the streaming hub, €3500 without. Catch up here. A sealed box housing three drivers – two on the front, one on the rear – we might ask ourselves, is it a 2.5-way or is it a 3-way? The answer: yes.
Out of the box, the A500’s DSP crossover is coded as a 2.5 way, the front baffle’s 6″ driver handling mids and bass and the rear 6″-er reinforcing that bass:
But download the ‘Nearfield Master Tuning’ firmware .bin file from the Danish company’s website, copy it onto a USB stick and insert that stick into the loudspeaker’s rear and a fresh DSP crossover is installed to render the A500 a 3-way: the front baffle’s 6″ driver now does midrange only and the rear 6″-er bass only. Two voicings (or identities) for the price of one.
One thing’s for sure, the differences between the two tunings are more easily discerned by ear than by inspecting the frequency response graphs (supplied by Buchardt). Case in point: Buchardt also offers a 2.5-way Master Tuning that gives the midrange more of a tickle (than stock) and a 2.5-way Master Tuning that optimises on-axis response.
That spells two more loudspeaker identities for the price of one. I can hear the difference vs. stock — but can we see it?
Furthermore, implicit in the Master Tunings’ growing number is the evolution of the A500’s sound over time as Buchardt responds to the customer feedback, neatly enabled by their factory-direct sales model.
And yet one key advantage for newcomers to the A500 is that Buchardt remains in control. They keep the EQ – and its tyranny of choice – hidden from view (at least for now). And with the option of returning to the stock tuning at any time, we can experiment with different Master Tunings without being plagued by the fear of messing things up. A reset to ‘stock’ is only a USB stick away.
Digital signal processing (DSP) also enables the partnering WISA streaming hub’s room correction capabilities. Wave an iPhone around the room for a minute and its microphone, together with Buchardt’s (still rudimentary, iOS only) app, map out the room’s acoustics to produce a correction curve.
Before I get into my own experimentation with the A500, I took an hour with company founder Mads Buchardt to talk about the power of DSP.
Further information: Buchardt Audio