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The Powered Advent Loudspeaker, "PAL"


tysontom
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Advent began producing "The Powered Advent Loudspeaker" back in 1977 or 1978, I think, and it was a powered two-way loudspeaker that cost $450. A comparable, standard, "The Advent Loudspeaker" system would have to be biamped, equalized and powered by two 80-watt amplifiers for each speaker to be equal to this powered version. Few, if any, standard Advents were set up this way, of course, due to the complexity, so this new unit offered a unique setup in a single package. The key was that this loudspeaker system did have the proper equalization and filtering, along with electronic crossover rather than the customary passive crossover unit. The result was a system capable of relatively smooth, flat output through most of the audio range.

This unconventional system had a subsonic filter and a variable equalizer to adjust the deep bass from a point approximately 30 Hz and above, so that the deep bass could be elevated somewhat in contrast with the standard Advent system, which began to roll off below 50 Hz. There were controls on the front of the speaker that enabled flexibility in input and the frequency output from the speakers.

This system was tested by CBS Labs, and from the notes I have, they gave the system high marks. They felt that it had a very transparent sound with lots of dyamic range and excellent imaging. Complaints about this system (which was not particularly a commercial success), were that the speaker had a tendancy towards brightness at times, making some instruments sound somewhat harsh, and some crossover-region transient-response problems (some "ringing" around 3 kHz) which could blur the sound in that region, but probably rarely audible. Harmonic distortion in the octave below 40 Hz was not as low as some comparable speakers; for example, The Powered Advent had distortion figures that were significantly higher than a comparable Acoustic Research AR-10Pi measured at the same SPL output. But then again, not much music resides in the octave below 40 Hz, so this is probably a moot point.

Overall, this was an excellent speaker system that did not represent particularly good "value-per-dollar." I do not know how long Advent continued to market the system, but there were not large numbers sold.

--Tom Tyson

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  • 2 weeks later...

The PAL was an interesting product. Powered speakers are always a marketing challenge because both the retail salesperson and the end user have problems conceptualizing the idea that the system amplifier is in the speaker, not in the receiver. Only recently with the popularity of powered subwoofers has the idea begun to really catch on—and then ONLY for subs, not for regular full-range speakers.

The original AR Powered Partner was probably the most commercially-successful powered speaker ever, and likely because that was marketed as a playback system for Walkmen, Discmen, etc, and not as a replacement for “normal” home speakers. (I am deliberately leaving out from this discussion the many millions of low-cost self-powered “computer speakers” that come with the various Dell, Gateway, etc. computers, since those are certainly not legitimate high-fidelity products like the Partner.)

Regarding the PAL, it probably would have been more successful if the Advent factory salespeople had presented it in a more efficacious manner. The biggest advantage to a speaker-amplifier combination is the fact that it’s a “closed” system and the amp and speaker can be optimized to work together without the wide-open variability of separates. EQ, impedance, headroom, stability, etc. can all be controlled very nicely, leading to an extremely well-behaved system.

The PAL sounded extremely good. One of the best things about it was the fact that due to its bi-amped configuration and EQ/amp/drivers optimization, it could play much louder and cleaner than its amplifiers’ modest power would suggest—certainly much louder and cleaner than a passive Advent powered by an external receiver of comparable power.

Well, human nature is often the weak link in any given situation, so the Advent factory salespeople, instead of extolling the PAL’s clean, low-distortion sound quality would instead, say, “Listen to how loud this baby can play!”

However, retail sales people just LOVE to be challenged, so they would crank up the PAL until it distorted (“Hey, it’s not THAT loud! I got it to cr*p out pretty quick!”), completely missing the point of its beautiful sound and ease of installation. I had many conversations with the head of Advent’s product development and he always shook his head in amazement and disappointment at this.

Steve F.

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  • 12 years later...

I loved these speakers. I worked as a salesman for an Advent dealer back then an I purchased a pair along with a Technics Pro SU-9070 Preamplifier & Bang & Olafsen 4002 turntable. The combination was awesome.

Because of some financial difficulties in the 80's, I sold the system to my brother. Several years ago the Powered Advents woofer foam was shot and they took them to someone for repair... who informed them that they were not repairable!!!! ARGGGHHH!
Not knowing any better, he discarded these awesome speakers and they ended up in a landfill somewhere. At the least the preamp and turntable still survive.

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