Amphion+Nuforce Helium 410 System - Performance & Verdict

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This isn’t to say the 410s falter when you do crank the volume up. The

80W rating is deceptive as it will happily take on and beat higher rated

products including the famously bombastic

Zepplin Air (150W) and you’ll certainly be shaking the windows in

smaller rooms. Equally impressive is how well the 410 holds sound

together at high volumes with minimal distortion and wide, controlled

dispersion. If we are being picky, as a 2.0 system, there is a slight

lack of bass that is noticeable on bass-heavy tracks, though it remains

robust enough to make a fine job of even the most excessive action movie

explosions.

Another

joy of the 410s is their unfussiness. Amphion employs a proprietary

technology known as ‘UDD’ (‘Uniformly Directive Diffusion’) which

creates an even dispersion of sound to minimise the anomalies caused by

wall, floor and ceiling reflections and it allows the 410 to be

positioned almost anywhere. This is a pleasant change from the usual

speaker feng shui which often leads to furniture being rejigged in

search of that elusive audio sweet spot.

All of which means

there has to be a ‘but’ and sadly this but is substantial: price. On

their own the Helium 410 speakers retail for £635. Throw in the NuForce

Icon-2 amp (rear below), itself £319, and the official bundle price is

£899. With this budget a vast array of high quality 2.1, 5.1 and even

7.1 speaker sets are available. In fact our

surround sound product of the year, the 5.1

Jamo A 101 HCS 5, is priced at just £235.

6

Of

course we know what Amphion’s argument will be: these products are not

meant to compete. The Helium 410 (and its NuForce bundle) is something

completely different: a wonderfully subtle speaker set that has

incredible intelligibility at low volumes and enough flexibility to work

anywhere with virtually any product. It is the ultimate low listening 2.0 system for the financially very well heeled.

The

flip side is for £900 we can have the Jamo A 101 HCS 5 for our living

room, the

Bose Companion 20 speakers (£200) for our desktop and, if silence is

that important, we still have £465 left to spend on a top notch pair of

headphones. We’ll take the

Blueant Embrace (£170) and still have enough for a pair of

ACS T15 earphones (£149) for on the move and pocket £145.

”’Verdict”’
In their own right the Amphion Helium 410 speakers are remarkable. They ooze detail, warmth and surprising power with only a slight lack of bass at window shaking volumes. It is a superb achievement for small a 2.0 setup. Better still the 410 is truly compelling at low volumes, maintaining detail and integrity allowing you to listen more quietly without a loss in fidelity. In its bundle pack the 410 and NuForce Icon-2 create a wonderfully flexible package as well, taking input from a virtually limitless array of sources. The problem is cost. Unless you’re seriously into home audio recording, or just have money to burn, you’re better off spending the Amphion’s £899 bundle price elsewhere. If you have the means you will adore the Amphion Nuforce Helium 410 System, but for everyone else there are more sensible alternatives.

Score in detail

  • Performance 9
  • Features 8
  • Value 5
  • Sound Quality 9
  • Design 9
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