I have been playing with the Amphion Helium 410 for close to a year now, listening to them & watching the reactions of utter disbelievement of various listeners. I have placed them in small, medium, large rooms, paired them with various sources/amps/cables/stands/tables/bookshelves & what not. Each time, this speaker has managed to surprise me with it’s don’t give a damn to the surroundings/associated gears/placements. Give it a small room, it performs, a mid size room, it performs, a big room, it performs. A true David this speaker is. It kicked speakers costing 2 or 3 times over them pretty easily delivering the proverbial ‘hard in the nuts’ to each of its rivals with utter disdain.
Unboxing: The Amphion Helium 410’s came packed in a cardboard box with sufficient thermocol to protect them. One of the most simple packings used which made unpacking easy & fuss free. Simplicity at its best. Designed for maybe 2-3 times reuse at the most. Packing Quality: 4 Stars
Sources: Naim CD5XS
Philips DVD P
Amps: Naim Nait 5i
Emotiva XPA-1 Mono Blocks
Technics Pre-Power SE/SU/SH – C01
Harman Kardon HK6550
Arcam Diva A65
Cambridge Audio Minx Xi
Audiocontrol Rialto 400
Appearance: With the Helium 410, everything has been kept simple yet effective. The Helium 410 makes use of a one-inch titanium tweeter and a 4.5-inch paper mid bass driver. This mid-bass driver is made of paper which is meant to be rigid yet light in weight. The 1” titanium dome tweeter neatly sits behind protective grilles that play no part what so ever in the overall tonality of the Helium 410. Another visually striking part about the bookshelf speaker is that the conical design of the tweeter’s waveguide and the mid-bass driver are identical in their diameters, which gives of the impression that it is just another driver. The waveguide employed by the designer ensures a wide reach of the high-frequencies. Thus, the sweet spot is not confined to a smaller concentrated area, and instead it is spread over a wider spot. The 2-way bookshelf speakers have a rear firing port that is aimed at helping the bookshelf speakers deliver a tight low-end. Aesthetically, the 410 is a break from the wood-finished boxes that are usually found from the competition. The fit and finish is also excellent and it feels extremely solid with a sturdy, non-resonant cabinet. The pair on long term loaner has been a Nextel grey finish one, which look quite sober & eats up dust quite effectively. However that’s not to say that they won’t show dust after a while.
Technical Specifications (From Amphion Website)
Operating principle: 2-way, vented Tweeter: 1" titanium Mid / woofer: 4,5" paper Crossover point: 1600 Hz Impedance: 8 ohm Sensitivity: 86 dB Frequency response: 60 - 20 000 Hz +/-3dB Power recommendation: 20 - 80 W Measurements (h x w x d): 259 x 132 x 220 mm Weight: 3,5 Kg
Performance: Except for the NAD356 Amp, these speakers gelled with each of the rest effortlessly, with the best synergy being with the beastly Krell Amp. The 410’s image really well, putting out a rather huge soundstage which makes you wonder how it’s possible with that diminutive size of theirs. They are fast, very fast & just go RATATAT in a flash. Play any genre of music and they give one an instant sense of gratification. Adding a sub completes the LF response but by & large the Helium 410’s can give you sufficient bass in smaller rooms. The 410 has excellent clarity with voices and instruments, which make even very complex pieces simple to follow. This also makes it a satisfying performer at lower listening levels. Many a time, I’ve been listening to music late into the night at volumes much much lower than what I would with other speakers, making you sit up & look at them & appreciate them even more. These speakers have the ability to disappear pretty much effortlessly when placed correctly. Oh & did I mention about the Scary imaging?
Verdict: The Helium series is the entry-level offering in the Amphion range and the 410 is the smallest speaker in the Helium series. Four words to describe these speakers: Imaging/Timing/Dynamics/Tonality. That Amphion invites you to listen to a speaker with the volume lowered, might not be the most obvious way of selling it to a wider audience. However, there is a reason for this unusual approach. The Helium 410 is designed to offer excellent imaging and clarity even at very low volumes. There is no escaping the fact that at their price, one can buy any number of significantly larger speakers than the 410, but very few we have seen recently are as well built. Whether you value this over the larger size (and as a result, deeper bass) that other designs will offer will depend on listening room size and preferences. In terms of placement, the 410 is simplicity itself. We obtained best results on dedicated stands set about half a foot away from the rear wall. Using the Helium on shelves and tabletops still gave strong results and truly are one of the most unfussy speaker’s we’ve ever encountered. In terms of nearfield listening in computer or desktop systems, the 410 is extremely flexible and coupled with its small size makes it an excellent choice in this role. The 86dB/w sensitivity is a little low, but an amplifier of reasonable power ought to have no trouble with it. This is one heck of a smartly designed speaker. Kudos to the designer’ abilities to get so much out of such a small box, truly outstanding & Chapeau time!