Arte Forma Proxima 5 monitors
Quoting from the Arte Forma website, “Arte Forma started out as a collection of experienced DIY hobbyists who came together to form a company that embodies the spirit of the DIY movement. The founding members have a diverse background, but the common factor is that each person is passionate about the reproduction of music. Members of Arte Forma are computer engineers, electrical engineers, retired air force and navy technicians, and communication industry specialists. Arte Forma is composed of 26 members. Each person is capable of building an amplifier from start to finish. This includes the CNC production stage. This is not a company headed by one or two engineers and a gaggle of workers assembling a product.” I think it’s safe to assume that this DIY know-how now extends to the construction of their other components and this new speaker line.
From what I gather from poking around the internet, Gill Audio partnered with Arte Forma to bring this line to the US market. I didn’t get any documentation with the Proxima 5’s, and info on the web is minimal, so I’ll tell you what I can.
The driver complement for each monitor consists of one 5” offer and a single 1” tweeter, with each cabinet sporting a rear port and a single pair of binding posts. Built of solid wood, the Proxima 5 cabinets are lovingly finished in a soft gloss, reminding me of the warm glowing hand-rubbed finish work I did on our classic 1950’s family hand me down furniture a few years ago. The grills appear a vintage twist and the speakers sound nice with or without. For use without the covers, a pull tab is mounted and visible on each cover for easy removal – pull slowly because the grill mounts are typical plastic inserts. Assuming that the speakers will be used sans grills, Art Forma has finished the 5’s with the same beautiful wood on all sides. The Proxima 5 has five threaded inserts on its bottom for mounting to a stand (I assume, on a pair of Arte Forma’s preferred stands). In a day where cost-cutting so greatly impacts aesthetics, seeing a speaker so well presented is memorable. At just 7.5” wide, 12.375” tall and 8.75” deep, these Mini-Monitors are indeed mini and would certainly benefit from a nice subwoofer – having none on hand, I relied on the Proxima 5’s and set up to do all the work.
Reading that the Proxima 5’s have a sensitivity of 92 dB, I connected them to my 50 W per channel Opera Consonance M100 SE integrated amplifier (more than enough power there), feeding it with a digital signal from iMac through an Arcam irDAC. I let things play a couple of hours before sitting for a listen.
While it’s true that the Proxima 5’s Mini Monitors were again still a bit forward in their delivery for my taste, compared to my Tekton DI’s which themselves are oft described as having a warm coloration, the Proxima 5’s responded much better to the tube integrated. I placed the speakers on spiked 25” stands, two feet from the front brick wall with the tweeters 7 feet apart. Happily, the Proxima 5’s delivered a much more compelling presentation. These monitors are quick, nimble and surprisingly musical.
The draw to play light music (classical trios and such) on small monitors like this, avoiding wide dynamic swings with more formidable instrumentation, is an obvious way to go, and I did some of that upstairs during break-in. I ran through the “Crusell Clarinet Quartets” (Hyperion 1983), with pleasing results when the speakers were in our largest space. The instruments were rendered light, airy and with appropriate delicacy, describing quite well the intimacy of the setting. If this is the music you favor, you may love ‘the Proxima 5’s by themselves, with proper placement, of course.
Downstairs I challenged the Proxima 5’s far more and my listening experience in our smaller downstairs space was far more rewarding – even sans sub woofer, the Proxima 5’s were quick and responsive as they delivered a rock solid soundstage with pin point imaging and a nice range of frequencies. Transients were fast, accurate and addictive, detail plentiful, and there were some lower level surprises that caught my attention more than once, even though these speakers likely only reach down to 55 Hz or so. Getting these babies into a smaller space and closer to the front wall made a huge difference in performance and enjoyment.
The Brian Blade Fellowship’s “Landmarks” (Mid City Records 2014) release served up nice breathy horns, dynamic and thoughtful percussion on a solid bass foundation. The Proxima 5’s presented a convincing amount of this productions musicality with ease and finesse, while warming up considerably during the listening process. Though small in stature, these monitors rendered some convincing lower end (more than expected), and their punch and drive made my foot tap more than once.
Esperanza Spalding‘s “Radio Music Society” (Heads Up International 2012) was smartly presented with punch and drive and quite full pallet of goodness despite this speakers small size. While they aren’t capable of rendering a fun blown low-end, much less lowest end, the that lower frequencies as presented the essence of the music played. Esperanza Spalding’s taut and emotive performance remained intact, with nice dynamics and warmth in both tone and textures and I appreciated the presentation these speakers delivered a great deal.
My enjoyment of the Arte Forma Proxima 5 Mini-Monitors are obvious. The longer I sat with them the more I enjoyed listening through them. Anyone out there with limited space and/or a love for the snap and focus that a small monitor can deliver needs to check out these worthy and affordable little wonders.
Price: $1,250.00 per pair
Proxima 5 specs
2-way design, rear ported, featuring a 5.25″ wave guide woofer and 1″ tweeter
Height – 14in
Width – 8in
Depth – 10in
Approx 15lbs each
Arte Forma Audio
Head Office / Show Room
No.288, Ersheng 1st Rd., Qianzhen Dist.,
Kaohsiung City 80655, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
TEL : (+886) 7-727-8770
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