Loudspeakers

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Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 05, 2020
hfncommendedStill going strong after 20 years, the Venus is nothing if not the ambassador for the room-friendly 'omni'

Mention 'omnidirectional' and most worldly-wise audiophiles will remember seeing MBL's remarkable Radialstrahler loudspeakers at one hi-fi show or another. Once seen and heard they are not easily forgotten, but they are also devastatingly expensive! By the same token, affordable omnidirectional speakers have never quite made it into the mainstream of hi-fi despite Sonab being a major player back in the 1970s and Canon's models from the 1980s also finding favour with many listeners.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Apr 16, 2020
hfncommendedTwo-dimensional wonder-material, Graphene, is making its way into driver cones, including Falcon's flagship

Oxfordshire-based Falcon Acoustics is perhaps best-known for two aspects of its business: first, it's a major supplier of drive units, both its own designs and those of partner companies; and second, it's the manufacturer of its own version of the classic LS3/5a speaker design [HFN Jan '19]. The Falcon Acoustics Classic 15ohm LS3/5a is fully BBC-licensed, hand-assembled in Oxford and 'the only LS3/5a in production that faithfully replicates the original BBC design published in Oct 1976'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Apr 08, 2020
hfnoutstandingActive or passive? Exposure's new outboard crossover allows you to experience both with the Kudos Titan 707

As divisive audio issues go, few get the battle lines drawn more steadfastly than the matter of passive versus active loudspeakers. It's not so long ago that we were hearing about tiny monitor speakers with onboard amplification said to be good enough to have dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts abandoning five-figure systems of conventional amps and speakers. Forget valves vs. solid state, or analogue vs. digital: when it comes to the topic of active speakers, tempers seem to flare among the keyboard warriors.

Review: Paul Miller, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Mar 18, 2020
hfnoutstandingMore than a chip off the Magico block, the A1 sets the standard for pint-sized standmounts

Chalk and cheese. Night and day. Or perhaps David and Goliath... Call it what you will, but the transition between Avantgarde's huge, horn-loaded Duo Primo XDs departing my listening room, and the diminutive A1s arriving, demanded a recalibration of reality. Just 20kg versus 185kg per enclosure and a drop of 20dB in sensitivity – so the volume control on our resident dCS Vivaldi One DAC/preamp also needed a reset from 500mV output to 6V.

Review: Andrew Everard, Review and Lab: Keith Howard  |  Mar 11, 2020
hfnedchoiceDubbed Avantgarde's 'best kept secret' the Duo Primo XD was revealed at the UK Hi-Fi Show Live

Of late we've had some speakers through editor PM's listening room only describable as imposing, but nothing quite prepares one for the sheer visual impact of the Duo Primo XDs from Germany's Avantgarde Acoustics. Standing some 1.8m tall by 67cm wide, and weighing 185kg apiece, installing them is a matter of slotting the boxes together rather in the manner of building a PA stack – an appropriate analogy, as we'll discover – while the price-tag is similarly huge, at £79,500 a pair.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Feb 14, 2020
hfncommendedThe latest compact speaker from Jamo blends designer appeal with solid audio engineering

The small speaker market is a fiercely fought arena, with every major speaker brand having at least one dog in the fight, and often several. It's not hard to see why: there's a tradition of speaker companies making over-achieving budget boxes, while the interior design appeal of small enclosures delivering a big sound has encouraged builders to develop the idea of the compact standmount/bookshelf speaker beyond the entry-level. The result is a choice of models with more expensive engineering – and hopefully even better performance – while still keeping the dimensions neat and tidy.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Feb 06, 2020
hfnoutstandingThe ultimate expression of Paradigm's Persona speaker range is an active/passive hybrid, with room EQ too...

Canadian company Paradigm makes no bones about where its Persona range is pitched: it describes it as 'The Evolution of Luxury', as you might hope of a lineup topping out with the 9H speakers at £34,000 a pair. In fact the Persona 9H is currently Paradigm's absolute top model, being the priciest, and technically most complex, design in the company's flagship range. Like the other Persona models it comes in a choice of five standard colours: Harmony White, Vanta Black, Carbon Black gloss, plus metallic Aria Blue or Sonic Silver.

Ken Kessler  |  Jan 31, 2020  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1990
An acoustic ribbon hybrid loudspeaker at a realistic price without the need for a huge amplifier. Too good to be true? Ken Kessler finds out...

Hybrids are supposed to be the best of two or more technologies, and we've seen the approach used for all manner of products. The most feverish of hi-fi's Dr Frankensteins though, have always been devoted to loudspeakers.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jan 06, 2020
hfnoutstandingBreathed on with the spirit of the company's flagship model, these speakers are nothing less than spectacular

From the sheer performance and value of the flagship Triton Reference [HFN Jun '19], down to the bargain that is the Triton Five [HFN Mar '19], we've been very much taken with the sound of the GoldenEar range. And this despite the 'but it shouldn't work' cost-effective engineering employed by the company, including its liberal use of plastics in the cabinets' construction.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Dec 24, 2019
hfnoutstandingClearly inspired by its LS50W, KEF's tiny 'wireless' system in a box is a big triumph

There are active speakers and active speakers. Some models claim to be 'active' but are really just powered, with a single amplifier within the speaker cabinet driving the tweeter and mid/bass unit via a conventional passive crossover, sometimes even with a stereo power amp in one speaker driving both it and a slave partner.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Dec 16, 2019
hfnoutstandingWe report on a classic with a modern twist as Spendor launches a flagship inspired by its iconic 1970s models

As any hi-fi enthusiast will know, Spendor has an illustrious history, its co-founder Spencer Hughes creating the company's first speaker, the BC1, using knowledge he'd gained while working at the BBC in the '60s. Yet for the past decade the brand has been working hard to reinvent itself, its affordable A and higher-end D series selling into the mainstream speaker market.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Nov 19, 2019
hfnedchoiceRedesigned from the ground up, Klipsch's all-new Reference Premiere series leverages over 70 years of loudspeaker history. We audition the largest of its bookshelf trio...

With no shortage of standmount loudspeakers vying for our attention, any newcomer needs to stand out from the crowd. And few stand out as boldly as Klipsch's £625 'Reference Premiere' series RP-600M, arriving from a company with an auspicious portfolio of exciting-sounding horn-loaded loudspeakers [HFN Jun '19], all dating back to the first ever Klipschorn model launched in 1946.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Nov 12, 2019
hfnoutstandingThe latest – and largest – model in Focal's Kanta range combines its signature style with innovative materials

You might be tempted to see the Focal Kanta range as Utopia-lite: while the loudspeakers in what is now a three-strong lineup are one-piece designs, lacking the adjustable articulation of the flagship offering, they do echo the company's Utopia style [HFN Dec '18]. This is done by shaping the front baffle so that, in the £9000 Kanta No3 we have here, the two bass drivers are in a section of baffle sloping gently back from bottom to the midpoint where the tweeter is mounted, while the midrange driver at the top is slanted slightly downwards.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Oct 30, 2019
hfnoutstandingThe new ELAC Navis 'powered speaker' series is a slick system alternative, whether or not you use it wirelessly

As one of the largest-scale speaker manufacturers around, US/German company ELAC has what can sometimes seem like a baffling range, all the way from very affordable mini-monitors and 'subwoofer and satellites' packages right the way up to very high-end floorstanding designs. And apart from the sheer breadth of the lineup, this diversity allows it to explore a variety of technologies: in this range there's no signs of a 'one design fits all, just in different scales' approach.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Oct 21, 2019
hfnoutstandingThis may be the baby of the latest Gold range, but it has the company's usual impeccable design, fit and finish, and a big sound that belies its compact dimensions

The hierarchy of the Monitor Audio loudspeaker range – starting with Bronze, and progressing through Silver and Gold to the flagship Platinum series – is well-established, and so too is the company's rolling programme of updating the products line by line. In recent times this has run alongside a series of acquisitions – the company scooped up electronics manufacturer Roksan in 2016, and more recently added Blok, the maker of the STAX range of hi-fi stands and AV racks, to its stable.

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