Loudspeakers

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Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jul 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngWith a coincident driver array and interport-coupled cavity bass, meet the company’s most radical floorstander in years

Out with the old and in with the new. ELAC is a German loudspeaker company of quite some repute and a great many years’ standing. Yet major changes have been afoot at the company, with its new VP of Engineering, Andrew Jones, indelibly stamping himself on the brand’s products. A former KEF man – there in what were arguably the company’s harvest years with Laurie Fincham, in the late 1980s – he went on to put Pioneer’s luxury brand TAD on the map with some great soundinghigh-end loudspeakers [HFN Jan ’15].

Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jul 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngAnd then there were three: Neat's little Iota range is all grown up with the arrival of the Xplorer model

One of the best sounds at Bristol's Sound & Vision Show [HFN Apr '18] came not from a gazillion-pound set-up, but the latest arrivals from Neat Acoustics, driven by modest amplification, in a small room that just made you want to stay and listen some more. The Iota Xplorers are the new model in a range that began with the tiny original Iotas some seven years ago, and while they draw on the same principles, the newcomers are very decidedly grown-up despite standing just 780mm tall on their polished conical spikes.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngWelcomed with open arms by those seeking a quality speaker for use in a tight space, the Diamond created the market for affordable mini monitors. How will it sound today?

Loudspeakers are surely the most fashion-conscious segment of the hi-fi market. There are Japanese amplifiers on sale today that look little different to their predecessors being sold in the late '70s. Yet the same 'period look' can hardly be said to be popular when it comes to speakers.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngWith its lustrous-looking swooping cabinet, exotic drivers and colossal price tag, this is a seriously special speaker

When you're designing a loudspeaker that sells upwards of £38,000, depending on finish, you can pretty much do what you like. Brands selling sub-thousand pound floorstanders have a super-keen eye on what their competitors are doing, and what the market wants. By the time you reach the Raidho Acoustics D-2.1's level, however, you're in a whole new world – it's where designers spread their wings and fly.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngWith a legacy stretching back about 28 years, the 805 may still be the pint-pot of B&W’s 800-series but this latest D3 standmount can still pack a musical punch

One of the world’s largest, if not the largest, loudspeaker brands, B&W dominates the global high-end market. From the launch of the iconic 801 Series 80 nearly 40 years ago, the 800-series has been periodically improved along with advances in engineering and materials.

Review and Lab: Keith Howard  |  Apr 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngA staple at the Hi-Fi Show Live, Magnepan's largest Magneplanar finally gets its first in-depth test

Back in the 1980s, when the UK hi-fi scene began, belatedly, to experience products from places more exotic than Glasgow, Bradford, Huntingdon, Maidstone and Salisbury – ones that didn't say 'Made in Japan' on them – the USA provided a stream of surprises, one of the most memorable being Magneplanar loudspeakers. For most audiophiles, isodynamic drivers were something you found in a left-field Wharfedale headphone of the early 1970s, yet here were full-range panel speakers using essentially the same technology.

Review: José Victor Henriques, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Mar 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngImproved sensitivity and a deeper bass are just two features of the Master Chronosonic-inspired Alexia S2

During their time, Wilson's famous 'Watt Puppies' were upgraded on as many as seven occasions, until the Sasha W/P was born (now also in its Series 2 iteration). The Sasha was no longer a standalone monitor with a carrying handle and a matching subwoofer but a fully-fledged modular integrated loudspeaker system.

Review: Cliff Joseph, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Feb 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngWith a concentric mid/treble and coupled-cavity bass, the smallest Adante series speaker is no ordinary standmount

There was a time, back in the 1980s, when much of what was novel in loudspeaker design emerged from KEF’s R&D department in Maidstone, Kent. Odd as this may seem as a way of introducing a new ELAC speaker from Germany, it’s doubly relevant because the £2600 Adante AS-61 – indeed, the entire three-model Adante range (not including the ASW-121 powered subwoofer) – incorporates two features associated with that golden era at KEF: one that has remained familiar, and a second that has rather declined into obscurity.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Feb 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngThe 'entry-level' floorstander of Sonus faber's Homage Tradition series is much more than a shrunk-down Amati

Anyone familiar with Sonus faber will love the superlative craftsmanship of the Vicenza-based company's loudspeakers. Although pretty much all high-end designs are extremely well turned out these days, this Italian company remains on another level – producing speakers that resemble art pieces, rather than just big boxes trying to look expensive.

Review: David Price, Review and Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jan 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngIt may not look as outrageous as the iconic B&W Nautilus, but this is its younger, and arguably superior offspring

When B&W introduced the Nautilus in 1993 it created what is surely the most iconic loudspeaker any of us will ever see. Its 'snail on steroids' look projected it on to countless magazine pages around the world and gave B&W the kind of PR boost company CEOs dream of. Only it wasn't a PR man that contrived the Nautilus, it was B&W's then senior design engineer Laurence Dickie. And though it looked like something created by H R Giger for the set of Alien, the Nautilus was actually an exemplar of the Bauhaus diktat that form follows function. It looked that way because it needed to be that way.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jan 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngAt long last, we get our hands on the iconic Franco Serblin Accordo. Does it redefine the small loudspeaker?

We may have waited over five years to review the Franco Serblin Accordo but, as I found within five seconds of switching them on, it was worth the hold-up. The Accordo is one of the late Franco Serblin’s last designs, chronologically falling in between the Ktema and the Lignea, and its appeal to the archetypal British audiophile is blatantly overwhelming. With its predecessor and follow-up both floorstanders, the Accordo differs as a petite two-way standmount, complete with a 740mm angled pedestal. The Accordo is sold in mirror-imaged pairs, in walnut for £7500 with the integral stands, or in high-gloss grey for an additional £300.

Review: Cliff Joseph, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jan 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngA new range combines Focal’s traditional performance values with a more relaxed – and colourful – design

Based in Saint-Étienne, the company’s resolutely ‘made in France’ philosophy has led Focal to develop a number of its own acoustic technologies and designs, and even to use locally grown materials in the manufacture of its speakers. And now the company is continuing that no-compromise approach with its Kanta No2, the first in a new range of compact loudspeakers.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Dec 01, 2017
hfnoutstanding.pngNot the diddiest of the new Diamonds, but can the smart-looking 11.1 live up to its heritage?

The highly competitive British budget speaker market has long been a thing of wonder – or should that be bafflement? – for overseas observers. For many years, all the major players in the industry vied to squeeze maximum sales appeal out of boxes designed to sell for around £100 a pair, with each successful debut instantly setting itself up as the brightly-lit target for its near rivals.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Dec 01, 2017
hfnoutstanding.pngB&W’s comprehensive 800 D3 series has not only caused a stir without, but also within – all hail the new 700 series

Every loudspeaker brand has a house sound, and for many years B&W’s has been influenced by its Kevlar bass and/or midrange cones. It was the best way to get what the designers wanted – a controlled ‘stiff’ driver action that didn’t offer an overly romanticised view of the music.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 30, 2015
We’d been hankering to audition this T+A flagship speaker for some time. Would the CWT 2000 SE deliver audio ecstasy to those who demand the wallop of a dynamic speaker yet also quench the thirst of ‘purist’ audiophiles who crave the transparency of an electrostatic panel? There are three line-array ‘Cylinder Wave Transducers’ in T+A’s Solitaire range. The big daddy, the CWT 2000, has a 920x50mm tweeter panel – the speaker pairs are handed – six front array 150mm midrange drivers, and on each side are two whopping 250mm bass drivers. Within the imposing tower these drivers occupy asymmetric individually sealed chambers, the Solitaires’ baffles slightly raked backwards in order to afford a degree of time alignment.

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