Loudspeakers

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Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 24, 2021
hfnoutstandingFirst floorstander in Sonus faber's Heritage range takes its Electa Amator III standmount and raises it up high

What have you been doing throughout the various lockdowns? Looks like the R&D team at the Sonus faber factory in Arcugnano, Italy, took the opportunity to spend some time revisiting a project it had been keeping on the back burner for a while – a two-way floorstander with a solid wood enclosure to slot into its Heritage collection above the Minima Amator II and Electa Amator III [HFN Jul '19] standmount models.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 20, 2021
hfncommendedDesigned by Cambridge Audio's in-house team in London, the refreshed SX-80 is a big speaker on a small budget

When it launched its Edge series in 2018 to mark its 50th Anniversary [HFN Nov '18], Cambridge Audio appeared to be making a concerted effort to reach a little higher. But proof this stalwart of the UK high street hasn't turned its back on wallet-conscious buyers arrived recently in the form of its reworked SX loudspeaker range. With head-turning prices, a modern finish and dimensions that won't upset your interior designer, these are likely to garner considerable interest.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 06, 2021
hfnoutstandingFirst from a hand-selected portfolio of 'artisan' hi-fi separates, this pairing of low output tubes with high sensitivity speakers boasts a very special synergy... and sound

System matching remains as much an art as it does a science. There's always the easy route – opting for a collection of one-brand separates with the promise of full technical compatibility and the expectation of similar 'voicing' throughout. aSlightly trickier is the pairing of components from brands that have an overlap in their core design philosophies – a route that often leads to the most satisfying musical experience but which requires a depth of knowledge on the part of both enthusiast and friendly hi-fi dealer. The third route – random component selection and a reliance on blind luck is not one we'll be pursuing here!

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 09, 2021
hfncommendedStyled after its classic 1970s studio monitors, but equipped with patented 21st century horn and compression driver technology, the 4349 is a not-so-compact fun factory

American loudspeaker company JBL has a 75-year history – and the work of founder James Bullough Lansing dates back even further. For HFN readers, who are in the know, it might seem odd that the brand is now more popular on the UK high street for its extensive range of affordable Bluetooth speakers and wireless headphones. Luckily for us the company still maintains a 'serious' side, and it's from there that its two-way 4349 monitor hails. A wide-baffle speaker with a compression mid/treble driver and 300mm woofer, it can trace its heritage all the way back to the company's first creations – and couldn't be more different from a pair of budget earbuds.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 25, 2021
hfncommendedOmnidirectional and horn-loaded to boost sensitivity, are these really the 'beautiful moon' of floorstanders?

When it comes to makers of true omnidirectional speakers, it seems that those with the highest profile currently hail from Germany. MBL's Radialstrahlers and the German Physiks models occupy the upper echelons of the market, while at the more affordable end it's the Duevel name that springs to mind most readily. Based in Osnabruck, the latter company is the brainchild of Markus and Annette Duevel, who founded the business in 1988.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 11, 2021
hfnoutstandingMore room and wallet-friendly than the flagship Borg, Fink's compact KIM packs no less 'tech'

No, they're not named after a Kardashian, a Rudyard Kipling novel or even Mel & pop partner. Instead, the new KIM standmount speakers from FinkTeam, selling for £8900 a pair complete with their dedicated open-frame stands, take their lead from the company's Borg speakers in having a Star Trek association. In this case it's somewhat less villainous, in the form of Voyager character Ensign Harry Kim, the ship's Operations Officer. It could all have been so different: story is, Kim was originally to be called by one of several names, including Jay Osaka.

John Atkinson  |  Feb 23, 2021
hfnvintageJohn Atkinson lives with the KEF R107, its new range-topping contender

An understated revolution in loudspeaker design has been taking place in Kent. KEF's Technical Director Laurie Fincham has put together a team of engineers who have been quietly but thoroughly examining the fundamentals of moving-coil, box loudspeaker behaviour, spinning off a regular series of products, starting with the original R105 nearly a decade ago.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 22, 2021
hfncommendedThe flagship of B&W's Anniversary Edition takes the range to a new price level, and promises performance to match

The special editions have been coming thick and fast this year, and this is the second recent 'tuned' range from Worthing-based Bowers & Wilkins, following hot on the heels of the 700 Series Signature models. We've reviewed the 702 Signature floorstander [HFN Sep '20], and the formula for the 600 Series Anniversary lineup is a familiar one: new finishes, and some mild performance tuning.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 17, 2021
hfnvintageBass-heavy behemoth or technical tour de force? We hear a range-topping speaker first launched in 1975 that promised 'true waveform fidelity'. How will it shape up?

Although the Japanese dominated much of the hi-fi scene during the 1970s, there was one important area where their reach was more limited. That was the loudspeaker market. Yes, the companies' catalogues may have been full of glittering arrays of tempting models, but dealers outside of Japan seldom had that many in stock for interested buyers either to see or hear.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 15, 2021
hfnoutstandingBucking the trend – Scansonic goes for the slender, multi-driver approach for its flagship design, to impressive effect

The MB series is the high-end range from Scansonic, and the MB6 B the flagship of the latest iteration of this lineup. Yet in an arena where bulky, room-dominating speakers prevail, this design takes a different approach. Yes, it's tall, at just over 1.4m, but the company has kept it slender – at under 18cm, the front baffle is narrower than that of many a much smaller design. For example, even the little B&W 606 standmount speaker is a centimetre wider than this floorstanding tower.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 04, 2021
hfnoutstandingAccordo standmount gains a dedicated woofer and larger, floorstanding cabinet. Hey presto: the Essence

No kidding: when I first fired up the Franco Serblin Accordo Essence, I figured it sold for around £20,000, somehow forgetting that the loudspeaker above it – the flagship Ktêma [HFN Sep '20] – cost £25k. Surely they wouldn't price two models so closely? Equally, I failed to recall that the standmount Accordo [HFN Jan '18] from which it is derived sells for only £7500. The pricing, however, illustrates how Massimiliano Favella is sticking to a plan where each model fills a sonic and fiscal gap: the Accordo Essence will set you back £12,998 per pair.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 25, 2021
hfncommendedDesigned and handcrafted by the father and son team at Lu Kang Audio, the Spoey230 is the heavyweight flagship standmount of this artisan range from Taiwan's Taipei City

The last time you bought a television you probably came across no more than five or six different brands. But what about the last time you bought loudspeakers? It's one of the joyful aspects of hi-fi: the industry is very broad here, supporting a diverse range of manufacturers with different design ideals, resulting in an equally diverse choice for enthusiasts.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 31, 2020
hfnoutstandingFive years on and Wilson Audio's Sabrina earns its 'X' – an overhaul that raises the bar for compact floorstanders

Five years – that's how long ago the Sabrina was launched and five years seems about right before making a new version of any model as good as the original was – and remains [HFN Aug '15]. Rightly, the upgrade is comprehensive, not a mere facelift, which is reassuring if you're wondering why a £15k per pair model is now priced at £21,500-£23,000. As for the price span, it covers three standard or three deluxe 'WilsonGloss' paint finishes, which can be co-ordinated with five grille colours. Our review sample is pictured here in the 'upgraded' gloss Ivory.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 23, 2020
hfncommendedWith a heritage that can be traced back over 60 years, and still now only in its fourth generation, the Heresy is manna from heaven for the nonconformist audiophile

American loudspeaker marque Klipsch has a longer history than many, something emphasised by its new 'p***ing off the neighbours since 1946' slogan. And its Heresy model itself dates back to 1957, when company founder Paul W Klipsch first developed a compact three-way floorstander to act as a centre speaker within a stereo installation. It has remained part of the Klipsch stable ever since, undergoing revisions first in 1985 and then 2006. Now it has been relaunched as the Heresy IV, priced £3500 per pair and forming the entry point to the Klipsch Heritage range.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 19, 2020
hfnoutstandingThe baby model in Paradigm's flagship loudspeaker range wants to prove good things can come in small packages

With its Persona series, Paradigm has taken the concept of a 'flagship' products to heart. This loudspeaker collection, launched in 2016, is not merely the Canadian manufacturer's most expensive, but one intended to represent 'the technological abilities of Paradigm engineering'. So what does that entail? Advanced driver and cabinet designs, a new-look aesthetic, and custom finish options across a range that drops from the £34,000-per-pair passive/active Persona 9H [HFN Dec '19], to the Persona B auditioned here.

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