Loudspeakers

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Ken Kessler and Keith Howard  |  Nov 30, 2011
What follows 'The Sonus faber'? A second revision of the Guarneri, the company's best-selling high-end loudspeaker Homage and Memento owners may argue that it didn’t need it, but Sonus faber’s Guarneri is enjoying its second makeover. The world’s prettiest high-end compact speaker has been ‘pimped’ with shiny metal hardware for the back edges and the top plate, the fi nishes have changed, the innards are new. So what remains of the earlier versions’ grace and panache? The Evolution is slightly larger than the Memento at 410x235x412mm versus 380x210x390mm (hwd). Its dedicated pillar, however, has been reduced in height from the earlier 895mm to 795mm.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 20, 2011
The Q3 employs superb engineering to great effect There’s no magical mystery about Magico’s Q3. It simply represents a rootand- branch engineering re-think of the ‘art’ of loudspeaker design, from the bolts that hold the cabinet together to the bespoke ‘Nano-Tec’ drivers and beryllium dome tweeter. But it’s not some daft ‘concept speaker’, where form overrides function. Nor is there anything especially touchy-feely about the huge black slabs of aluminium that clad the outside of the layered cabinet or the 287 steel bolts that bind this composite and its internal alloy matrix together.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 20, 2011
The PB1i is the latest PMC speaker to get the Signature treatment One key difference is a revised crossover network featuring custom-made chokes and tuning by PMC founder and designer Peter Thomas. The driver complement remains twin PMC-designed 170mm bass drivers with cast magnesium chassis, and a SEAS/PMC co-developed 27mm soft dome tweeter. In between these is PMC’s legendary 75mm dome midrange unit, isolated in its own enclosure. The speaker also gets a brushed aluminium serial number plate, a certificate signed by Peter, and an array of nickel finished driver bolts.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 20, 2011
The Aurum range arrives in the UK packed with bespoke technology This floorstander is no larger or more extravagantly equipped than many in this area of the market, but it is notably more substantial than the norm, at 31kg, and better finished too. Moreover, for a premium, there are numerous alternative finishes. Twin 170mm aluminium/ titanium/magnesium coned bass units work in parallel up to a specified 330Hz crossover and are reflex loaded by a single large rearfiring port. The distinctive slats we saw in the Titan VII are echoed in an array of vertical rubber cords that adorn the cut-out through which the recessed bass units radiate – in fact these appear to be part of the reflex/pressure chamber bass loading principle.
Paul Miller  |  Nov 20, 2011
Limited to a mere 30 pairs, is this the world's ultimate loudspeaker? This flagship design will be limited to 30 pairs. It stands 1. 7m tall and weighs a staggering 305kg. There are five main drive units: a 15in subwoofer with a sandwich cone made by Audio Technology of Denmark.
Paul Miller  |  Nov 20, 2011
Classy German design matches fine build to engaging sonics Elac’s F247 Sapphire is finished with the sumptuous attention to detail. A slim, elegant floorstander boasts an eye-catching front baffle and mirror-like piano black finish. Elac’s signature JET tweeter and a pair of its multifaceted aluminium mid/bass drivers are fitted. These unusual cones are an aluminium sandwich design with cellulose filling, shaped to reduce unwanted vibrations.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 20, 2011
This slimline floorstander features some unusual unusual driver materials Awarded EISA Loudspeaker of 2010-11 [see HFN, ’Oct 10], the latest version of Dali’s Ikon 6 may be relatively easy on the wallet, but you wouldn’t believe it to look at it. OK, it has a vinyl finish (this comes in a choice of black, light walnut or white) rather than a proper wood veneer. But most customers will surely consider that to be a fair exchange for what is a large cabinet at 1028mm tall, equipped with twin 6. 5in reflex-loaded bass-mid drivers – the lower of which is rolled off gently above 700Hz – and Dali’s trademark twin-tweeter module.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 20, 2011
The inexpensive Studio series represents fine value for money Not for the first time with inexpensive JBLs, we wonder how – if – they can possibly turn a profit. The Studio 190 offers outstanding value. In most respects this speaker represents familiar fare for a modern floorstander: the cabinet is a conventional tall, narrow box with rather resonant side panels; and the bass is reflex-loaded via a single rear-firing port. The Weave design of the front baffle JBL calls ‘bold and dynamic’, and that appears to be the sum of its purpose – to catch the eye rather than influence the sound.
Paul Miller  |  Nov 19, 2011
Innovative when released, the Celestion is still capable of entertaining results

Launched at the Harrogate Hi-Fi Show in 1981, the Celestion SL6 looked different, and it was more different than it looked. In essence, its all-new drive units had been designed with the help of Celestion’s then-unique and revolutionary laser-based vibration analysis measurement system. It was the first British speaker to use a metal-dome tweeter, but the bass unit was equally innovative.

Ed Selley  |  Nov 17, 2011
This clever little speaker still sounds more than respectable An audio pioneer, Jim Rogers possessed real acoustic engineering talent as well as in electronics. The original Rogers folded corner horn may not offer true stereophonic reproduction, but it’s a fine room-filling beast. And as for the later flat-to-the-wall Wafer speakers, based on Philips drive units and measuring just 2in thick, these are surprisingly magicalsounding. Then there’s the JR149.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 29, 2011
The professional heritage of the brand is present and correct in the SCMII You know the deal when you buy an ATC, whatever its price tag. A flat frequency response and tight pair matching are assured together with low coloration and low distortion from ATC’s own meticulously designed drive units. Forget metal dome tweeters or metal-coned bass units – ATC prefers more traditional diaphragm materials, with doping applied to quell resonances. And in its smaller speakers it has always preferred closed box to reflex bass loading, in further rejection of fashion.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 29, 2011
This big French three way is strong value for money You’d scarcely credit that the MC40 Minorca is the cheapest speaker here. It’s larger than the ATC, Dynaudio and PSB, it has a piano black finish (a £140 cost option, standard finishes being cherry and purple cherry wood veneers) and, unlike all the others, it’s a three-way rather than a two-way design. Cabasse’s distinctive BC10 coaxial driver is responsible for that last feature, comprising a soft dome tweeter, with shallow horn loading, surrounded by a convex annular diaphragm that handles the frequency range between 900Hz and 3. 2kHz crossover points.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 29, 2011
Despite the small size, this well thought out design has much to commend it As the smallest and lightest speaker here, the Synchrony Two B may seem to be flying a kite in asking £1200 of its buyer. And, indeed, it is significantly cheaper in its native North America. But remember that its sibling, the large, floorstanding Synchrony One, won our group test in Aug ’09 – and take a look at the lab report. It may be diminutive but the Synchrony Two B walks tall: it has one of the flattest on-axis frequency responses here and a waterfall plot so clean that few more overtly prestigious speakers can match it.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 29, 2011
The updates to this long running range have proved particularly effective Dynaudio’s Focus range was getting a bit long in the tooth so we weren’t surprised to learn when we requested the 140 for this test that it had just been replaced with this new model, the 160. Little has changed externally – if you’re the type who can distinguish Aston Martins at a glance then you’ll note a new light grey paint finish on the drivers and the use of Torx fasteners, only three of which now attach the tweeter – but internally there’s more that’s been breathed on. As before, the cabinet side walls taper a little towards the rear from the narrow bevels at the front baffle edges – a feature which helps tame internal standing waves – but the enclosure has been significantly stiffened. The 170mm bass-mid driver retains its magnesium silicate polymer (MSP) cone, and the voice coil is still aluminium to reduce moving mass.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 29, 2011
Some very sophisticated technology doesn't quite come together as a cohesive whole In loudspeaker cabinet construction, curves are good. Curved panels are stiffer than equivalent flat ones – but more difficult to make than the V-groove and wrap box construction that so many speakers today employ. In creating what is the most expensive model in this month’s group, Mordaunt-Short clearly devoted a good deal of its budget to abandoning the traditional rectangular wooden cabinet in favour of a curvaceous enclosure moulded from a well damped polymer resin. Deeper at the bottom than at the top, in profile it looks positively Falstaffian.

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