Loudspeakers

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Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Sep 25, 2019
hfnoutstanding35 years on from Sonus faber's birth, a blessed return to the values on which it was founded: the Electa Amator III

Two blasts from the past in one month, both small two-way monitors, both with a massive presence in my hi-fi history, but so dissimilar that loving both seems like a case of schizophrenia. As with the LS3/5a, I have been a devotee of Sonus faber for over 30 years, though of late the passion has cooled. But something tells me that the company has again found its mojo, and the Electa Amator III is its herald.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Sep 12, 2019
hfnoutstandingLike buses, you wait and wait for genuine LS3/5as and then two come along – now Rogers is back with a re-engineered version of the milestone, to our reviewer's delight

Throughout my hi-fi career, I have manifested three fixations: valves, Decca cartridges and BBC LS3/5as, all of which faced sell-by dates 40 years ago. My pessimism was unfounded. Valves have never been stronger, and London maintained the Deccas. But LS3/5as? Aside from occasional facsimiles using non-KEF drivers, the LS3/5a was history. Yet now we have two new proper LS3/5as, a rebirth I never anticipated.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Aug 29, 2019
hfncommendedCelebrating its 40th anniversary, Focal continues to diversify and expand – its Kanta range now three-strong

Sitting smack-bang in the middle of the company's vast loudspeaker range, the Focal Kanta series is described as 'a new vision for a premium speaker', no less. Personally I'm not entirely convinced that this is so revolutionary, but the £4499 Kanta No1 still makes a fine case for itself. It's attractive, very well finished and sports some novel technologies.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Aug 23, 2019
hfnoutstandingThe top model in this slimline range takes on the big boys – do built-in subwoofers give it sufficient clout?

Our admiration of what GoldenEar's Triton Five model achieves for the money [HFN Mar '19] also prompted a desire to hear what the Maryland company could do when going for broke. Its ambitiously named 'Reference' flagship is definitely playing with the big boys at £9495, and with brands better known, at least in the UK. So it has its work cut out…

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Aug 09, 2019
hfnoutstandingProducing monumental SPLs from next-to-no-power, this refreshed American behemoth is no brick in the PA wall. Prepare to be stunned by the La Scala's scintillating sound...

Efficiency, sensitivity and coverage pattern – all attributes that are hard to beat,' says Klipsch's Principal Engineer Roy Delgado. 'The benefits of horn loading have not changed.' He's quite right, of course, but neither have the caveats, not least because attempts to deliver realistic bass typically requires gigantic horns and speakers the size of the average British garden shed.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jul 12, 2019
hfnedchoiceFirst launched in 1970, the L100 has been reimagined by JBL as the 'Classic' – a modern take on a speaker that's visually faithful to the original. Strap on your seat belts...

Behold this 'modern take on the all-time best-selling JBL L100 loudspeaker' with its classic retro styling. It's certainly something you'll not forget too soon. Yet why would JBL want to recreate such a whimsical thing, considering how far loudspeaker design has come in the past 50 years? The answer is surely more cultural than it is technological as, to a greater or lesser extent, our collective dissatisfaction with the modern world has encouraged us to revisit a generation or two back with rose-tinted spectacles firmly in place.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jul 09, 2019
hfnoutstandingThe flagship of KEF's new R-series combines the 12th generation of Uni-Q with 'aluminium skinned' woofers

Inspired by KEF's flagship Reference range, its recently updated and more affordable R series was heralded by the standmount R3 [HFN Dec '18] – a speaker that caused sufficient stir here at HFN that we were keen to explore what its tallest floorstander, the R11, had to offer. And here it is, selling for a surprisingly modest £3999 a pair, and looking impressive in a choice of three finishes – black gloss, white gloss or walnut.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jun 28, 2019
hfncommendedThe Special Edition version of these big active ATCs is not exactly a great beauty, but its sound is highly revealing

Well they're not exactly what you'd call pretty… The imposing ATC floorstanders you see here may be a 'Special Edition' model, selling for just over £36,000 in this active version, but in the piano black and nickel/gold inlay finish of the review pair they have a look best described as 'purposeful'.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jun 19, 2019
hfncommendedAn unusual blend of traditional tech and modern design practice, here's a deceptively capable floorstander

Sometimes you can be too clever by half. The pursuit of perfect sound, such as it is, takes many loudspeaker manufacturers way off-piste into all sorts of weird and wonderful drive unit types, cone materials and radical cabinet shapes. Yet there's a decent body of evidence to suggest that a conventional but well made box speaker - complete with high quality drive units that don't try to trip the light fantastic - can deliver just as impressive results.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jun 06, 2019
hfncommendedA group of ex-Tannoy engineers bring their experience to bear on a new speaker brand

As past reviews have noted, the market's not exactly short of budget speaker offerings. Though prices down at the entry-level have shown an upward trend – after all, the £100-a-pair 'superboxes' of a decade or two back really wouldn't be sustainable these days – there's also an argument for saying there's not exactly a crying demand for new speaker brands.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 30, 2019
Wireless speakers aren't new, but Dali ups the game with this hefty floorstander and versatile connection hub

Were all the column-inches expended over the years about wireless hi-fi justified, the world's audio cable companies would have long ago gone out of business. Think back a decade or more and we were already being told that our music was about to come from miraculously-powered speakers attached to nothing, yet able to pluck all the music available in the world out of thin air and play it in quality previously unimaginable.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 21, 2019
hfnoutstandingThis slim column hides its light under a bushel – or at least a sock – but is an addictively attractive performer

You might seem to be setting yourself up for a fall if you call your company GoldenEar Technology. It's a cue for all those jokes about effects heard only by those claiming such aural ability, grist to the mill of the 'design them properly and they all sound the same' brigade. Fortunately for the team behind the GoldenEar Triton range – including the £2300 Triton Five we have here – the product lives up to its billing, for the Five is perhaps the most striking speaker I have heard at this price level for a very long time.

Review: José Victor Henriques, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 10, 2019
hfnoutstandingLaunched to celebrate the life's work of Wilson Audio's founder, this new Sasha is no mere mk3

The Sasha DAW is a tribute product launched by Daryl Wilson to honour his recently deceased father and Wilson Audio's founder, David Andrew Wilson, whose initials denote the latest form of this iconic loudspeaker. In practice, the Sasha DAW has the same form factor and three-way, four drive configuration as the Sasha Series-2 [HFN Jun '14].

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Apr 26, 2019
hfnoutstandingA beryllium tweeter is the highlight of these new speakers – do they really 'redefine performance expectations'?

They clearly don't believe in sitting on their hands at Revel as the Performa3 M106 and F208 speakers have recently been subject to wholesale revitalisation, creating the PerformaBe range, said to 'redefine performance expectations'. Comprising the £4000 M126Be standmount/bookshelf speaker and the £10,000 F228Be we have here, the new models are available in a choice of high-gloss piano black, white, American walnut or metallic silver and, while the use of ceramic-coated drivers is familiar Harman/Revel fare, the new talking point is a beryllium dome tweeter.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Apr 12, 2019
hfnoutstandingClassical horns do not come any more colourful, or compelling, than this 'entry-level' floorstander

Hi-fi can be such a confusing passion, with so many products to explore in the quest for better sound, but enthusiasts often start by upgrading their loudspeakers, as they're where the greatest subjective differences are typically to be found. Most will begin with conventional box speakers, but many then progress to more left-field approaches – the most striking being 'horns'.

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