Loudspeakers

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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.
John Bamford and Keith Howard  |  Oct 02, 2011
Monitor Audio pushed the boat out with its prestigious PL300 floorstanders in 2007, the first speakers in its then new Platinum range to employ an in-house designed ribbon tweeter. Later came the more affordable PL200s with a slightly smaller footprint, £5000 three-ways whose sharp clarity and fi nesse impressed me greatly when we reviewed them in Dec ’09. Below the company’s flagship Platinum range comes the Gold series: substantially more affordable speakers with less elaborately constructed enclosures and drive units. The Gold GS models, in the market since 2006, have been replaced this year by an entirely new Gold line-up now called GX.
Keith Howard  |  Sep 02, 2011
The high-end hi-fi industry is perhaps unique – certainly unusual – in that it continually holds the present to account, against its past. Many audiophiles, often not with nostalgia foremost among their motivations, wilfully divest themselves of the ‘benefi ts’ of modern technology, preferring vinyl to digital, vacuum electronics to solid state and full-range drive units to the meticulously developed multidriver speakers that purport to represent the state of the art. If we think of this as a spectrum of design approaches rather than Montagues versus Capulets, the Aurousal VSx – the new, improved version of the VS that won our group test in HFN Aug ’10 – is certainly not at the extreme occupied by single-ended triodes and re-entrant horns. Although the VSx does turn the clock backwards somewhat: in eschewing multiple drivers knitted together with a crossover network in favour of a pair of full-range drivers supplemented by a dome tweeter.
Paul Miller and Keith Howard  |  Jun 08, 2011
A large panel speaker, certainly, but the Omega is not a dopplegänger from audio’s past Apogees, surely, risen from audio’s graveyard of well-intentioned but utterly impractical ideas? That’ll be the first thought of every red-bloodied audiophile who glances at these pages. But despite the astonishing resemblance in shape, distribution of drivers and slate grey colour of these door-sized dipoles to Apogee’s long-mourned full-range ribbons, they’d be mistaken. Indeed, under the skin Analysis Audio’s Omega loudspeakers have little in common with their erstwhile lookalikes. Sure enough, they employ a long ribbon mid/treble driver down the inside edge of the large flat MDF baffle but the trapezoidal bass panel is a planar-magnetic design, far closer in execution to that of Magneplanar’s current crop [HFN, Mar ’11].
Steve Harris and Keith Howard  |  May 08, 2011
Forming an enclosure from glass is a costly process. So Waterfall’s floorstander represents fine value with style Peceived wisdom generally has it that a loudspeaker’s enclosure should be inert, so that we hear the acoustic output of the speaker’s transducers unsullied by the additional singing along of a cabinet. As ever in our wonderful world of sound reproduction there are designers who refute this given ideal. The late American speaker maestro Peter Snell, for example, whose Snell Type J and Type E models from the 1970s live on in the guise of today’s UK-made Audio Note speakers.
Haden Boardman and Keith Howard  |  Apr 10, 2011
From Switzerland, a compact phase corrected active speaker that reflects its pro background. But is it house trained? Although virtually unknown in the UK, PSI can trace its roots back to 1975, when founder Alain Roux first started manufacturing his own loudspeaker designs while still studying at the Lausanne École Polytechnique Fédérale. Over the past 35 years, this Swiss company has produced a range of custom, domestic, but mostly professional studio loudspeaker systems. In 1991 an analogue and digital electronics section was added to the acoustic laboratory at its Yverden manufacturing facility.
Keith Howard  |  Apr 08, 2011
It might look like more of the same, yet this Q series loudspeaker boasts some new features at front and back The Q900 may be top of KEF’s brand, spanking new Q series – the meat and potatoes of its range – but to look at, inside and out, it appears in some ways to represent a step backwards, certainly in respect of KEF’s rich technological history. The Q900 effectively replaces the previous iQ90, a speaker which bowled me over when winning a group test just over a year ago [HFN Mar ’10]. One of the notable aspects of the iQ90 was its curved cabinet, a feature of more than aesthetic significance since it stiffens the enclosure, whereas the large side panels of a conventional box cabinet are prone to resonance. It was a surprise, then, to find the Q900 has what KEF rather grandly terms a ‘rectilinear’ cabinet – what you and I would call a standard, slab-sided box.
Keith Howard  |  Mar 10, 2011
This innovative Dutch company provides an active audiophile speaker which is unusually styled and also features sophisticated onboard Digital Signal Processing So, Grimm Audio is not the most propitious name, in English, for a hi-fi manufacturer. But once the schoolboy giggles have subsided, there are two very good reasons to take this Dutch company, and its new LS1 loudspeaker, seriously. Firstly, there are the people involved. The second reason is the LS1 itself, because run-of-the-mill it is not.
Paul Miller and Keith Howard  |  Mar 10, 2011
After a long absence, Magnepan's iconic 'room screen' panel speakers are finally back in the UK Firsts linger long in the memory. That first school, first car, first kiss. . .
Ed Selley  |  Nov 24, 2010
If the Platinum Series was designed to enhance Monitor Audio’s ‘street cred’ among audio purists in the 21st century, it certainly hit the mark, the compact PL100 standmount and fl oorstanding PL300 having garnered numerous awards and accolades around the world. In photographs the ’200 might look identical to the PL300 but sit them side by side and immediately you’ll notice that it is unquestionably better suited to cramped living spaces, being 155mm slimmer, 85mm shallower and standing 115mm shorter at 998mm (39in) in height. The ribbon tweeter employed is formed of a material that Monitor Audio calls C-CAM: Ceramic- Coated Aluminium/Magnesium, the company claiming an output approaching as high as 100kHz. The ribbon was developed to work in a two-way speaker so it had to be able to operate from 2.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 24, 2010
As soon as B&W introduced diamond tweeters to some of its 800 series speakers in 2005, people began asking for a diamond tweeter to be fi tted to the smallest model in the range, the 805. Well, the wait is over – the offi cial 805 Diamond is here – though its price has more than doubled over the old 805S. The good news is that this isn’t a mere swap job: B&W has taken the opportunity to re-engineer the 805 thoroughly. For instance, the input terminals are more than chrome plated, with metal ‘nuts’ replacing the previous plastic items.

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