Loudspeakers

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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.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 24, 2010
In 1955 Wireless World published articles by Quad’s Peter Walker on the practical and theoretical aspects of making a full range electrostatic speaker. That year, he demonstrated two different prototypes developing one for the first public demonstration at the 1956 Audio Fair. Due credit must be given to Walker for the huge amount of pioneering work involved and the brave decision to make it a commercial product. When first introduced, a single ESL would have set you back £52, yet demand was far greater than supply.
John Bamford & Keith Howard  |  Aug 14, 2010
When informed I had a pair of horn-loaded JBL floorstanders coming my way for auditioning I confess I wasn’t particularly enthralled. And I was quietly cursing as several of us groaned under the 73kg weight of each enclosure, man-handling them down the stairs into my basement listening den. Then I heard them. It was mid-afternoon when they were first fired up, powered by my resident Mark Levinson No.
Keith Howard & Paul Miller  |  Apr 16, 2010
The famous Bauhaus diktat ‘form follows function’ was an aesthetic imperative rather than an engineering philosophy, and a good job too, because for structural engineers in particular the concept was already old hat. All those Martello towers littering England’s south coast, for instance, are not round in plan view on a whim: it’s because castle builders, centuries earlier, had discovered that round towers better resisted artillery bombardment than those with corners. It’s natural to suppose that modern engineers would never do anything so crass as to make something fundamentally the wrong shape, but don’t be so sure. Most loudspeaker manufacturers have done it, continue to do it, and give every sign of proposing to do it in perpetuity.
Ken Kessler & Keith Howard  |  Jan 16, 2010
Since the early 1980s, Wilson Audio has produced speakers as physically small as the Duette and the original WATT, not just behemoths such as the Alexandria. It has been my good fortune to have heard almost every model, either at shows, at the Wilson listening room in Provo, Utah or in friends’ homes. And there’s a reason why I have used the smaller Wilsons as my primary reference for 25 years or so: they allow me to listen into the recording. Unlike most, though, I don’t necessarily believe that the progression from smallest model to largest should incite an automatic desire to follow that ascent.
Keith Howard  |  Jan 14, 2010
The use of ceramic materials in loudspeaker diaphragms can’t be described as novel because every anodised aluminium cone or dome has a surface layer of alumina (aluminium oxide), allowing it to be described as a ceramic-metal sandwich or similar – as at least one speaker manufacturer has indeed done. But pure ceramic diaphragms are a rarity, and loudspeakers that use them exclusively, as the Lumen White Silver Flame does, are rarer still. All five drivers in this arresting-looking three-way design have white ceramic diaphragms in the form of everted (concave) domes. As explained in the box-out, the attraction of a ceramic diaphragm material is that it can be lighter and stiffer than common metal equivalents, which promises higher bending wave velocity and hence higher breakup frequency for a given diaphragm size and shape.
John Bamford and Keith Howard  |  Dec 25, 2009
Recently acquired by the Canon organisation, Cabasse of France has begun a concerted effort to have its speakers available for sale in the UK through a small network of specialist dealers. Coherent Audio Systems near Tewkesbury, Glos, a dealer that also imports and distributes high-end Oracle and Belles products, was recently appointed its marketing agent. Readers may recall we enjoyed Cabasse’s £3400 Iroise 3 model earlier this year, which features the company’s spherical-shaped BC13 coaxial driver married to a pair of 210mm woofers in a floorstanding cabinet. The Baltic Evolution comes from Cabasse’s substantially more expensive Artis range, and features the company’s more ambitious TC23 triaxial driver, which is designed to provide a point source with an operating bandwidth from 22kHz down to around 80Hz.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 24, 2009
When Arthur Bailey first described the transmission line loudspeaker enclosure in the pages of Wireless World in 1965, and then again in 1972, there seemed every prospect that this new alternative to the familiar sealed box or reflex cabinet would come to enjoy widespread use. Yet it never did. Instead transmission line loading has remained a relative rarity, associated with a handful of speaker makers in particular: IMF in the early years and PMC more recently, although B&W has made perhaps the cleverest use of it in the form of its inverted horn Nautilus tubes, which had their ultimate expression in the snail-shaped speaker of that name. Although the transmission line is often classified as a form of bass loading, its modus operandi actually affects a much wider frequency range, as B&W’s use of it confirms.
Steve Harris and Keith Howard  |  Dec 24, 2009
When John Durbridge and Ian Hanson met in 1993, both were studying electronics, and both chose to develop a hi-fi prototype as their degree project. John’s design was a two-way speaker, while Ian came up with a 100W power amplifier. Each then made a career in electronics but, with audio interests pushed into the background, John worked in industrial electronics while Ian then specialised in ultrasonics. Of course, their interest in hi-fi had never died, and in 2005 they decided it was time to do something about it.
Ken Kessler and Keith Howard  |  Dec 24, 2009
If you’re torn between the sheer impact of speakers in boxes and openness possible from panels, then your (hi-fi) life has inevitably been a series of compromises. If you own pairs of each, you probably swing between them, never quite satisfied – like owning solid-state and valve amps. You know your Quad 57s lack the bass of, say, big B&Ws or Tannoys. Conversely, you can’t get the openness of the Quads or Maggies out of your head.
Ken Kessler and Keith Howard  |  Dec 24, 2009
Whether it’s bravery, a weak grasp of colloquial English or a misguided belief that some wag won’t abuse the name, Sonus faber has anointed its smallest-ever two-way with the moniker ‘Toy Speaker’. Undoubtedly, as its literature proclaims, it chose that tag because it suggests joy: ‘Toys have always been synonymous with happiness and surprise. ’ And – cynical rotters aside – the first reaction you’ll have when you see the new baby is not that the name contains an intrinsic insult, but that the product is, well, adorable. Although deeper than an LS3/5a, it is narrower and shorter at 265x185x270mm (hwd).
Keith Howard  |  Nov 25, 2009
Not having had a Tannoy sub for review before, I was surprised to learn that the new, inexpensive TS range – of which this is the top model – is the first from this famous marque to include high-level inputs, which allow connection to the speaker terminals of a power amplifier. Of course, line-level inputs are also provided for direct connection to processors or multichannel disc players. What this means is that Tannoy’s latest trouser flappers – the 801 with an 8in driver, 1001 with a 10in driver and, you guessed it, 1201 with a 12in driver – are easier to dovetail into a wide variety of audio systems. In a home theatre context you will generally use the LFE output from the AV amplifier or processor, whereas in a conventional music replay system, where line-level outputs downstream of the volume control are often not available, the speaker-level inputs will be a boon.
Ken Kessler and Keith Howard  |  Nov 25, 2009
Blown away by MartinLogan’s Spire earlier this year [see HFN, Apr ’09], I assumed that it would replace the Summit. Before the ink was dry, the Summit X was announced, and at a higher price point to ensure that the gap would prevent customer confusion. But in order to justify the cost difference, for a speaker not that much larger, its performance would have to be instantly, audibly superior. Luckily for ML, the Summit X may be the best hybrid the company has delivered to date.

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