Loudspeakers

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Keith Howard  |  Jun 25, 2009
Although German speaker manufacturer Audio Physic has had a low profile in the UK for some years, its name still has cachet here among those who remember its products with affection. Now back with a new distributor, C-Tech Audio, it is aiming to re-establish old friendships and forge new ones. Its three-driver, two-and-a-half-way Sitara is the new base member of its three-model High End range and does battle in the competitive market for £2000 floorstanders. The Sitara’s key visual feature is its tall, narrow cabinet which leans backwards at seven degrees to provide time delay compensation for the displaced acoustic centres of the tweeter and bass-mid driver.
Ed Selley  |  May 25, 2009
For readers whose knowledge of particle physics is as lamentable as mine, the muon is the name given to an important elementary particle and one that has a relatively extended lifetime of 2. 2µsec. Muons are difficult to create – something which unquestionably applies to these Ross Lovegrove designed KEFs too, whose superformed aluminium cabinet takes about 160 man-hours to manufacture the shining megaliths you see here. Numbers for the Muon are impressive even before you get to its £70,000 price tag (per pair).
Ken Kessler and Keith Howard  |  May 25, 2009
Who could have anticipated this even a year ago? One of the most beloved of all loudspeakers, the legendary BBC LS3/5A, was finished. Period. Stalwart fans of the product – Doug Stirling, for example – issued limited runs, but who could imagine that the speaker might suddenly reappear as a commercial venture? Well, it has. .
Ken Kessler and Keith Howard  |  Apr 24, 2009
Purists will never yield on the topic of full-range electrostatic vs hybrid. The reality is that ESLs need to be huge if they’re to deliver deep bass and high SPLs. So mazel tov to those who can house and afford, say, big Sound Labs. For the rest of us, hybrids are a sane compromise.
Steve Harris and Keith Howard  |  Apr 24, 2009
With the grille on, you’d guess that this was another classic British two-way speaker, though perhaps unusually well-finished. Beneath the black cloth, though, you will find just a single metal-cone driver. So is this a classic British one-way? That drive unit is the Jordan JX92, the work of a notable designer who has spent quite a big part of his long working life perfecting full-range units. Ted Jordan first heard a GEC 8in metal cone while working in the company’s radio lab in the very early 1950s.
Keith Howard  |  Apr 24, 2009
Smallest of Leema Acoustics’ six-model speaker range, the Xero really is tiny at just 220x140x205mm (hwd), its front baffle having only about half the area of this magazine’s front cover. The moulding that houses the two pairs of input sockets for the split crossover occupies much of the rear panel, with just room for a small reflex port beneath, while the minuscule bass-mid driver at the front has an effective diameter of only about 80mm – little more than three inches. So this is a speaker for people with small listening rooms or who insist on their speakers having the smallest possible footprint. To this end the Xero can be wall mounted although for best sound its manufacturer rightly recommends using sturdy floor stands.
Andy Whittle and Keith Howard  |  Apr 24, 2009
The latest range from Tannoy is the new Revolution Signature series, a comprehensive line of speakers that can be configured to make up a full AV system, minus an active sub. Alternatively the front pairs alone can be used separately in a high-quality two-channel system. Under scrutiny here is the DC6 T, an elegant three-way floorstander, employing twin six-inch woofers with edgewound coils. A pair will cost you £1000 in either of the light oak or espresso finishes available.
Ken Kessler and Keith Howard  |  Mar 25, 2009
Has it really been more than 20 years since Acoustic Energy bridged the worlds of professional studio monitoring and domestic audio? Back in ’88, the former regarded the latter in the way that, say, Labour regards fiscal responsibility. AE was having none of it, and produced a classy, compact two-way monitor of true studio merit, sort of a UK answer to Wilson’s WATT. Given its diminuitive stature, most noteworthy was the AE1’s prodigious bass. Rear-ported and boasting a still-radical metal mid/bass driver, it begged to be positioned away from walls on solid 24in stands.
Keith Howard  |  Mar 25, 2009
Thiel Audio Products Company of Lexington, Kentucky may have a lower profile here in the UK than in its native US, but its reputation precedes it. Designer Jim Thiel holds fast to certain, long established design principles in his loudspeakers such as eschewing high-rate filters to ensure phase linearity through crossover. He also prefers the costlier underhung voice coil geometry (voice coil much shorter than the magnet gap) for the marque’s proprietary drivers, in preference to the more commonly used overhung geometry, because of its inherently superior performance. Thiel is innovative too, examples being its cast aluminium, surface-mounting PowerPoint 1.
Keith Howard  |  Mar 25, 2009
In this era of DSP room correction systems, surprisingly few loudspeaker manufacturers seem to be looking at the issue of room interaction from the speaker design angle, trying to find ways to quell the room’s influence and thus, potentially, render DSP assistance redundant. Danish company Dali is an exception, although to look at the Helicon 400 Mk2 you could be forgiven for thinking that it is an entirely conventional direct-radiating floorstander. The giveaway, although its significance may not be immediately obvious, is the trademark Dali twin tweeter module which combines a 25mm soft-dome unit with a leaf supertweeter whose diaphragm is 10mm wide by 55mm high. Supertweeters are normally deployed these days to extend response out to low ultrasonic frequencies but the Dali supertweeter also has an important function within the audible range, where it takes over from the dome tweeter at 13kHz.
Ken Kessler and Keith Howard  |  Mar 25, 2009
Some years ago, Magnepan produced a tiny panel for in-store display as a point-of-sale item. It was a miniature Maggie, maybe 18in tall, with sections cut away to show the technology. I asked Jim Winey, ‘Why not make them functioning speakers?’ But, alas, my first visit to Magnepan took place well before home theatre and Dolby Surround would deem small speakers desirable. But I loved the idea of a pair of ‘mini Maggies’ for the desk, or the bedroom, knowing they would never be realised.
John Bamford and Keith Howard  |  Feb 25, 2009
I didn’t need much persuading to audition this sumptuous pair of floorstanders made by Revel, one of its flagship Ultima2 range. Priced a cool £11,000 they exude opulence from their sculpted front baffles in gloss black, highly lacquered cabinets finished in real wood veneer (ours were the mahogany version; also available in piano black) and hi-tech drive units. Revel’s Ultima2 range comprises the Studio2 that we have here, an even larger model called Salon2, a slim bookshelf that’s suitable for on-wall use dubbed Gem2 and the Voice2 centre speaker. Commensurate with price, attention to detail is fastidious; to ensure that each Ultima2 loudspeaker is matched to within a fraction of a decibel to its prototype reference, a final tuning process is conducted on all production units to ensure absolute uniformity.
Keith Howard  |  Feb 25, 2009
Siltech may be best known as a cable manufacturer but it already has a track record of branching out, in spectacular style, into other product areas. High-end watchers will recall that early in the new millennium Siltech introduced its limited edition 80W Single Ended Mono Triode valve power amplifier and matching preamp, which included novelties such as a specially manufactured output valve. Now from the Dutch company comes a statement loudspeaker design, the Pantheon, with a price tag of £65,000. Once again the engineering is novel and the production run limited – only 39 will ever be made.
Keith Howard  |  Feb 25, 2009
Approaching a reviewer to assess a product is simple: the manufacturer or distributor contacts the magazine and they arrange delivery. That’s it. One assumes that the product is suitable for the magazine, and it’s up to the editor to assign the reviewer. But never in my 25 years as a reviewer have I been so nagged, badgered, pestered, henpecked and begged to write a review.

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