Loudspeakers

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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.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Oct 16, 2014
Sitting just below the Reference models in Acoustic Energy’s line-up, its Radiance Series is intended to offer a good proportion of their abilities at a lower price. The Radiance 2 occupies the centre of the three-strong range of stereo designs [a matching subwoofer and centre channel are also available] and utilises three drive units in a two-and-a-half-way configuration. The two main drivers are 130mm in diameter and consist of a pressed alloy cone with matching conical dust cap, allied to a rubber surround. Voice-coils are wound with aluminium wire for lightness; each driver has its own enclosure with separate port tuning.
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].
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  |  Jan 14, 2012
Audel gets down to basics with a speaker that combines contemporary design with traditional craftsmanship Italy has a prized reputation for flamboyant and uniquely styled luxury goods. The nation’s passion for design is woven into the very fabric of its culture. That’s why the country’s cars look like Ferrari Enzos rather than Ford Cortinas and why the men driving them are probably wearing Gucci loafers, rather than grubby sneakers. For a new high-end hi-fi company to be launched and get noticed is no easy task, especially in the loudspeaker market, where, to some, looks can be as important as sound, and where rivals include exotic brands such as Sonus faber and Zingali.
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.
Keith Howard  |  Aug 24, 2009
Like Audio Physic’s Sitara model recently reviewed in these pages [see HFN June ’09], the latest incarnation of the Audio Physic Tempo – the sixth, no less – catches the eye by being notably slim, deep and tilted back at 7º to provide time alignment of its small midrange driver and soft-dome tweeter. As the grilles on either side of the cabinet hint, a pair of opposed bass drivers handle the low frequencies, an arrangement which facilitates the narrow front baffle and reduces vibration through cancellation of their magnet reaction forces. The only puzzle is why Audio Physic didn’t take the opportunity to mount the two bass units at the bottom of the cabinet, a disposition pioneered by Roy Allison to help reduce low frequency power output variations caused by interaction with the room boundaries. Its narrow footprint makes the Tempo cabinet relatively unstable, so Audio Physic provides aluminium outriggers which screw to the bottom of the cabinet to carry spikes outboard of the base at either side.
Keith Howard  |  Sep 25, 2009
Perhaps because Audioplan is more than just a loudspeaker manufacturer – it makes cables, Sicomin isolation and damping products, and mains conditioners as well – the German company offers just three models of speaker. Each is a two-way design, although the costliest Konzert III incorporates three drivers: two forward-facing and a second bass-mid driver firing rearwards from the back of the cabinet. The bottom of the range Kontrapunkt IV B, on review here, has no such elaboration but still sports some unusual features. First of these to catch the eye is its – for want of a better term – cabinet stand.
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.
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'.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Dec 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngNow classier looking and sounding, it's out with the old and in with the new for B&W's latest budget floorstander

'Things can only get better' is a mantra beloved of marketing men and women, and why not? There's an implicit notion that technological progress means everything is automatically moving forward – and those who disagree must be some kind of latter-day Luddite. They're pushing at an open door, because when people treat themselves to something shiny and new, most have already bought into the idea that it is superior to what came before.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Dec 01, 2017
hfnoutstanding.pngB&W’s comprehensive 800 D3 series has not only caused a stir without, but also within – all hail the new 700 series

Every loudspeaker brand has a house sound, and for many years B&W’s has been influenced by its Kevlar bass and/or midrange cones. It was the best way to get what the designers wanted – a controlled ‘stiff’ driver action that didn’t offer an overly romanticised view of the music.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngWith a legacy stretching back about 28 years, the 805 may still be the pint-pot of B&W’s 800-series but this latest D3 standmount can still pack a musical punch

One of the world’s largest, if not the largest, loudspeaker brands, B&W dominates the global high-end market. From the launch of the iconic 801 Series 80 nearly 40 years ago, the 800-series has been periodically improved along with advances in engineering and materials.

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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