Loudspeakers

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Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 19, 2020
hfnoutstandingThe baby model in Paradigm's flagship loudspeaker range wants to prove good things can come in small packages

With its Persona series, Paradigm has taken the concept of a 'flagship' products to heart. This loudspeaker collection, launched in 2016, is not merely the Canadian manufacturer's most expensive, but one intended to represent 'the technological abilities of Paradigm engineering'. So what does that entail? Advanced driver and cabinet designs, a new-look aesthetic, and custom finish options across a range that drops from the £34,000-per-pair passive/active Persona 9H [HFN Dec '19], to the Persona B auditioned here.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 09, 2020
hfncommendedAn unchanged exterior hides PMC's crossover and driver upgrades made to its premium three-way floorstander

In The Who's 'Won't Get Fooled Again', Roger Daltrey memorably sings 'Meet the new boss – same as the old boss'. It's a phrase that sprang to my mind when confronted by PMC's twenty5.26i, as this floorstanding speaker is, outwardly, identical to its twenty5.26 predecessor launched in 2016, with cabinet dimensions matching to the millimetre. Yet PMC describes its new twenty5i series as a 'substantial re-engineering', improving performance without moving away from the signature sound of its forbear.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 22, 2020
hfnoutstandingAn enhanced crossover and Datuk Gloss ebony-coloured veneer sees the 702 S2 offered in a 'Signature' guise

You'd be forgiven for a double-take when gazing upon the latest offerings from Bowers & Wilkins, the £4499 702 Signature speakers. One of two new Signature models from the Worthing-based company – the other is the £2699 705 Signature standmount – there's little to set this slender floorstander apart from the £3399 702 S2 on which it's based [HFN Dec '17], beyond a rather snazzy wood finish to the cabinet, some shinier trim-rings around the drivers, with a matching grille over the tweeter, and a metal 'Signature' plate on the rear panel.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 01, 2020
hfnoutstandingAs boutique Italian brand Franco Serblin prepares to boost its range we look at the iconic flagship

Franco Serblin, who passed away in 2013, first unveiled his flagship Ktêma in 2010. He had left Sonus faber, which he founded in 1983, in 2006, so the Ktêma was in development for nearly five years before he felt it was ready to be sold by the new company bearing his name. I remember the tension during its gestation, and Franco's elation at being able to produce a no-compromise system – not that he was ever restrained at Sonus faber. Think of the phenomenal Extrema, Guarneri and Stradivarius. The wait for the Ktêma proved worth it – as did the anticipation lasting a decade to hear a pair in my own system.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 21, 2020
hfncommendedThis Danish brand, new to the UK, has made a name for itself on the Continent with its passive-to-active speakers

The 1994 Keanu Reeves movie Speed rewrote the Hollywood rulebook when it came to action cinema. System Audio's Legend 40 is not quite as disruptive, being a three-way floorstander with a mid-level price tag, but it too has a focus on speed. 'A System Audio speaker is much faster than a conventional loudspeaker', boasts the Danish brand. Time to buckle up, then…

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 14, 2020
hfnoutstandingA foundation range for two decades, MA's Bronze series goes for gold with the standmount 100

Is it brave to label a loudspeaker series 'Bronze', with the implication that its models are worse than second-best? Monitor Audio doesn't seem to think so, and has been using its precious metal hierarchy long enough for its Bronze lineup to now be relaunched in sixth-generation guise, five years after a previous update [HFN Feb '16]. The promise, as always, is of speakers that hit the price/performance sweet-spot via trickle-down driver tech, while looking good, too. Silver, Gold and Platinum are ranged above, and below you'll find the Monitor series, presumably because Copper felt like a step too far...

Review and Lab: Paul Miller, Review: Andrew Everard  |  Sep 02, 2020
hfnedchoiceThere certainly aren't many speakers that look like them, but these baby models – yes, really – in the Swiss brand's wireless active range combine style with all-alloy substance

When the entry-level model in a speaker range costs £70,000 a pair, and weighs no less than 80kg – that's each speaker – you'd rightly assume you're in very serious high-end territory. And yes, imposing though the Prana speaker looks, its two aluminium enclosures mounted on a hefty 'Z-frame' and the whole enterprise standing some 99cm tall, this is the baby of this particular range. Above it sit the Satya speakers, 1.23m tall, 140kg apiece and £110,000 a pair, while the flagship is the 1.47m tall, 180kg-a-pop Samadhi, yours for a nice neat £200k a pair...

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Aug 03, 2020
hfncommendedDanish-based Dantax Radio reinvents a classic: a rework of the Raidho D2.1, now fitted with tantalising drivers

Déjà vu, all over again? Very recently we were playing 'spot the difference' with the Scansonic MB5 B floorstanders [HFN Jun '20], a superficially lookalike but substantially revised version of the old MB5 and one of the latest from Dantax Radio's growing GamuT/Raidho/Scansonic family. This month the focus is back on Raidho itself, with the arrival of a new version of the D2.1 speaker [HFN May '18] where, as with the M5/M5 B, there's quite a bit of visual similarity between old and new.

Review: Andrew Everard, Review: Paul Miller, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jul 09, 2020
hfnoutstandingFrom a new and extended Raidho family these Scansonic floorstanders now benefit from the 'GamuT touch'

We've been here before, reviewing the Scansonic MB5 speakers three years ago [HFN Aug '17]. However, collective amnesia has not set in, for despite the £6249 MB5 B looking near enough identical in its choice of black or white silk finishes, it is in fact a new version of the design, reworked by chief designer Benno Baun Meldgård. Hence the 'B' suffix on the new model.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jun 23, 2020
hfnoutstandingBetter known for its high-value, high-performance subs, SVS is now turning its attention to audiophile speakers

If there was ever a speaker that seemed, on specification alone, to warrant the phrase 'bang for your buck', it's SVS's Prime Pinnacle. For less than £2000 a pair, this US audio brand is offering a three-way floorstander with bespoke midrange unit, an unusual-at-this-price trio of woofers, and the promise of a 'world-class performance'. Even accepting the latter as marketing hyperbole, it's impossible not to view the Prime Pinnacle as potentially superb value for money.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 28, 2020
hfncommendedDespite the success of its Debut and Adante models, ELAC retains its traditional designs, complete with JET tweeter

Constant change is here to stay' as the saying goes. And it's certainly true of ELAC – one of Germany's most long-established hi-fi manufacturers – as the brand has spread its wings over the past few years. ELAC began life way back in 1926 in the coastal town of Kiel, where its main focus concerned the development of sonar systems. It was after the Second World War that it began manufacturing turntables and pick-ups.

Review and Lab: Keith Howard, Review: Andrew Everard  |  May 20, 2020
hfnoutstandingIf there was anything wrong with the Kii Audio Three, it's fixable at a stroke by adding the BXT extension module

As the moving-coil loudspeaker approaches its centenary you could say plus ça change – much about it has changed, but some things remain stubbornly the same. For instance, for a large slice of the loudspeaker's lifetime, designers and enthusiasts have argued over how sound should be radiated into the room. Should a speaker 'beam' its sound towards the listener, thereby quelling the room's contribution as much as possible? Or should it fire sound in all directions, engaging the room as much as possible?

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 15, 2020
As Focal replaces its Chorus range of high-value speakers with a new Chora lineup, we test the flagship floorstander

Time waits for no one – especially if you're a speaker manufacturer. Focal knows this, and will regularly refresh its ranges to maintain its competitiveness. That said, the popular entry-level Chorus lineup [HFN Jun '08] has held sway for longer and only now is it superseded by the high-value Chora range.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 13, 2020
hfncommendedSix years after the birth of the first lute-shaped Olympica speakers, Sonus faber announces the second generation

Several factors set the 2013 launch of the Sonus faber Olympica range apart: not only was this one of the first complete lineups from a company previously better known for individual models, but it also marked the brand's debut as a manufacturer of drive units, built in-house [HFN May '14 and Mar '15]. The new Olympica Nova range represents a next logical step, comprising no fewer than seven models. The series kicks off with the compact Nova I standmount but is headed by the £14,900 Nova V floorstander featured here, available in a choice or walnut or wenge finishes, standing some 117.5cm tall and weighing a not insubstantial 44kg each.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 05, 2020
hfncommendedStill going strong after 20 years, the Venus is nothing if not the ambassador for the room-friendly 'omni'

Mention 'omnidirectional' and most worldly-wise audiophiles will remember seeing MBL's remarkable Radialstrahler loudspeakers at one hi-fi show or another. Once seen and heard they are not easily forgotten, but they are also devastatingly expensive! By the same token, affordable omnidirectional speakers have never quite made it into the mainstream of hi-fi despite Sonab being a major player back in the 1970s and Canon's models from the 1980s also finding favour with many listeners.

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