Loudspeakers

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Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 23, 2021
hfncommendedMost compact SA floorstander is not only offered in fully active 'Silverback' guise, but now supports 'RAM Tweaks'

System building and component matching is the backbone of hi-fi. Sure, it might seem a never-ending process, each change yielding new results and then more experimentation, but it's an enjoyable one. The Legend 40.2 Silverback tested here, an active three-way floorstander with digital crossover, Analog Devices DSP and integrated DAC, bypasses a lot of that journey – and if combined with the optional wireless Stereo Hub (£400 when purchased with the speakers, £700 separately), removes the need for any cabling except a mains lead. Yet Danish manufacturer System Audio (SA) then uses the Silverback's digital architecture to offer its own take on audiophile fine-tuning, via a newly-launched range of DSP upgrades it calls 'RAM Tweaks'.

Martin Colloms  |  Sep 17, 2021
hfnvintageMartin Colloms hears KEF's no-holds-barred flagship speaker, the R109

In late 1995 an idea began to take shape at KEF Audio. The company had already produced some fair-sized 'reference' models, culminating in the well-regarded Reference Four. But even this powerful and accomplished design lacked the necessary weight and presence to make a major impact at the highest quality level of world loudspeaker sales. So research began to define the key elements of what was intended to be a much larger speaker system, a definitive engineering expression of the company's knowledge.

Review: Ed Selley, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 06, 2021
hfnoutstandingThere are three two-way standmounts in Spendor's 1970s-inspired Classic range, and the 3/1 is the centre model. Is this entirely UK-built model the sweetspot of the series?

Rather than follow tradition in everything it does, Spendor has wisely divided its loudspeakers into different categories. The company's A-Line and D-Line models aim to reflect changes in consumer tastes by combining fresh in-house design thinking with engineering philosophies it has spent years refining. Alongside these sits the Classic Series which, as the name suggests, sees the brand build upon proven technologies from its earliest days with an eye to keeping the flame of its renowned '70s designs alive.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 02, 2021
hfnoutstandingLaunched three years ago but only now released for review, PMC's flagship fenestria is a towering statement

The PMC fact fenestria – the British brand's flagship 'domestic' speaker (note lower case f) – was launched at a packed press conference at Munich's High End Show. That's the 2018 High End Show, and it's taken over three years for it to arrive for review – in which time the price has risen from the inaugural £45,000 to the £54,995 for the pair you see here. In the intervening period there's actually only been one Munich show – that in 2019, at which the company launched its smaller 'fact signature' models: the 2020 show fell victim to the pandemic, as did this year's at least twice, being rescheduled from May to September, then cancelled completely.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 16, 2021
hfnoutstandingTop passive floorstander in Paradigm's new Founder series is keenly, but not ambitiously priced. A high-end bargain?

My first, AV-focused, experiences of Paradigm were misleading. In times gone by the UK distribution of this 40-year-old Canadian company favoured a curious mix of its entry-level, compact loudspeakers and its far-from-entry-level subwoofers (including the 106kg Signature SUB 2, whose hexagonal cabinet featured six 10in woofers and a claimed 4.5kW of amplification). More recently, however, first with the Persona B standmount [HFN Oct '20] and now with its £5400 Founder 100F floorstander, I've discovered its grown-up side. And I like it a lot.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 02, 2021
hfnoutstandingFlagship A series model from California's premier speaker brand is its most advanced 'affordable' floorstander yet

Finding positives during a time when audiophiles and civilians alike are under the cosh of 'that-which-shall-not-be-named' is important, and celebrating those rays of sunshine when we discover them, doubly so. And Magico's flagship A series floorstander is a particularly golden beam of musical light that, so the story goes, might not have been released so soon if it were not for the coercions of Covid. Oops, I mentioned it...

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 26, 2021
hfnvintageA covetable compact or a mere nearfield monitor for the acutely design-conscious? We hear how this miniature bookshelf loudspeaker from 1983 shapes up today

In the frantically fast-paced hi-fi market of the '70s and '80s, it is pleasing to find a product that remained in its manufacturer's catalogue virtually unaltered for years. If something looks good, sounds good and sells profitably why change it? Some products remain available simply because the company making them lacks the resources to do anything different. But that could not be said of Danish brand B&O, which was then at the height of its powers.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 16, 2021
hfncommendedThis slim floorstander has million-dollar looks but a wallet-friendly price, and aims to sound bigger than it seems

Monitor Audio's close-to-entry-level Bronze series wants to offer something for everyone – the full range runs to eight models, including various multichannel options – but it's perhaps the Bronze 200 floorstander that many potential buyers will investigate first. A slim two-and-half-way tower speaker priced £569, with attractive finish options (white, walnut, urban grey and black), plus driver technologies borrowed from pricier models, it appears at face value to offer performance potential and that hi-fi holy grail: value for money.

Review: Ken Kessler, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 09, 2021
hfnoutstandingAfter nearly a decade in production, KEF's iconic LS50 compact monitor has been comprehensively updated. We compare the original with the latest 'Meta' variant

Hardly a curse, but it's still a massive challenge for any manufacturer to improve on a smash hit. I don't care if you're talking about cars, cameras or cookers – whatever the classic, the follow-up is metaphorically referred to as 'that difficult second album'. KEF faced this with the LS50 which (terrifyingly) will be ten years old in 2022. In the interim, there have been active and wireless versions of the speaker, but the passive original [HFN Jul '12] is a much-loved default purchase in the under-£1000 sector. The new LS50 with the Meta suffix (£999) is KEF's The Godfather Part II. Yes, it's really that good.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 01, 2021
hfnedchoiceThe speaker with no sweet spot arrives on our shores, offering a sound that's as distinctive as its aesthetics

Few loudspeakers are as instantly recognisable as the 'Radialstrahlers' – directly translated 'radial emitters' – designed and built by German brand MBL. At every international hi-fi show their appearance draws crowds while the all-encompassing sound of those iconic 'melons' keeps visitors rooted to their seats. Am I giving away the punchline? Not really. Few seasoned audiophile travellers will not have heard these incredible music machines, but we have still waited a decade for them to reach these shores and be explored, inside and out, Hi-Fi News-style.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 14, 2021
hfncommendedDanish brand's flagship floorstander really comes on song in fully active 'Silverback' guise, with room bass-tuning to boot

There's more to System Audio's flagship floorstander than meets the eye. Outwardly, the £7000 Legend 60.2 Silverback, available in satin black and satin white, appears to be an archetypal slender, tower loudspeaker. Peer around the back, however, and you'll find a metal plate – the Silverback of its title – with IEC mains inlet, XLR and USB connections, plus a bank of status LEDs below legends including 'Wireless', 'Centre' and 'Subwoofer'. So not only is this an active model, it's one with wireless and multichannel ambitions.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 08, 2021
hfnoutstandingOne time staple of BBC monitoring, and with feet in both professional and consumer camps, this large standmount has been resurrected and refreshed by a master of the art

One cannot but think of the notion that 'Once is chance, twice is coincidence, third time is a pattern'. Following the revived 1970s JBLs and Rogers' return to LS3/5A manufacture [HFN Jul '19], the arrival of a dead-accurate, reborn BBC LS5/9 as part of Rogers' 'Classic' range is further proof that a trend is under way. All those Instagram images of systems made up of 50-year-old components tell us the past is back with a vengeance.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 24, 2021
hfnoutstandingFirst floorstander in Sonus faber's Heritage range takes its Electa Amator III standmount and raises it up high

What have you been doing throughout the various lockdowns? Looks like the R&D team at the Sonus faber factory in Arcugnano, Italy, took the opportunity to spend some time revisiting a project it had been keeping on the back burner for a while – a two-way floorstander with a solid wood enclosure to slot into its Heritage collection above the Minima Amator II and Electa Amator III [HFN Jul '19] standmount models.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 20, 2021
hfncommendedDesigned by Cambridge Audio's in-house team in London, the refreshed SX-80 is a big speaker on a small budget

When it launched its Edge series in 2018 to mark its 50th Anniversary [HFN Nov '18], Cambridge Audio appeared to be making a concerted effort to reach a little higher. But proof this stalwart of the UK high street hasn't turned its back on wallet-conscious buyers arrived recently in the form of its reworked SX loudspeaker range. With head-turning prices, a modern finish and dimensions that won't upset your interior designer, these are likely to garner considerable interest.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 06, 2021
hfnoutstandingFirst from a hand-selected portfolio of 'artisan' hi-fi separates, this pairing of low output tubes with high sensitivity speakers boasts a very special synergy... and sound

System matching remains as much an art as it does a science. There's always the easy route – opting for a collection of one-brand separates with the promise of full technical compatibility and the expectation of similar 'voicing' throughout. aSlightly trickier is the pairing of components from brands that have an overlap in their core design philosophies – a route that often leads to the most satisfying musical experience but which requires a depth of knowledge on the part of both enthusiast and friendly hi-fi dealer. The third route – random component selection and a reliance on blind luck is not one we'll be pursuing here!

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