Loudspeakers

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Review: Jamie Biesemans, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 20, 2022
hfnoutstandingFor 50 years and two generations Germany's Canton has been building 'audiophile' loudspeakers. We catch up...

The Reference lineup from Canton marks the apex of its engineering thinking, combining years of experience with new computer modelling software and a freshly built testing laboratory. Given 'free rein', its designers came up with no fewer than nine separate models for the new Reference K series, including six floorstanders, one standmount, a centre channel speaker and a 750W-rated active subwoofer for home theatre applications.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 06, 2022
hfnoutstandingKEF's flagship Blade cuts to the heart of the music, and with 'MAT' on board its edge has never been keener

More than a decade after their launch, there's still nothing quite like the KEF Blade One speakers. Well, OK, there's the smaller Blade Two [HFN Jul '15], but the point still stands! The result of one of those 'no constraints' projects that speaker companies seem to love, the original 'Concept Blade' created a stir with its radical styling and carbon-fibre construction. The final retail version employed a more production-friendly high-density polycarbonate, but the speakers were unmistakably the same, and just as unmistakably odd.

Review: Mark Craven  |  May 09, 2022
hfnoutstandingInspired by the flagship Concept 500, Q Acoustics' '50 packs a host of trickledown thinking into its slender frame

When Q Acoustics launched its Concept loudspeaker range in 2013, it began with a sub-£500 standmount – the Concept 20 [HFN Feb '14]. While this was in keeping with the value-for-money reputation the UK brand had developed since its arrival in 2006, within a few years it was reaching higher with the (then) £3000 Concept 300 and £4200 flagship Concept 500 [HFN Jul '17].

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 05, 2022
hfnoutstandingNew kid on the block, Perlisten Audio, is creating a stir straight out of the gates. We test the flagship floorstander

There's a perception that the US, the home of muscle cars, foot-long hot dogs and canyons a mile deep, is also the home of monster-sized loudspeakers. And not, it must be said, without good reason – there are various American manufacturers that frequently put the floor into 'floorstander', building models that require considerable carpet space and suit large listening rooms. So it wasn't much of a surprise to discover Perlisten Audio, a new brand from Verona, Wisconsin, kicking things off with the S7t, an almost 1.3m-tall seven-driver tower weighing in at 55kg.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 21, 2022
hfncommendedNot all audiophiles have massive listening rooms... System Audio comes to the rescue with an on-wall 'LCR' loudspeaker aimed at both AV and two-channel enthusiasts

If you're looking at System Audio's Legend 7.2 and thinking 'Why would I want to hang a loudspeaker on my wall?' then it's probably not the model for you. And that would be understandable. Many hi-fi enthusiasts have the space and flexibility to accommodate floorstanding or standmount speakers, and no need to pinch real estate from any surface other than their living room floor. For those, an on-wall speaker is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 29, 2022
hfnoutstandingAVID's 'sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut' two-way features a massive all-alloy cabinet with tuned mass dampers to kill unwanted resonances – and this is the smallest in its range!

The friend who helped me unload these three AVID Hi-Fi boxes – one for each Reference Four speaker, at £20,000 a pair, plus one for the included (and very hefty) stands – thought he'd nailed it. 'What are these for, then?' he asked, 'heavy metal music?'. He wasn't far off the truth for while most speakers do very nicely indeed with variations on the wooden box theme, the Reference Fours use all-alloy cabinets, with panels up to 15mm-thick, sitting on six 'risers' attached to a thick alloy baseplate. Hence why each of these relatively compact speakers, at just under 37cm tall, weighs 25kg.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 08, 2022
hfnoutstandingThe 'baby' of B&W's latest 800 series may be a compact standmount but it packs a good deal of the D4 DNA into its 'reverse wrap' enclosure. There's a walnut finish too...

There are standmount speakers, and then there is Bowers & Wilkins' 805 D4. Priced £6250, blessed with a suite of proprietary cabinet and driver technologies, and finished in a gorgeous blend of aluminium, leather and wood veneer or gloss paint, it's very much a premium proposition. Indeed, the idea here is that buyers either outpriced or out-sized by the floorstanding speakers in B&W's latest 800 Diamond range can still enjoy more than a taste of the hi-fi high-life.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 18, 2022
hfncommendedJBL is promising us 'great things from a small package' as it continues its theme of mixing pro heritage aesthetics with modern acoustic technology. Is the 4309 a blast?

The verdict was in almost before I started listening to the prosaically-named JBL 4309 speakers, yours for £1799 a pair in a choice of natural or black walnut satin wood veneers and with blue or black grilles over their mid/bass drivers. A visitor took one look at the speakers' horn-loaded tweeter and twin front-venting bass ports, and – before even a note had been played – opined that, 'They look like proper little rock-boxes'.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 01, 2022
hfnoutstandingNot 'version 5' – the 'V' here refers to Wilson's cabinet material. In fact, the Alexx V is a 'v2' and it's a masterpiece

True to form, Wilson Audio allowed five years to pass before revising its Alexx floorstander [HFN Nov '16], avoiding that old high-end crisis of perceived obsolescence. As I always say, what was fine last Tuesday is still fine today, but Wilson tends to upgrade its models with major leaps, not tiny steps, and so it is with the Alexx V (£139,000).

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 18, 2022
hfnoutstandingMA's smallest fistful of Silver features a host of '7th generation' technology to punch above its weight

Arguably more so than any other UK loudspeaker manufacturer, Monitor Audio seems keen to offer something for everyone. Across its four ranges named after precious metals and an alloy (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze), it sells 16 different standmount/bookshelf and floorstanding models, stretching in price from £285 (the Bronze 50 6G) to £14,995 (the Platinum PL500 II). There are other lines too, including the budget Monitor series, compact Mass and Radius, and in-wall 'architectural' speakers. The Silver 50 7G auditioned here, a compact two-way priced at £575, hails from Monitor Audio's mid-range, although it's a mid-range that's considerably more crowded than most.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 06, 2022
hfnoutstandingThe flagship of Paradigm's Founder range has power and precision to delight – and it's a whole lot of fun, too!

At first glance, you may think 'we've been here before' as these Paradigm Founder 120H speakers, yours for a couple of pence short of £8600, look very much like the 100F model [HFN Jul '21]. Yet there's more than enough going on with this flagship design from the Canadian manufacturer to set it apart from the next model down, and justify the £3200 price differential over the £5400 Founder 100F.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 20, 2021
hfnoutstandingFlagship of the ElectroMotion series, this hybrid electrostatic promises a taste of the range-topping Masterpiece loudspeakers at a more wallet-friendly price

The hi-fi market is replete with loudspeakers that look a little 'different', but few are as eye-catching as an electrostatic design where music appears to be coming almost from thin air. MartinLogan, the Kansas-based company established in the early 1980s, is one of the technology's best-known advocates. It began life with a 'static model, and even though its range has expanded since into conventional box-type speaker territory, its mantra remains 'wherever possible, we go electrostatic'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 02, 2021
hfnoutstandingA new 800 series, and a return to the original 801 name, but the 801 D4's enhancements are more than skin deep

Some six years since the arrival of the Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond range, and over 40 years after the launch of the company's original 'no compromise' 801 model [Audio Milestones, HFN Jan '13], here we are with an all-new flagship lineup for the Worthing-based company. The timing's about right: in the rolling programme of upgrades, we've seen the 600 and 700 series replaced since the 800 D3 models broke cover [HFN Dec '15], and the company makes no secret of the fact that work started on these new 800s almost as soon as the last generation was released.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 24, 2021
hfncommendedSince its birth, devotees of the LS3/5A have craved more bass – does the answer lie in Rogers' active AB3a sub?

Delayed because of the pandemic, Rogers' AB3a subwoofer is one year off being able to claim it's the 25th anniversary celebration of its passive predecessor, 1995's AB1. Yes, the gap between them has been that long. The postponement doesn't, however, diminish the delight LS3/5A users will show for the arrival of a dedicated active subwoofer for one of the most celebrated small monitors in the history of hi-fi. It's here, and it's a honey.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 18, 2021
hfnoutstandingArguably the most durable model in the Kudos catalogue, the C20 has witnessed a graceful 12-year evolution

As is so often the case, last time I was at a hi-fi show – c'mon, you remember shows – I was amused by the reaction of a visitor. Having listened to a fully active system using Naim electronics and a pair of Kudos Titan speakers, 'Hmmm,' he said to no-one in particular, and with deadpan seriousness, 'Not bad for a stand company…'. Well, stands may have been the beginnings of Kudos, but it's come a long way since then.

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