Loudspeakers

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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.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Apr 16, 2020
hfncommendedTwo-dimensional wonder-material, Graphene, is making its way into driver cones, including Falcon's flagship

Oxfordshire-based Falcon Acoustics is perhaps best-known for two aspects of its business: first, it's a major supplier of drive units, both its own designs and those of partner companies; and second, it's the manufacturer of its own version of the classic LS3/5a speaker design [HFN Jan '19]. The Falcon Acoustics Classic 15ohm LS3/5a is fully BBC-licensed, hand-assembled in Oxford and 'the only LS3/5a in production that faithfully replicates the original BBC design published in Oct 1976'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Apr 08, 2020
hfnoutstandingActive or passive? Exposure's new outboard crossover allows you to experience both with the Kudos Titan 707

As divisive audio issues go, few get the battle lines drawn more steadfastly than the matter of passive versus active loudspeakers. It's not so long ago that we were hearing about tiny monitor speakers with onboard amplification said to be good enough to have dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts abandoning five-figure systems of conventional amps and speakers. Forget valves vs. solid state, or analogue vs. digital: when it comes to the topic of active speakers, tempers seem to flare among the keyboard warriors.

Review: Paul Miller, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Mar 18, 2020
hfnoutstandingMore than a chip off the Magico block, the A1 sets the standard for pint-sized standmounts

Chalk and cheese. Night and day. Or perhaps David and Goliath... Call it what you will, but the transition between Avantgarde's huge, horn-loaded Duo Primo XDs departing my listening room, and the diminutive A1s arriving, demanded a recalibration of reality. Just 20kg versus 185kg per enclosure and a drop of 20dB in sensitivity – so the volume control on our resident dCS Vivaldi One DAC/preamp also needed a reset from 500mV output to 6V.

Review: Andrew Everard, Review and Lab: Keith Howard  |  Mar 11, 2020
hfnedchoiceDubbed Avantgarde's 'best kept secret' the Duo Primo XD was revealed at the UK Hi-Fi Show Live

Of late we've had some speakers through editor PM's listening room only describable as imposing, but nothing quite prepares one for the sheer visual impact of the Duo Primo XDs from Germany's Avantgarde Acoustics. Standing some 1.8m tall by 67cm wide, and weighing 185kg apiece, installing them is a matter of slotting the boxes together rather in the manner of building a PA stack – an appropriate analogy, as we'll discover – while the price-tag is similarly huge, at £79,500 a pair.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Feb 14, 2020
hfncommendedThe latest compact speaker from Jamo blends designer appeal with solid audio engineering

The small speaker market is a fiercely fought arena, with every major speaker brand having at least one dog in the fight, and often several. It's not hard to see why: there's a tradition of speaker companies making over-achieving budget boxes, while the interior design appeal of small enclosures delivering a big sound has encouraged builders to develop the idea of the compact standmount/bookshelf speaker beyond the entry-level. The result is a choice of models with more expensive engineering – and hopefully even better performance – while still keeping the dimensions neat and tidy.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Feb 06, 2020
hfnoutstandingThe ultimate expression of Paradigm's Persona speaker range is an active/passive hybrid, with room EQ too...

Canadian company Paradigm makes no bones about where its Persona range is pitched: it describes it as 'The Evolution of Luxury', as you might hope of a lineup topping out with the 9H speakers at £34,000 a pair. In fact the Persona 9H is currently Paradigm's absolute top model, being the priciest, and technically most complex, design in the company's flagship range. Like the other Persona models it comes in a choice of five standard colours: Harmony White, Vanta Black, Carbon Black gloss, plus metallic Aria Blue or Sonic Silver.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jan 06, 2020
hfnoutstandingBreathed on with the spirit of the company's flagship model, these speakers are nothing less than spectacular

From the sheer performance and value of the flagship Triton Reference [HFN Jun '19], down to the bargain that is the Triton Five [HFN Mar '19], we've been very much taken with the sound of the GoldenEar range. And this despite the 'but it shouldn't work' cost-effective engineering employed by the company, including its liberal use of plastics in the cabinets' construction.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Dec 24, 2019
hfnoutstandingClearly inspired by its LS50W, KEF's tiny 'wireless' system in a box is a big triumph

There are active speakers and active speakers. Some models claim to be 'active' but are really just powered, with a single amplifier within the speaker cabinet driving the tweeter and mid/bass unit via a conventional passive crossover, sometimes even with a stereo power amp in one speaker driving both it and a slave partner.

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