Loudspeakers

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Review and Lab: Keith Howard  |  Apr 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngA staple at the Hi-Fi Show Live, Magnepan's largest Magneplanar finally gets its first in-depth test

Back in the 1980s, when the UK hi-fi scene began, belatedly, to experience products from places more exotic than Glasgow, Bradford, Huntingdon, Maidstone and Salisbury – ones that didn't say 'Made in Japan' on them – the USA provided a stream of surprises, one of the most memorable being Magneplanar loudspeakers. For most audiophiles, isodynamic drivers were something you found in a left-field Wharfedale headphone of the early 1970s, yet here were full-range panel speakers using essentially the same technology.

Review: José Victor Henriques, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Mar 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngImproved sensitivity and a deeper bass are just two features of the Master Chronosonic-inspired Alexia S2

During their time, Wilson's famous 'Watt Puppies' were upgraded on as many as seven occasions, until the Sasha W/P was born (now also in its Series 2 iteration). The Sasha was no longer a standalone monitor with a carrying handle and a matching subwoofer but a fully-fledged modular integrated loudspeaker system.

Review: Cliff Joseph, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Feb 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngWith a concentric mid/treble and coupled-cavity bass, the smallest Adante series speaker is no ordinary standmount

There was a time, back in the 1980s, when much of what was novel in loudspeaker design emerged from KEF’s R&D department in Maidstone, Kent. Odd as this may seem as a way of introducing a new ELAC speaker from Germany, it’s doubly relevant because the £2600 Adante AS-61 – indeed, the entire three-model Adante range (not including the ASW-121 powered subwoofer) – incorporates two features associated with that golden era at KEF: one that has remained familiar, and a second that has rather declined into obscurity.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Feb 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngThe 'entry-level' floorstander of Sonus faber's Homage Tradition series is much more than a shrunk-down Amati

Anyone familiar with Sonus faber will love the superlative craftsmanship of the Vicenza-based company's loudspeakers. Although pretty much all high-end designs are extremely well turned out these days, this Italian company remains on another level – producing speakers that resemble art pieces, rather than just big boxes trying to look expensive.

Review: Cliff Joseph, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jan 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngA new range combines Focal’s traditional performance values with a more relaxed – and colourful – design

Based in Saint-Étienne, the company’s resolutely ‘made in France’ philosophy has led Focal to develop a number of its own acoustic technologies and designs, and even to use locally grown materials in the manufacture of its speakers. And now the company is continuing that no-compromise approach with its Kanta No2, the first in a new range of compact loudspeakers.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jan 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngAt long last, we get our hands on the iconic Franco Serblin Accordo. Does it redefine the small loudspeaker?

We may have waited over five years to review the Franco Serblin Accordo but, as I found within five seconds of switching them on, it was worth the hold-up. The Accordo is one of the late Franco Serblin’s last designs, chronologically falling in between the Ktema and the Lignea, and its appeal to the archetypal British audiophile is blatantly overwhelming. With its predecessor and follow-up both floorstanders, the Accordo differs as a petite two-way standmount, complete with a 740mm angled pedestal. The Accordo is sold in mirror-imaged pairs, in walnut for £7500 with the integral stands, or in high-gloss grey for an additional £300.

Review: David Price, Review and Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jan 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngIt may not look as outrageous as the iconic B&W Nautilus, but this is its younger, and arguably superior offspring

When B&W introduced the Nautilus in 1993 it created what is surely the most iconic loudspeaker any of us will ever see. Its 'snail on steroids' look projected it on to countless magazine pages around the world and gave B&W the kind of PR boost company CEOs dream of. Only it wasn't a PR man that contrived the Nautilus, it was B&W's then senior design engineer Laurence Dickie. And though it looked like something created by H R Giger for the set of Alien, the Nautilus was actually an exemplar of the Bauhaus diktat that form follows function. It looked that way because it needed to be that way.

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: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Dec 01, 2017
hfnoutstanding.pngNot the diddiest of the new Diamonds, but can the smart-looking 11.1 live up to its heritage?

The highly competitive British budget speaker market has long been a thing of wonder – or should that be bafflement? – for overseas observers. For many years, all the major players in the industry vied to squeeze maximum sales appeal out of boxes designed to sell for around £100 a pair, with each successful debut instantly setting itself up as the brightly-lit target for its near rivals.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 30, 2015
We’d been hankering to audition this T+A flagship speaker for some time. Would the CWT 2000 SE deliver audio ecstasy to those who demand the wallop of a dynamic speaker yet also quench the thirst of ‘purist’ audiophiles who crave the transparency of an electrostatic panel? There are three line-array ‘Cylinder Wave Transducers’ in T+A’s Solitaire range. The big daddy, the CWT 2000, has a 920x50mm tweeter panel – the speaker pairs are handed – six front array 150mm midrange drivers, and on each side are two whopping 250mm bass drivers. Within the imposing tower these drivers occupy asymmetric individually sealed chambers, the Solitaires’ baffles slightly raked backwards in order to afford a degree of time alignment.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 30, 2015
Wharfedale describes the Jade range as its ‘new audiophile class speaker designs’, using computer-aided modelling and new material technologies. In the visually striking Jade 5, the tweeter and midrange are embraced in a combination housing that’s common to all the Jade models, raising the axis of the tweeter’s 25mm aluminium dome to peep above the front edge of the curved, sloping cabinet top. While the midrange has a 75mm concave aluminium/pulp diaphragm, the twin 165mm bass units use a new cone material called Acufibre, said to ‘marry the responsiveness of glass and carbon fibre’ in aself-damping woven matrix. They are impressed with a moulded pattern to break up standing waves.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 30, 2015
The Duette 2 is a thorough revamp of the 2006 original, with its aesthetics enhanced by design cues that first appeared in the larger Wilson models – the optional stand, too, is a visual treat. Like the original, the Duette 2 uses the separate Novel crossover, its outboard status increasing the internal volume of the speaker so it still has ample space for an 8in woofer. Mounted inside the newly-designed stand, the crossover is mechanically isolated in its own dedicated enclosure. Upgrading the tweeter has involved the inclusion of a rear wave chamber, which is said to attenuate spurious energy ‘generated at the rear of the driver that would otherwise leak out of the acoustically translucent dome’.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 27, 2015
The guiding philosophy of Magico’s indefatigable CEO and designer Alon Wolf is along the lines of ‘if you want it done properly. . . ’ This extends not only to the largely bespoke drivers but in particular to those famously inert cabinets, employing copious quantities of alloy, innovative scaffold-like internal bracing and constrained-layer damping.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 27, 2015
Standing over a metre in height, the Olympica III is imposing without being a room-dominator. Our review example was in natural walnut, with joints in clear maple, while accenting this are leather inlays with highlighted stitching. As standard, the front baffle and back are also covered in natural hide. The construction comprises ‘progressive thickness’ triple curvature cabinet walls, with solid walnut clamps reinforcing the structure.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 27, 2015
Although the bass and midrange drive units on the twenty. 26 may appear similar to those of the PMC fact 12 [HFN Nov ’13], they are completely new and only found on this loudspeaker so far. The tweeter is the one unit carried over from the existing models and it’s the well proven Solonex 27mm soft-dome unit, developed by SEAS in conjunction with PMC. Its output is rolled off below 3.

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