Lab: Keith Howard

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 21, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThis slim column hides its light under a bushel – or at least a sock – but is an addictively attractive performer

You might seem to be setting yourself up for a fall if you call your company GoldenEar Technology. It's a cue for all those jokes about effects heard only by those claiming such aural ability, grist to the mill of the 'design them properly and they all sound the same' brigade. Fortunately for the team behind the GoldenEar Triton range – including the £2300 Triton Five we have here – the product lives up to its billing, for the Five is perhaps the most striking speaker I have heard at this price level for a very long time.

Review: Christopher Breunig, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 17, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedLooking for isolating headphones to wear when out and about? Focal has the answer in its first closed-back cans, the elegant Elegia, with tech derived from earlier models

The idea of listening to music while commuting or exercising was almost unheard of until the advent of the Sony Walkman 40 years ago, but nowadays it's ubiquitous. And with the 'Beats' generation wearing full-sized headphones this too has become widespread. One of the advantages, along with sound quality, is the increased sense of isolation – for which you might look for a closed-back model. So, following its £3250 flagship Utopia [HFN Feb '17], £800 Elear [HFN Apr '17] and £1399 Clear [HFN Mar '18] open-back predecessors, Focal has integrated these technologies into a closed-back design – the £799 Elegia.

Review: José Victor Henriques, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 10, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingLaunched to celebrate the life's work of Wilson Audio's founder, this new Sasha is no mere mk3

The Sasha DAW is a tribute product launched by Daryl Wilson to honour his recently deceased father and Wilson Audio's founder, David Andrew Wilson, whose initials denote the latest form of this iconic loudspeaker. In practice, the Sasha DAW has the same form factor and three-way, four drive configuration as the Sasha Series-2 [HFN Jun '14].

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Apr 26, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingA beryllium tweeter is the highlight of these new speakers – do they really 'redefine performance expectations'?

They clearly don't believe in sitting on their hands at Revel as the Performa3 M106 and F208 speakers have recently been subject to wholesale revitalisation, creating the PerformaBe range, said to 'redefine performance expectations'. Comprising the £4000 M126Be standmount/bookshelf speaker and the £10,000 F228Be we have here, the new models are available in a choice of high-gloss piano black, white, American walnut or metallic silver and, while the use of ceramic-coated drivers is familiar Harman/Revel fare, the new talking point is a beryllium dome tweeter.

Review: Christopher Breunig, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Apr 18, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedWith the Fostex T50RPmk3 as its donor chassis, headphone accessory brand Dekoni Audio breaks into the big time with a back-to-basics planar magnetic. It's blue too...

Now where did I put my headphones?' It's not a question you are likely to ask with the Dekoni Audio Blue, as it comes in the associated Japanese company Fostex's signature colour, with a boldly lettered headstrap. It's the first headphone product from Dekoni Audio – a New Jersey company specialising in replacement pads for a range of 'phones – and an obvious step for Dekoni to take.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Apr 12, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingClassical horns do not come any more colourful, or compelling, than this 'entry-level' floorstander

Hi-fi can be such a confusing passion, with so many products to explore in the quest for better sound, but enthusiasts often start by upgrading their loudspeakers, as they're where the greatest subjective differences are typically to be found. Most will begin with conventional box speakers, but many then progress to more left-field approaches – the most striking being 'horns'.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Mar 21, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedWith its unique Manger Sound Transducer full-range driver, this high-end floorstander is as unconventional as it looks

It is refreshing to see that there's still a place for purple prose in press releases. While so many documents describing new products are rather dry, German company Manger does things differently. It talks about its 'technological masterpiece' opening up 'a new horizon' and of 'goose bumps' triggering emotions and 'touching the heart'. Such flowery fluff might sail over the heads of hardened hi-fi hacks, but it's hardly necessary because the £11,429 P2 needs no hype at all. In practice, it's an intriguing, thought-provoking design featuring transducer technology that's far from run-of-the-mill.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Mar 21, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingAn audio fantasy realised: the return of a bona fide, BBC-approved LS3/5a to match the original – Falcon Acoustics applies provenance and purism to the project

Handing me a pair of 'new' LS3/5as always elicits mixed feelings. Part of me wants the speaker back in production so badly that I tend to go soft on the latest contender. My dark side says it's impossible without KEF drivers, but that was to overlook Falcon Acoustics' pedigree. This brand offers kits and drivers plus the reincarnated LS3/5a we have here, selling for £2350-£2500 per pair depending on finish. It also has a secret weapon in its gene pool: Malcolm Jones.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Mar 19, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingWith its D series, Wharfedale yet again aims to redefine the art of the possible in budget loudspeaker design

There's something very special about a bargain hi-fi product able to defy expectations with a surprising level of performance. It stood the original Wharfedale Diamond speakers in good stead in the early 1980s, and continues to be a hallmark of the range to this day, in the Diamond 11 series [HFN Dec '17]. So it's intriguing to see the company launch another budget speaker series to run alongside the Diamond 11s, in the form of the D300 lineup.

Review: Dean Hartley, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Mar 06, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedYou won't find any 'on-the-hoof' fripperies here as the Japanese company unveils a new iteration of its tried-and-trusted AH-D5000 headphone, with 'free-edge' tech

At £549, the AH-D5200 represents the entry level offering in a new three-model range from Denon, with the AH-D7200 (£699) and range-topping AH-D9200 (£1399) completing the lineup. They are all closed-back designs and aimed squarely at the home audio user looking for a premium set of cans. The large over-ear, non-folding arrangement ensures they're not the type of thing you could or would want to take on the road, but more likely to take pride of place in a study or living room, ready for those relaxing musical pastimes.

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