Lab: Keith Howard

Review: Christopher Breunig, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Feb 19, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingHiFiMan has done as much as any brand to popularise the planar magnetic headphone since the technology's revival, and the Susvara is the best PM it knows how to make

Astute readers will have noticed that we've been exploring the HiFiMan range in stepwise fashion. We began with the £475 Sundara [HFN Jun '19], progressed to the £1500 Arya [HFN Aug '19] and have now reached the £5750 Susvara. While, despite its elevated price tag, the Susvara isn't the most expensive headphone the Chinese manufacturer currently offers, the costlier Shangri-La and Shangri-La Jr are both electrostatic models, making the Susvara its flagship planar magnetic design.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Feb 14, 2020  |  0 comments
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  |  0 comments
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  |  0 comments
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  |  0 comments
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.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Dec 16, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingWe report on a classic with a modern twist as Spendor launches a flagship inspired by its iconic 1970s models

As any hi-fi enthusiast will know, Spendor has an illustrious history, its co-founder Spencer Hughes creating the company's first speaker, the BC1, using knowledge he'd gained while working at the BBC in the '60s. Yet for the past decade the brand has been working hard to reinvent itself, its affordable A and higher-end D series selling into the mainstream speaker market.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Nov 19, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceRedesigned from the ground up, Klipsch's all-new Reference Premiere series leverages over 70 years of loudspeaker history. We audition the largest of its bookshelf trio...

With no shortage of standmount loudspeakers vying for our attention, any newcomer needs to stand out from the crowd. And few stand out as boldly as Klipsch's £625 'Reference Premiere' series RP-600M, arriving from a company with an auspicious portfolio of exciting-sounding horn-loaded loudspeakers [HFN Jun '19], all dating back to the first ever Klipschorn model launched in 1946.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Nov 12, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe latest – and largest – model in Focal's Kanta range combines its signature style with innovative materials

You might be tempted to see the Focal Kanta range as Utopia-lite: while the loudspeakers in what is now a three-strong lineup are one-piece designs, lacking the adjustable articulation of the flagship offering, they do echo the company's Utopia style [HFN Dec '18]. This is done by shaping the front baffle so that, in the £9000 Kanta No3 we have here, the two bass drivers are in a section of baffle sloping gently back from bottom to the midpoint where the tweeter is mounted, while the midrange driver at the top is slanted slightly downwards.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Oct 30, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe new ELAC Navis 'powered speaker' series is a slick system alternative, whether or not you use it wirelessly

As one of the largest-scale speaker manufacturers around, US/German company ELAC has what can sometimes seem like a baffling range, all the way from very affordable mini-monitors and 'subwoofer and satellites' packages right the way up to very high-end floorstanding designs. And apart from the sheer breadth of the lineup, this diversity allows it to explore a variety of technologies: in this range there's no signs of a 'one design fits all, just in different scales' approach.

Review: Christopher Breunig, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Oct 28, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingWith their unusually extended ovoid cups – pear-shaped, you might say – these new planar magnetics, once auditioned, could easily become the apple of your eye

With 16 current models in its Reference range, HiFiMan's product offering many not be as extensive or potentially confusing as Audio-Technica's but still it's a lot to get your head around. I classify them, informally, into round capsule and ovoid capsule models, the £1500 Arya being one of the latter. It's an apt classification in that once you've worn the Arya – or any other headphone whose capsules better reflect the shape of the external ear – you wonder why headphones aren't all designed this way. You wouldn't wear rectangular shoes, so why are these shapes so widely used for headphone capsules and earpads? It flies in the face of anatomical logic.

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