Loudspeakers

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 |  Jan 26, 2015  |  0 comments
Anyone who thinks of themselves as an audiophile may be more than a little dismayed to see a subwoofer review in these pages, but there’s alot to be gained from integrating a subwoofer into a two-channel hi-fi system that stretches beyond the reach of the majority of traditional loudspeakers. Subwoofers have come a long way in recent times, and with careful integration including a sub in your setup can have benefits on other elements of the sound aside from just extending its low-range performance. REL has been at the top of the subwoofer game since the Welsh company first appeared on the scene with models back in the nineties. It perfectly positioned itself for the home theatre boom, and the growth of the surround sound speaker market, with a range of dedicated subwoofer models that enabled movie fans to unleash multichannel soundtracks in their home.
 |  Jan 26, 2015  |  0 comments
Driven a new car lately? They’re very good, aren’t they? Even a relatively anonymous, middle priced Eurobox like a Ford Focus is now capable of safe, comfortable long distance travel, and is no slouch around country lanes. It’s economical, nippy and practical, so what’s not to like? Loudspeakers are getting this way too. Having started reviewing them in the mid-nineties, I come across fewer downright bad ones now. Perhaps it’s because we’re a bit further down the road, or up the learning curve, to know how best to design a loudspeaker.
 |  Jan 26, 2015  |  0 comments
It is easy to take one look at a product and jump to conclusions about what it was designed to do and the intentions and thinking behind it. One look at the science-fiction prop styling and lustrously shiny finish of the Elipson Planet and you would be forgiven for writing it off as some sort of fancy lifestyle bauble. Two spheres, the size and shape of a steampunk astronaut helmet can only have resulted from a serious need for attention surely? The reality is that, the Elipson Planet is to French broadcasting what the Rogers LS3/5 is in the UK. The Planet has appeared in various versions over the last 50 years.
 |  Jan 23, 2015  |  0 comments
Buyers have come to know what to expect from the £1,000 price point. Lavishing this sort of sum buys you a physically largish box that is nicely if not luxuriously finished. It gets you a decent set of drive units, and you’d expect to be looking at three per speaker at least – and that’s precisely what you get here. Here’s a three-way, four driver floorstander that’s just over a metre tall when sitting on its plinths (not shown).
 |  Jan 23, 2015  |  0 comments
The past few years have been a prolific time for Sonus faber. The company now has a burgeoning range of products; no sooner was the ‘affordable’ Venere range launched than the Olympica popped up at last year’s High End Show in Munich. The II you see here is in the middle of a three-strong range; the I is a standmount, whereas the III is a larger floorstander with an additional bass driver to the II’s existing three. The woodwork is lovely, the detailing exquisite, the finish immaculate – and yet the speaker feels even nicer still.
 |  Jan 23, 2015  |  0 comments
With the exception of REL and other longstanding subwoofer manufacturers, the concept of the 2. 1 system is something that has really only come into its own since the arrival of the sub/sat package in the home cinema boom at the start ofthe millennium. The concept of small speakers that take up little space and are underpinned by a subwoofer that can be tucked away out of sight had advantages for getting a home cinema system into a space that otherwise couldn’t accept one. It didn’t take a genius to see this could be applied to a hi-fi setup too.
 |  Jan 21, 2015  |  0 comments
The concept is clear – to make a good speaker great. There are several ways of doing this, the obvious one being to spend large amounts of money on the drive units. A fancy ribbon tweeter here or some expensive carbon fibre mid/bass drivers there, perchance? The other way is to work on the cabinet, and if you think about it, this is even more critical than the drivers, which can’t do their best if they’re spoiled by boomy boxes. In a way, cabinets can do no right, as all they can do is lower the performance potential of drive units by accentuating standing waves – smudging and blurring the sound from inside.
 |  Jan 21, 2015  |  0 comments
Floorstanding loudspeakers are hugely popular right now, with seemingly more models vying for our attention on a daily basis. It’s a competitive market that has been growing consistently stronger sincefloorstanders first grabbed our attention back in the nineties. Their popularity is a win-win for music fans as the wealth of models means quality is high and prices competitive. It’s fair to say that American loudspeaker companies are often viewed with slightly raised eyebrows in the UK, but here JBL follows more elegant speaker designs rather than the muscular monitors it is better known for.
 |  Jan 19, 2015  |  0 comments
Why is it that some steaks taste like sun-dried cardboard, while others are dripping with flavour and have the texture of warm butter? It’s not that difficult a question to answer, is it? The finest food needs ingredients of the best quality, prepared in a skillful way that doesn’t hide the natural goodness. And so it goes for loudspeakers too – no one ever made a great one with sub-par drive units and cabinets that weren’t fit for purpose. But just like steak, even a good speaker can be ruined if it isn’t cooked properly, or is badly served. Of course, if it doesn’t use the right raw materials in the first place, it can never be right.
 |  Jan 19, 2015  |  0 comments
Hart Audio may not be a household name but David Hart’s Isle of Wight-based business has a refreshing approach to audio design and high-quality UK manufacturing, as well as a growing number of passionate customers appreciating service and bespoke production. Hart Audio sells its speakers direct in the UK so you won’t find its speakers at your local hi-fi dealer. The new incarnation of the imposing EVO1 commands attention even when it’s silent. Two large, understated enclosures per channel, each boasting a purposeful 12in driver hints that you’re about to hear something different.
 |  Jan 19, 2015  |  0 comments
Costing the considerable sum of £900, Tannoy’s new Precision 6. 1 has to be demonstrably better than the large number of cheaper standmounters around to attain serious success. It has to give at least a taste of greatness, if not the full culinary experience! Reflecting this, it is a purposefully styled product, with a design suggesting few compromises. Being a Tannoy it has a Dual Concentric drive unit.
 |  Jan 15, 2015  |  0 comments
Back in the November 2013 issue (377) we reviewed the £350 Cambridge Audio Aero 2 standmount loudspeaker. The Aero 6 is a larger, floorstanding version of the same design, deploying identical drive units with the far larger cabinet volume that comes from having a big box that sits securely on terra firma! Many will expect the Aero 6 to be better, then; after all, it’s nearly twice the price and has far more air inside its capacious cabinet. Trouble is, in doing a floorstanding version of a smaller standmount speaker, you open yourself up to a problem that’s never easily solved, especially in budget designs, which is how to keep the cabinet under control. The thing is, that bigger box might let the bass driver move air easier, but there’s also the worry that it will also move the cabinet.
 |  Jan 15, 2015  |  0 comments
Eagle-eyed readers will no doubt have spotted thatan almost identical looking Dynaudio floorstander graced these pages back in the October 2013 issue and earned itself a prestigious Recommended badge. That speaker was the Xeo 5, an active design with a wireless receiver. Its cheaper passive cousin, the X34, comes minus the Xeo’s internal amplifier, freeing it up to be drivenby one of your choosing. The X34 model shares air-moving hardware with the Xeo 5, so you geta pair of Dynaudio’s 5in MSP (magnesium silicate polymer) long-throw woofers with aluminium voice coils and die-cast aluminium frames.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Jan 15, 2015  |  0 comments
One of the best things about Spendor is that when its ranges are refreshed, it’sa worthwhile update. The company’s MD Philip Swift ‘gets it’ that buyers aren’t always taken in by the addition of an alloy trim ring, a five percent more expensive crossover capacitor and set of gold-plated spikes. So when it does something,it’s worth sitting up and taking notice. Any ‘R’ version (as it’s ‘Revised’) really is worth paying attention to.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 12, 2015  |  0 comments
British audio companies often adopt a more relaxed pace of evolution to their product ranges compared with some other countries and with speakers in particular, models and ranges can go many years without replacement. Neat Acoustics’ loudspeakers are a classic exampleof the‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ approach – models like the Petite and Elite have been membersof the range almost since the company’s founding, albeit with continued upgrades. So, when the company decides to carry outa refresh, the result is always going to be interesting. This time it is the affordable Motive range that has been given a good going over after eight years (with some more subtle updates during that time).

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