Loudspeakers

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Ed Selley  |  Nov 29, 2011  |  0 comments
Arro takes Flight Totem’s super-slim new Arro is a beautifully made speaker. Paul Messenger gets close up and personal with the Canadian rocker Well established Canadian manufacturer Totem takes its name from – and tends to name its models after – elements of that country’s First Nations culture, though quite where Arro comes from remains a little obscure. Perhaps it simply reflects the fact that the speaker itself is unusually straight and slim, albeit devoid of point or flights. Whatever, few serious speakers manage to look more discreet and self-effacing, especially in the highly reflective (and very fashionable) high-gloss black of our review samples.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 28, 2011  |  0 comments
Small is beautiful This latest model from Bowers & Wilkins is, says Paul Messenger, a beautifully styled and finished luxury miniature Although the mainstream marketplace for hi-fi loudspeakers invariably tends to equate price with size and necessarily expects a costly loudspeaker to be a large loudspeaker, more sophisticated hi-fi customers are aware that this relationship is largely false. It’s certainly true that a small loudspeaker is bound to have certain limitations, especially in areas such as bass extension, loudness capability and power handling. However, such designs also have certain strengths that are often all too easily overlooked, over and beyond the obvious fact that for many customers, when it comes to loudspeakers (rather than, say, TV screens), small is, by definition, beautiful. For example, the smaller the loudspeaker, the less the enclosure area available to radiate unwanted cabinet colorations.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 28, 2011  |  0 comments
Blade Runner KEF’s Blade celebrates 50 years of loudspeaker innovation with the most dramatic leap forward in decades, says Paul Messenger KEF has been virtually synonymous with loudspeaker innovation for five decades. Although in recent years the company’s main preoccupation seems to have been with multichannelhome cinema, through an impressive succession of clever designs, but the Blade looks likely to put KEF back on the stereo hi-fi top table. Conceived by Mark Dodd and executed with considerable assistance from Jack Oclee-Brown, a Project Blade ‘technology demonstrator’ first appeared two years ago. There was talk of it going into production, but nothing had been decided and its elaborate and costly enclosure – a carbon fibre,balsa wood sandwich – meant that the price was likely to be something like twice our review speaker’s £20,000 price.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 09, 2011  |  0 comments
Music of the spheres Elipson’s Planet L brings the acoustic benefits of a spherical cabinet down to a new price point. Ed Selley goes listening ‘outside the box' French hi-fi has made significant inroads to the UK market in recent years, but Elipson remain one of the lesser-known brands. This is in spite of the fact that it has been in existence since 1938 and amongst other achievements were the default loudspeaker choice of French national television for over forty years. Bowling ball The striking looking Planet L is the latest in a long line of spherical designs dating back for most of the history of the brand.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 11, 2011  |  0 comments
Ken goes to Boston Boston Acoustics’ new range has been tuned by Marantz’s Ken Ishiwata for European ears. Ed Selley goes hunting for the ‘signature’ sound Boston Acoustics are one of the major players in the American speaker market, producing a full range of conventional box loudspeakers, custom install products and car audio. Since the company was acquired by D&M holdings – which oversees Denon, Marantz and McIntosh amongst others – it has been raising its UK profi le. The A Series speakers are the new entrylevel range and made its low key debut at Bristol this year.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 07, 2011  |  0 comments
Code Red Triangle's new Color range sees a lower price of entry for the French marque. Ed Selley reckons the future’s bright for the popular brand Triangle speakers rarely look anything other than distinctive – it’s a range that usually manages at least one quirky styling feature in any given model. The Color range is the new entry level to Triangle ownership and at this price point, distinctive styling touches are a little harder to achieve. Triangle’s solution is simple enough; the Color is available in three gloss finishes including the eye-catching fire-engine red (pictured).
Ed Selley  |  Sep 06, 2011  |  0 comments
Precious metal Monitor Audio's new Gold GX series incorporates many of the refinements pioneered by the more costly Platinum range, says Paul Messenger Monitor Audio began operations nearly forty years ago, but is probably best known for introducing and proselytising metal diaphragm drive units, initially for its tweeter domes and soon afterwards for the cones used in its bass and midrange drivers. Add in some very classily veneered enclosures that were manufactured in its own cabinet shop and the company established a template that still holds good today. Twenty years down the line, plenty has changed of course, but the same core values remain at the heart of Monitor Audio’s more upmarket ranges. The first Platinum series models appeared some four years ago and have been covered extensively in Hi-Fi Choice in recent times: PL100 (HFC 343); PL200 (HFC 330) and PL300 (HFC 301).
Ed Selley  |  Aug 27, 2011  |  0 comments
Boxing clever Dominic Todd looks at the latest offering from Q Acoustics, the relative newcomer that's defining the high-value loudspeaker concept Acoustics loudspeakers have a great reputation for their accuracy of timing, imaging and, given their size, dynamic prowess. An attribute we recognised here in the pages of Hi-Fi Choice with a Best Buy badge (HFC 318) and an Awards Finalist citation (HFC 326) for its previous model, the 1020i. Cue the 2050. With its twin woofers and cabinets that stand over one metre high, the 2050s appear to have what it takes to add even more muscle to the Q Acoustic family.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 07, 2011  |  0 comments
Magnificent Seven DALI's IKON 7 MKII boasts proprietary drivers and Danish assembly, a combination that as Paul Messenger finds, gives them high-end sparkle DALI (the name is actually an acronym for Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries) debuted its new IKON range at the May 2010 Munich High End Society show and while the overall sizes and configurations of the various MK2 models do correspond closely to those of the original IKON range (first launched in 2005), they also incorporate plenty of engineering and cosmetic changes. The IKONs are Danish-made loudspeakers, so manufacturing isn’t cheap. Furthermore, the value of the Danish Krone (linked to the Euro) has appreciated significantly compared to sterling in recent years, so a significant price rise for this MK2 range was inevitable. Even so, an increase from £999 to £1,699 over a six-year span is pretty hefty, especially for a speaker finished in vinyl woodprint.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 07, 2011  |  0 comments
Aural XTZ Ed Selley discovers a high-value standmount that combines a SEAS driver and a ribbon tweeter to sparkle in the sub-£800 price bracket Hailing from Sweden, XTZ has expanded rapidly to produce a bewildering array of electronics and loudspeakers. The company focuses on trying to provide strong value for money and its products seem to be very competitively priced. The 99. 26 is the second most costly standmount in the range, but still only sells for £670.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 27, 2011  |  0 comments
Kudos X2 The new X2 is the first model to bring the Kudos sound to the value-led consumer Founded by ex-Neat personnel, Kudos might be a relative newcomer on the UK speaker scene, but its progress with the upmarket Cardea models has been both steady and impressive. Though far from cheap – the only components sourced from outside Europe is the terminal pair – the £1,350 X2 is the first to make the Kudos sound available at a rather more affordable price. This very compact two-way floorstander has recently undergone a few changes. The drive units from Norwegian manufacturer SEAS remain the same as before, but the enclosures now come from respected Danish cabinet-maker Hornslet, while the crossover network now uses Mundorf resistors from Germany, and both these changes are claimed to improve the sound quality.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 27, 2011  |  0 comments
Neat Motive 1 Neat by both name and nature, this compact floorstander is physically, rather than sonically laid back A well-established operation, Neat’s reputation was founded on a small, but very communicative standmount called the Petite. The product portfolio has expanded considerably since then; the four stereo pairs in the Motive range consisting of three ultra-compact floorstanders and a standmount. Though still quite small by any standards, the two-and-a-half-way Motive 1 is the largest of these, a little taller than the two-way Motive 2, in order to make room for an extra bass-only driver beneath the main bass/mid driver. The twin 135mm drivers have 95mm cones, while the tweeter has an inverted 25mm titanium dome with integral-pleated surround.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 27, 2011  |  0 comments
PMC GB1i Transmission line bass loading distinguishes this compact floorstander from most of the competition Since its beginnings in the late 1980s, PMC has grown into a major player on the UK speaker scene, focusing on ProAudio customers and the more upmarket hi-fi sector with its ATL (advanced transmission line) speaker systems. Although it’s no larger in width and depth, the £1,525 per pair GB1i is a little taller than the other two-way models that use small bass/mid drivers. The reason has all to do with the transmission line bass loading technique, which squeezes a carefully damped 2. 4m line into the enclosure volume behind the main driver, by folding it twice and terminating it with a large port at the front near the floor.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 27, 2011  |  0 comments
ProAc Studio 140 Mk2 Substantial floorstander’s twin 165mm bass/mid drivers ensure a very muscular performance with superb headroom array A long-established British speaker brand with roots back in the 1970s, ProAc has only made the occasional appearance on the Hi-Fi Choice review roster. That’s mainly because the company has long been primarily export-oriented, with representation in more than 50 countries worldwide. The three Studio models – two standmounts and this floorstander – are among ProAc’s less costly models and although this Studio 140 Mk2 pricetag of £1,690 per pair is at the top end of our test group, the speakers themselves are as large as any of the others, as well as the heaviest in the group. The dimensions are partly dictated by the twin 165mm drive units that operate in tandem right through the bass and midrange here.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 27, 2011  |  0 comments
Rega RS7 Rega’s RS7 combines several new developments, in both its tweeter design and its bass loading The RS7 sits at the top end of Rega’s loudspeaker range. First reviewed in these pages during 2009 (HFC 322), the price per pair has increased since then from £1,469 to £1,685 (partly thanks to VAT changes) for the regular cherry or black wood-veneered versions; high-gloss black or white are also available at extra cost. The front view of the sharp-edged enclosure is exceptionally slim, but the RS7 is also unusually deep and quite tall. Fore’n’aft stability is inherently excellent, while moulded outriggers improve the lateral stability and provide reasonably secure spike fixing, though the thumbwheel lock-nuts unfortunately loosen rather readily.

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