Floor Loudspeaker Reviews

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Herb Reichert Posted: Jun 16, 2016 12 comments
My lifestyle consultant warned me not to review Zu Audio's Soul Supreme loudspeaker ($4500/pair).

"Why not?" I asked. "They're exciting and super-enjoyable."

"Zu speakers are not mainstream," he explained. "People either love them or hate them. They're for music lovers, not audiophiles."

"That's not true!" I whined like a disappointed child. "They play Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin with spooky soul and natural tone! They play big classical orchestras—especially with trumpets and timpani—with radical ease and full-tilt momentum! And . . . and . . . they project large soundstages! Isn't that what audiophiles like?"

Kalman Rubinson Posted: May 26, 2016 22 comments
"This is getting to be a habit."

That's how I ended the first paragraph of my review of Bowers & Wilkins' 800 Diamond speaker, in the May 2011 issue; apparently, Stereophile's habit of reviewing models from B&W's 800 series remains unbroken.

Later in that review, I said that "The 800 Diamond doesn't look radically different from its predecessors." That doesn't apply to the 802 D3 Diamond ($22,000/pair). It's still a three-way system with tapered-tube high-frequency and midrange enclosures, stacked and nestled into a generous bass enclosure that's vented on the bottom into the space between it and its plinth.

Michael Fremer Posted: May 25, 2016 1 comments
Marten is a small Swedish loudspeaker manufacturer with great aspirations, some of which the company has largely met. Leif Mårten Olofsson founded Marten and designs the speakers, while brother Jörgen Olofsson runs the business as CEO—a division of creative and administrative labors similar to the working relationship between David and Norman Chesky, the founders of Chesky Records and HDtracks.
John Atkinson Posted: Apr 22, 2016 3 comments
Driving the Model Sevens at the 2014 CES were Vandersteen's then-new M7-HPA monoblocks, which provide a high-pass–filtered output (above 100Hz) to the upper-frequency drive-units of the Model Seven. At the time, I made a note to myself that I would like one day to try these amplifiers with the Sevens in my own room. That opportunity came later rather than sooner, after Vandersteen had updated the Model Seven to Mk.II status.
Robert Deutsch Posted: Apr 21, 2016 12 comments
I first encountered the work of Dave Wilson in the late 1970s. He was then a recording engineer responsible for some great-sounding records, including pianist Mark P. Wetch's Ragtime Razzmatazz (LP, Wilson Audio W-808), which quickly became one of my favorite system-demo records.

Then Wilson turned his attention to designing loudspeakers. His first model was the Wilson Audio Modular Monitor, reviewed for Stereophile by its then-publisher, Larry Archibald, in August 1983, who described it as "the most enjoyable speaker system I've listened to, and significantly valuable as a diagnostic tool." At $35,000/pair ($83,577 in today's dollars), the WAMM may have been the most expensive speaker then on the market.

Wes Phillips Posted: Feb 17, 2016 Published: Jul 01, 1995 7 comments
"Wow!" Jerome Harris—jazz guitarist, bassist, and composer—stopped talking and listened intently to the rough-mixdown dub of his latest album, Hidden in Plain View: The Music of Eric Dolphy (New World 80472-2 CD) (footnote 1). He'd brought it by my house in order to hear it on another system before pronouncing judgment. "That sounds like us! And I ought to know because I was there..."

It wasn't the first time the Metaphor 2s had totally transfixed a visitor with their accurate portrayal of a musical event. This time, however, they'd done it to one of the participants of that specific performance. It isn't as if it was easy stuff to disentangle, either. Jerome's disc is texturally dense: Marty Ehrlich and Don Byron on reeds, Ray Anderson on trombone, E.J. Allen on trumpet, Bill Ware on vibes, Bobby Previte on drums, and Jerome himself on acoustic bass guitar—occasionally all wailing away simultaneously. The Metaphor 2s have the articulation to sort out all of those interweaving melody and rhythm lines, the frequency balance to render them with astonishing timbral veracity, and the speed to ensure that, even with four drivers in a large enclosure, it all arrives at the same time and with swing aplenty. Does it sound as though I'm describing one hell of a speaker? I think so anyway.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 22, 2015 12 comments
Déjà vu all over again?

Apart from being reminded of this Yogi-ism by the death, in September 2015, of its originator, I was all set to begin by commenting that this would be my first review for Stereophile of a Paradigm loudspeaker. But—the recent online posting of my June 1992 review of Paradigm's Studio Monitor took me back.

J. Gordon Holt Posted: Dec 08, 2015 Published: May 01, 1978 4 comments
This is an electrostatic column speaker, 6' tall and costing $6000/pair. An integral, fan-cooled amplifier is located in the base. The 2SW is said to cover almost the entire frequency range and is based on a patent, number 3,668,335, issued to manufacturer/designer Harold Beveridge on June 6, 1972. Internal acoustic lenses in front of the electrostatic panels widen the speaker's dispersion: In the Beveridge literature, it says "This 6-foot high device consolidated the entire frequency range into a vertical line source, and uniformly disperses it over a horizontal pattern, 180 degrees wide. The beaming characteristics of the high frequencies are ingeniously translated into the same dispersive pattern as the low frequencies, creating a perfectly balanced cylindrical sound wave front."
John Atkinson Posted: Nov 25, 2015 6 comments
For me, one of the highlights of 2013 was being able to live with the Sonja 1.3, the flagship loudspeaker model from Colorado-based YG Acoustics. I reviewed this tall, massive, three-enclosure tour de force of a design, which costs $106,800/pair, in July 2013, and was not surprised when, for the December 2013 issue, Stereophile's writers voted it one of the magazine's two Loudspeakers of the Year. So when I was asked last spring if I wanted to review the new version of the smallest and least-expensive model in YGA's lineup, the request fell on receptive ears.
Herb Reichert Posted: Nov 24, 2015 7 comments
With each review I've written for Stereophile, I've redoubled my efforts to choose my adjectives prudently—to curb my penchant for overstatement. I've been feeling a need to speak more concisely and maturely about what my ears, mind, and heart experience while listening to music through a component that's new to me. So today, at the start of this review, I ask myself: What adjectives must I use to describe the character of GoldenEar Technology's new Triton Five tower loudspeaker ($1999.98/pair)? Which words will best use our shared audiophile lexicon to give you a working vision of what I experienced?
Alvin Gold Anthony H. Cordesman Posted: Sep 15, 2015 Published: Jan 01, 1985 3 comments
There's virtue in being in the right place at the right time. The right place in this story was the headquarters of Acoustic Research in Boston, MA, and the right time was just a couple of weeks or so before the subject of this piece was to be shown (but not heard) at a press conference in New York. Even within that short two weeks, the rot started to set in. What I saw (and heard) in Boston on that occasion was a loudspeaker that stakes a reasonable claim on being revolutionary. A rare event that. The project name was The Magic Box and I was hoping that is what it might have been called when it went on sale. The Magic Box does, after all, conjure up an image of something a little special, and it's also easy to remember.
Kalman Rubinson Posted: Aug 27, 2015 23 comments
For some time now I've wanted to upgrade my weekend system in Connecticut, and have been surveying three-way floorstanding speakers priced below about $2500/pair. I've focused on the stereo performance of each pair with music because, despite my interest in surround sound, the great majority of recordings are available only in two-channel stereo. Not wanting to look like a Bowers & Wilkins fanboy—my main system has long included their 800-series speakers—I put off auditioning B&W's 683 S2. But my goal was to get the best bang for my buck and with the 683 S2 costing $1650/pair, it would foolish to be influenced by such extraneous considerations. Besides, the 683 S2's three-way design and physical proportions were precisely what I was looking for.
John Atkinson Posted: Aug 27, 2015 2 comments
Danish manufacturer GamuT Audio's patchy history in the US includes a succession of distributors that failed to establish the brand here. But in 2014 GamuT tapped Michael Vamos to spearhead their own US-based distribution company, which is now energetically promoting the company's products. That change coincided with my auditioning, at the 2014 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, of GamuT's two-and-a-half-way RS5 tower loudspeaker ($31,900/pair). I was sufficiently impressed that I asked to review it—but then, at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, I experienced the RS7. This was the GamuT speaker I wanted to spend some time with, and at the end of March, GamuT's R&D manager, Benno Meldgaard, joined Michael Vamos in setting up a pair of RS7s in my listening room.
Allen Edelstein Posted: Aug 21, 2015 Published: Dec 01, 1977 1 comments
The B&W DM-6 is the second "phase-coherent" speaker system we have tested. (The first was the Dahlquist DQ-10 in January 1977.) From what we see in the latest ads from the US, England, and Japan, there will be more forthcoming. One speaker manufacturer who has been around for a long time and is currently pushing his own "phased" systems observed that many of his competitors' designs are being introduced merely because "phase response" sells these days. Yet the truth of the matter is that the experts still do not agree as to whether linear phase has any effect on reproduced sound.

The DM-6 is an expensively made product using three drivers specially designed for it. The woofer cone is of Bextrene plastic, common in England but rare in the US. The midrange unit is a 6" cone of DuPont aromatic polyamide, "Kevlar," which is claimed to have extremely high internal damping. (This is the first acoustical use of this material that we know of.) The tweeter is a ¾" dome. The cabinet is of complex construction, heavily braced and lined with bituminous felt, which can significantly reduce cabinet resonances.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 06, 2015 Published: Jun 01, 1992 0 comments
If anyone can be said to be the guru of the transmission line, that would have to be Irving M. "Bud" Fried. He has been promoting the design for years now, first with the made-in-England IMF designs, later with the designs of Fried Products, made right here in the US of A. He has long been convinced of the basic superiority of the design, and still uses it in his top-of-the-line systems. But true transmission lines are invariably big, heavy, hard to build, and, for all of those reasons, expensive. Essentially, they involve a long, convoluted, heavily damped tunnel behind the bass driver which channels the back wave to the outside world. The length and cross-sectional area of the tunnel are of some importance, although the technical basis for the transmission line, as applied to a loudspeaker enclosure, has never been firmly nailed down. Certainly there is no mathematical model for the transmission line as complete as that developed over the past two decades for the sealed or ported box (footnote 1).

But Bud Fried has clung to the transmission line, for all of its complexities. In order to bring at least some of its touted advantages to a lower price point, he had to come up with a variation which would work in a smaller enclosure. That variation was the "line tunnel," which, according to Fried, originated in an early-1970s Ferrograph (a British company specializing in tape recorders) monitor which was later adapted by IMF. Basically it consists of a short (compared with a transmission line) duct from the inside to the outside of the heavily damped enclosure. The duct is designed with approximately the same cross-sectional area as the loudspeaker cone.

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