Floor Loudspeaker Reviews

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John Atkinson Posted: Nov 25, 2015 5 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 5 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 21 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.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 16, 2015 Published: Jun 01, 1992 0 comments
692.parapromo.jpgParadigm is not a new name to US audiophiles, but the Canadian loudspeaker company hopes to increase awareness of its products with their Monitor series, all members of which incorporate a similar design philosophy and drive-units. Heavy and apparently massively constructed, the top-of-the-line Paradigm Studio Monitors ($1899/pair) are the first commercial loudspeakers to pass my way with provision for tri-wiring: three sets of terminals on the back of the enclosures provide direct links to the crossover segments feeding each separate driver (or drivers, in the case of the low end).

Those crossovers use quasi-Butterworth filters, but there is, by design, little attempt to correct for driver aberrations in the crossover, a technique which Paradigm does not believe produces the best results. The wood-veneered cabinet is solidly constructed, making use of a combination of high-density composite hardboard and MDF—a technique claimed to reduce uncontrolled resonances. MDF cross-bracing is provided, and four heavy-duty spikes are furnished per speaker. (I used Tonecones in my listening for the simple reason that three spikes are self-leveling, four are not.)

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 18, 2015 Published: Jun 01, 1992 1 comments
By now most readers will be familiar with the relatively new tuned-cavity method of low-frequency loading. Such designs have popped up all over the place of late, especially in those little satellite/woofer systems, but KEF can rightly lay claim to generating the design's theoretical basis, as JA described in his review of the KEF R107/2 loudspeaker in Vol.14 No.5 (May 1991). Essentially, the technique consists of loading the rear of a woofer in a conventional fashion—usually a sealed box—but also loading the front of the driver into another enclosure, ducted to the outside. Basically, the design acts as a bandpass filter with its response centered on the port-tuning frequency. The rolloff is smooth and rapid on either side of this frequency, providing a natural low-pass characteristic but thereby virtually mandating a three-way system. If properly designed, this configuration offers a number of theoretical advantages. The radiating element is actually the air in the port, which is low in mass. Low distortion is possible, as is relatively high sensitivity.
John Atkinson Posted: May 28, 2015 8 comments
The story's been often told: 30 years ago, British speaker manufacturer KEF was asked to design a small, spherical loudspeaker that could be used in a European project to research room acoustics. The speaker had to have wide, even dispersion, so KEF's solution was to mount the tweeter coaxially, on what would have been the woofer's dustcap. That "point source" drive-unit, called the Uni-Q, began appearing in KEF's commercial speaker models in 1989, starting with the Reference 105/3—but it wasn't until the appearance of KEF's 50th-anniversary loudspeaker, the LS50, which I reviewed in December 2012, that I felt that the Uni-Q drive-unit had fully fulfilled its promise, at least in a speaker I had auditioned in my own room.
Herb Reichert Posted: Mar 24, 2015 23 comments
The CD era was well underway. Rudy Giuliani was about to sweep the crack hoes and squeegee humans off New York's garbage-filled streets. Disney was conquering Times Square. It seemed the perfect time for artists and audio weirdos like myself to go underground. Seeking economic sustainability, I hunkered down in my Seaport bunker and started a little business called Eddie Electric. I found a 23-year-old Japanese business partner named Ryochi who was dealing in big-E Levi's, bubble-back Rolexes, and antique Abarth cars. He was my Seaport, New York–Akihabara, Tokyo connection.
John Atkinson Posted: Feb 27, 2015 2 comments
Looking back at our September 2014 issue, I think my review of the Triangle Signature Delta loudspeaker marked something of a watershed in the evolution of my taste in loudspeaker sound quality. For decades I have been a devotee of what might be called "British" sound: low coloration and, overall, a rather polite presentation, coupled with low sensitivity. The Triangle speaker opened my ears to what could be achieved with a very different approach: still-low coloration but high sensitivity, impressive clarity, and a hefty dose of what the late J. Gordon Holt called "jump factor," in which the leading edges of transients are neither smeared nor tamed. So when, last September, on a visit to Dallas and The Sound Organisation, the US distributor of Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries (DALI), I encountered DALI's Rubicon 8 speaker (footnote 1), which had benefited from a low-loss design philosophy similar to the Triangle's, I asked for a pair for review.
Robert Deutsch Posted: Feb 04, 2015 17 comments
I reviewed GoldenEar Technology's first speaker, the Triton Two ($2999.98; all prices per pair), in February 2012. It was and is an outstandingly good speaker, but I thought then that if GoldenEar would apply the same expertise to the design of a speaker with fewer cost constraints, the results could be better still. Sandy Gross, president and CEO of GoldenEar, must have been thinking along similar lines when he named the speaker Triton Two, leaving One for a more ambitious future product.
Kalman Rubinson Posted: Jan 30, 2015 7 comments
Readers of Stereophile need no introduction to Bryston, a venerable Canadian electronics manufacturer known for the quality and reliability of its amplifiers and preamplifiers, and for its unique 20-year warranty. In the past few years, Bryston has ventured into digital audio with notable success, producing D/A converters, multichannel preamplifier-processors, and music-file players. While an evolution from analog into digital audio would seem logical, their most recent expansion, into loudspeakers, is more surprising. Apparently, James Tanner, Bryston's vice president, designed a speaker for his own use, and it turned out well enough that the company decided to put it into production.
Kalman Rubinson Posted: Dec 31, 2014 9 comments
I remember reading about Monitor Audio speakers as I pored over British audio mags in the 1970s, before the economy was globalized. They were among the many worthy UK brands whose cachet was amplified by their unavailability in the US. This venerable brand has survived and flourished, while many others from the 1970s have disappeared, or become mere labels under the aegis of multinational corporations. The reasons for this success seem to be that Monitor has evolved their metal-cone driver technology, kept the focus on their core market, and continued to provide high-quality construction and finishes. So I was not surprised to read, at the back of the Silver 8's multi-language owner's manual, that the speaker was "Designed and Engineered in the United Kingdom, made in China."


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