Floor Loudspeaker Reviews

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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 7 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 19 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."
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 31, 2014 0 comments
I went to Vienna. It was and is a beautiful city, with much of its late 19th- and early 20th-century character still intact. And while there will always be other claimants to the honor, it's arguably still the classical-music center of the planet. I managed to score standing room for a performance of Puccini's Turandot at the Vienna State Opera (as I recall, standing room at the time was the equivalent of about $1 US). Act 1 was so rough that it evoked catcalls from the unforgiving Viennese audience, but after that, things settled in nicely.
Sam Tellig Posted: Nov 19, 2014 19 comments
Hi-fi firms have begun in garages. The English Spendor company was started in a bathtub. Or was it a kitchen sink?

By days in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Spencer Hughes worked as part of the BBC's loudspeaker research team. Among other accomplishments, he helped develop the 5" midrange/woofer for the fabled LS3/5A loudspeaker.

Robert Deutsch Posted: Nov 07, 2014 5 comments
Founded in 1979 by Jacques Mahul, Focal—formerly known as JMlab and as Focal-JMlab—is one of audio's success stories. Beginning with a single speaker model produced in a small workshop in Saint Etienne, France, the company is still headquartered there, but has expanded to employ over 250 workers, making products exported to over 160 countries. All Focal products are engineered in France; only a few lower-priced multimedia models and headphones are assembled in the Far East.
John Atkinson Posted: Oct 30, 2014 7 comments
For a reviewer, deciding which products to write about is a tricky business. You want to do a professional job of evaluation, but you also want to be able to wrest maximum enjoyment from your music while you do so. Attending audio shows is where reviewers perform sonic triage, weeding out the products that aren't ready for prime time, and making a note of those they wish to invite home after the show.
J. Gordon Holt Posted: Sep 17, 2014 Published: Jan 01, 1984 10 comments
We wrote a long, rather unkind report on the HQD, pointing out that, if that was typical of the way it was supposed to sound (And why not, after Mr. Levinson had installed and tweaked it?), then it had to be the most expensive bomb ever to be made available for civilian use. Mr. Levinson responded with a phone call during which he:

1) Told us we had not heard it at its best, but refused to address himself to our specific criticisms;

2) Claimed that many practicing professional musicians felt the HQD to be "extremely realistic";

3) Informed us that, since he sold very few HQD systems and would soon be discontinuing them anyway because Quad had ceased making those speakers, the "sensible" thing to do would be to kill the report; and

4) Mentioned, just in passing of course, that he was currently writing a feature article for Time on the subject of "underground" audio magazines.

Guy Lemcoe Posted: Sep 12, 2014 Published: Aug 01, 1991 0 comments
666acoustat1100.jpgAcoustat Model Twos have been my reference loudspeakers for almost five years. I remember, on first hearing them in a high-end store in Illinois, how they let the music through in a way new and important to me. I knew I must own them! They seemed, despite their imposing appearance, to step aside when the music came on. The effect was akin to having a door opened onto the performance. One became privy to intimate details captured in recordings which are rarely heard outside the concert hall. Not veils, but flannel sheets were lifted from the sound! If one fussed around enough with placement, the Twos truly disappeared into the soundfield—music came from in front of, to the sides of, between, and behind them as if they weren't there. Focusing them like a fine camera lens on the listening chair created a "sweet spot" which, when I sat therein, raised within me a sense of awe usually associated with things magical. You knew when you entered this space, for it was different from that surrounding it. The musical presentation assumed an almost holographic palpability.
Larry Archibald Posted: Sep 10, 2014 Published: Aug 01, 1983 3 comments
No, we made no typos in the specifications sidebar. The weight of the Wilson Audio Modular Monitor (WAMM) speaker system is enough to make you consult a structural engineer before dropping it on your living room floor—fragile, 300-year old New England frame houses are probably out. And the recent price increase from $32,000 to $35,000 is enough by itself to buy a pair of Quad ESL-63s—which is not a bad speaker system. The WAMM represents an all-out assault on both the state of the art in speaker systems and on the limits to which wealthy audiophiles will go in order to have the best.

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