Thomas J. Norton

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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.
Jason Victor Serinus Sasha Matson Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 03, 2015 3 comments
One of the most delightful annual surprises of the now departed Las Vegas installment of THE Show was stumbling upon the NFS (Not For Sale) room. Assembled by the distinguished personage known as Buddha, it allowed visitors to become submerged in a combination of post-psychedelic revelry, good sound, lots of free booze, and a total absence of hawking...
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 02, 2015 0 comments
Headphonium, Earphonium, Canjam. Every audio show has its own name for a section set aside to serve headphone enthusiasts, an increasingly active audiophile sub-segment. The one at this year's Newport show was smaller than the one I recall at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest show last fall. But among the newcomers were headphones from Mr. Speakers (like the $1499 planar designs shown here)...
Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 30, 2015 3 comments
When longtime TAD/Pioneer speaker designer Andrew Jones moved on to design new speakers for German manufacturer ELAC, we expected big things, though not quite immediately. Speaker design takes time. But Jones and ELAC made a big splash at the Newport show with the new line of Debut speakers. The first model ready for demo was the baby of the Debut family, the B5. It's shown here with proud papa Andrew, with its 5.25" aramid-fiber woofer and 1" cloth-dome tweeter, and is expected to retail for $230/pair in early fall when the entire lineup should be available...
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.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 15, 2014 5 comments
It was no surprise that PSB/NAD had one of the best-sounding rooms at the show. PSB's new Imagine T3 loudspeakers (about $7000/pair, available by the end of this year) sounded both natural and dynamic. They each have three 7.25" woofers operating in a cabinet less than 2 cubic feet in volume. That would appear to be too small to properly load three woofers—until you hear them. A 5.25" midrange and a selected version of PSB's well-known 1" titanium-dome tweeter round out the driver complement.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 12, 2014 4 comments
Even in a world where a five-figure price tag for a pair of loudspeakers is no longer a jaw-dropper, Raidho Acoustics' has carved out an honored place. I've been impressed by the company's small C1.1 speakers in the past. This year the D-1s were on show ($26,000/pair, including stands), driven by Constellation electronics. They made a bit less of an impression this time, but in a very different, and likely problematical room and what appeared to be excessive spacing that limited soundstage cohesion. This sort of setup was an issue in some of the other, larger demo spaces as well, probably in an attempt to offer a good listening compromise in a large seating area.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 11, 2014 Published: Oct 12, 2014 4 comments
Perhaps the most over-the-top pieces of electronics at the RMAF, shown in static form only (if it's being demoed elsewhere at the show we haven't yet found it) are the Naim Statements. As seen here, the amplification system includes two monoblock amps weighing 220 lbs each, plus a preamp, the latter in the center. The amps are rated at 748W into 8 ohms, and 9000W (!) into 1 ohm. The amps are internally bridged, fully balanced designs.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 28, 2014 7 comments
In the late 1980s, KEF, then as now a leader in bringing new technology to loudspeaker design, developed a unique coincident driver that positioned the tweeter in the throat of the midrange/woofer cone. In a flash of inspiration, they dubbed it the Uni-Q, and the driver immediately not only found its way into the company's more upscale speaker designs, but also became a key element in a major European research project on room acoustics. That study's results appear to have been inconclusive, but the Uni-Q lives on as the defining element of KEF loudspeakers.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 13, 2014 Published: Feb 01, 1991 0 comments
jbl160.250.jpgA visiting manufacturer recently told us here at Stereophile of an ongoing informal "survey" he was conducting. He would ask strangers to name three brands of loudspeakers. Their responses were not what I would have expected. They almost invariably named Japanese companies—two of the most commonly mentioned were Hitachi and Panasonic. Other than my spell-checker insisting that I change "Hitachi" to "hibachi," I have nothing in particular against these two manufacturers; they are well-recognized in many product categories. But loudspeakers? I can only guess that the respondents were dredging up the only consumer electronics companies that came readily to mind.

My list for most recognized loudspeaker brands would most certainly have included JBL. How could it not? They have been involved in home high-fidelity since 1954. And for years before that in professional audio—primarily motion picture theater sound, a field in which they are still active. In short, they were around before there was such a thing as "hi-fi."

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