Floor Loudspeaker Reviews

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Ken Micallef  |  May 30, 2024  |  24 comments
Evaluating a loudspeaker that would become Stereophile's 2011 Product of the Year, Art Dudley, at the time the magazine's editor-at-large, wrote, "The Voxativ Ampeggio went beyond sounding good: More than once, with too many records to mention, I found myself stopping to marvel at its brilliantly good pitch certainty. In terms of being able to simply nail a note, whether in isolation or tucked within a whole string of the little bastards, I've heard few other speakers this accomplished. And while it's one thing to focus on such a characteristic for a moment at a time, it's quite another to bask in it subconsciously—and the Voxativs allowed me to do just that."

"I've now encountered a single-driver dynamic speaker I could live with," Art concluded. "In most audio reviews that's faint praise, but in this one it's a revelation."

Jim Austin  |  May 24, 2024  |  12 comments
My first encounter with an Audiovector loudspeaker was at the 2019 Toronto Audiofest. Driven by colorful (both sonically and visually) Alluxity electronics, the R 3s sounded pure and very fine. As I sat listening to the R 3 Arretés, the R 8 Arreté, their big brother, sat quietly in the corner, seemingly pleased with the performance of its smaller sibling.

I ended up reviewing the R 8 instead of the R 3, which in retrospect hardly seems fair:It was the R3 I heard that day, the R 3 that attracted my attention and got me interested in the brand.

Sasha Matson  |  May 01, 2024  |  9 comments
Review samples of some new high-end audio products do not grow on trees. They are more like dray horses trouping from one destination to another. After the US premiere of the Technical Audio Devices (TAD) Grand Evolution One (TAD-GE1), a floorstanding speaker from TAD's Evolution series, at the 2023 Capital Audio Fest, the review pair came to stay with me in Upstate New York for a couple of months before traveling on to the 2024 Florida Audio Expo for another public appearance. After that, they returned to John Atkinson for measuring—then off again on another journey.

The TAD Labs GE1 is a three-way, three-driver design. Up top is TAD's proprietary Coherent Source Transducer (CST), a 5½" coaxial tweeter/midrange driver. Two matched 7" woofers fill out the middle of the front panel.

Brian Damkroger  |  Apr 26, 2024  |  1 comments
I jumped at the chance to review T+A's $47,900/pair Solitaire S 530 loudspeaker for a few reasons. First, because T+A is a well-established company with an approach I like and respect: They make hi-fi equipment of the highest quality but with prices that, though substantial, are in line with their technology and execution. Their stuff is very handsome with impressive industrial design, but T+A doesn't do audio jewelry. What's more, though T+A is aggressive in R&D—their "Company" webpage says, "Actually, we're scientists ..."—but they are selective in the use of new technology. The third reason I was interested in reviewing a product from T+A is that their prices and technical level place them in a market segment I know well.

What I didn't know until recently is that T+A makes loudspeakers, and they're quite different from the loudspeakers other companies make. I only learned this when I started hearing about the S 530 and its larger sibling, the S 540, from friends—friends whose ears I trust.

Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 04, 2024  |  75 comments
All photos by Rogier van Bakel. Compositing by David Evett.

For Christmas in 2020, a friend sent me a gift: a coffee mug decorated with a one-out-of-five-stars rating for the annus horribilis the world had just been through. The caption on the ceramic read, "VERY BAD WOULD NOT RECOMMEND."

True, the pandemic year and the lockdowns had been no fun, to put it mildly, but that doesn't mean there were no positives. Every day, rain or shine, my 10-year-old daughter and I played soccer on the field behind our house. We—pointlessly, I concede—trained our shepherd to walk backward on command. I savored having more time to read, watch movies, and take naps when the urge struck. Finally, I used the long stretch of weeks, then months, to rekindle my lifelong infatuation with music. Thousands of old and new recordings kept me balanced and tethered me to the rest of humanity during the dark days of social distancing. Rarely had music soothed and comforted me more than during the 10 months before the vaccines arrived.

My musical appreciation—reverence at times—was due in part to the new Tekton Moab floorstanders . . .

Tom Fine  |  Feb 16, 2024  |  16 comments
Back in August, I received an email from Editor Jim Austin. Subject line: "Want to do a big review?" He had my attention. Jim wrote that he had visited Bowers & Wilkins parent company Masimo Consumer in Carlsbad, California, for a demo of the brand-new B&W 801 D4 Signature and 805 D4 Signature loudspeakers. (That visit was chronicled by Jim in the September 2023 Industry Update section.) B&W had offered Stereophile the first US review of both products—look for John Atkinson's review of the 805 D4 Signature in the coming months—and Jim thought the big 801s would be "right up my alley."

Indeed! The voice of my full-range system in the living room is a pair of B&W 808 speakers, ca late 1980s. The smaller-scale system at our house upstate features a pair of B&W 805 D2s. So, outside of my mastering studio, most of the music I listen to is through Bowers & Wilkins speakers. I am accustomed to and enjoy B&W sound and styling.

Sasha Matson  |  Jan 25, 2024  |  21 comments
Wilson Audio's new Sasha V loudspeaker (that's "V" as in victory, not "five") extends the line that began in 2009 with the debut of the Sasha 1 model. The installation manual includes a page titled "Sasha Evolution," with elegant line drawings of the various versions of the Sasha loudspeaker—now four—which were preceded by the two-box WATT/Puppy combo, which dates from 1989. The Wilson Audio Specialties Sasha V ($48,900/pair) replaces the prior Sasha model, the Sasha DAW, in the Wilson lineup.

The hefty, floorstanding Sasha V maintains a close family resemblance. The new Sasha's width and height are almost identical, logging 14½" and 45 1/16", respectively. The cabinets gain an inch in depth and now measure 23 15/16". The cabinets' subtle beveling is slightly different; probably only recent Sasha owners would notice. Extra thickness in the cabinets adds 9lb for a total of 245lb per speaker.

John Atkinson  |  Jan 10, 2024  |  13 comments
Three products were recently subjected to second opinions: I reviewed the revised RS250A version of HiFi Rose's RS250 streaming D/A preamplifier and the optional DC1 DAC module for Audio Research's I/50 integrated amplifier; Ken Micallef wrote about his time with the Volti Razz loudspeaker.
John Atkinson  |  Dec 29, 2023  |  127 comments
When I reviewed the Concept 50 loudspeaker from the UK's Q Acoustics in August 2022, I concluded that the Concept 50 lowers the sweet price spot for affordable tower speakers to $3000/pair. Now I have another pair of Q Acoustics loudspeakers in the house for review. Like the earlier speaker, the 5040 is a slim, elegant-looking tower with a vertical D'Appolito drive-unit array comprising a 0.9" fabric-dome tweeter positioned between the two 5" plastic-cone woofers. But the price is half that of the Concept 50: $1499/pair. Will this be a new sweet spot? We shall see.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Nov 24, 2023  |  6 comments
I've been watching Estelon since they came on the market in the US. Their striking appearance grabs the eye, but, preoccupied with other brands and reviews, I was able to deny them serious attention until now.

I had my reasons—especially price. The prices of those earlier Estelons were a poor fit for my budget. I was also troubled by the fact that, despite rhetoric about driver and component choice, advanced cabinet materials and construction, and fastidious engineering, Estelon has been stingy with details and specifications—not a complete disqualifier but rather a missed opportunity to appeal to objectivist proclivities.

What changed my mind? First, while Estelon is deservedly known for the elegance of its designs, the AURA is, to me, the cleanest design the company has yet achieved . . . Second, at $19,900/pair, the AURA is much less expensive than the earlier models, including the Forza reviewed by Michael Fremer and the XB Diamond Mk.2 reviewed by Jim Austin.

Larry Greenhill  |  Nov 10, 2023  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1994  |  0 comments
Few products elicited as much excitement, disappointment, and debate among the Stereophile staff as did the Snell Type B dynamic loudspeaker (footnote 1). Both Peter Mitchell and I praised the Type B for its low-frequency extension, smooth treble, high power handling, and excellent dynamics. Corey Greenberg and Robert Harley faulted the speaker's sluggish and fat bass response, which they felt precluded a recommendation in Stereophile's "Recommended Components." Kickdrum recordings in pop and rock excited the Type B's bass character, a characteristic which was not so noticeable if one only listens to classical music. This bass peak was so prominent in RH's listening room that it colored the rest of the loudspeaker's range. As a result, he found that this otherwise fine loudspeaker was not as transparent as other high-quality dynamic systems in the same price range.

Help was on the way. Within six months of RH's review, Snell Acoustics introduced a smaller version, the B minor, at the 1992 Summer CES.

John Atkinson  |  Oct 19, 2023  |  15 comments
Loudspeakers from British manufacturer Monitor Audio have consistently received favorable reviews in Stereophile over the past decades. From the R952MD I reviewed in January 1988 to the Silver 500 7G reviewed by Rob Schryer in February 2022, Monitor Audio speakers have offered excellent sound quality and high-quality engineering. So when I was offered the company's Platinum 300 3G for review, I readily agreed. Having lived with standmounts and minimonitors for the past year, I felt it would be good to spend some time with a pair of large, full-range, three-way floorstanders.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Oct 13, 2023  |  30 comments
How do you know you're beyond help as a card-carrying audiophile? For me, it happened during a recent trip to Italy. Several times a day, my thoughts drifted to the Focal Maestro Utopia Evo speakers that had been delivered two days before I left for Europe. At one point, I considered FaceTiming the housesitter to request a live view of the listening room, where the Maestros were playing music, breaking in.

Chrissakes! Couldn't I just enjoy la dolce vita? Savor the belly-busting meals in Treviso and Civitavecchia, surrender to Tuscany's soul-soothing landscapes, thrill to Rome's old-world charms? Ninety-nine percent of the time, I did. The trip was a delight, and I wouldn't have missed it. But yes, I thought of those Maestros several times a day. The heart wants what the heart wants.

John Atkinson  |  Aug 11, 2023  |  12 comments
Four products were subjected to second opinions in recent issues: Herb Reichert reviewed the Mk.II version of Klipsch's Reference Premiere RP-600M loudspeaker (above left); Ken Micallef wrote about his time with the MoFi Electronics SourcePoint 10 loudspeaker (above right); John Atkinson lived with the CH Precision I1 Universal integrated amplifier (above); and Julie Mullins auditioned Triangle's Antal 40th Anniversary Edition loudspeaker.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Jul 21, 2023  |  69 comments
In my high-school days, I visited a friend whose well-to-do dad proudly demonstrated his new Quad ESL system for us. First up was a recording of a man with heavy footsteps traversing the space from left to right. Next came a speeding police car, siren engaged, complete with Doppler tail. I found it impressive, and a little lame at the same time. My friend and I, in love with our own artsiness, preferred Fear of Music by Talking Heads and Drums and Wires by XTC, or (in a pinch) U2's Boy.

It wouldn't have occurred to me that I'd ultimately derive frequent joy from listening to sound effects (though in my case they're usually integral to the music, not apart from it). When I hear Yosi Horikawa's bouncing marbles on Wandering, I prick up my ears and smile. A panting dog on Holly Cole's Temptation, an overhead hovercar on the Blade Runner 2049 soundtrack ... bring it on. A babbling river on Andrew Bird's Echolocations; seed pods on Tom Waits's Blood Money; liquid splashes and crinkling paper on Felix Laband's Dark Days Exit ... yes, please. I don't care if it's a little gimmicky. It's also sensual in the original meaning of the word, an aural pleasure.

The Raidho TD3.8 speakers that, after three months, just departed my home, do the trick of conjuring points in space with great acuity.