Floor Loudspeaker Reviews

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J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 09, 2017  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1987  |  1 comments
Founded in the mid-1970s, Acoustat was the first manufacturer of full-range electrostatics literally forced to address what had long been a major weakness of such speakers: high-voltage breakdown, or "arcing." The original design was built and used in JP (Jeep) Harned's home, where the living-room french windows opened out onto a stream in the back yard. That, plus Florida's legendary humidity, conspired to produce summer days when moisture would trickle down every vertical surface in the house, including the speaker elements.
Dick Olsher  |  Oct 10, 2017  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1987  |  0 comments
High fidelity took a giant step forward in 1956 with Peter Walker's introduction of the Quad ESL. Walker's research efforts had been motivated by his firm belief in the superiority of the electrostatic dipole over the box loudspeaker, but actually to take the economic plunge and market such a speaker was surely an act of bravery. After all, those were the pre-stereo, pre-audiophile days of the mid '50s, and the public's tastes and expectations were relatively unsophisticated. The average front end was abominable by today's standards, so that making definitive assessments of loudspeaker quality was a difficult task at best.
Art Dudley  |  Oct 05, 2017  |  6 comments
A place in the country: everyone's ideal.—Bryan Ferry, "Mother of Pearl"

Even at full strength, my family didn't need 3000-plus square feet of living space, let alone four acres of outdoor frolicking space, much of it wooded. But in 2003 that's precisely what we bought, partly because our deal fell through on another, very different house, partly because living next to a dairy farm was an appealing novelty, and partly because the hill on which the house is poised seemed defensible. On our very first morning in our new home—a Saturday in early June—we awoke to gunfire and puffs of smoke coming from the field below our hill.

John Atkinson  |  Sep 21, 2017  |  14 comments
Of all the speakers I have most enjoyed in recent years, two were from British manufacturer KEF: the LS50 Anniversary Model ($1500/pair), which I reviewed in December 2012; and the Blade Two ($25,000/pair), which I reviewed in June 2015. Though these two speakers lie at opposite ends of the price scale, they have in common KEF's unique Uni-Q drive-unit, in which the tweeter is mounted on the front of the midrange unit's pole piece, so that the lower-frequency cone acts as a waveguide for the higher-frequency output.
John Atkinson  |  Sep 07, 2017  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1987  |  6 comments
666thielcs1.promo.jpgKentucky manufacturer Thiel has acquired a reputation for the coherence of sound presented by its range of distinctive, sloping-baffle, floor-standing loudspeakers. Designer Jim Thiel gives a high priority to linearity of phase response; as a result, he chooses to use phase-linear, first-order crossovers in his designs, the target response being the combination of electrical and mechanical filtering. As the out-of-band rejection is then only 6dB/octave, it places demands on his chosen drive-units to be well-behaved, not only in their passbands, but also outside of them. In effect, the loudspeaker has to be designed as a whole system, the interaction between the drive-units and crossover being considerable.
John Atkinson  |  Jul 18, 2017  |  2 comments
Following my review of the floorstanding Magico S5 Mk.II last February, I spent some time with two-way stand-mounted speakers from Aerial Acoustics, Bowers & Wilkins, and Dynaudio. As much as I appreciated the small speakers' virtues, I found myself missing the big Magico's bass extension and ability to play loud; my next loudspeaker review, therefore, would be of another floorstander.

It's been a while since we published a review of a Rockport Technologies loudspeaker.

Robert Deutsch  |  Jul 11, 2017  |  12 comments
If Stereophile gave an award for Loudspeaker We've Most Frequently Reviewed, the hands-down winner would have to be the Quad ESL. The list of past and present Stereophile contributors who've written about the ESL's various incarnations includes John Atkinson, Martin Colloms, Anthony H. Cordesman, Art Dudley, Larry Greenhill, J. Gordon Holt, Ken Kessler, Dick Olsher, Herb Reichert, William Sommerwerck, Steven Stone, and Sam Tellig. The ESL-63 was John Atkinson's personal "Editor's Choice" in 1992, and the ESL-989, a successor to the ESL-63, was Stereophile's 2003 Loudspeaker of the Year and Product of the Year.
Ken Micallef  |  May 18, 2017  |  15 comments
If, like me, you're a dues-paying audiophile who's circumnavigated the upgrade block a few times, you've seen a lot of gear and set up many systems. I've carried 80-lb line conditioners up the six knee-crunching flights to my bachelor's penthouse, managed 50-lb loudspeakers downstairs to a waiting van, and made more trips to FedEx than I can count. I've owned dozens of audio products and reviewed dozens more.
Michael Fremer  |  Apr 27, 2017  |  22 comments
Having discontinued the MAXX3 loudspeaker ($68,000/pair in 2009, when I reviewed it), Wilson Audio needed to plug the resulting gaping hole between the Alexia ($48,500/pair) and the Alexandria XLF ($210,000/pair). Company founder Dave Wilson was busy with the limited-edition WAMM Master Chronosonic loudspeaker ($685,000/pair), so son Darryl Wilson set about creating a speaker with a retail price of about $100,000/pair. The result, the Alexx, finally came in at $109,000/pair.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 11, 2017  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1990  |  6 comments
TDL is part of ELAC, one of the most successful OEM drive-unit manufacturers in the UK, particularly renowned for the 1" aluminum-dome tweeter that they make for Monitor Audio, Acoustic Energy, and British Fidelity. Perhaps of even more interest to readers of Stereophile is that the TDL system designer is one John Wright, who designed the classic series of IMF loudspeakers and who also was one of the leading equipment reviewers in the UK back in the 1960s. (For a while John was also a contributor to this magazine, his comprehensive reviews of tonearms appearing in Vol.2 Nos.10 & 12.)
John Atkinson  |  Apr 06, 2017  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1988  |  4 comments
It is almost ten years since I last heard a pair of DCM loudspeakers, the Time Windows made famous by writer Peter Aczel in the first incarnation of his magazine The Audio Critic. The "Time" nomenclature traditionally used by DCM in their models refers to the fact that for any hi-fi component, its performance in the frequency domain is related to, and implicit in, that in the time domain, the two being connected by the mathematics of the Fourier Transform. To put it in simplistic language, a speaker's impulse response can be translated directly into its frequency response: all the information needed to show how its response varies with frequency is contained in the shape of the impulse it produces.
Sam Tellig, Herb Reichert  |  Apr 04, 2017  |  First Published: Jan 01, 2014  |  16 comments
John DeVore names his speakers after primates—apes, to be specific. Something to do with a family member being a zoologist.

John once worked at a hi-fi retailer in lower Manhattan. Now, as president and chief designer of DeVore Fidelity, he manufactures loudspeakers across the bridge, in the former Brooklyn Navy Yard. I talked with John the other day about his new speaker, the Orangutan O/93.

John makes two Orangutans, both floorstanders: the O/96, with a sensitivity specified as 96dB, over which Art Dudley went ape, in the December 2012 issue. Artie has made the O/96 his reference loudspeaker. It goes for $12,000/pair, stands included.

Now there's the new, smaller Orangutan O/93, specified at 93dB. It retails for $8400/pair with a front baffle in fiddleback mahogany veneer (other veneers are available).

Kalman Rubinson  |  Mar 24, 2017  |  12 comments
When it comes to Focal loudspeakers, I've been a lurker. For decades now, their demonstrations at audio shows have been memorable—a highlight was when, several years ago, I got Focal to play a powerful percussion track through a pair of their Grande Utopias at very high volume on a show's last day. Just to hear and feel how this mammoth system could deliver clarity and impact was awe-inspiring, and it was underscored by seeing folks from all the neighboring rooms quickly entering to enjoy it with me. It has also been a continuing pleasure to relax and listen to music with Stereophile's former Senior Editor, Jonathan Scull through his Focal Utopias, which he purchased in 1998. Alas, the years have turned, speakers have come and gone, and I had not yet had any Focal speakers in my own system. (Bob Deutsch seemed always to get the jump on me!)
John Atkinson  |  Mar 09, 2017  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1990  |  0 comments
RSL is the house brand of a California chain of retail stores, Rogersound Labs, that is part-owned by the leader of the RSL loudspeaker-design team, one Howard Rodgers. (Rogersound Labs also owns the Upscale Audio high-end store in north Los Angeles.) The range offered by RSL is unbelievably wide, with models addressing just about every market niche and price category. The Speedscreen II, however, is Howard's attempt to produce a true high-end loudspeaker at an affordable price. To the casual observer, the Speedscreen ($898/pair) appears to be a planar design; however, its shallow, braced enclosure houses moving-coil drive-units, and is a result of Howard's attempts to minimize the effect of cabinet resonances. "I always thought deep, narrow enclosures sound 'boxy'," said Howard when he visited Santa Fe last September, "and the wide but shallow cabinet seemed to be the best way to get a large internal volume without 'boxiness'."
Robert Deutsch  |  Mar 09, 2017  |  First Published: May 01, 1993  |  0 comments
90unity.promo250.jpgFor anyone who wants to be up to date on all the audio products available in North America, Audio's Annual Equipment Directory is an indispensable source of information. (So is the publication you're reading now, of course.) The 1992 Directory (aka Audio's October issue) arrived when I was finishing up the review of the Acarian Alón IV (see February 1993, Vol.16 No.2) and about to start seriously listening to the Unity Audio Signature 1s. As I leafed through the issue, I wondered how fledgling loudspeaker manufacturers feel reading the section on loudspeakers. According to the Directory, there are 329 makers of speakers (17 more than in 1991) producing no fewer than 2286 different models. How can a new loudspeaker manufacturer compete with the established makes and their marketing clout, brandname recognition, and economics of scale? You'd better have a really good product—or be a genius at promotion.

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