Floor Loudspeaker Reviews

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Jon Iverson  |  Dec 22, 2016  |  7 comments
I prefer and have owned electrostatic speakers for most of my audiophile life. Depending on your point of view, this makes me either the most qualified or the least appropriate writer to review MartinLogan's new electrostatic loudspeaker, the Masterpiece Renaissance ESL 15A.

Oh, I've flirted with dynamic speakers. I've owned and loved—and ultimately, when I was an audio retailer, sold—models from Revel, Thiel, Vandersteen, and many others, while my long-term choice has been electrostats. And while I've spent plenty of time with electrostatic speakers from Acoustat and Quad, I've ended up owning MartinLogans: Sequels, Quests, ReQuests, and, currently, Prodigys.

Kalman Rubinson  |  Dec 20, 2016  |  21 comments
Bang & Olufsen's BeoLab 90 is not a loudspeaker to take on lightly. Though its size—49.33" high by 28.9" wide by 29.4" deep—and weight (302 lbs each) meant a major disruption of my listening room, which is also our living room, my wife assented. Its price of $84,990/pair puts it far beyond anything I might consider buying—and the complexity of the BeoLab 90, which has its own dedicated amplifiers and DACs, makes it impossible for a reviewer—or consumer—to directly compare it with any other loudspeaker. So be it.
John Atkinson  |  Dec 13, 2016  |  10 comments
It's no secret that deputy editor Art Dudley is an anachrophile (footnote 1). After expounding on the virtues of vintage audio gear in his October 2016 Listening" column, he spent no fewer than seven pages of our November issue raving about the sound quality of Auditorium 23's expensive Hommage Cinema loudspeaker, from Germany. (The Hommage Cinema costs $49,995/pair, plus $5495 for the necessary AcousticPlan NT-1 field-coil power supply.)
J. Gordon Holt, John Atkinson  |  Dec 07, 2016  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1988  |  1 comments
888maggie.promo300.jpgNow there's a Magneplanar speaker to fill the price gap between the $2000 MGIIIa and the $1225 MGIIc. The '2.5/R is priced almost exactly midway between them, which explains the unusual model number.

Like all the other single-panel Magneplanars, these are attractive enough in appearance to be surprisingly unobtrusive in the room, despite their imposing 6' height. Apart from the wooden endcheeks, they are covered with fabric grille all the way around, which could be a cosmetic liability as well as an asset: Domestic cats love to climb up fabric stretched tightly over wood (as at the bases of these) and, given the opportunity, will have these speakers in shreds in no time. Magnepan recommends spray-on cat repellent; I have to tell them that some cats don't seem to mind its odor as much as most people do.

Art Dudley  |  Oct 28, 2016  |  21 comments
Keith Aschenbrenner, proprietor of Auditorium 23, based in Frankfurt, Germany, has long been associated with the people and products of Shindo Laboratory: From the early 1990s until the EU's 2006 implementation of the RoHS 1 regulation, which banned the sale of various old-style electrolytic materials—and thus most of Shindo's products—Auditorium 23 was the brand's European distributor and, arguably, one of its most empathetic and enthusiastic retailers worldwide. Throughout that time, and continuing through to today, Aschenbrenner has also worked as a designer and manufacturer of Shindo-friendly ancillaries and loudspeakers.
Robert Deutsch  |  Oct 27, 2016  |  12 comments
Monitor Audio's Platinum PL300 II loudspeakers weigh 120 lbs each, and my listening room is on the second floor, but I was spared the heavy lifting. The speakers were delivered by Sheldon Ginn, Jeffrey Ginn, and Jamie Arseneau—respectively, the VP of Sales and Marketing, Account Manager, and Service Manager of Kevro International, Monitor Audio's North American distributor. We set up the PL300 IIs, ensuring that the distance from each speaker to my listening seat was the same, then optimized the toe-in: the speakers ended up almost directly facing the listener position, close to where I'd had Wilson Audio's Sabrinas.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 23, 2016  |  21 comments
Thiel Audio's CS3.7 loudspeaker was launched, to much fanfare, in 2006. Like most of Jim Thiel's designs, the CS3.7 received universal praise, but it was Jim's swan song. No one could predict that he would pass away in 2009, undoubtedly leaving on his desk many future designs.

But more was in the cards for—and from—Thiel Audio. The company was sold in 2012 to a private equity company based in Nashville; soon thereafter Thiel Audio moved to that city from Lexington, Kentucky, where Jim had co-founded it in 1977. Thiel's longtime president, Kathy Gornik, left, and for a while the company's directors came and went as if through a revolving door.

John Atkinson  |  Jul 21, 2016  |  9 comments
I am a big believer in supporting events promoted by specialty audio retailers. They reinforce the idea that audiophiles and manufacturers—even reviewers—are parts of a vibrant community that believes that listening to music with the highest possible quality is one of the more important things in life. The "Music Matters" evenings arranged by Audio Advice in North Carolina, Definitive Audio in Seattle, and Listen Up in Colorado exemplify that idea, and it was in April 2015, at Listen Up's Denver store, that I used a pair of PSB's new Imagine T3 tower speakers to play the audience some of my own recordings. The T3 superficially resembles PSB's Synchrony One, a speaker I very favorably reviewed in April 2008, and I was equally impressed by the new flagship—impressed enough to request a pair for review.
Robert Harley, Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 15, 2016  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1990  |  0 comments
The DQ-12 is the latest loudspeaker from Dahlquist employing their "Phased Array" technology, first used in 1973. The company was formed that year by Jon Dahlquist and Saul Marantz to produce the DQ-10, a loudspeaker that enjoyed a long and successful life. When I sold hi-fi in a retail store in the late 1970s—we stocked Dahlquist speakers—the DQ-10 was among the more prominent audiophile speakers, prized for its imaging abilities.

In 1976, Carl Marchisotto joined the company, designing support products for the DQ-10 including a subwoofer, variable low-pass filter, and a passive crossover. Jon Dahlquist is no longer actively involved with the company; Carl has now assumed the engineering responsibilities at Dahlquist and is the designer of the latest group of Phased Array loudspeakers (footnote 1). This new line, introduced at the Winter 1990 CES in Las Vegas, encompasses three models: the $850/pair DQ-8, the DQ-12 reviewed here, and the $2000/pair flagship, the DQ-20i.

Herb Reichert  |  Jun 16, 2016  |  13 comments
My lifestyle consultant warned me not to review Zu Audio's Soul Supreme loudspeaker ($4500/pair).

"Why not?" I asked. "They're exciting and super-enjoyable."

"Zu speakers are not mainstream," he explained. "People either love them or hate them. They're for music lovers, not audiophiles."

"That's not true!" I whined like a disappointed child. "They play Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin with spooky soul and natural tone! They play big classical orchestras—especially with trumpets and timpani—with radical ease and full-tilt momentum! And . . . and . . . they project large soundstages! Isn't that what audiophiles like?"

Kalman Rubinson  |  May 26, 2016  |  38 comments
"This is getting to be a habit."

That's how I ended the first paragraph of my review of Bowers & Wilkins' 800 Diamond speaker, in the May 2011 issue; apparently, Stereophile's habit of reviewing models from B&W's 800 series remains unbroken.

Later in that review, I said that "The 800 Diamond doesn't look radically different from its predecessors." That doesn't apply to the 802 D3 Diamond ($22,000/pair). It's still a three-way system with tapered-tube high-frequency and midrange enclosures, stacked and nestled into a generous bass enclosure that's vented on the bottom into the space between it and its plinth.

Michael Fremer  |  May 25, 2016  |  1 comments
Marten is a small Swedish loudspeaker manufacturer with great aspirations, some of which the company has largely met. Leif Mårten Olofsson founded Marten and designs the speakers, while brother Jörgen Olofsson runs the business as CEO—a division of creative and administrative labors similar to the working relationship between David and Norman Chesky, the founders of Chesky Records and HDtracks.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 22, 2016  |  5 comments
Driving the Model Sevens at the 2014 CES were Vandersteen's then-new M7-HPA monoblocks, which provide a high-pass–filtered output (above 100Hz) to the upper-frequency drive-units of the Model Seven. At the time, I made a note to myself that I would like one day to try these amplifiers with the Sevens in my own room. That opportunity came later rather than sooner, after Vandersteen had updated the Model Seven to Mk.II status.
Robert Deutsch  |  Apr 21, 2016  |  12 comments
I first encountered the work of Dave Wilson in the late 1970s. He was then a recording engineer responsible for some great-sounding records, including pianist Mark P. Wetch's Ragtime Razzmatazz (LP, Wilson Audio W-808), which quickly became one of my favorite system-demo records.

Then Wilson turned his attention to designing loudspeakers. His first model was the Wilson Audio Modular Monitor, reviewed for Stereophile by its then-publisher, Larry Archibald, in August 1983, who described it as "the most enjoyable speaker system I've listened to, and significantly valuable as a diagnostic tool." At $35,000/pair ($83,577 in today's dollars), the WAMM may have been the most expensive speaker then on the market.

Wes Phillips  |  Feb 17, 2016  |  First Published: Jul 01, 1995  |  7 comments
"Wow!" Jerome Harris—jazz guitarist, bassist, and composer—stopped talking and listened intently to the rough-mixdown dub of his latest album, Hidden in Plain View: The Music of Eric Dolphy (New World 80472-2 CD) (footnote 1). He'd brought it by my house in order to hear it on another system before pronouncing judgment. "That sounds like us! And I ought to know because I was there..."

It wasn't the first time the Metaphor 2s had totally transfixed a visitor with their accurate portrayal of a musical event. This time, however, they'd done it to one of the participants of that specific performance. It isn't as if it was easy stuff to disentangle, either. Jerome's disc is texturally dense: Marty Ehrlich and Don Byron on reeds, Ray Anderson on trombone, E.J. Allen on trumpet, Bill Ware on vibes, Bobby Previte on drums, and Jerome himself on acoustic bass guitar—occasionally all wailing away simultaneously. The Metaphor 2s have the articulation to sort out all of those interweaving melody and rhythm lines, the frequency balance to render them with astonishing timbral veracity, and the speed to ensure that, even with four drivers in a large enclosure, it all arrives at the same time and with swing aplenty. Does it sound as though I'm describing one hell of a speaker? I think so anyway.

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