Stand Loudspeaker Reviews

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Jim Austin  |  Oct 19, 2017  |  11 comments
It's day five of our planned month-long stay à Paris, late April through most of May. My wife is here for work—for me, it's strictly for pleasure—and we're enjoying Paris's rich, sensual goodness: food, museums, architecture, coffee, people, food. And yet, earlier today, when we were out for a walk—we've been walking close to 10 miles each day, exploring the city—I realized that my life here has been missing something important.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 12, 2017  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1987  |  1 comments
Introduced in 1985 as the smallest model in JBL's "Ti" range, the 18Ti ($590/pair) shares with its larger siblings, like the JBL 250ti (recently reviewed by J. Gordon Holt), a high-tech tweeter that uses a one-piece ribbed titanium-foil dome/surround just 25µm thick. This is both rigid and of very low mass, pushing its first-breakup mode up to the region of 30kHz. The tweeter is mounted above the polypropylene-cone woofer, offset a little to one side to make room for the 45mm diameter port (though the speakers are not supplied as a handed pair). The 10-liter internal volume box is well-constructed from 20mm chipboard, covered in real-wood veneer.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Aug 17, 2017  |  44 comments
At the risk of offending nearly every designer and manufacturer of loudspeakers, I think we have not seen anything really new in a long time. Casting a gimlet eye at Stereophile's "Recommended Components" reveals some electrostatic and planar-magnetic models, a few horns, and lots and lots of cones and domes in boxes. Those cones and domes have voice-coils inductively driven by permanent magnets, and overwhelmingly use passive crossovers. Innovation in speakers mostly takes the form of advancements in materials science and, to a much lesser degree, cabinet shape. All helpful, but not revolutionary.
John Atkinson  |  Jun 09, 2017  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1989  |  0 comments
The Monitor Audio R300/MD ($669/pair) debuted at the 1988 SCES in Chicago. English company Monitor Audio is one of the pioneers in spreading the use of metal-dome tweeters in relatively low-cost loudspeaker systems. The tweeters they have designed in conjunction with SEAS and British manufacturer Elac may have now found their ways into a number of designs from competing manufacturers, but there is no doubt that Monitor leads the way. The new R300/MD features a new ¾" version of the SEAS 1" aluminum-dome unit Monitor introduced with their R652/MD (reviewed in Vol.10 No.5), in conjunction with an 8" doped paper-cone woofer.
John Atkinson  |  May 11, 2017  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1989  |  0 comments
"Amrita" is Sanskrit for "nectar," and indeed, the Amrita owner's manual states that they are confident their speakers "will provide Nectar For Your Ears." Although this Iowa-based manufacturer offers a large range of loudspeakers, I decided that Stereophile should review their small AMRIT-MiniMonitor ($875/pair) after Martin Colloms mentioned in his report from the 1987 SCES in Vol.10 No.5 that it sounded "pleasantly balanced on both rock and classical material." We received a pair for review in the summer of 1988, but it turned out that only one was working, the other having a very restricted low-frequency response below 100Hz. After repeated requests for replacements, Amrita's John Andre personally delivered a pair to Santa Fe in the Spring of 1989. This time, both worked out of the box!
J. Gordon Holt  |  Apr 13, 2017  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1969  |  5 comments
Everyone knows that a lot of serious music listeners—that is, those who listen to music instead of using it as a conversational background—have neither the space nor the money for a pair of typical floor-standing speakers, and must make do with bookshelf-type systems that are actually small enough to put in a bookshelf. But while the typical audio perfectionist will freely admit that there is a place in the audio sun for these dinky little speakers, he cannot really take them seriously, particularly when they're priced significantly under $100 each.
Sam Tellig, Herb Reichert  |  Mar 29, 2017  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2010  |  7 comments
Forty years ago, when I first had money enough to buy serious [ahem] consumer audio, there were a few good turntables available, from Thorens, Garrard, Ariston, some others. Today is the golden age of turntables: ask Mikey, if not antiquarian Artie. And loudspeakers! In 1970, models were few, and most were mediocre. Today, you can have a great loudspeaker for a song.
Herb Reichert  |  Mar 24, 2017  |  9 comments
The soul of a loudspeaker cannot be exclusively characterized by such unmeasurable, reviewer-friendly declarations as "lush tonality," "gossamer textures," "clear-water transparency," "microdetail," or "pacey dynamic rhythmic expression." Neither can it be fully described by such measurable characteristics as anechoic frequency response, dynamic impedance, or step response. More than anything else, a loudspeaker expresses its full character in how and where it directs the listener's attention. What a loudspeaker emphasizes—what it reveals, what it obscures, what it forces the listener to notice and think about—that is a loudspeaker's soul.
John Atkinson  |  Mar 07, 2017  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1989  |  5 comments
I like Brooklyn. I even got married under the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge! (Almost the exact spot where Cher's grandfather let his dogs howl at the moon in Moonstruck. And if you're ever in the Park Slope area, check out McFeeley's for brunch.) I could be forgiven, therefore, for having a soft spot for any Brooklyn manufacturer, including Ohm Acoustics. Except that the only Ohm model I have heard was the omnidirectional Ohm Walsh 5 (favorably reviewed by Dick Olsher in Stereophile in 1987, Vol.10 No.4, and 1988, Vol.11 No.8), and the omni principle is something that I have never found to work, or at least to give me what I feel necessary in reproduced sound. The Ohm Model 16, however, is one of three more conventional Coherent Audio Monitor (CAM) speakers intended to offer good sound at an affordable price: $300/pair
Herb Reichert  |  Feb 23, 2017  |  9 comments
In the United Kingdom, the first seeds of perfectionism in audio separates were sown by Goodmans Industries, founded in 1925. Then, in 1930, Garrard (est. 1722) produced its first commercial gramophone. Shortly thereafter, England experienced the Great Slump, the British name for the worldwide catastrophe known in the US as the Great Depression. Near the beginning of this economic downturn, in 1932, Gilbert Briggs founded Wharfedale Wireless Works—and the first British "high-fidelity" audio amplifiers began being manufactured by H.J. Leak & Co. Ltd., founded by Harold Joseph Leak in 1934.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 21, 2017  |  4 comments
Long-lived loudspeaker models are rare. So it's surprising that the two-way, stand-mounted Model 5, the smallest speaker made by Massachusetts-based Aerial Acoustics, was revised just once between 2015 and April 1997, when Robert Harley favorably reviewed it and it cost $1800/pair. The revised 5B was equally favorably reviewed by John Marks in July 2009. This kept the original's 1" titanium-dome tweeter and sealed-box woofer loading but replaced the 7" polypropylene-cone woofer with a 7.1" laminated-fiber–cone woofer. Despite more than a decade's worth of inflation, the price rose only slightly, to $2400/pair.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 16, 2017  |  22 comments
I have had a long relationship with Bowers & Wilkins. The first B&W speaker I spent serious time with was the DM-6, the infamous "pregnant kangaroo," which was reviewed by Allen Edelstein in December 1977 and which I borrowed for a while after interviewing the company's founder, John Bowers. Ten years later, when I met the woman who was to become my third wife, she already owned a pair of B&W Matrix 801s, a speaker reviewed by Lewis Lipnick in December 1987.
Ken Micallef  |  Dec 27, 2016  |  14 comments
Roughly half the size of a breadbox—remember those?—the Trenner & Friedl Sun ($3450/pair) is arguably the smallest stand-mounted loudspeaker presently available for serious home listening: only 8.5" high by 6.25" wide by 5.5" deep and weighing just 7.5 lbs. The Sun is the entry-level model from this Austrian loudspeaker manufacturer, and its ported, solid-birch cabinet is designed and built to golden-ratio proportions (footnote 1) It has a single, coaxial driver from SEAS and a crossover made by Mundorf. The Sun boasts a frequency response of 55Hz–25kHz, +0/–3dB; friends of mine have heard the speaker plumb remarkable depths when paired with the right amplifier. And though they're barely bigger than a pair of Audeze LCD-4 planar-magnetic headphones, the Suns do play louder!
John Atkinson  |  Dec 07, 2016  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1989  |  2 comments
The English loudspeaker manufacturer Rogers [no connection with the contemporary US company Rogers High Fidelity] has had an illustrious history since being founded in 1947 by veteran designer Jim Rogers. Absorbed by the Swisstone company in 1976, it has since gone from strength to strength, the main creative work now being done by the respected English engineer Richard Ross. Noteworthy for keeping the miniature BBC LS3/5a design in continuous production for nearly 15 years, Rogers also makes a range of polypropylene-cone woofers and midrange units which are used in other models in its range.
John Atkinson  |  Dec 01, 2016  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1989  |  4 comments
If speakers were cars, the Infinity IRS Beta and B&W 801 Matrix would represent the luxury end of the mass market, with perhaps the Celestion SL700, Quad ESL-63, and MartinLogan Sequel II analogous to rather hairy, temperamental sports cars—the Porsche 911, for example. But most people don't buy Porsches, or even Lincoln Town Cars; they buy Hyundai Excels and Ford Escorts. In the same way, when the car is garaged for the night, they don't sit down in front of IRS Betas; in all likelihood they listen to their records with a compact two-way design. If competently designed, a small two-way can give a great deal of musical satisfaction, and, to take a current hobbyhorse of mine out for a trot, if a designer can't produce an at least competent two-way loudspeaker, he or she has no business trying to design larger, more ambitious models—there's nowhere to hide your lack of talent if all you have to play with is a tweeter, a woofer, a rectangular enclosure, and a handful of crossover components.

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