2014 Recommended Components Loudspeakers

Loudspeaker Systems

Editor's Note: Class A "Loudspeakers" are sufficiently idiosyncratic and differ enough from one another that prospective customers should read Stereophile's original reviews in their entirety for descriptions of the sounds. I have therefore just listed every system or combination that at least one of Stereophile's reviewers feels, as a result of his or her experience, approaches the current state of the art in loudspeaker design. (Note that, to be eligible for inclusion in Class A, the system must be full-range-ie, feature bass extension to 20Hz. It must also be capable of reaching realistic sound-pressure levels without any feeling of strain.)

For those unconcerned about the last few hertz of low-bass extension, we have created "Classes A, B, and C (Restricted Extreme LF)" for those speakers that are state of the art in every other way. Candidates for inclusion in this class must still reach down to at least 40Hz, below the lowest notes of the four-string double-bass and bass guitar.

In addition, such has been the recent progress in loudspeaker design at a more affordable level that we have an extra class: E, for "Entry Level." Someone once asked us why Stereophile bothers to review inexpensive loudspeakers at all: In effect, aren't we insulting our readership by recommending that they buy inexpensive models? Remember: It's possible to put together a musically satisfying, truly high-end system around any of our Class D and E recommendations. That's why they're listed-and why you should consider buying them.


B&W 800 Diamond: $24,000/pair
(Vol.34 No.5 WWW)

mbl Radialstrahler 101E Mk.II: $70,500/pair
(Vol.35 No.4 WWW)

Revel Ultima Salon2: $21,998/pair ✩
One of Stereophile's "Joint Loudspeakers of the Year" for 2008. (Vol.31 No.6, Vol.32 No.3 WWW)

Revel Ultima Studio2: $15,998/pair $$$ ✩
(Vol.31 No.3, Vol.32 No.12 WWW)

Sonus Faber Amati Futura: $36,000/pair
(Vol.35 No.3 WWW)

Sony SS-AR1: $27,000/pair
(Vol.34 No.7 WWW)

TAD Evolution One E1 loudspeaker: $29,800/pair
(Vol.36 No.7 WWW)

Vandersteen Model Seven: $52,000/pair ✩
(Vol.33 No.3 WWW)

Vivid G1Giya: $65,000/pair ✩
(Vol.33 No.7 WWW)

Wilson Audio Specialties Alexandria XLF: $200,000/pair
(Vol.36 No.1 WWW)

Wilson Audio Specialties Alexia: $48,500/pair
(Vol.36 No.12 WWW)

YG Acoustics Sonja 1.3: $106,800/pair
(Vol.36 No.7 WWW)

A (Restricted Extreme LF)

Aerial Model 7T: $9850/pair
This compact (44.5" H by 9.7" W by 15.3" D), three-way floorstander uses a 1" soft ring-radiator tweeter with dual magnets and a machined waveguide; a 5.9" papyrus-blend midrange cone with a 1.25" voice-coil, dual magnets, and cast magnesium frame; and two 7.1" bilaminate-cone woofers with 1.5" voice-coils and cast magnesium frames. The 7T provided a well-balanced sound overall, with a stable soundstage, pinpoint imaging, detailed and transparent highs, a gorgeous midrange, and neutrally balanced bass. "The 7T is so good that it should provide any listener with joyful musical communication," KR concluded. JA found excellent measured performance. (Vol.35 No.3 WWW)

DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93: $8400/pair
Made in Brooklyn, New York, the Orangutan O/93 is a two-way floorstanding loudspeaker with a 1" soft-dome tweeter and a 10" paper-cone bass/midrange driver. It measures 35.5" H by 15" W by 10" D, and has a claimed sensitivity of 93dB and a nominal impedance of 10 ohms. The beautifully finished cabinet is made from a combination of Baltic birch plywood and MDF; the front baffle has a distinctive fiddleback mahogany veneer, while the sides, back, and rear are veneered in maple and finished in high-gloss piano-black lacquer. Driven by ST's Unison Research Simply Italy, the DeVores delivered a lively, immediate sound, with a sweet and extended treble, punchy bass, and a deep, wide soundstage with excellent center fill. (Vol.37 No.1)

DeVore Fidelity Gibbon 3XL: $3700/pair $$$ ✩
(stands necessary)
The Gibbon 3XL has a beautifully finished cabinet made mostly of solid bamboo, and uses an unusual 0.75" tweeter and a 5" midrange/woofer custom-designed for DeVore by SEAS. The speaker has a claimed sensitivity of 90dB and a nominal impedance of 8 ohms, never dropping below 7.4 ohms. While the comparably priced Harbeth Compact 7 ES-3 offered a slightly richer, fuller sound, the Gibbon 3XL produced excellent low-level resolution, reasonably wide dynamics, and stable, pinpoint imaging, said ST. The almost obligatory matching bamboo stands add $595/pair. (Vol.33 No.6)

Harbeth Monitor 30.1: $5990–$6790/pair, depending on finish
(stands necessary)
The Monitor 30.1 is a two-way, front-ported design with a 1" soft-dome SEAS tweeter and Harbeth's 7.8" Radial2 mid/woofer. Fit and finish were superb. Though too demanding a load for ST's 3.5Wpc Sun Audio SV2A3 amplifier, the Monitor 30.1 produced "ravishing" midrange texture, tonality, and resolution when partnered with higher-powered solid-state amplification. Compared to the Triangle Cométe Anniversaire, the Harbeth sacrificed speed and agility for richness and warmth. "If you're into classical and jazz, there is no other loudspeaker I can recommend so highly for $6500/pair," concluded Sam. Standard finish is Cherry. Add $400/pair for Eucalyptus, Rosewood, and Tiger Ebony finishes. (Vol.35 Nos.11 & 12)

Joseph Audio Pulsar: $7700/pair
(stands necessary)
The compact (15" H by 9" W by 13" D), rear-ported Pulsar uses a 1" Sonatex-dome tweeter and a 5.5" cast-magnesium cone woofer, both built to Joseph Audio's specifications by SEAS. The MDF cabinet has an attractively beveled, piano-black front baffle; side panels are available in a choice of four high-gloss veneers as well as piano black. The Pulsar produced sweet treble, a neutral midrange, solid bass, and superbly focused images for a natural, involving overall sound, said MF. JA was impressed by the Pulsar's superbly flat on-axis response and well-damped enclosure. (Vol.35 No.6 WWW)

KEF LS50 Annversary Model: $1499.99/pair $$$
(stands necessary)
This tribute to the famed LS3/5a monitor was made to celebrate KEF's 50th anniversary. Measuring just 11.9" H by 7.9" W by 10.9" D, the two-way, reflex-loaded design combines, in KEF's Uni-Q driver array, a 1" vented aluminum-dome tweeter and a 5.25" woofer cone of magnesium-aluminum alloy. The beautifully finished, computer-modeled MDF cabinet incorporates a convex front baffle, offset port, and damped internal cross-bracing for optimal suppression of external sound radiation and internal standing waves. The LS50 produced a surprisingly large, clean, transparent sound, with natural tone color and precise, stable stereo imaging, said JA, who also noted superb measured performance. "Recommended. Highly." (Vol.35 No.12 WWW)

Lansche Audio 5.1: $43,000/pair
Made in Germany, the Lansche Audio 5.1 is a three-way, floorstanding, reflex-loaded design with a horn-loaded Corona plasma tweeter, a 4" polypropylene-cone midrange unit, and two 8.7" glass-fiber/fabric cone woofers. It measures 40.9" H by 10.1" W by 19.3" D, weighs 167.5 lbs, and is available in a variety of exotic satin veneers. The Lansche's sophisticated, revealing highs and lean, articulate bass were unforgiving of thin-sounding recordings, but the pair of them had a wonderful sense of space and superb stereo imaging, said JA. Very difficult to drive. To get the best from the Lansches, careful consideration should be taken in placement and partnering amplification, the tubed Audio Research Reference 150 working much better than good solid-state amplification. High Gloss adds $7000/pair; Piano Black adds $5000/pair. (Vol. 35 No.7 WWW)

Magico Q5: $65,000/pair ✩
The massive Q5 (47" H by 12" W by 21" D, 387 lbs) is a four-way, sealed-box floorstander using a 1" beryllium-dome tweeter, 6" Nano-Tec midrange driver, 9" Nano-Tec midbass cone, and two 9" Nano-Tec woofers. Made entirely of aluminum and brass, the Q5's complex frame system is assembled from more than 50 machined parts with more than 350 fasteners of various types. Though it lacked some bottom-end weight and drive, which keeps this speaker from being rated Class A (Full-range), the Q5's transparency, resolution, and freedom from boxy colorations made it the smoothest, most detailed, least mechanical-sounding loudspeaker MF had ever heard. JA was equally impressed. Hard anodized aluminum finish adds $6500/pair. (Vol.33 No.11 WWW)

Marten Django XL: $15,000/pair
Made in Sweden, the Django is a three-way, reflex-loaded floorstander with a 1" ceramic-diaphragm tweeter, 6" ceramic-diaphragm midrange unit, and three 8" aluminum-cone woofers. The cabinet is made of 25mm-thick MDF, has nicely rounded edges to reduce diffraction, and comes available in high-gloss Piano Black or Silver Grey. Fit and finish were superb. The Django had an open, uncolored, well-balanced overall sound, with outstanding soundstaging, warm and full-bodied bass, a superb midrange, and a treble that was both revealing and forgiving, said EL. "Marten's Django XLs gave me the best sound I have ever heard in my room. Highly Recommended," he concluded. (Vol.35 No.9 WWW)

MartinLogan Montis: $9995/pair
Made in Canada, the elegant Montis combines a 44" H by 11.3" W Curvilinear Line Source (CLS) electrostatic high-frequency panel with a 10" high-excursion, aluminum-cone woofer, the latter powered by a 200W amplifier. The bass cabinet is available in glossy finishes of hand-rubbed black ash, dark cherry, or black cherrywood. Though it lacked pinpoint imaging, the Montis had a scintillating treble, fast and weighty bass, and a natural midrange, said RD. Though he found respectable measured performance, JA cautioned that the Montis will sound rolled off on top when driven by a tube amplifier with a high source impedance. (Vol.35 No.9 WWW)

Sonus Faber Guarneri Evolution: $22,000/pair
(stands necessary)
The beautiful Guarneri Evolution is a two-way, port-loaded, stand-mounted loudspeaker with a 1" fabric-dome tweeter and 7" pulp-cone woofer. It measures 16.5" H by 9.25" W by 16.2" D, weighs 40 lbs, and uses an intricate mass-damping system trickled down from SF's flagship, The Sonus Faber. Though it sounded somewhat congested when used with AD's 25W Shindo Corton-Charlemagne monoblocks, the Guarneri Evolution produced richly textured, natural tone and delivered detail without edge or glare. "For the listener who delights in the rich, saturated, velvety tones of real instruments and voices, I can think of no more appropriate loudspeaker," said AD. JA found superb measured performance. Price includes stands; "stand-delete" option saves $2000/pair. (Vol.35 No.1 WWW)

Sony SS-AR2: $20,000/pair
This three-way, reflex-loaded, floorstander looks very similar to Sony's more expensive SS-AR1, but is 4" shorter, has twin 6.5" aluminum-cone woofers instead of the SS-AR1's 8" units, and has less extended low frequencies. The SS-AR2's 1" soft-dome tweeter and its Scan-Speak 5" sliced-paper"cone midrange unit are the same as in the SS-AR1, as is the strategically braced cabinet construction: panels of Scandinavian birch with a 2"-thick front baffle of laminated Japanese maple. The SS-AR2 combined sweet highs, well-extended lows, and a slight excess of midrange energy for an overall sound that was both pleasantly warm and superbly detailed, said JA, who was similarly impressed by the speaker's measured performance. (Vol.35 No.10 WWW)

Sony SS-NA2ES: $10,000/pair
Cosmetically similar to Sony's more expensive SS-AR2, the SS-NA2ES is a beautifully finished three-way tower, approximately 35" H by 10" W by 16" D, with drive-units custom made by Scan-Speak in collaboration with Sony: twin 6.5" aluminum-cone woofers and a 5" midrange unit; but while the SS-AR2 used a single conventional 1" tweeter, the SS-NA2ES vertically mounts its 1" silk-dome tweeter between two 0.75" fabric-dome "assist" tweeters. The straight-sided cabinet is made of Scandinavian birch ply and finished in a luxurious dark-brown gloss. With some overcooked recordings, the Sony's highs had too much sparkle, but overall the speaker offered low coloration, high sensitivity, accurate and stable stereo imaging, and satisfying lows, said JA, who also noted excellent measured performance. "The SS-NA2ES offers its owner 90% of the performance of the SS-AR2 for 50% of its price," he concluded. (Vol.36 No.9 WWW)

TAD Laboratories Compact Reference CR1: $42,000/pair
(stands necessary)
Designed by Andrew Jones, this three-way, reflex-loaded, stand-mounted loudspeaker measures 24.7" H by 13.4" W by 17.5" D and weighs just over 100 lbs. It uses an 8" sandwich-cone woofer and a 1.375" beryllium-dome tweeter concentrically mounted with a 6.5" beryllium-cone midrange driver, all made by TAD. Finished in a gorgeous piano-gloss wood veneer, the speaker's enclosure includes a strong internal framework formed by 0.9"-thick, CNC-machined birch plywood clad with laminated MDF panels. JA: "It lacks the very lowest octave and is balanced a tad forward, but in all other respects it represents the state of the art of loudspeaker design and sound." Matching stands add $3600/pair. (Vol.35 No.1 WWW)

Thiel CS3.7: $13,900/pair ✩
The three-way CS3.7 has a sloped baffle and a curved body constructed of 15 layers of laminated hardwood capped by a cast-aluminum nacelle meant to reinforce the cabinet's strength and optimize diffraction. A coincidentally arranged midrange-tweeter assembly is mounted above a 10" woofer and a 10" passive radiator; the midrange driver's aluminum diaphragm is flattened and corrugated for exceptional strength and resistance to voice-coil forces. The CS3.7 "was a wizard at conveying subtle rhythmic information" and was "hyperarticulate" while never sounding bright, said Wes. Compared to the far more expensive Vivid Giya G1, the Thiel CS3.7 delivered a smaller soundstage and had limited bass extension and timbral richness, said WP. Compared to the Vienna Acoustics Klimt The Kiss, the CS3.7 had slightly more bass slam and propulsion, but lacked The Kiss's seamless and relaxed mid-to-high-frequency response, said WP. This Thiel requires at least 150Wpc to sound its best and lacked some impact in the bottom octave, but, WP concluded, "I loved, loved, loved the Thiel CS3.7." (Vol.31 No.12, Vol.33 Nos.2 & 7 WWW)

Vivid Giya G3: $39,990/pair
See JA's review in this issue.

Vivid Oval K1: $24,990/pair
The K1 is similar in appearance to Vivid's less expensive B1, but whereas the B1 uses single woofers on its front and rear panels, the K1 has two woofers each fore and aft, and its cabinet extends lower to accommodate them. In addition, the K1's higher minimal impedance of 4.8 ohms (vs 2.8 ohms for the B1) makes it an easier load for the partnering amplifier. Compared to the B1, the K1 offered greater bass extension and had the more tactile and inviting lower midrange and treble, said JM. "Vivid's Oval K1 is one of the best loudspeakers I have ever heard," he concluded. (Vol.35 No.10 WWW)

Vivid B1: $14,990/pair ✩
Big brother to Vivid's V-1.5 and also designed by Laurence Dickie, the B1 is a three-way floorstander using Vivid's D26 metal-dome tweeter, D50 metal-dome midrange unit, and two C125 metal-cone woofers. It measures 43" H by 10.4" W by 14.75", weighs 84 lbs, and has an internal volume of 44 liters—exactly twice that of the V-1.5. Just as coherent as the V-1.5 but with greater bass extension, wider dynamic range, and a larger soundstage, the B1 had a relaxed, smooth, and effortless overall sound. "The B1 is so much more capable a speaker than the V-1.5 that, if you can afford it, the B1 actually represents better value for money," said JM. Though the B1's clean, grain-free treble could be "a little too revealing" of brighter recordings, JA appreciated the speaker's generous bass, natural midrange, superb imaging, and explosive dynamics. (Vol.34 Nos.2 & 10 WWW)

Volti Audio Vittora: $25,000/system
Handmade in the US, the Vittora is a three-way, fully horn-loaded loudspeaker in two enclosures per channel, both made entirely of Baltic birch plywood. The lower bass cabinet is a single-fold bifurcated horn with a 15" rear-facing woofer; the upper enclosure houses a rectangular midrange horn and an elliptical treble horn. Build quality was excellent. The Vittora had a beautifully balanced, nuanced, and compelling sound, with smooth highs, forceful bass, and a remarkable sense of drive, said AD. "Volti Audio's Vittora is a great loudspeaker and a seriously great value," AD decided, though he adds "Not for the squeamish!". Volti Audio Vittora Subwoofer is now included in system price. (Vol.36 No.9 WWW)

Wilson Audio Specialties Sophia Series 3: $17,900/pair ✩
The latest Sophia is a three-way, reflex-loaded floorstander with a 1" inverted titanium-dome tweeter, a 7" pulp/composite-cone midrange driver, and a 10" aluminum-cone woofer. Mild creases and angles have been added to the Sophia's cabinet to increase rigidity and diminish standing waves, and thicker panels of Wilson's dense phenolic X material are used for the main walls. Like the Sophia 2, the new model was spatially stunning, sonically explicit, and musically expressive, with good drama and scale, high transparency, and low coloration, but with greater openness and resolution of detail. AD: "The Sophia 3 is a new and fine example of Wilson's modern thinking: a true high-fidelity device that's also capable of sounding beautiful." (Vol.34 No.2 WWW)

B (Full-Range)

ADAM Audio Classic Column Mk3: $7000/pair
Made in Berlin, the Classic Column MK3 is a 3.5-way, reflex-loaded floorstander with smartly chamfered edges and a stiff, heavy base. It uses ADAM's eXtended Accelerating Ribbon Technology (X-ART) tweeter, a larger X-ART ribbon midrange unit, and two 7.5" HexaCone woofers. The Column produced an extremely detailed, extended bottom end, a clean midrange, and a marvelously transparent and delicate treble, said KR. Though dynamic contrasts could be both subtle and staggering, the broad, deep soundstage was too forward and imposing for KR's tastes. Compared to the B&W 800 Diamond, the Classic Column MK3 was "a splash of cool water in the face and a kick in the butt," KR concluded, adding that "This is an impressive sub-$10k speaker that should be considered by anyone willing to spend much more." JA noted "sensible and effective audio engineering." (Vol.35 No.8 WWW)

Atlantic Technology AT-1: $3000/pair $$$
Designed in the US and made in China, the two-way, floorstanding AT-1 is finished in an attractive metallic black-gloss and exhibits levels of fit, finish, and build quality far beyond its modest price. It uses a 1.1" silk-dome tweeter nestled between two 5.25" graphite-loaded homopolymer-cone woofers, as well as Atlantic's new Hybrid-Pressure Acceleration System (H-PAS) bass-venting technology, which combines aspects of horn, transmission-line, and reflex designs for taut, extended bass. Though it lacked top-end air and extension, the AT-1 matched its powerful low end with a colorful, open midrange and immersive soundstage, said EL. JA was impressed by the speaker's superbly flat frequency response and surprisingly extended low frequencies. (Vol.34 No.9 WWW)

Audio Note AN-E/SPe HE: $9300/pair ✩
(stands necessary)
This latest revision of Audio Note's AN-E design uses the same 1" tweeter found in earlier models, but a new 8" hemp-cone woofer. Its intentionally thin-walled, minimally damped cabinet is made of Russian birch plywood and veneered on all surfaces. Despite a "mild darkness" in the midrange, the AN-E/SPe HE was "a remarkably good retriever of detail," said Art. Compared to the more expensive Lexus Signature, the SPe HE was less colored and had a better sense of musical flow. "It does a better job than most of really connecting the listener with the dramatic, intellectual, and emotional intensities captured in every groove," AD concluded. "Class A!!!" he recommends, with all three exclamation points. Close placement to the wall behind them is recommended to extend the low frequencies and increase the midbass level, though this may sacrifice lower-midrange smoothness. JA felt the Audio Note sounded cleaner and better defined in the bass than the Harbeth M40.1, but was bothered by a "slight cupped-hands coloration" and a "rather lean lower midrange," hence a Class B rating. Matching 10" stands cost $660/pair. (Vol.31 Nos.8 & 11 WWW)

Boston Acoustics M350: $2500/pair
The M350, the top model in BA's M series, is a three-way, reflex-loaded floorstander with a 1" Extended Wide Bandwidth soft-dome tweeter, a 4.5" mass-loaded polypropylene-cone midrange, and four 5.25" polypropylene-cone woofers. The cabinet sidewalls are beveled at their tops and bottoms and finished in high-gloss black; the front baffle and the top and bottom panels are covered in black faux leather. JA used foam port plugs (included) to tame a pervasive excess of upper-bass energy. Ports plugged, the M350s offered well-defined stereo imaging and had a darkish overall balance, with smooth highs and warm lower mids. Other than a strong cabinet-wall resonance in the lower midrange, the M350 measured superbly well, said JA. (Vol.36 No.8 WWW)

Bowers & Wilkins 804 Diamond: $7500/pair
The smallest floorstander in B&W's 800 series, the 804D is a three-way, reflex-loaded design with a 1" diamond-dome tweeter, a 6" woven-Kevlar-cone midrange, and two 6.5" Rohacell-cone woofers. It measures 39.8" H by 9.3" W by 13.7" D, weighs 60 lbs, and is available in rosenut, cherry, or piano-gloss black veneers. Though the 804Ds lacked some bass weight and impact, they produced a clean, detailed treble; a rich, involving midrange; and an open soundstage with pinpoint imaging, said KR. "For the money, I don't feel you can do much better," he concluded. Though JA was bothered by a slight suckout in the 804D's presence region, he noted "quite respectable" measured performance. (Vol.36 No.9 WWW)

DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/96: $12,000/pair
(stands included)
Handmade in Brooklyn, New York, the O/96 is a two-way, reflex-loaded, stand-mounted speaker with a rated sensitivity of 96dB/W/m and an unusually high nominal impedance of 10 ohms. The wide-baffle design measures 28.25" H by 18" W by 12" D and has a 1" silk-dome tweeter and a 10" paper-cone woofer. The O/96 exhibited a superb overall tonal balance with impressive clarity, color, impact, drama, and scale, said AD. "The O/96 is distinctly easy to drive with low-power amplifiers, yet it's clearer, wider of bandwidth, and more spatially accomplished than most other high-sensitivity loudspeakers," he summed up. JA's measurements uncovered a low-treble resonance and a lively enclosure, but these problems were considerably less audible than he was expecting. AD considers this a very high Class B recommendation, bordering on Class A. (Vol.35 No.12 WWW)

Focal Chorus 826W Prestige Edition: $3699/pair ✩ $$$
Originally called the 30th Anniversary edition, the Chorus 826W is a floorstanding three-way design featuring a 1" aluminum-magnesium inverted-dome tweeter, a 6.5" cone midrange, and two 6.5" cone bass drivers. For bass impact it uses two ports, one down- and one front-firing. The main upgrade over the standard 826V is the use of Focal's W-sandwich driver construction, trickled down from Focal's more expensive models. Though it lacked the imaging precision of more expensive speakers, the 826W produced a spacious sound with impressive dynamics and powerful bass, said RD. Removing the tweeter grilles resulted in greater clarity and image specificity. (Vol.33 No.11 WWW)

GoldenEar Technology Triton Two: $2999.98/pair $$$
Designed by industry veteran Sandy Gross and made in China, the Triton Two is a three-way floorstander with a unique array of drive-units: a High-Velocity Folded Ribbon tweeter, two 4.5" midrange cones, two 7" by 10" passive radiators, and two 5" by 9" cone woofers powered by a 1200W class-D amplifier. The speaker's slim cabinet is made of high-density Medite, features a separate subenclosure for the midrange drivers, and is covered in black cloth. Though it exhibited some box colorations when pushed too loud, the Triton Two offered sweet, detailed highs, an uncolored midrange, well-extended lows, and excellent dynamics, said RD. (Vol.35 Nos.2 & 10 WWW)

KEF Q900: $1799.99/pair
The largest model in KEF's affordably priced Q series stands 3.5' H by 14.1" W by 12.7" D, weighs almost 50 lbs, and rests on a sturdy, spiked plinth. In addition to KEF's 8" Uni-Q coaxial driver, which includes a large (1.5") tweeter with a Tangerine waveguide, the 2.5-way Q900 uses an 8" woofer and two 8" passive radiators. Though the Q900 lacked the bass impact of the larger B&W 800 Diamond, it matched a clean, detailed treble with deep, taut bass and a stable, spacious soundstage, said KR. JA noted superb measured performance, and was impressed by the Uni-Q driver's uniform dispersion. (Vol.34 No.9 WWW)

Line Magnetic 755 I: $9000/system
Made in China, the floorstanding 755 I uses a full-range, field-coil drive-unit and comes bundled with a pair of Line Magnetic PR-3 power supplies, each of which uses a 300B direct-heated triode tube as a voltage regulator. The 755 I's decidedly old-fashioned enclosure is made entirely of lightly damped plywood; stranded copper wire is used for both the interior signal leads and the two field-coil leads, the latter soldered to a separate connector on the speaker's removable rear panel. Though it lacked treble extension, bass extension, and bass impact, the 755 I was "full of touch, impact, nuance, detail, and humanness," said AD, but cautions "for special tastes only." Placing the 755 I on a 6"-tall stand resulted in increased bass extension and improved presence and tactility, said AD. (Vol.35 Nos.9 & 11 WWW)

Linn Majik 140: $2995/pair
The four-way Majik 140 uses a 0.75" fabric-dome supertweeter, a 1.17" polyurethane elastomer-dome tweeter, and two 6.5" doped-paper-cone mid/woofers. Four pairs of binding posts allow for quad-wiring or -amping, while a pair of foam bungs can be inserted in the speaker's rear ports for setups where the speakers must be placed flush against walls. BJR was impressed by the Majik 140's extended highs, uncolored midrange, superb reproduction of transients, and forceful bass. "It doesn't get much better than this for the money," he concluded. JA, however, was bothered by the speaker's lively cabinet and suboptimal integration of the drive-units' outputs. High-gloss custom finishes are available for an extra $950/pair; optional bases add $580/pair. (Vol.34 No.6 WWW)

Nola Contender: $3600/pair
The Contender is a three-way, reflex-loaded, floorstanding loudspeaker with a 1" silk-dome tweeter and two 6.5" polymer-cone woofers. It measures 44" H by 8" W by 12" D, weighs 50 lbs, and is available in a Piano Black or Piano Cherry finish. Though it lacked some bass impact and sounded compressed when pushed too hard, the Contender impressed BJR with its rich, luscious midrange and smooth, extended treble. JA found good measured performance, but was puzzled by the complex arrangement of the speaker's bass drivers and their ports. "I can't help wondering if a more orthodox design using the same drive-units would produce greater low-frequency extension," he said. (Vol.35 No.1 WWW)

PSB Imagine T2: $3498/pair
The Imagine T2 Tower is a slim (ca 41" H by 8" W by 13" D), five-way floorstander with a 1" ferrofluid-cooled, titanium-done tweeter, a 4" clay/ceramic-filled polypropylene-cone midrange driver, and three 5.25" clay/ceramic-filled polypropylene-cone woofers, each with its own internal chamber and rear-firing port. Handsomely finished in black ash, cherry, or walnut— High Gloss Black or High Gloss White add $352/pair—the MDF cabinet is teardrop-shaped in cross section to minimize internal reflections. The Imagine T2's well-balanced, coherent overall sound included a sweet treble, a clean midrange, excellent bass, and satisfying dynamics, said RD. "An excellent speaker that offers outstanding value," he summed up. JA noted "a clean bill of measured health." (Vol.36 No.11 WWW)

Sonus Faber Venere 2.5: $2498/pair
Beautifully finished in black or white lacquer, the Venere 2.5 is a compact (43.2" H by 13.3" W by 17" D), 2.5-way, reflex-loaded design with a 1.1" fabric-dome tweeter, a 7" Curv-cone mid/woofer, and a 7" Curv-cone woofer. The cabinet's sidewalls curve around to meet a very narrow rear panel just wide enough to accommodate a staggered array of four multiway terminals; the cabinet sits on a thick glass base plate that accepts four substantial spikes, the front pair nearly an inch longer than the rear, so that the entire cabinet tilts back to align the tweeter with the deeper woofer diaphragms. The sound was spacious, relaxed, and well balanced overall, with detailed mids and highs and a rich lower midrange, said KR. "The Venere 2.5 is not only provocatively sexy in appearance; it delivers," he concluded. The Venere 2.5 exhibited an exaggerated midbass on the test bench, but offered "respectable measured performance" overall, said JA. Add $500 for wood finish. (Vol.36 No.11 WWW)

Spendor SP100R2: $11,495
(stands necessary)
The flagship of Spendor's Classic line is a three-way, stand-mounted, reflex-ported design with a 0.8" fabric-dome tweeter, 7" polymer-cone midrange, and 11.8" Bextrene-cone woofer. Its thin-walled, mildly resonant MDF cabinet has minimal internal bracing and damping. Careful placement was required to achieve optimal bass response. Though it lacked some bottom-end tightness and impact, the Spendor matched a warm tonal balance with excellent midrange detail and articulation, good transparency and presence, and stable soundstaging, said AD. JA's measurements uncovered a number of high-level resonances. (Vol.36 No.1 WWW)

Vandersteen Treo: $6490/pair $$$
The compact (43" H by 10" W by 15" D) Treo is a four-way, reflex-loaded floorstander with a 1" ceramic-coated alloy-dome tweeter, 4.5" tri-woven composite midrange cone, 6.5" tri-woven fiber-cone woofer, and 8" carbon-loaded cellulose-cone subwoofer. Like previous Vandersteen designs, the Treo uses a combination of sloped-back driver array and first-order crossover to produce a time-coincident wavefront launch. A black cloth grille optimizes diffraction and minimizes reflections of the high frequencies from the baffle edges. Though they could be ruthlessly revealing of overcooked modern recordings, the Treos offered excellent transparency, well-extended lows, and a clean, natural midrange, said JA, who noted respectable measured performance. (Vol.36 Nos.3 & 5 WWW)

Wharfedale Jade 7: $4199/pair
The largest speaker in Wharfedale's Jade line, the 7 is a four-way floorstander with a 1" aluminum-dome tweeter, a 3" upper-midrange driver with an aluminum-pulp–composite cone, a 6.5" lower-midrange with Accufibre cone, and two 8" woofers with Accufibre cones. The gracefully curved cabinet uses a modern version of the aperiodic loading developed by Wharfedale founder Gilbert Briggs and is made of Crystalam, a proprietary laminated substance designed to reduce panel vibrations and distribute resonances over a wider range. The Jade 7s produced a tonally neutral and well-balanced overall sound with excellent transparency, detail, soundstaging, and dynamics, said BD. "The Jade 7 is a speaker in the classic tradition of Wharfedale," he concluded. "It is rare to find even an expensive speaker that measures as well as this," praised JA. Add $800 for Piano Gloss Black finish. (Vol.36 No.5 WWW)

B (Restricted LF)

B&W CM5: $1500/pair
(stands necessary)
The CM5 is a two-way, stand-mounted, reflex-loaded speaker with a 1" aluminum-dome tweeter and a 6.5" woven-Kevlar woofer. Despite the speaker's conventional shape, with flat front baffle and sharp edges, the review sample was drop-dead gorgeous in rosenut; wenge and gloss-black finishes are also available. Although it exhibited some thickness in the upper midrange, the CM5's combination of detail resolution, transient speed, and dynamic range created a listening experience that was consistently compelling and emotionally involving, said BJR. Compared to the KEF LS50, the CM5 had a lighter, airier tonal balance with a more laid-back treble and more extended bass, said JA. Stands available for $400/pair. (Vol.35 No.12 WWW)

Canalis Anima: $3250/pair ✩
(stands necessary)
Designed by Joachim Gerhard, the Anima is a stand-mounted, rear-ported, two-way speaker with an attractive enclosure of bamboo plywood. It has a 0.75" metal-dome tweeter and a 5" anodized aluminum-cone woofer. Driven by AVM's Evolution C8 CD receiver, the Anima produced clean, clear sound with a natural sense of space, sophisticated tonal color, and good momentum and flow, said JM. Placing the Animas on their matching stands ($1500/pair) produced greater bass extension, a bigger soundstage, and better integration of the woofer and tweeter outputs. The Anima's slightly hot tweeter will make it a better match for mellow-sounding electronics, JA advised. (Original version, Vol.30 No.7 WWW; Vol.36 Nos.2 & 3; also see MF's Marantz review in Vol.33 No.4)

Dynaudio Focus 160: $2900/pair
(stands necessary)
The Focus 160 is a small (13.8" H by 7.9" W by 11.6" D), two-way, stand-mounted loudspeaker with high-quality Dynaudio drivers: a 1.1" soft-dome tweeter based on the Esotar2, and a 6.7" mid/woofer that uses a one-piece cone of magnesium silicate-impregnated polymer. The available finishes are Walnut, Black Ash, Rosewood, Maple, and Black or White Gloss Lacquer. The Focus 160 offered a relaxed, refined, exceptionally spacious sound with extraordinary low-level resolution of ambient information, said ST. "Once again, Dynaudio has done it," he concluded. (Vol.35 No.1)

Gradient Helsinki 1.5: $6995/pair ✩
Central to the unusual-looking Helsinki 1.5 is its flat, multi-ply frame, which is carved into a graceful shape that tapers from bottom to top. A sheet of glass bolted to the rear of this frame forms a dorsal fin that mitigates dipole cancellation from the output of the side-firing 12" woofer. A 5" midrange driver and 0.75" tweeter are mounted to the face of the frame and complete the three-way design. Signal connections are made through a Neutrik Speakon socket. Tremendous care in positioning was required to achieve optimal performance in AD's room, but once properly positioned, the Helsinkis had a textured and substantial sound with a remarkable sense of spaciousness and a fine sense of melodic flow, though they lacked bass, body, and presence. "A must-hear for anyone with a taste for hi-fi adventure," decided Art. Properly positioned in JA's listening room, the Helsinki 1.5 sounded a little dark on top and a little bright in the low treble, but with a natural-sounding midrange, well-focused imaging, and fairly good low-frequency extension and weight. (Vol.33 Nos.8 & 11 WWW)

Harbeth C7ES-3: $3850/pair ✩
(stands necessary)
Bigger than a minimonitor but smaller than a floorstander, the third iteration of the C7 is 20.3" H by 10.6" W by 12.3" D. It uses the traditional BBC-style thin-walled cabinet, and is tuned to deliver a rich, full-bodied sound at the lowest frequencies. Refinements over previous Compact models include improved cabinet wall damping and a completely redesigned crossover. With "phenomenally precise" focusing and "crazy" imaging, the Compact 7 was "one of the most musically satisfying loudspeakers" in ST's experience. "A treat for sore ears and one of Sam's favorite speakers ever," he tells us. "Damn those audiophiles. This Harbeth is for music lovers!" "Something of a spiritual bond can arise between a Harbeth owner and the Harbeth owned," claimed Sam. He should know; he bought a pair of C7ES-3s. "The classic BBC sound." Add $240/pair for Rosewood, Tiger Ebony, and Eucalyptus finishes. (Vol.30 No.6, Vol.31 No.6, Vol.32 No.4)

Harbeth P3ESR: $2290/pair ✩
(stands necessary)
The two-way, sealed-cabinet P3ESR stands just 12" tall and partners a 0.75" tweeter with a 5" woofer, the latter using Harbeth's proprietary, patented Radial2 material for improved clarity and low-level resolution. Though restricted in loudness and bass extension, the P3ESR had a slightly warm overall balance characterized by smooth highs, an uncolored midrange, and stable and accurate stereo imaging. "The Harbeth P3ESR is the best iteration yet from any manufacturer of the BBC LS3/5A minimonitor concept," concluded JA. Further evaluation by JA confirmed this speaker's uncolored midrange, smooth highs, well-defined if somewhat lightweight lows, and coherent overall sound, even when driven to high levels. The littlest Harbeth also gets the strongest recommendation from JM. While its lack of low and midbass disqualified it for most rock and large-scale orchestral performances, felt BD, the Harbeth's incredible midrange clarity and detail made it an outstanding choice for small, intimate works. Rosewood, Black Ash, Tiger Ebony, and Eucalyptus finishes add $200/pair. (Vol.33 Nos.8 & 10, Vol.34 No.7 WWW)

Opera Callas: $4995/pair
(stands necessary)
The two-way, stand-mounted Callas measures 14.8" H by 9" W by 13.4" D, its cabinet symmetrically tapering toward the rear, and weighs 25 lbs. The cabinet is made of solid woods and veneers in a high-gloss cherry finish, with black-leather cladding on the faceted baffle. It uses one vertically centered 5" mid/woofer with a copper phase plug, and identical 1" soft-dome tweeters above and below it; in a vertical array on the narrow rear pane, are three more tweeters identical to those in front. Driven by the Unison Research S6 integrated amplifier, the Callas was eminently listenable, with a luscious midrange, a sweet treble, a large soundstage, and surprising bass, said JM. Other than its excess high-treble energy and a resonant mode in its ports' output, the Callas measured very well, said JA. (Vol.36 Nos.8 & 11 WWW)

Paradigm Reference Studio 20 v.5: $1498/pair $$$
(stands necessary)
The fifth generation of Paradigm's successful Reference Studio 20 uses a 1", ferrofluid-damped and -cooled dome tweeter and a 7" cone woofer with an elliptically profiled surround of Santoprene, designed for low distortion and deep, loud bass. The curved cabinet, intended to minimize internal reflections and edge diffraction, is available in Cherry, Rosenut, and Piano Black. With its superb resolution of inner detail, exceptional integration of the midrange and high frequencies, and outstanding dynamic realism, the Studio 20 consistently created a revealing and involving listening experience, said BJR. JA noted a "fairly clean bill of health." Piano black finish adds $100. J29 stands: $498/pair; M-30 stands: $158/pair (Vol.35 No.5 WWW)

Penaudio Cenya: $3995/pair
(stands necessary)
Made in Finland, the Cenya is a two-way, rear-ported minimonitor with a 0.75" tweeter and a 6" mid/woofer, both sourced from SEAS. The beautiful cabinet measures 11.2" H by 6.4" W by 12.6" D and is made of laminated birch plywood and MDF. ST achieved best results when placing the Cenyas in the nearfield, noting an especially wide, deep soundstage with pinpoint imaging. The tonal balance was "refreshingly cool" and well suited to classical and jazz, he said. (Vol.35 No.6)

Polk LSiM703: $1499.90/pair $$$
(stands necessary)
This three-way, bass-reflex, bookshelf loudspeaker measures 16.75" H by 8" W by 14.5" D, weighs 29.6 lbs, and uses a 1" ring-radiator tweeter, 3.25" foamed polypropylene-cone midrange, and a 6.5" foamed polypropylene-cone woofer. The midrange driver is mounted above the tweeter in a system that Polk calls a Dynamic Sonic Engine, said to produce wide dispersion and clean transient response. The gorgeous MDF cabinets are available in real-wood cherry and mahogany veneers. Though its treble could sometimes sound a bit forward and loose, the LSiM703 had a lively, engaging sound with a detailed, uncolored midrange and a clean, authoritative bass, said BJR. JA noted superb measured performance. (Vol.35 No.9 WWW)

ProAc Tablette Anniversary: $2200/pair
(stands necessary)
The ninth iteration of the two-way, reflex-loaded Tablette measures 10.6" H by 5.8" W by 9.25" D, weighs 11 lbs, and is available in a wide range of real-wood veneers. It uses proprietary drivers: a 5.8" bass/midrange unit with a polymer-impregnated Kevlar cone and a 0.75" silk-dome tweeter. More refined than previous models but with a similarly "gutsy" overall sound, the extremely room-friendly Tablette lacked bass weight, but provided pinpoint imaging and outstanding transparency, said ST. "The Tablette Anniversary is one of the world's great loudspeakers: a classic, an icon, a small miracle," he concluded. (Vol.34 No.12)

Spendor S3/5R2: $1595/pair
(stands necessary)
This updated version of Spendor's Classic S3/5se is a small (11.9" H by 6.4" W by 7.4" D), two-way, sealed-box design with a 5.5" polymer-cone woofer crossed over to a 0.9" soft-dome tweeter at a very high 4.2kHz. The S3/5R2 lacked low-bass extension and had limited high-level dynamics, but offered an exceptionally clear and coherent sound, with delicate highs, well-articulated transients, and musical bass, said BJR. Although it didn't perform appreciably better than the S3/5se, the S3/5R2 nevertheless offered respectable measured performance, said JA. (Vol.36 No.3 WWW)

Stirling Broadcast LS3/6: $4590/pair $$$
(stands necessary)
Derived from the legendary Spendor BC1, Stirling's BBC LS3/6 is a three-way, reflex-loaded, stand-mounted loudspeaker with a 0.75" polymer-dome supertweeter, a 1" fabric-dome tweeter, and an 8.6" polymer-cone woofer. The speaker's cabinet measures 25" H by 11.75" W by 11.75" D, is available in cherry and walnut real-wood veneers (rosewood, ebony, and Zebrano add $360/pair), and is built from three different types of board: 5/8"-thick MDF for the rear panel, 3/8"-thick MDF for the baffle, and 3/8"-thick birch plywood for the remainder. Though it lacked some physicality, bass extension, and overall impact, the LS3/6 produced a natural, compelling sound, with a good sense of space and an especially warm, rich, textured midrange, said AD: "Heartily recommended." Open-frame hardwood stands, made by Resonant Woods, add $399/pair. (Vol.37 No.3 WWW)

Stirling Broadcast SB-88: $3450/pair
(stands necessary)
The SB-88 is a two-way, stand-mounted loudspeaker with a 1" soft-dome tweeter and an 8" polypropylene woofer. It uses the traditional BBC thin-walled, internally braced cabinet, but with its front and rear panels glued rather than screwed on. With a convincing soundstage and a sound that was laid-back, sweet, and honest, the SB-88 always drew ST deep into the music. "The SB-88s don't wow me," he said. "They comfort me." Price is for cherry finish; ebony, rosewood, and zebrawood finishes add $400/pair. (Vol.37 No.2)

Teresonic Magus: $4985/pair (stands necessary)

The Magus is a single-driver, bottom-ported, stand-mounted loudspeaker with three choices of Lowther driver: the DX55 ($3985/pair), A55 ($4985/pair), or DX65 ($5985/pair). The handmade, acoustically active cabinets feature a brushed, seven-layer, high-gloss varnish, and carefully curved front and side panels to avoid standing waves and comb-filtering effects. The speaker has a rated sensitivity of 98dB with the DX55 and A55 drivers, 100dB with the DX65. ST noted a detail, delicacy, definition, speed, and coherence that made the Magnus a perfect match for his flea-watt Sun SV-2A3 amplifier. "The sound was so alive that ordinary audio terms became irrelevant," he said. "Few speakers get Sam closer to the live event, assuming that the recording allows." Sold direct with a 30-day home trial. Matching stands add $295/pair. Matching Clarison Silver speaker cables cost $985/6ft and $1,485/10ft. (Vol.35 No.9)

Triangle 30th Anniversary Comète: $1699/pair ✩
(stands necessary)
Developed to celebrate Triangle's 30th anniversary in 2010, the limited-edition Comète is a simple two-way, bass-reflex design with two front-firing ports. Like the speakers in Triangle's flagship Magellan series, the Comète 30th Anniversary is finished in a beautiful piano-black lacquer and includes Triangle's titanium-dome TZ2500 tweeter. The Comète retained the speed, resolution, and immediacy of other Triangle speakers, while adding a more refined and relaxed upper midrange and treble. Partnered with ST's 3.5Wpc Sun Audio SV-2A3 tube amp, the Comète exhibited outstanding dynamics and superb tonality. "It's a great speaker. Period," said Sam. "Hurry up and buy a pair before they"re gone." (Vol.34 No.2)

Vivid V-1.5: $7690/pair ✩
The V-1.5 is a two-way design with an integral stand and an unusual tapered oblong cabinet for minimizing resonances. It uses the same proprietary tweeter and 6" mid/woofer as the much more expensive Vivid Giya G1. The V-1.5 combined excellent coherence, low distortion, fast dynamics, and outstanding clarity and resolution for an overall sound that was both neutral and beautiful, said JM. "The best two-way speaker I have heard," he decided, though JA feels a slight touch of coloration in the upper midrange keeps this otherwise superb floorstander from Class A. (Vol.33 No.10, Vol.34 No.2 WWW)

C (Full-Range)

Direct Acoustics Silent Speaker II: $898/pair
Designed by Winslow Burhoe and available by mail-order only, the two-way, floorstanding Silent Speaker II is a wide, rectangular box whose top panel is raked at an angle of about 22° and holds a 6.5" woofer and a 1" soft-dome tweeter. Available in modest black ash and with a dated, DIY appearance, the Silent Speaker II measures 22" H (front) by 25" H (rear) by 13.5" W by 9" D. Although particularly sensitive to associated electronics, the Silent Speaker II had outstanding bass and a coherent overall sound. "I could live with these speakers," decided JM. For optimal performance, they must be used with their grilles in place, he advised. "A very well-balanced design at an affordable price, with a totality of performance that exceeds the sum of its parts," praised JA. (Vol.34 Nos.6 & 7 WWW)

Wharfedale Diamond 10.7: $1299/pair
Available in three handsome finishes (Blackwood, Cinnamon Cherry, Quilted Rosewood), the Diamond 10.7 is a compact (37.6" H by 8.7" W by 11.7" D) three-way, reflex-loaded floorstander. Its cabinet has curved sidewalls and a piano-black front baffle on which are mounted the four drive-units: a 1" soft-dome tweeter, a 2" dome midrange unit, and two 6.5" woven-Kevlar cone woofers. Though it lacked some high-frequency detail and extension, the Diamond 10.7 had a warm, rich midrange and deep, natural bass that made music especially involving, said BJR. "The Diamond 10.7 is an impressive speaker that provides many of the attributes of pricier floorstanders in an attractive, small-footprint cabinet at an accessible price," he concluded. Similarly, JA noted "excellent measured performance for the price." (Vol.36 No.10 WWW)

C (Restricted LF)

ATC SCM7 v.3: $1499/pair
(stands necessary)
ATC's entry-level model is a small (11.8" H by 7.9" W by 9" D), two-way, stand-mounted speaker with a 1" soft-dome tweeter and a 5" mid/woofer. Unlike previous ATC models, the SCM v.3 has side panels that curve toward the rear, and its drivers are now flush-mounted in a fully veneered front panel. The sealed cabinet is available in handsome cherry and black-ash veneers. Claimed specifications include a lowish 84dB sensitivity and a flat nominal impedance of 8 ohms. Though it lacked low-end impact and resolution, the SCM v.3 produced an engaging overall sound marked by pinpoint imaging, excellent detail retrieval, and well-extended highs, said JM. (Vol.37 Nos.2 & 4 WWW)

Audience Clairaudient The One: $995/pair
(stands necessary)
The ClairAudient The One is a very small (7" H by 5.5" W by 7" D) desktop speaker with a single 3" titanium-alloy drive-unit loaded by a 4" rear-mounted passive radiator. It has a single pair of binding posts and is internally wired with Audience's Ohno continuous-cast monocrystal wire. Though they lacked ultimate bass extension and couldn't go very loud, the Ones had a revealing and involving overall sound, with superb resolution of detail, excellent dynamic contrasts, and subtle articulation of transients, said BJR. To achieve the most neutral balance, the speaker should be used in close proximity to a boundary, such as a desktop, advised JA. Class B, recommended BJR; JA demurs, feeling Class C is more appropriate. Matching stands add $75/pair. (Vol.36 No.9 WWW)

Audioengine 5+: $399/pair $$$
(stands necessary)
The Audioengine 5 powered speakers come packed in attractive cloth drawstring bags, and include several convenient accessories: an AC power cable, miniplug interconnects in length of 2m, an RCA cable (2m), a 3.75m length of simple speaker cable, and a remote control. Each A5 cabinet is made of 25mm-thick MDF, measures 10" H by 7" W by 7.75" D, and houses a 20mm silk-dome tweeter and a 5" Kevlar-cone woofer. The left speaker enclosure contains a 50Wpc dual class-AB monolithic amplifier, as well as the power button, volume knob, iPod charging port, and IR window for the remote. Compared to the PSB Alpha B1, the Audioengine lacked some high-frequency detail and delicacy, but offered outstanding bass control, transparency, and drama, said SM. Price is for satin black and high-gloss white finishes; bamboo adds $70. (Vol.34 No.5 WWW)

DALI Zensor 1: $495/pair $$$
(stands necessary)
The Zensor 1 is a very small (10.7" H by 6.3" W by 8.6" D), two-way, rear-ported bookshelf design with a 25mm fabric-dome tweeter and a 5.25" pulp-cone woofer. Its MDF cabinet is available in light-walnut or black-ash vinyl; the front baffle is finished in high-gloss black or white lacquer. Though the Zensor 1's upper bass was sometimes "a bit thumpy," the speaker's overall sound was surprisingly detailed and natural, with sophisticated highs, a rich, warm midrange, and a remarkable sense of pacing, said BJR. "This attractive little baby sets a new benchmark in its class," he concluded. JA noted impressive measured performance. (Vol.35 No.7 WWW)

Epos Elan 10: $1000/pair
(stands necessary)
The unassuming Elan 10 is a small (12.1" H by 7.2" W by 9.7" D) two-way, stand-mounted, reflex-loaded speaker with a 1" soft-dome tweeter and a 5.85" polypropylene-cone woofer. It comes with two detachable front baffles (with or without grillecloth) and its cabinet is available in cherry or black oak real-wood veneer. Though the Elan 10 could be ruthlessly revealing of poor recordings, it produced a remarkably coherent overall sound, with detailed highs, rich mids, and punchy bass, said BJR. "In the Elan 10, the Epos design team has designed a stunning and virtually flawless loudspeaker," he concluded. ST15 stands add $299/pair. (Vol.37 No.2 WWW)

GoldenEar Technology Aon 2: $799.98/pair $$$
(stands necessary)
This small (12" H by 8" W by 10" D) two-way, stand-mounted loudspeaker has an unusual driver complement: a 1.06" by 1.31" High-Velocity Folded Ribbon tweeter, a 6" polypropylene-cone woofer, and two 6.5" side-mounted planar passive radiators. The cabinet is a truncated pyramid with a wraparound black grillecloth and a piano-gloss black topcap. Though it lacked some bottom-end slam, the Aon 2 had a coherent overall sound, with clean, well-extended highs, lightning-fast transients, and a warm, rich midrange, said BJR. "GoldenEar has produced a stunning achievement in the Aon 2, with strengths that are unusual for a bookshelf speaker of this size and price," he concluded. The Aon 2 revealed an upper-midrange peak on the test bench, but otherwise measured well for its price, said JA. (Vol.36 No.11 WWW)

Opera Mezza 2012: $1495/pair
(stands necessary)
Made in Italy, the Opera Mezza 2012 is an attractive two-way minimonitor with wood-veneered side panels and a faux-leather front baffle. It uses a 5.5" treated-paper-cone mid/woofer from SEAS and a 1" Scan-Speak soft-dome tweeter. Though it seemed to struggle a bit with large-scale music played at high volumes, the Mezza 2012 combined a sweet midrange with a crisply articulated treble for a sound that best complemented chamber music and small-group jazz, said ST. (Vol.36 No.5)

PSB Imagine Mini: $759/pair
(stands necessary)
Measuring just 9.25" H by 5.75" W by 8.3" D and weighing 6.5 lbs, the Mini is PSB's smallest, least expensive Imagine model. It marries the 1" ferrofluid-cooled, titanium-dome tweeter used in other Imagine models to a 4" clay/ceramic-filled polypropylene-cone woofer. The tiny cabinet, available in satin-finish wood veneer or high-gloss black or white (add $70/pair), has a curved top panel and sidewalls; the baffle is finished in matte black. The Mini sacrificed ultimate loudness and low-frequency extension for high-frequency purity, a clean midrange, and a wide, stable soundstage, said JA. The Mini's measured performance was "almost beyond reproach." The matching PFS-27 stands cost $300/pair. Price is for Walnut, Dark Cherry, and Black Ash Veneers. High Gloss Black or High Gloss White adds $70/pair. PWB-1 Wall Bracket is $99. (Vol.35 No.8 WWW)

Rethm Trishna: $4950/pair
Made in India and designed by architect Jacob George, the crossoverless Trishna has a rated sensitivity of 96dB, a nominal impedance of 8 ohms, and measures 39" H by 6.6" W by 14.4" D. A top-mounted horizontal cylinder accommodates the speaker's 5" paper-cone driver and rear-wave horn, while a sealed isobaric bass chamber holds two 6.5" paper-cone woofers, these powered by a solid-state FET amplifier at the speaker's base. Despite its elevated upper midrange and inability to play loud, the Trishna had a compelling and immediate sound, with lots of low-level detail, exceptional resolution, and clean, tight bass, said ST, adding "Amazing how Rethm can 'wrest' (heh, heh) such smooth and relatively uncolored sound from a single full-range driver." The appeal here is coherence, a purity of sound that ST ascribes to a full-range driver. Best for smaller rooms and moderate listening levels, he cautions. (Vol.34 No.7)

Sonus Faber Venere 1.5: $1198/pair
(stands necessary)
The Venere 1.5 is a two-way, front-vented, biwirable bookshelf speaker measuring 15.4" H by 8" W by 11.7" D and weighing 13.2 lbs. It uses a 1.25" silk-dome tweeter with a conical waveguide and a 6" Curv-cone mid/woofer. Like the larger Venere 2.5, the 1.5 has a beautifully finished, internally braced cabinet whose sidewalls curve around to meet a very narrow rear panel just wide enough to accommodate a staggered array of four multiway terminals. Though it lacked high-frequency sparkle and exhibited a slightly elevated upper bass, the Venere 1.5 produced a natural, dynamic, and involving overall sound, with a detailed midrange and delicate highs, said BJR. Price is for black or white high-gloss lacquer finish; real-wood walnut veneer adds $300/pair. Matching stands add $398/pair. Borderline Class B overall. (Vol.37 No.1 WWW)

Swissonor B.A.C.H. 8e: $4995–$5495/pair, depending on finish
(stands necessary)
Made in Switzerland, the B.A.C.H. 8e is a high-sensitivity (94dB/W/m), bass-reflex design with a single 8" coaxial driver. The integral stands can be adjusted to fine-tune the reflex port. The B.A.C.H. 8e lacked deep bass, sounded a bit lively in the upper midrange, and was a bit rolled off in the treble, but nevertheless preserved the music's dynamics and impact, said ST, noting that the Swissonor has an appealing coherence due to the lack of a crossover. For special tastes, decided JA. (Vol.36 No.2)

Totem Dreamcatcher: $700/pair
(stands necessary)
Designed and manufactured in Canada, the Dreamcatcher is a small (11.3" H by 5.1" W by 7.1" D, 5.5 lbs), two-way, rear-ported minimonitor with a 1" titanium-dome tweeter and a 4" long-throw woofer. Though its bass extension and high-level dynamic slam were limited, the Totem produced a clean, detailed midrange; pristine, extended highs; and lightning-fast transients, for a startling level of realism, said BJR. "Of all the speakers I've reviewed in the past 28 years, I have never enjoyed music more through anything else, regardless of price," he gushed. JA, however, was disappointed by the Dreamcatcher's measured performance, citing strong port resonances and elevated top octaves. Black Ash, Mahogany, Cherry, and White finishes available. (Vol.34 No.5 WWW)

Triangle Bookshelf Color: $799/pair $$$
(stands necessary)
Available in stunning finishes of white, black, or red lacquer, the Bookshelf Color is a simple two-way design with a rear-firing port, a 1" titanium-dome tweeter, and a 6" doped-paper-cone low-frequency driver. Though it lacked the low-level resolution, bass extension, and overall refinement of the more expensive Dynaudio Excite X12, the Bookshelf Color had an easy, almost laid-back overall sound, with excellent imaging and a deep, wide soundstage, said ST, though he warns that the Bookshelf is "slightly pricey for the performance offered." (Vol.34 No.6)


Aperion Verus Grand Bookshelf: $699/pair
(stands necessary)
The Verus Grand Bookshelf is a two-way, bass-reflex, stand-mounted design with a 1" silk-dome tweeter and a 5" woven-Kevlar woofer with an aluminum phase plug. The beautifully finished cabinet features curved side panels and internal bracing to minimize standing waves. Fit and finish were outstanding. Though it lacked some high-level dynamic slam, the Aperion offered a well-balanced overall sound with airy highs, a detailed midrange, clean bass, and good sense of space, said BJR. JA noted superb measured performance. All Aperion products are offered with a 30-day money-back guarantee, free shipping, a 10-year warranty, and a trade-in program. (Vol.36 No.1 WWW)

Boston Acoustics A 25: $299/pair
(stands necessary)
The two-way A 25 measures 10.7" H by 7.25" W by 8.9" D, weighs 10 lbs, and uses Boston's 1" Kortec soft-dome tweeter and a 5.25" mid/woofer with a cone of ceramic and glass-fiber polymer. It has scratch-resistant, high-gloss side panels; all other surfaces are covered in a textured veneer reminiscent of faux leather, giving the A 25 a purposeful, no-nonsense look. Though it lacked the PSB Alpha B1's drama and scale, the A 25 offered a balanced, coherent sound with impressive top-to-bottom control and stable stereo imaging. "The A 25 had a fine way of balancing accuracy and musicality for an enriching and fatigue-free listening experience," said SM. JA noted excellent measured performance. (Vol.34 No.11, Vol.35 No.3 WWW)

Definitive Technology Studio Monitor 55: $598/pair
(stands necessary)
This two-way, biwirable, stand-mounted design uses a 1" aluminum-dome tweeter, a 6.5" BDSS cast-basket mid/woofer, and, instead of a reflex port, an unusual top-firing, 6" by 10" passive radiator. Fit and finish were superb. The SM55 lacked high-frequency delicacy and sophistication but produced a clean midrange, well-defined midbass, and outstanding high-level dynamics, said BJR. Though its test-bench results indicated weighty low frequencies for a bookshelf model, the SM55 was not as well balanced overall as the smaller and more affordable SM45, felt JA. (Vol.35 No.11 WWW)

Definitive Technology Studio Monitor 45: $398/pair
(stands necessary)
Made in China, the two-way, rear-ported 45 is the smallest and least expensive model in DefTech's revamped StudioMonitor series. It measures 11.7" H by 6.75" W by 11.7" D and has a 1" aluminum-dome tweeter and a 5.25" mid/woofer, the latter utilizing DefTech's new Linear Response Waveguide for wide dispersion and smooth off-axis frequency response. The matte-black wood-grain enclosure has tapered side panels and a contoured, high-gloss baffle to minimize diffraction. Fit and finish were outstanding. Though they lacked some bass weight and impact, the DefTechs combined natural transient articulation, well-controlled lows, impressive dynamics, and stable stereo imaging for a compelling listening experience, said SM. High Class D, bordering on Class C. Other than its lively enclosure and two very strong port resonances, at 700 and 910Hz, the SM 45 measured very well for an inexpensive speaker, said JA. (Vol.35 Nos.8 & 10 WWW)

Epoz AktiMate Micro: $499/pair
(stands necessary)
Designed in Australia and manufactured in China, the two-way, rear-ported Aktimate Micro powered speaker measures just 9.45" H by 5.7" W by 7.87" D; it uses a 1" soft-dome tweeter and a 3.9" Kevlar mid/woofer. The beautifully finished MDF cabinet is available in high-gloss finishes of black, white, or red. The 40W class-D amplifier and Texas Instruments 16-bit PCM2704 DAC are housed in the left-channel speaker, which also holds the 3.5mm stereo minijack, USB input for connection to a PC, and AC inlet for the included power cord. Though they sounded smaller and had less bass extension than the PSB Alpha B1s, the Micros nevertheless offered better scale, presence, and bass impact than SM expected from so small a speaker. Compared to the Audioengine A2, the Micros traded some midrange clarity and richness for transient speed and high-end sparkle, said SM. (Vol.35 No.12 WWW)

Music Hall Marimba: $349/pair
(stands necessary)
Music Hall's only loudspeaker is a small (11" H by 6.5" W by 8.75" D), two-way, reflex-loaded design with a 1" silk-dome tweeter and a 5.25" polypropylene-cone mid/woofer. The MDF cabinet is internally braced to minimize vibrations, has curved edges to reduce diffraction, and is finished in modest black vinyl. Though dynamically limited, the Marimbas were extremely room-friendly, with outstanding imaging and soundstaging abilities, said ST. "The Marimba is an astonishing little speaker," he concluded, "as long as you don't expect it to do too much." Compared with PSB's Alpha B1s, the Marimbas had more crisply articulated highs and produced smaller, more tightly focused images on a wider soundstage, said SM, concluding "Super fun, with great imaging and soundstaging, but a bit too hot on top." JA was impressed by the Marimba's measured performance. "An honest loudspeaker offering honest performance at a very competitive price," he said. (Vol.35 No.12; Vol.36 Nos.6 & 7 WWW)

Pioneer SP-BS22-LR: $129.99/pair $$$
The SP-BS22-LR is a two-way, bass-reflex bookshelf model with a 1" soft-dome tweeter, a 4" woofer with a structured-surface cone, and a sophisticated six-element crossover network. Its cabinet has gently curved sidewalls and is finished in black wood-grain vinyl. The Pioneers lacked some extension on top and bottom, but had a rich midrange and exhibited excellent detail resolution, transient articulation, and reproduction of ambience, said BJR. Compared with the Music Hall Marimbas, the Pioneers produced fleshier images and smoother, gentler highs; compared with the PSB Alpha B1s, the Pioneers were more transparent and had better image focus but lacked some bass impact, said SM. (Vol.36 Nos.7 & 9 WWW)

Polk Audio RTi A3: $399.95/pair
(stands necessary)
The two-way, stand-mounted RTi A3 measures 14.75" H by 8.58" W by 14" D, has a 1" silk-dome tweeter and a 6.5" polymer-composite woofer, and is available in real-wood veneers of black ash or cherry. It employs Polk's Power Port, a system in which two ports work together to reduce noise and distortion for clean, powerful bass. Though the RTi A3's fast, detailed highs could be unforgiving of poorly recorded material, the speaker's muscularity, weight, and solidity complemented well-recorded rock music. Compared to the DefTech SM 45, the Polk produced a bigger, more aggressive overall sound, but lacked the DefTechs' transient articulation, detail, and delicate touch, said SM. Despite the Polk's lively cabinet, JA noted "excellent audio engineering at an affordable price." (Vol.35 Nos.7 & 8 WWW)

PSB Alpha B1: $299/pair $$$ ✩
(stands necessary)
The unassuming B1, the latest version of PSB's best-selling Alpha speaker, has molded plastic front and rear baffles connected by an MDF sleeve, and combines a 5 1/4", injection-molded, polypropylene-cone woofer with a 3/4" ferrofluid-cooled, aluminum-dome tweeter, both sourced from India. Low-bass extension was limited, and the speaker's otherwise clean, clear bass tone became muddied at very high volumes. Though high frequencies were slightly veiled, the B1's midrange was superb. JA was most impressed by the Alpha's talent for orchestral music: "If you are a classical-music lover with a small room and an equally small budget, a pair of PSB's Alpha B1s is just what you need"Extraordinary value." Though the B1s lent more drama to bass and drums, they couldn't quite match the Paradigm Atom v.5's treble performance, felt WP. JA feels the PSB's treble to be more naturally balanced, however. One of SM's long-term references. Compared to the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1, the PSBs exhibited a more forward balance, occasional brightness in the mid-treble, grittier brass textures, and a slight lack of overall clarity, found SM. (Vol.30 Nos.5 & 9, Vol.34 No.4 WWW)

PSB Alpha PS1: $299/pair
The Alpha PS1 is a small (8" H by 4.5" W by 7" D), two-way, powered desktop loudspeaker with an attractive gloss-black cabinet. It has a 0.75" aluminum-dome tweeter and a 3.5" metallized polypropylene-cone woofer with an oversized magnet and rubber surround; a slotted rear port is tuned for enhanced bass response. The left-channel speaker contains a 20Wpc amplifier and provides several useful connections: a single pair of RCA inputs, a 3.5mm Aux input, a subwoofer output, a 5V USB power port for charging mobile devices or powering a WiFi dongle, and a 24V DC input. The PS1s produced a surprisingly large and full-bodied sound, with clean highs and an open, uncolored midrange, said SM, who bought the review samples. (Vol.36 No.7 WWW)

Tannoy Mercury V1: $382/pair
(stands necessary)
Designed in the UK and made in China, the two-way, front-ported Mercury V1 measures 11.8" H by 6.7" W by 10" D, weighs 9.9 lbs, and has a 1" soft-dome tweeter and a 5.1" pulped paper-cone mid/woofer. The cabinet is available in handsome Dark Walnut and Sugar Maple finishes. Build quality was excellent. Lacking some bass weight and impact, the Mercury V1 had a slightly polite overall sound with an especially sweet, sophisticated treble; a detailed, uncolored midrange; and nicely balanced, well-controlled bass, said SM. Other than an upper-midrange peak in its on-axis farfield response, the Mercury V1's measured performance was commendable, said JA. "I still miss these speakers," bemoans SM. (Vol.35 Nos.9, 10, & 11 WWW)

Wharfedale Diamond 10.1: $349/pair
(stands necessary)
The Diamond 10.1 is a simple, two-way, stand-mounted design with a 1" soft-dome tweeter, a 5" Kevlar-cone mid/bass driver, and two rear-firing ports. Its gorgeous cabinet is gracefully curved, widening at the center and tapering toward the rear to both minimize internal standing waves and enhance the speaker's fine appearance. The Diamond 10.1 had a relaxed, coherent overall sound, with a wide, deep soundstage, airy highs, a liquid midrange, and excellent low-level resolution. Compared to the PSB Alpha B1, the Wharfedale lacked transient speed but offered greater clarity and resolution, said SM. BJR was impressed by the Wharfedale's extended highs, detailed midrange, and clean bass. "The 10.1 presents extraordinary value for money," he concluded. Compared to the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR, the Wharfedale had a warmer overall sound with more delicate highs and a richer midrange, but lacked the Pioneers' image focus and clean attack transients, said SM. "The Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 remains my favorite affordable stand-mounted loudspeaker," he concluded. "For the price, I'm not sure you can do better." JA noted superb measured performance. (Vol.34 Nos.2, 4, & 10; Vol.36 No.10 WWW)


Dayton Audio B652: $39.80/pair
(stands necessary)
The least expensive loudspeaker Stereophile has ever reviewed, Dayton Audio's B652 is a very small (11.8" H by 7" W by 6.5" D), very light (5.8 lbs), two-way, sealed-cabinet design with a 0.6" ferrofluid-cooled polycarbonate-dome tweeter and a 6.5" polypropylene-cone mid/woofer. The simple MDF cabinet is clad in black vinyl and has a removable grille of black cloth. Though it lacked overall clarity, extension, and control, the B652 offered a surprisingly large soundstage, good image separation, and a very fine sense of momentum and flow, with no hint of temporal distortions, said SM. Given its low price, the B652's measured performance was "quite remarkable," said JA. (Vol.36 No.1 WWW)

Energy CB-10: $269.99/pair
(stands necessary)
The small (11.4" H by 7.1" W by 8.5" D), two-way CB-10 has a high-gloss black baffle, a modest cabinet veneered in Black Ash, and gold-plated five-way binding posts. It uses a 1" aluminum-dome tweeter and 5.5" woofer with a ribbed elliptical surround; a large rear-firing port has an internal diameter of 2" and flares out to 2.75". Though the CB-10 performed well with loud rock music, the speaker lacked precision, control, and clarity, especially in the bass and treble, said SM. The Energy's measured performance was dominated by a port resonance in the upper midrange and an adjacent peak in its on-axis response, said JA. (Vol.34 No.11, Vol.35 No.3 WWW)

Klipsch Synergy B-20: $280/pair
(stands necessary)
The two-way, bass-reflex Synergy B-20 uses a 5.25" magnetically shielded mid/woofer with a cone of injection-molded graphite and a 0.75" aluminum-diaphragm compression driver mated to one of Klipsch's 90° by 60° Tractrix horns. While it lacked the bass weight and control of the Audioengine 5 and the midrange clarity of the PSB Alpha B1, the Synergy B-20 had a vibrant overall sound, with fast attacks, fine detail, and precisely placed images. Its blend of high-frequency clarity and extension was initially impressive, but over time proved unforgiving to poorly recorded material, decided SM. (Vol.34 No.6 WWW)

NHT SuperZero 2.1: $198/pair
(stands necessary)
The room-friendly SuperZero 2.0 measures 9" H by 5" W by 5.5" D, weighs just six lbs, and comes in an attractive, black-gloss laminate. It uses a 4.5" long-throw pulp-cone woofer and a 1" silk-dome tweeter in a sealed enclosure. At both extremely high and low levels, the SuperZero 2.0 offered impressive speed and clarity, outstanding stereo imaging, and excellent resolution of low-level detail, but produced almost no bass whatsoever, said SM. For best results, the SuperZero must be used with a subwoofer, such as NHT's Super 8 ($349). Package price of SuperZero 2.0 and Super 8 sub is $499. (Vol.34 No.10 WWW)

Urban Fidelity Loudspeaker: $399/pair
Designed and made in Los Angeles and launched with the help of the Kickstarter crowdfunding website, the Urban Fidelity loudspeaker is a single-driver, crossover- and cabinet-free floorstander whose front panel features designs from independent visual artists. With its base in place, the speaker measures 41" H by 13" W by 13" D. The speaker's body is made from North American–sourced, formaldehyde-free wood, while the artwork is reproduced with water-based inks. The 8" drive-unit, made for UF by a US-based company, combines a low-frequency cone and high-frequency whizzer in a frame of cast aluminum. The review sample, featuring Liam Brazer's Country design, was gorgeous. While the UFs created an impressively large, stable soundstage with well-focused images and had a fast, clean overall sound, they were lean in the lower midrange, lacked bass impact, and added to voices a "cupped-hands" coloration that sometimes detracted from his enjoyment of the music, said SM. (Vol.37 No.1 WWW)

ATC SCM 19, Focal Aria 936, Joseph Audio Perspective, Meridian DSP7200, Revel Performa 208, Triangle Signature Alpha.

Canton Reference 3.2, Focal Maestro Utopia, JBL Synthesis 1400 Array BG, Klipsch Palladium P-17B, Monitor Audio Platinum PL200, NHT Classic Absolute Tower, ProAc Response D Two, PSB Image T6 & Image B6, not auditioned in too long a time to be sure of rating; Wilson Audio Specialties MAXX Series 3 in favor of less-expensive Alexia; Wilson Audio Specialties Sasha W/P replaced by Mk.2 not yet auditioned; Audience ClairAudient 2+2, Dynaudio Excite X12, Emotiva XRT-5.2 X-Ref, Monitor Audio Silver RX6, Thiel SCS4T, discontinued; Audioengine 2, Stenheim Alumine replaced by Mk.2 versions not yet auditioned.

billt1nh's picture

Aesthetix Atlas Amplifier : $8000 ✩has been a Class A recommended component for a few years including 2013 but does not show up this year. It is not mentioned under deletions for 2014. Was this a mistake?

John Atkinson's picture

billt1nh wrote:
Aesthetix Atlas Amplifier...has been a Class A recommended component for a few years including 2013 but does not show up this year. It is not mentioned under deletions for 2014. Was this a mistake?

Not a mistake. The Atlas was last included in the April 2013 "Recommended Components" but was deleted from the October 2013 listing on the grounds that it had been almost 4 years since anyone on staff had auditioned it under familiar circumstances.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

MikeMercer's picture

I've pulled an all-nighter writing, so I gotta be burnt-out.

How to get to the next page in the headphones section.

Is it only this one page???

Kal Rubinson's picture

Just click on the Headphone picture or on the "Headphones" in the list. 

MikeMercer's picture

ThanX Kal!!

That's how I got there.

I think it's only one page - which is a shame.  There's SO much great stuff for John and Co. to cover! Schiit Audio, Cavalli Audio, ALO Audio, Aurelic, JH Audio, Mr. Speakers, and DNA for example. 

John! If you EVER want any help covering the VAST personal audio universe?!?!?

My Sonic Satori Personal Audio Lab!!

BTW - we're havin a BLAST over at Audio360!!

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Stereophile has an entire online sister publication dedicated to personal audio, innerfidelity.com. It also has another that covers computer audio, audiostream.com.

Azteca X's picture

ThanX Mike!!  I wonder if you've compared your writing style to Tyll at InnerFidelity and wondered why he has the gig?!?!?!  

In all seriousness, InnerFidelity is great and has covered just about every brand you mentioned, I think.  Tyll tends to shy away from the super-custom year-long-waitlist stuff but I find it a good thing compared to forums full of people who drop $4K on amps like it's nothing. 

I also don't think Tyll posts unboxing vids.

Currawong's picture

The Sony MA900 headphones have a 70mm driver, just for your information.

subbanerjee's picture

Dear Editor:

I read the review of the Musical Fidelity DAC. I am not sure how that qualifies as a "formal" review. Yet, that product is placed in the A+ category? I would think that something that goes into the A+ Category would be thoroughly vetted in order to qualify to be a member of the Best-of-the-best category.

Not buying this recommendation...

Subroto Banerjee

John Atkinson's picture

subbanerjee wrote:
I read the review of the Musical Fidelity DAC. I am not sure how that qualifies as a "formal" review.

We include in "Recommended Components" products that have been reviewed in one of our regular columns. Although these reports don't include measurements, they are as rigorously prepared as any other "formal" review in the magazine.

subbanerjee wrote:
Yet, that product is placed in the A+ category?

You will note that there is the reference "See ST's review in this issue." With all reviews that are published in the same issue as "Recomemnded Components," the rating is provisional.

subbanerjee wrote:
I would think that something that goes into the A+ Category would be thoroughly vetted in order to qualify to be a member of the Best-of-the-best category.

I have a second sample of the Musical Fidelity V90-DAC and will be publishing a Follow-Up review, complete with measurements, before the next "Recommended Components" listing is compiled.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

subbanerjee's picture

in the magazine".

Reading through the review, here is the section that refers to the performance of the DAC...

"Compared to the V-DACII, the V90 DAC offers still greater low-level resolutions, superior dynamics, and fatigure-free listening. It does space and place particularly well, and really shines with brass, where lesser DACs tend to turn dull. The Brass Ear would love it."

That's it. And it made it as an A+ DAC?

Come on. As the Editor-in-Chief,  I assume that you question your reviewers when they submit this and want it included in A+. Should you not say, "I don't know Sam, but let's give it a more thorough going over before we put this $299 DAC in A+."?

As you can discern by now, I am not buying this review or your disclaimer that it is a "provisional" rating. I think that a product should have got a thorough going over before it is placed in the rarified air of an A+ rating.

John Atkinson's picture

subbanerjee wrote:
As you can discern by now, I am not buying this review or your disclaimer that it is a "provisional" rating.

It isn't a disclaimer, just a factual statement. The definitive rating will be published in our October issue listing, following my follow-up to Sam Tellig's review. In the meantime, you are perfectly entitled to your opinion on what we write.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

WishTree's picture

Actually I got this DAC based on recommendations else where. It is properly run in but I did not get the performance of this DAC. It is bright and possibly a tad cleaner but no reason to be A+ product. And yes, it is definetly fatigue-ing. I liked Rega DAC better and Audiolab M-DAC is brilliant though they are a bit different in price range. 

Genesis's picture

No estan mas las KEF 207/2 en la lista, fueron borradas por que tampoco las veo en esta lista



John Atkinson's picture

Genesis wrote:
The KEF 207/2 is no longer on the list...

The KEF was positively reviewed in February 2008; see www.stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/208kef/index.html. The R207/2 hasn't been auditioned by a Stereophile reviewer since that review, so, as is our policy, it was deleted a couple of years ago. That is why there is no mention its deleion in this listing. However, as we say in the introduction on the first page: "Where deletions are made, we endeavor to give reasons...But remember: Deletion of a component from this list does not invalidate a buying decision you have made."

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Genesis's picture

Gracias por vuestra respuesta, tengo un par de estas cajas gracias a Uds. vivo en Argentina y solo pude escuchar unas 203/2 y con vuestra review m'as esa escucha decidi la compra. Me gustan mucho, solo que las vi en la lista hasta 2013 y por curiosidad consulte


Gracias nuevamente

alexandrov's picture

hmm.. I can see PSB Imagine T2 but not their top model Synchrony One. Is it that worse?

John Atkinson's picture

alexandrov wrote:
I can see PSB Imagine T2 but not their top model Synchrony One. Is it that worse?

We used to highly recommend the Synchrony One, but as with the KEF speaker mentioned above, our review was six years ago - see www.stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/408psb/index.html - and the speaker was dropped from the listing a year or so back due to none of us having any continued experience with it since the review.

The complete Recommended Components from 2003-2013 can be purchased from our on-line store.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Anon2's picture

I would love to read further on your initial article (Sam's Space, I believe) about the Dynaudio Focus 160.  I have heard good things about this product and would like to know of your sound basis for making this speaker a recommended component.

I have searched fruitlessly for this article and it has evaded every type of google search.  Dynaudio mentions the review on its site but, alas, they provided no link either.

Is Stereophile Vol. 35 No. 1 not avaliable online?

Can you send us any kind of html link through this discussion thread?


John Atkinson's picture

low2midhifi wrote:
I have searched fruitlessly for this article...

With the exception of products that I have subsequently measured, we don't routinely reprint Sam Tellig's column on the Stereophile website. For that, you still need to subscribe to the print magazine. Back issues are available from (888) 237-0955.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

swillyums's picture

Is there a reason that this iteration of the list doesn't include any product images? I initially thought that it might just be my tablet, but I get the same wall of text on my desktop and phone as well. 

John Atkinson's picture

swillyums wrote:
Is there a reason that this iteration of the list doesn't include any product images?

Last year we could include images because we had the time to prepare the Web reprint from the tablet app. Thus year we are both temporarily operating short-staffed and wanted to post the complete Web version as soon as possible after the appearance of the April issue on the newsstands/in subscribers' mailboxes. This meant discarding both images and review URLs, I am afraid.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

NewB's picture

I was just wondering why the PSB Image line was removed.  

John Atkinson's picture

NewB wrote:
I was just wondering why the PSB Image line was removed.

As I wrote above, we drop products from the listing when none of the reviewing team has had any continued experience with it for more than 3 years since the original review. The complete listing for the 10 years from 2003 to 2013 can be purchased from our on-line store: http://store-badz031c.mybigcommerce.com/recommended-components-collectors-edition/ .

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

Dan Moroboshi's picture

We could see ubber, ultra and expensive cables on interconnects and speaker cables, but not on digital cables. Is there a reason?

Some cables calls attentions, e.g. Stereolab Master reference 818 BNC/SPDIF, Wireworld Platinum Starlight USB, Kimber KS2020/2120, etc.

Byrnie's picture

Shouldn't the Centrance DACMini CX be listed under this section also given the DacPort is also?

clasvi's picture

Next month,will be four years since I purchased new, my 5004 matching AV receiver and BDP. The AV receiver has died (processor) and the BD player still sounds great when you can finally get the disc to load (mechanical). On occassions, I have had to give up trying. I was very happy with my entry level setup until it died. I now will try a Fusion 8100 AV receiver as a preamp to a ATI AT2005 amp powering my PSB T6's

tigrenrike's picture

I don't see the GoldenEar Triton Seven, and the newer GoldenEar Triton ONE...!?!?!? I think the GE Triton ONE should be in the A Full Range Class. And the Triton Seven should be in the B restricted Class...!

John Atkinson's picture
tigrenrike wrote:
I don't see the GoldenEar Triton Seven, and the newer GoldenEar Triton ONE...!?!?!?

As it says in the introduction, "Components listed here have been formally reviewed in Stereophile..." Neither of these GoldenEar speakers had been reviewed when this listing was prepared (February 2014). However, the Triton One will be reviewed in the February 2015 issue of Stereophile.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile