Many Companies Launch New Speakers

The name Joe D'Appolito is synonymous with high-performance loudspeakers. Many manufacturers use D'Appolito techniques, but Snell Acoustics has the advantage of employing the famed designer himself as chief engineer. The company will soon begin delivering its Series 7 loudspeakers, which debuted at the 2004 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

There are eight models in the Series 7 line, all of them "timbrally and cosmetically matched so any number of combinations can be created to suit any listening and home-theater environment," according to a Snell announcement. There are two models of two-way bookshelf speakers using single woofers (either 6.5" or 5.25"); an "LCR" (left-center-right) featuring a D'Appolito array with dual 5.25" woofers flanking a 1" silk-dome tweeter; and a full-range tower with two 6.5" woofers (one for bass, the other for mids and lows) and a silk-dome tweeter. The tower sits in a cast aluminum base, stabilized by four integrated feet.

Snell is also offering two powered subwoofers: One, best suited for smaller listening rooms, contains an amplifier rated at 150W. The other features a 300W amp "powerful enough for the most demanding home theaters." All Series 7 speakers feature dual, silver-plated five-way, metal binding posts and are magnetically shielded for use near video monitors. Series 7 models can be special-ordered in most woods and finishes. The most affordable Series 7 speakers will be priced at $1200 a pair.

Canadian manufacturer PSB Speakers has redesigned its Image Series loudspeakers, also with eight models in its lineup. The B15 Monitor is just over 1' high, and combines a 5.25" woofer with a 1" aluminum-dome tweeter; the B25 uses a 6.5" woofer for fuller sound. The T45 Tower has dual 5.25" woofers with the Image tweeter, a "two-and-a-half-way" design said to "provide a smooth response with bass impact equivalent to a substantially larger driver." The T55 Tower couples the Image tweeter with a pair of 6.5" woofers for better low-frequency response; the largest speaker in the series, the T65 Tower, uses three 6.5" woofers and the Image tweeter.

PSB's two center-channel options include the C40, with two 5.25" woofers astride the Image tweeter. The C60 combines dual 6.5" woofers for "full-range, high-output sound, capable of handling loud levels in big rooms." The S50 Bipole Surround combines two identical outward-angled panels that employ a single 5.25" woofer and the Image tweeter. The angling of these two panels outward is said both "to create a diffuse soundfield," and "to aid localization of sound effects."

One big improvement in the performance of the new Image loudspeakers is the use of metalized injection woofer cones rather than the vacuum-formed cones used in the previous line. Injection molding ensures a higher consistency during the manufacturing process, resulting in each driver achieving reference quality performance, according to designer Paul Barton. Further improvements include adjusting the tweeter phase plug to create a smoother high-end response, and adjustments to the crossover network to enhance overall performance across the entire frequency spectrum. Regarding his earlier efforts, Barton noted, "I've found that I can always find new ways to improve upon the design, with regard to both performance and cosmetics. The Image Series was no exception." Image Series speakers are matched timbrally and visually for easy mixing and matching. Cabinets sport a soft curved shape and come in two different finishes - maple with light gray grilles and black ash with black grilles. For use near video monitors, all Image speakers are magnetically shielded.

PSB has also launched seven new models in its high-performance Platinum series: the T8 and T6 towers, the C4 and C2 center channel speakers, the M2 mini-monitor, the S2 bipolar surround, and the SubSonic 10 powered subwoofer. All in the line are visually and timbrally matched for system optimization. Several feature a D'Appolito array for excellent dispersion over large horizontal and vertical spaces.

The magnetically-shielded Platinum Series features midrange drivers with woven fiberglass cones, aluminum front panels, and cabinets in several real wood veneers. The line exceeds the performance of PSB's well-regarded Stratus models, thanks to the use of sophisticated design and measurement techniques with the most advanced tools, such as Finite Element Analysis (FEA), laser vibrometry, and computer optimization, according to Barton. "The transparency and dynamics of these speakers is going to get audiophiles talking," Barton says, "As will their pristine midrange and low-frequency impact." The SubSonic 10 powered subwoofer is said to deliver world-class impact, with two 12" high-power, long-throw woofers powered by an internal 500-watt Class H amplifier. Prices range from $1499/pair for the C2 to $6999/pair for the T8.

Another Canadian loudspeaker company, Paradigm Electronics Inc., has unveiled new high-end products. The Signature Series is said to improve upon the company's former top-of-the-line Reference Series, and includes two bookshelf/stand-mounted models, a floorstanding model, two center channels, a surround/rear speaker featuring the company's proprietary ADP (adapted dipole) technology, and a servo-powered subwoofer.

All Signature drivers feature Paradigm's proprietary "Isolation Mounting System/Shock Mount" butyl-rubber driver fastening system, developed to decouple drivers from the speaker enclosure itself. The claimed result is "unsurpassed clarity and resolution of fine detail." The Signature tweeter is a gold-anodized pure-aluminum low-mass "supremely rigid" dome with "lightning speed and transient response." Proprietary "WaveGuide" faceplate technology ensures maximally flat high frequency response with wide dispersion, for a very large listening window. Further refinements include "aperiodic resonance breakup technology" via a set of die-cast aluminum heatsink fins positioned behind the driver, to capture and render inert residual internal resonances. An asymmetrically tapered channel serves as a low-distortion midrange chamber, and Signature bass drivers feature mineral-filled polypropylene cones with huge shielded rare-earth super neodymium magnet structures, 1.5" multi-layer extended voice coils, and die-cast heatsink chassis for high power handling, low distortion, and greater long-term reliability. Signature crossovers use silver-plated oxygen-free copper cable, close tolerance air-core inductors, high-power ceramic resistors, and polypropylene capacitors for "seamlessly integrated reproduction of the original performance," Paradigm announced. Magnetic shielding protects video monitors from color or image distortion.

Paradigm's Signature series includes the S2, a two-driver, two-way mini-monitor priced at $1900–2200/pair, depending on finish. The Signature S4 is a three-driver, "2 1/2" way minimonitor at $2600–3000/pair, depending on finish. The Signature S8 is a six-driver, three-way floorstanding model with four 7" polypropylene bass drivers, outrigger feet, and optional spikes. Price is $5400–6000/pair, depending on finish. The Signature C3 is a four-driver, three-way center channel with two bass drivers, and outrigger feet. Its price is $1500–$1700, depending on finish. A step up is the Signature C5, a six-driver, 3-way center channel with two larger bass drivers. Its price ranges from $2500 to $2800 each, depending on finish. The Signature ADP is a five-driver, three-way surround/rear speaker priced between $2300 and $2700/pair, depending on finish. Signature loudspeakers are available in rosewood, piano black gloss, natural bird's eye maple, and cherry.

Paradigm is also delivering low-frequency thrills via its Signature servo subwoofer, featuring a single 15" driver in a sealed enclosure with a built-in 1200W "ultra-class-D high-current hybrid output" amplifier. Measuring 19.5" high by 18" wide by 21" deep, the Signature sub sells for $3200–3500, depending on finish. Another deep performer is Paradigm's Seismic 12, a compact downward-firing powered sub, with twin 10" woofers and proprietary ultra-class-D amplifier delivering 1200W RMS. Paradigm claims the Seismic 12's amplifier is capable of peak power of 4500W. Inputs include RCA and balanced XLR. Finish is black ash; suggested retail is $1600.

Krell Industries has rolled out new loudspeakers, too. The Resolution 1 is a bi-wireable, four-way floorstander with a 1" dual-concentric-ring tweeter, 4" midrange, 8" mid/woofer, and two 10" aluminum cone woofers. Available now, the Resolution 1 is priced at $11,000/pair. The Resolution 2 is a bi-wireable, three-way floorstanding speaker with 1" tweeter, 6.5" midrange, and two 8" woofers. Price is $8000/pair. The Resolution 3 is a bi-wireable, two-way monitor speaker with a 1" tweeter and an 8" mid-bass driver, priced at $4000/pair. The Resolution C is a $3500 center channel speaker with 1" tweeter, 4" midrange, and two 8" woofers in a sealed cabinet. Krell's Resolution Series speakers are made in a cherry finish.

Resolution Series speakers feature "Lossless Acoustic Transducer" (LAT) technology and robust cabinet construction, including 1" thick MDF (medium density fiberboard) side panels and baffles made of 2" thick MDF to eliminate resonance. Resolution midrange drivers are isolated within their own enclosures. Cabinets feature asymmetrically aligned internal bracing to further increase rigidity, and their curvature helps eliminate internal standing waves. Resolution Series tweeters have integral waveguides for improved dispersion; mid-bass drivers leverage a unique mounting system that decouples the driver frame from the baffle to eliminate sonic coloration. All crossover components are mounted on 1/8" epoxy glass circuit boards. The multiple potted polypropylene capacitors are wired in parallel to minimize inductance and resistance, reducing amplifier strain. Resolution Series crossover networks are said to be engineered to provide "an extremely smooth impedance curve with high efficiency, presenting a predictable, nearly ideal load to the power amplifier." Input terminals are high quality WBT binding posts.

The company will soon begin delivering its Resolution Subwoofer, slated to mate a 15" woofer to an internal, Krell-designed 700W amplifier. Availability is set for late first quarter 2004.