Floor Loudspeaker Reviews

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Lewis Lipnick  |  Jul 20, 2008  |  First Published: Jun 20, 1991  |  0 comments
We all know it's impossible to reproduce live music. An obvious statement, no doubt, and one that holds every audiophile hostage to the never-ending search. As a musician, I find the situation especially frustrating. The constant reminder of live vs reproduced makes living with an audio system a serious compromise, regardless of price or quality. About three and a half years ago, however, I reviewed a product which I felt, and still feel, offers the first real glimpse of that impossible dream: the B&W 801 Matrix Monitor (footnote 1). Although it wasn't perfect, I found this speaker provided more musical honesty than anything I had heard before. In this respect, it established a new standard by which others would be judged.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Dec 11, 2005  |  0 comments
Back in the 1970s, I used to hang out at an audio store on Northern Boulevard's Miracle Mile. After business hours—and sometimes during them—a group of us audiophiles would put every new product through the wringer. One of the most anticipated was the original B&W 801, which appeared in 1979. The 801 was simply unflappable. Fed enough power, a pair of them played louder and cleaner than anything we had ever heard, including the mammoth, multimodule Fultons that were the pride of that shop. But—and this was a big but—the 801 lacked immediacy and engagement, and I soon fell back to preferring an earlier B&W model, the DM6, which seemed more coherent and to offer the music out to the listener. The 801 was more objective and detached, but boy, could it knock you over with the right source material.
Robert J. Reina  |  Aug 21, 2005  |  0 comments
It occurred to me recently that, after nearly a decade of specializing in reviewing affordable speakers, and with the exceptions of two entry-level Mission models, I'd never taken a look at recent designs from the large mainstream British speaker manufacturers. So with this review I embark on a Bob Reina "British Invasion" tour to seek out the most innovative and value-conscious designs from companies that have been household names in British stereo shoppes for decades.
Lewis Lipnick  |  Dec 03, 1995  |  First Published: Dec 03, 1987  |  1 comments
Since the introduction of the original B&W 801 monitor loudspeaker in 1980, it has been adopted as a reference by several recording studios around the world, Over the past five years, I have seen 801s present in just about every recording session with which I have been artistically involved. While the original 801 monitor had its strong points, I was never satisfied with the detached and muddy-sounding bass, discontinuous driver balance, and low sensitivity. Unless this speaker was driven by an enormous solid-state power amplifier, with an elevated high-frequency response, the tubby and slow bass response often obliterated any detail in the two bottom octaves of musical material.
Wes Phillips  |  Jan 05, 1999  |  1 comments
If, as some would have it, Audiophilia nervosa is like the dark night of reason, then certain audio epiphanies must necessarily stand out from a distance, like a grove of trees 20 miles away thrown into stark relief by prairie lightning. And make no mistake that Audiophilia is a disease---I treasure the memory of the first time my wife and I heard Quad ESLs with tubes far more than the memory of my first kiss (although not more, I hasten to add in case Joan is reading this review, than the memory of our first kiss). I know men who stare into their flickering fireplaces on long winter nights and remember all the women they've known. Myself, I'm more likely to reminisce about my first tube preamp, or list the great-sounding systems I've owned.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Jun 13, 2002  |  0 comments
I once got a fortune cookie that read, "Ask and ye shall receive. This includes trouble." A few years back, shopping for speakers, I inquired about reviewing the B&W Nautilus 802, but it was too soon after Wes Phillips had reviewed the Nautilus 801 for Stereophile. So, other auditioning and reviewing (and buying) other speakers, I asked again, and again was met with deferral. Recently, out of the blue, B&W offered the Nautilus 802—then, in the next breath, asked if I'd rather have the Signature 800s.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Dec 20, 2016  |  21 comments
Bang & Olufsen's BeoLab 90 is not a loudspeaker to take on lightly. Though its size—49.33" high by 28.9" wide by 29.4" deep—and weight (302 lbs each) meant a major disruption of my listening room, which is also our living room, my wife assented. Its price of $84,990/pair puts it far beyond anything I might consider buying—and the complexity of the BeoLab 90, which has its own dedicated amplifiers and DACs, makes it impossible for a reviewer—or consumer—to directly compare it with any other loudspeaker. So be it.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 08, 2015  |  First Published: May 01, 1978  |  4 comments
This is an electrostatic column speaker, 6' tall and costing $6000/pair. An integral, fan-cooled amplifier is located in the base. The 2SW is said to cover almost the entire frequency range and is based on a patent, number 3,668,335, issued to manufacturer/designer Harold Beveridge on June 6, 1972. Internal acoustic lenses in front of the electrostatic panels widen the speaker's dispersion: In the Beveridge literature, it says "This 6-foot high device consolidated the entire frequency range into a vertical line source, and uniformly disperses it over a horizontal pattern, 180 degrees wide. The beaming characteristics of the high frequencies are ingeniously translated into the same dispersive pattern as the low frequencies, creating a perfectly balanced cylindrical sound wave front."
Larry Greenhill  |  Dec 19, 2004  |  0 comments
Loudspeaker cabinet design has been strongly influenced by home theater. Large floorstanding cabinets, required for reproduction of bass frequencies, are being replaced by tall, graceful towers with small footprints. While these slim speakers fit more easily into home décor and living spaces, to fill out their bass response they depend on being used with the subwoofers that are standard in multichannel systems.
Robert Harley  |  Dec 09, 2007  |  First Published: Aug 09, 1993  |  0 comments
To many audiophiles, the name Boston Acoustics is synonymous with mass-market budget loudspeakers. Although many of its products have offered good value for the money, Boston Acoustics has never been known for driving the envelope of high-priced loudspeaker design (footnote 1). The company has been content to churn out well-designed, affordable boxes and let others attempt state-of-the-art loudspeakers. Until now.
John Atkinson  |  Aug 01, 2013  |  3 comments
Boston Acoustics made its name in the early 1980s with the A40, an inexpensive two-way bookshelf design that became one of that decade's best-selling speakers. Stephen Mejias was impressed by the A40's spiritual descendant, the Boston Acoustics A25 bookshelf speaker ($299.98/pair), when he reviewed it in November 2011, and I was similarly impressed when I had the speaker on the test bench for measurement. So when, in the fall of 2012, Boston's soon-to-be-departing PR representative Sara Trujillo let me know that the company was introducing a range of more expensive speakers, I asked to review the top-of-the-line, floorstanding M350.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Aug 27, 2015  |  24 comments
For some time now I've wanted to upgrade my weekend system in Connecticut, and have been surveying three-way floorstanding speakers priced below about $2500/pair. I've focused on the stereo performance of each pair with music because, despite my interest in surround sound, the great majority of recordings are available only in two-channel stereo. Not wanting to look like a Bowers & Wilkins fanboy—my main system has long included their 800-series speakers—I put off auditioning B&W's 683 S2. But my goal was to get the best bang for my buck and with the 683 S2 costing $1650/pair, it would foolish to be influenced by such extraneous considerations. Besides, the 683 S2's three-way design and physical proportions were precisely what I was looking for.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Apr 26, 2018  |  26 comments
Late in the summer of 2015, I was one of the press representatives invited by Bowers & Wilkins to visit their R&D center in Steyning, West Sussex, England, and be given a detailed preview of the upcoming revision of their entire 800 series of loudspeaker models. Both the technical presentation and the tours impressively demonstrated the comprehensive redesign process that resulted in speakers that were superficially similar but entirely different from their predecessors. Of the new series, I reviewed the 802 D3 Diamond, a pair of which now sit in my listening room as my current reference speakers.
Kalman Rubinson  |  May 26, 2016  |  39 comments
"This is getting to be a habit."

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

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

Kalman Rubinson  |  Aug 30, 2013  |  First Published: Sep 01, 2013  |  5 comments
I don't think that the Bowers and Wilkins 804, in any of its incarnation, gets its due respect. As the smallest floorstander in B&W's elite 800 series, it has historically been overshadowed by its larger brethren and outmaneuvered by the smaller, stand-mounted 805. However, the 804 Diamond is unique, and deserves special attention for reasons I discovered when I chose the earlier 804S for the surround channels of my 5.1-channel surround system.

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