Floor Loudspeaker Reviews

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Ken Micallef  |  Sep 02, 2021  |  16 comments
No one taught me more about the heralded tone of Ortofon SPU cartridges, the magical pacing of idler-drive turntables, or the dynamics and speed of horn-loaded speakers than Art Dudley, Stereophile's late deputy editor. His equipment reviews and monthly Listening columns weren't merely tutorials on how to review audio equipment with insight and an individual voice; they were also an entertaining, informative immersion into the kind of hi-fi he loved. We also shared many conversations, though too few.
John Atkinson  |  Aug 26, 2021  |  5 comments
German manufacturer Canton Elektronik has a strong presence in Europe, but distribution of its loudspeakers in the US has been sporadic. Consequently, the most recent review in Stereophile of a Canton speaker, the Reference 3.2 DC, was in 2010. When we heard, in December 2020, that Bluebird Music would be bringing Canton back to North America, we were eager to review a Canton loudspeaker. Balancing performance and price, we selected the Reference 7K, which costs $6995/pair.
Jim Austin  |  Aug 18, 2021  |  6 comments
Many loudspeaker designers are minimalists at heart. They embrace a design aesthetic that says that simpler is better. Based on the evidence of the company's R 8 Arreté, Ole Klifoth, of Danish loudspeaker maker Audiovector, is not one of those designers.

On its website, in the Specifications section for its "R"-model loudspeakers (footnote 1), Audiovector offers a long checklist of technologies, many of them optional, some of them, called "Concepts," assigned snappy names and acronyms: IUC for Individual Upgrade Concept; LCC for Low Compression Concept; SEC for Soundstage Enhancement Concept; NES for No Energy Storage; FGC for Freedom Grounding Concept; and NCS for Natural Crystal Structure.

Kalman Rubinson  |  Jul 14, 2021  |  16 comments
Over a lifetime of audio shows, I've consistently enjoyed Dynaudio speaker demonstrations. Each time, I've told Dynaudio North America's Michael Manousselis that I'd love to review the speaker on display that year. But I never followed through. So, when Jim Austin suggested I review a Dynaudio speaker "because they haven't gotten much press," it resonated with my deep-seated guilt. A little research revealed that the last Dynaudio speaker Stereophile reviewed was the 40 Special in November 2018. The last floorstander was the Dynaudio Sapphire in 2009!
Jim Austin  |  Jun 18, 2021  |  28 comments
It's rare for a Stereophile reviewer to review two loudspeakers in a row from the same manufacturer, but then these are unusual times. Because of the pandemic, Magico's M2s got stuck here for a year (I know: poor me). By the time they were packed up and shipped out, it was time for a long-scheduled review of the less-expensive, more-massive Magico A5 ($24,800/pair).
John Atkinson  |  May 19, 2021  |  16 comments
2020 may not have been a year to celebrate, but there were some housebound highlights. For example, after I had finished with the measurements to accompany Michael Fremer's review of the Marten Oscar Duo in the November 2020 issue, I set up these Swedish two-way standmounts in my own listening room. Yes, the measured performance was excellent, but I was not expecting how much I would enjoy the sound of the Oscar Duos.
Robert Schryer  |  May 14, 2021  |  15 comments
The first image that pops into my mind when I think of Focal is of the iconic Grande Utopias and how at one Montreal audio show I couldn't believe that the gentlest, sweetest music I'd heard all day was coming out of those massive speakers. I saw it as a paradox of sorts.

Founded in the City of Lights, Focal has been around since 1979, the year Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now received the Palme d'Or at Cannes and when the average annual income in America was $17,500. Focal started as a twinkle in the eye of engineer and technology journalist Jacques Mahul, who believed he'd built a speaker that would appeal to hi-fi enthusiasts: the DB13. Fast-forward half a century, and Focal, designated "entreprise du patrimoine vivant" (living heritage company) by the French government, employs some 230 people at its large, stylish, multilevel digs.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 23, 2021  |  22 comments
Brand-fan excitement ran high among consumers and reviewers alike when Wilson Audio Specialties announced that it would roll out a nonfunctioning prototype of the Chronosonic XVX at the 2019 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF). The Chronosonic XVX was rumored to be a replacement for the $210,000/pair Alexandria XLF, offering performance similar to that of the $850,000 WAMM Master Chronosonic system (including two Master Subsonics and a controller) at a less breathtaking price. (You won't catch me writing "affordable" here.) The static unveiling at RMAF intensified anticipation.
John Atkinson  |  Mar 26, 2021  |  37 comments
Time for some towers. In recent months, a succession of standmount speakers has passed through my listening room: GoldenEar BRXes, Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signatures, Marten Oscar Duos, original KEF LS50s, and the new LS50 Metas. All these loudspeakers sounded excellent, though different from one another. I felt that a floorstanding loudspeaker would make for an interesting change.
Brian Damkroger  |  Feb 19, 2021  |  66 comments
Many companies in high-end audio and elsewhere use a trickle-down approach to advance their products. The process begins with the development of a suite of new technologies, capabilities, components, or whatever the relevant entities might be. Typically, it's a flagship product that functions as the impetus, target, and first deployment of the new technologies. Subsequently, the new technologies trickle down to other models, each one incorporating a subset appropriate to its price point.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 15, 2021  |  5 comments
When Stereophile publishes a followup review in the print magazine, we add it as a "child page" to the website reprint of the original coverage. We have recently done so with three significant products: the Magico M2 loudspeaker, the Linear Tube Audio Z10e tubed headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, and the Okto Research dac8 PRO multichannel D/A processor.
John Atkinson  |  Sep 17, 2020  |  22 comments
Although it was founded by ex-Siemens loudspeaker engineer Oliver Göbel in 2003, I am embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of Göbel High End until I visited the room hosted by Florida retailer Bending Wave at the 2019 AXPONA. There, I listened to the German manufacturer's ginormous $220,000/pair Divin Noblesse loudspeakers, which were making their US debut. I was impressed by what I heard. I was interested, therefore, to learn that Göbel was introducing a smaller Divin model, the Marquis, which would not be too large for my listening room and would be priced at $80,000/pair.
Jim Austin  |  Aug 26, 2020  |  10 comments
My first exposure to Manger Audio loudspeakers, which are based on the "bending-wave" technology invented years ago by the company, was to the Manger p2, their passive flagship speaker, at the 2019 AXPONA. I heard it again a month or so later at High End Munich. I was impressed both times, especially by its transient and spatial performance.
Julie Mullins  |  Jul 21, 2020  |  13 comments
For the first time in the two years I've been living in this apartment building, I've received a noise complaint from a neighbor. Coincidence?

As it happened, yes it was a coincidence. True, my music was pretty loud, and the bass from the Piega Premium Wireless 701 loudspeaker system ($7495/pair) was anything but reticent, especially considering the tower's sleek appearance. But I was not the source of the specific noise that caused the complaint. That was the sloppy bass from another neighbor's inferior sound system. (The bass from this Piega system isn't sloppy.)

Tom Gibbs  |  Jul 16, 2020  |  78 comments
Volti Audio's room at the 2020 Florida Audio Expo showcased the company's newest offering, the $20k/pair Rival Special Edition hybrid horn loudspeaker. With a custom cabinet and exotic Bubinga wood veneer, it easily counted among the best-looking loudspeakers I saw at the show. I also found the Rival SE's sound, powered by Border Patrol amplification, intoxicating. I placed it near the top of my shortlist for Best Sound at Show.

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