Floor Loudspeaker Reviews

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John Atkinson  |  Apr 11, 2017  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1990  |  6 comments
TDL is part of ELAC, one of the most successful OEM drive-unit manufacturers in the UK, particularly renowned for the 1" aluminum-dome tweeter that they make for Monitor Audio, Acoustic Energy, and British Fidelity. Perhaps of even more interest to readers of Stereophile is that the TDL system designer is one John Wright, who designed the classic series of IMF loudspeakers and who also was one of the leading equipment reviewers in the UK back in the 1960s. (For a while John was also a contributor to this magazine, his comprehensive reviews of tonearms appearing in Vol.2 Nos.10 & 12.)
Sam Tellig, Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 09, 2014  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1990  |  0 comments
666acoustat11.jpgI wish I could be enthusiastic about the Acoustat Spectra 11—an electrostatic/dynamic hybrid selling for $999/pair. At first glance, the Acoustat Spectra 11 looks like a good deal. They could almost be called knock-offs of the Martin-Logan Sequels—they're about the same size. As with the Sequels, there are moving-coil bass cabinets below, electrostatic panels on top. The Spectra 11 cannot be bi-wired and does not come with spikes. Tiptoes are recommended, and I used them. I let the speakers run in for about 24 hours before doing any serious listening.
Larry Archibald  |  Aug 12, 2006  |  First Published: Nov 12, 1989  |  0 comments
John Ötvös, the father of Waveform Research Inc. and The Waveform Loudspeaker, hesitates not at inviting ultracritical examination: "The Waveform is the most accurate, the best, forward-firing loudspeaker in the world." Period. Reviewers, of course, welcome such statements, and I'll be examining that one, but I'll also try to answer the inherent reviewing question of whether the Waveform is a good place for you to park $9800 on your way to "the highest of high-end sound" (that was our slogan for the first Santa Monica High End Hi-Fi Show).
John Atkinson  |  Sep 09, 2006  |  First Published: Nov 09, 1989  |  0 comments
In audiophile circles, it is the "Stuart"—electronics designer Bob Stuart of the Boothroyd-Stuart collaboration—who has received most recognition. The contribution of industrial designer and stylist Allen Boothroyd has gone relatively unremarked. Yet as I unpacked Meridian's D600 "Digital Active" loudspeaker, I was struck by Boothroyd's ability to make the humdrum—a rectangular box loudspeaker—seem more than just that. The man has one hell of an eye for proportion. From the first Orpheus loudspeaker of 1975, through the Celestion SL6 and 'SL600 (where AB did the industrial and package design), to this latest Meridian loudspeaker design, his brainchildren look "right," to the extent of making competing designs appear at minimum over-square and clumsy, if not downright ugly.
John Atkinson, Various  |  Aug 10, 2008  |  First Published: Aug 10, 1989  |  0 comments
Loudspeaker designers are dreamers. Something takes hold of a man—the fact that loudspeaker designers are all men must be significant—and he wrestles with recalcitrant wood, arcane drive-units, and sundry coils, capacitors, and cables, to produce something which will be individual in its sound quality yet inherently more true to the original sound. An impossible task. Yet if there were to be an aristocratic subset of those dreamers, it would be those who have taken upon themselves the burden of producing electrostatic loudspeakers. For these farsighted engineers, there is no standing on the shoulders of others, there is no recourse to tried and tested combinations of other manufacturers' drive-units. Every aspect of the design, no matter how apparently insignificant, has to be created afresh from first principles. For a new electrostatic design to produce a sound at all represents a great triumph for its progenitor, let alone having it sound musical. And to produce an electrostatic loudspeaker that is also possessed of great visual beauty is indeed a bonus.
John Atkinson  |  Dec 04, 2010  |  First Published: Jul 15, 1989  |  0 comments
Although, historically, Asian high-performance loudspeakers have not had much impact in the US (with the possible exception of the Yamaha NS1000), it is obvious from recent events that that situation might change. Some Japanese manufacturers are determinedly attempting in 1989 to scale the high-end heights. Onkyo, for example, launched an entire range under the Precise brandname, designed by that most idiosyncratic of talented Californian engineers, Keith Johnson, while Yamaha has licensed the Swedish ACE-Bass technology to produce loudspeakers that extend amazingly low in the bass for their size. But it is Pioneer, already well-ensconced in the US pro market with their TAD (Technical Audio Devices) drive-units and monitors, who have made perhaps the biggest techno-splash with their "Elite-TZ" speakers. These feature both high-tech drive-units and a novel (if not entirely new) method of minimizing enclosure vibrations.

The TZ-9 is the top of Pioneer's new line, and costs a cool $4000/pair, placing it firmly in the high-end category. But for that outlay, the TZ-9 owner acquires a largish and quite handsome speaker, finished in a rather orange-colored oak veneer and standing some 4' high. Both tweeter and midrange units feature domes fabricated from an amorphous form of carbon termed by Pioneer "Ceramic Graphite," which is said to have 10 times the bending stiffness and two times the internal loss or self-damping of an equivalent titanium dome. The practical result should be accurate pistonic motion in each unit's passband, with a better-damped HF resonance than a metal dome. In practice, these Ceramic Graphite diaphragms can be quite brittle. Despite the presence of protective wire grilles over the mid- and high-frequency units, the first pair of TZ-9s we received had had the midrange domes shattered, due to inadequate early packaging.

Dick Olsher  |  Feb 08, 2008  |  First Published: Jul 08, 1989  |  0 comments
When it comes to loudspeaker drivers, Dynaudio has earned an enviable reputation for quality and reliability. To use an automotive analogy, they are the Mercedes Benz of the driver universe. If you're a speaker builder, the odds are that you have already experimented with these drivers. And even if you're not a speaker builder, it's quite possible that your speakers use Dynaudio drivers. After all, some of the finest speaker systems in the world do. A case in point is the Duntech Sovereign, which single-handedly embodies almost the entire Dynaudio catalog.
Robert Harley  |  May 07, 2020  |  First Published: Jul 01, 1989  |  4 comments
One of the joys of reviewing audio reproduction equipment is discovering a little-known product that provides an extraordinary level of performance and musical satisfaction at an affordable price. These components, sometimes made in a garage, reflect the designer's single-minded zeal for musical accuracy, not the sometime corporate mentality of meeting a price point or catering to the latest fad.
Larry Archibald  |  Mar 05, 2006  |  First Published: Jun 05, 1989  |  0 comments
Mirage /ma-'räzh/ n [F, fr mirer to look at. fr. L mirari] 1: an optical effect that is sometimes seen at sea, in the desert, or over a hot pavement, that may have the appearance of a pool of water or a mirror... 2: something illusory and unattainable, like a mirage.
Larry Archibald  |  Aug 06, 2008  |  First Published: Apr 06, 1989  |  0 comments
Akeem Olajuwon? Ralph Sampson? Yes, it must be the Twin Towers. No, wait—it's the World Trade Centers!
John Atkinson  |  Dec 07, 2017  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1989  |  1 comments
666skinny.promo250.jpgOne of the joys of reviewing loudspeakers is that there are always intriguing aspects of any particular design. The problems involved in producing a speaker that has an even tonal balance, well-controlled directivity, good bass extension, and a smooth integration of the outputs from often widely disparate drive-units have what appears to be an infinite number of solutions. The result is often a speaker so different from the norm that it just cries out to be auditioned.

Such was the case with the Delaware Acoustics DELAC S10, which costs $629/pair. Only sold factory-direct, this would therefore have been low on Stereophile's priority list for review if it weren't for two things: first, the fact that the S10 was designed by one Ralph Gonzalez, a name that should be familiar to readers of Speaker Builder magazine for having written a very useful speaker design and analysis program; second, as implied in the first paragraph, the S10 is one of the weirdest speakers I have ever laid ears on.

Larry Archibald  |  Mar 25, 2007  |  First Published: Jan 25, 1989  |  0 comments
Frankly it's a bit nutty for me to be doing this review. First, as Publisher of this esteemed journal, my primary duties involve financial and personnel management, as well as a good bit of public relations; I don't need and am not required to perform the exacting tedium of product reviews. Second, Jim Thiel and Kathy Gornik of Thiel are friends of mine. So what, you ask? Well, if this were going to be a uniformly positive review, I would therefore be ruled out as the reviewer; if it's to be wholly or partially negative, it will surely put a strain on one of my best audio friendships.
Larry Archibald  |  Feb 03, 2007  |  First Published: Jan 03, 1989  |  0 comments
Thiel Audio, headed up by Jim Thiel (President and chief designer) and Kathy Gornik (Marketing Director), sets itself apart from other speaker manufacturers not only by making what I feel to be almost uniformly excellent products, but also by serving as a kind of hallmark for the good dealer: Although not all good dealers sell Thiel, just about every Thiel dealer is a good one. This comes about because, in spite of just about uniformly positive reviews and excellent customer relations, Thiel (primarily in the person of Ms. Gornik) has insisted on limited distribution through retailers they know will give their product a good demonstration. There are a few other such companies performing this hallmark function, though only Mark Levinson Audio Systems readily comes to mind. Most other successful companies prefer as wide a geographical distribution as possible, in spite of the occasional necessary compromises in dealer quality.
Larry Archibald, J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 31, 2005  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1988  |  0 comments
In 1966, two avid audiophile/music lovers—a nuclear physicist named Arnold Nudell and an airline pilot named Cary Christie—labored over weekends and evenings for 18 months in Nudell's garage to put together the world's first hybrid electrostatic/dynamic loudspeaker system. It cost them $5000 for materials, launched a company (New Technology Enterprises), and helped contribute to the popular myth that all of the really important audiophile manufacturers got started in somebody's basement or garage (footnote 1). The system was marketed as the Servo-Statik I, for the princely sum of $1795. (At the time, the most expensive loudspeaker listed in Stereo Review's "Stereo/Hi-Fi Directory" was JBL's "Metregon," at $1230.)
John Atkinson  |  Sep 07, 2010  |  First Published: Aug 07, 1988  |  1 comments
I like reviewing loudspeakers. The more you become familiar with the art, the greater the sense of anticipation as you open up a pair of cartons. A visual inspection of the speaker always reveals a challenging mixture of the familiar and the new. The size of the cabinet is always the first clue—has sensitivity been a design priority or was low-frequency extension uppermost in the designer's thoughts? You espy a known drive-unit—has this tweeter's propensity for upper-presence sizzle been tamed? You find a reflex port on the rear panel—has the temptation to go for a "commercial," under-damped bass alignment been successfully resisted? You spot factors which intuitively seem wrong for precise stereo—a wide baffle lacking any kind of absorbent covering for diffraction control; a grille frame which puts acoustic obstacles in the way of the wavefront emerging from the tweeter.

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