Loudspeakers

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Ed Selley  |  May 16, 2011  |  0 comments
Bronze Age High-performance speakers needn’t cost the earth – Ed Selley listens in on the latest evolution of the popular Monitor Audio Bronze Series Monitor Audio has been producing the Bronze series, its entry-level full-size speaker range, for some years now. And the latest update takes the line-up from BR to BX status and features a full choice of standmounts, floorstanders and supporting multichannel equipment. Design refinements include single- bolt driver fixings and HiVE reflex ports borrowed from the more expensive ranges. The £500 BX5 tested here, however, is the smaller of two floorstanding models.
Ed Selley  |  Mar 02, 2011  |  0 comments
Life partner Audiovector’s 'upgradable' speakers can be improved when funds allow. Paul Messenger investigates a unique proposition from Denmark The Ki-series is relatively new and also relatively inexpensive by Audiovector’s standards. The Ki 3s are the sole floorstanding models in a range that also includes a standmount and home cinema oriented variations. But each Ki-series model comes in three versions – Standard, Super and Signature – with superior engineering features as one moves up the ladder.
Ed Selley  |  Mar 01, 2011  |  0 comments
Dynaudio Contour S 1. 4 Dynaudio is one of very few overseas brands to become properly established in the UK Based in Denmark and owned by a German, Dynaudio’s particular approach to loudspeaker design has been much more successful at achieving a significant presence on the UK market than most overseas brands. That probably owes much to the company’s distinctive proprietary technology and a consistency in approach which has helped it become well accepted by both hi-fi consumers and ProAudio users alike. Contour ranges have occupied Dynaudio’s middle ground for many years.
Ed Selley  |  Mar 01, 2011  |  0 comments
Monitor Audio Platinum 100 This baby model in Monitor Audio’s gorgeous Platinum ‘flagship’ range features a ribbon tweeter Founded in 1972, Monitor Audio now qualifies as one of Britain’s longest established speaker brands, especially amongst those still in UK ownership. Although it’s best known for successful ‘mainstream’ models like the Bronze and Silver series, the company took a significant step towards the high end in 2007, with the introduction of Platinum models like this £2,500 per pair Platinum 100 two-way standmount. A ribbon tweeter is the hallmark of all the Platinums and here it’s combined with a 165mm bass/mid driver in an exceptionally solid and beautifully finished enclosure with a decidedly complex shape. The back and sides are formed as a continuous curve, with mildly convex sides, a slightly concave back and quite gently curved edges.
Ed Selley  |  Mar 01, 2011  |  0 comments
Opera Callas This very compact and exquisitely presented stand-mount has a thoroughly unconventional multi-tweeter Opera and its associated electronics brand Unison Research both share premises near Treviso in north east Italy. And in the best Italian tradition, this standmount looks absolutely gorgeous and is very substantially built too, though it’s not exactly cheap at £2,875 per pair. A solitary and rather small 135mm driver with a 100mm diameter magnesium alloy cone covers the bass and midrange. It has a large (38mm) fixed solid copper ‘bullet’ phase plug and is assisted by reflex loading from twin rear ports.
Ed Selley  |  Mar 01, 2011  |  0 comments
Spendor SP2/3R2 This speaker might look old-fashioned, but that’s really the whole point of Spendor’s Classic range Spendor arrived on the scene at the beginning of the 1970s, bringing a strong BBC heritage along with a number of interesting innovations that its competitors arguably didn’t fully appreciate. One of the most significant among these was a radical approach to enclosure design. The theory goes as follows: building an exceptionally stiff structure might serve to reduce the amplitude (ie relative loudness) of cabinet vibrations, but it also increases the frequency at which they occur, so that the enclosure coloration tends to occur in the midband where human hearing is most sensitive. The alternative Spendor approach, originally inspired by the BBC’s desire for accurate speech monitoring, is the ‘thin wall’ cabinet approach, backed by heavy damping pads, which pushes the cabinet wall vibrations down into the bass region where they’re considered less intrusive.
Ed Selley  |  Mar 01, 2011  |  0 comments
Tannoy Definition DC8 A very pretty and compact variation on Tannoy’s timeless Dual Concentric theme One of the oldest names in British hi-fi, Tannoy is currently part of the Danish TC Group and is probably best known for its unique Dual Concentric single-chassis two-way drive unit technology, which first appeared way back in 1948. This £2,500 per pair DC8 is a simple two-way design and the smallest of three Definition models. As the name suggests, an eight-inch (200mm) Dual Concentric ‘double drive unit’ is at its heart, firing a 25mm titanium dome tweeter with ‘tulip waveguide’ horn-loading through the centre of a 145mm flared paper bass/mid cone with a conventional rubber roll surround. A bonus of the construction, of course, is that the tweeter is automatically well protected from prying fingers.
Ed Selley  |  Mar 01, 2011  |  0 comments
Cabasse Bora This substantial model is a genuine three-way, due to its special proprietary co-axial driver France’s oldest hi-fi speaker brand, Cabasse is now owned by Japanese multi-national Canon, though its Britanny heritage remains strong, with members of the Cabasse family still involved. A major technology plank is its particular proprietary approach to co-axial driver design. Cabasse’s BC13 co-axial drive unit is very much at the heart of this £2,200 per pair Bora, as well as the main reason why it’s the only three-way design amongst our standmounts. This driver uses an annulus or ring-shaped midrange diaphragm, surrounding the tweeter proper and nominally operates from 800Hz to 4.
Ed Selley  |  Feb 07, 2011  |  0 comments
Black beauties From Germany's number one speaker brand, this Canton standmount, as Paul Messenger confirms, boasts some high-class credentials Despite a number of serious attempts, the majority of German loudspeaker brands have hitherto had very little impact upon the UK marketplace. Canton, however, certainly has the muscle to change that, via its newly appointed UK distributor Computers Unlimited. The Canton catalogue might be exclusively speaker-oriented, but it’s no less comprehensive. The hi-fi section alone comprises no fewer than eight distinct ranges and more than 60 models and the Ventos are close to the top.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 07, 2010  |  0 comments
The Sttaf of life Clean and simple are the watchwords for this very pretty and unusually compact two-way floorstander, says Paul Messenger Understatement is perhaps the most appropriate word that describes Totem loudspeakers. Whereas most speaker brands tend to promote themselves by highlighting specific technical or engineering features that distinguish themselves from their rivals – the so-called USP (unique selling point) –Totem’s marketing approach has much more to do with emphasising the reproduction of the emotion and soul of the music. Superficially, at least, there’s nothing particularly unusual about the Sttaf. It’s a simple two-way floorstander, based on a 140mm bass/mid driver with a 95mm diameter flared and doped paper cone.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 07, 2010  |  0 comments
Bang-on sound Alvin Gold is very impressed with the T500 loudspeaker from Teufel, one of the best-known European direct-sell, hi-fi companies Teufel is by far the best known exponent of direct sell loudspeakers and has been steadily raising its profile in the UK over the last couple of years. The big difference between Teufel and other brands is that they’re not available from hi-fi dealers, cutting out the middleman, which means lower selling prices, so to an extent you have to take its qualities on trust. But you do get a generous eight-week trial period, during which the speakers can be returned for a refund if you find you can’t get along with them. An additional confidence builder, is the astonishing twelve-year guarantee period, yes that’s right, twelve years! Conventional design The T500 is one of the latest from Teufel, a classic three-way floor- stander which, thanks to their distribution model, sells for a very attractive price and pitches Teufel into direct competition with some of the more popular mainstream brands, including Monitor Audio and Wharfedale.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 12, 2010  |  0 comments
King of the Castles Castle Acoustics is back! There’s a new owner in IAG and whole new range called Knight, Dominic Todd listens in to see if the old magic is still there Castle Acoustics was a Yorkshire-based company started in the early 1970s. Best known for its rich, real wood veneers and refined acoustic, the firm soon established a following from those appreciating a warm, full-bodied sound. As with many of the British greats, however, Castle fell upon hard times at the turn of the millennium and came under the ownership of IAG (International Audio Group). With IAG’s impressive portfolio that includes Quad, Castle should be in safe hands and as if to prove the parent company’s commitment, the all-new Knight range is voiced by IAG’s Director of Acoustic Design, Peter Comeau – of Heybrook HB1 and Mission 780 fame.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 14, 2010  |  0 comments
Acoustic Energy AE1 MKIII - £2,000 Acoustic Energy gives its traditional substantially built miniature a classy cosmetic makeover Acoustic Energy’s 1988 debut with the diminutive and defiantly pro-look AE1 caused quite a sensation when it first appeared and effectively launched the brand. This £2,000 per pair MkIII is the middle model of three current variations on the same tiny two-way theme. Unlike the much less costly Classic with its ‘utilitarian’ pro-style presentation, this MkIII’s piano black enclosure has some seven layers of high-quality lacquer finish, while the front panel is decorated by a 10mm-thick, shaped and polished aluminium sheet, reinforcing the baffle and concealing the driver mounting hardware. As the substantial total weight of 11kg implies, the exceedingly hefty build continues beneath the surface.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 14, 2010  |  0 comments
Bowers & Wilkins CM9 - £1,800 This large wood-veneered floorstander with advanced driver technology looks fine value Back to the days when Bowers and Wilkins simply called itself B&W, the company had three distinct ranges of hi-fi speakers: the beer-budget 600s, the mid-market 700s and the upmarket 800s. Perhaps the 700’s external tweeters and asymmetric enclosures were a little too radical, as some time over the last few years they seem to have been quietly replaced by a rather more conventional CM series, featuring real wood veneers or a gloss black finish, but in conventional rectilinear enclosures with normal built-in tweeters. There were just two CMs to start with, but now there are four stereo pairs, of which this £1,800 per pair CM9 is the largest. And, unlike the neat little standmounts in the range, there’s no way anyone could accuse it of looking cute.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 14, 2010  |  0 comments
KEF XQ30 - £1,500 This beautifully designed and finished compact floorstander has an advanced Uni-Q mid/treble driver Although it operates globally as part of the Hong Kong-based Gold Peak Group and takes advantage of competitive Chinese manufacture, the KEF design team still operates out of Maidstone, Kent, using proprietary technologies like the Uni-Q co-axial drive units that have been steadily refined over the decades. The XQ range sits quite high up an impressively large collection of hi-fi and home cinema speaker systems. The smaller of two floorstanders, this £1,500 XQ30 is an attractive and compact design, based around a recent development of KEF’s proprietary Uni-Q driver, alongside cunningly curved cabinetwork. It has a beautiful lacquer finish, over black paint or either birdseye maple or khaya mahogany real wood veneers.

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