Stand Loudspeaker Reviews

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John Atkinson  |  Nov 24, 2020  |  30 comments
Back in June 1994, I reviewed the Bowers & Wilkins John Bowers Silver Signature standmounted loudspeaker. This speaker cost a breathtaking $8000/pair at that time, and I subsequently bought the review samples and their matching slate stands. It was the best-sounding speaker I had used in my Santa Fe listening room: When the company's then-owner, Robert Trunz, visited me a couple of years later, he told me that he hadn't realized how good the Silver Signatures could sound. But after I moved to Brooklyn, in 2000, the Silver Signature never worked as well in my new listening room. I still own the speakers, but they currently live in our storage unit.
John Atkinson  |  Nov 16, 2020  |  First Published: Dec 01, 2020  |  4 comments
Three products are the subjects of lengthy followup reviews in the December issue of Stereophile: MBL's Noble Line N31 CD player-D/A processor, the GoldenEar BRX loudspeaker, and Alta Audio's Alyssa loudspeaker.
John Atkinson  |  Nov 10, 2020  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1987  |  9 comments
Let me tell you how I spent the month of May 1987: I had been musing about a comment made by J. Gordon Holt following the 1986 Summer CES that it seemed that the loudspeaker High End was populated exclusively by planar models: Apogees, Acoustats, MartinLogans, Magneplanars of various kinds, the Quad ESL-63, and an assorted Infinity or two. The problem is, however, that folks as a rule buy speakers made from boxes; boxes priced a little lower than the esoteric beasts so beloved of reviewers. "OK," said Larry Archibald, "how about reviewing some moving-coil loudspeakers? Tell you what. Let's make it interesting; make them box loudspeakers costing under $1000/pair. It'll give you a feel for the kind of affordable speaker that sells in quantity."
Herb Reichert  |  Oct 20, 2020  |  43 comments
It was a "Wow!" audio moment I'll never forget. It happened just after Ladies Who Lunch, our regular Friday afternoon lunch-n-chat for audio poobahs at the Grand Sichuan restaurant in Chelsea. It was dark at 4 o'clock, and the first snow of winter looked enchanting under the 24th Street streetlamps. Audiophiliac Steve Guttenberg and I were accompanying our turntable setter–upper friend Michael Trei to Bob Visintainer's Rhapsody Music and Cinema, where Trei was scheduled to install a Lyra Etna SL cartridge on a TechDAS Air Force III turntable. I tagged along to chatter with Bob and listen with Steve to Alta Audio's tall, open-baffle Titanium Hestia loudspeakers. Rumor had it that this was a happening system.
Michael Fremer  |  Oct 14, 2020  |  11 comments
At High End Mässan 2015—Stockholm, Sweden's big audio show—Marten planned to show off its finest loudspeaker to the hometown crowd. Marten took the hotel's largest demo room, located at the prime location at the top of the stairs, at the entry point to the 2nd floor exhibition space. There, Marten set up a super system (see photo below) featuring the Coltrane Supreme 2 loudspeaker, a towering monolith probably intended more for Asian consumption than for Swedes to bring home to their modest digs. In preshow demos, the Coltranes filled the large room with impressively transparent and effortless sound that was sure to impress show attendees.
Ken Micallef  |  Oct 02, 2020  |  25 comments
Summer!

COVID-19 notwithstanding, summer—warmth, flowers, leaves on trees—has descended on Greenwich Village, my New York City home for the past 30 years. What hasn't descended are tourists, belching motorcycles, behemoth sports cars, beer drinkers, and the usual summer hell-raisers, the sort that would've sent legendary Village bohemians Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs running back to their cold-water flats.

John Atkinson  |  Aug 20, 2020  |  27 comments
Loudspeaker manufacturer GoldenEar Technology was founded in 2010 by a team led by Sandy Gross, who over the decades was responsible for a succession of affordable high-performance loudspeakers from Polk and Definitive Technology (footnote 1). Gross continued that tradition with GoldenEar: Even the company's flagship, the Triton Reference, which I favorably reviewed in January 2018, was priced a couple of dollars short of $8500/pair. (GoldenEar was acquired by The Quest Group, the parent company of cable company AudioQuest, in January 2020; Gross continued with the brand as president emeritus.)
Herb Reichert  |  Jun 25, 2020  |  49 comments
I've been wrestling with my elders about new ways to measure loudspeakers, lobbying for methods that might correlate more directly with a listener's experience. And wouldn't you know? Right in the middle of this Socratic dialogue, I put the fresh-from-UPS, $1000/pair, Tannoy Revolution XT 6s into my reference system, plunking them down on my 24" Sound Anchor Reference stands in the same spot my Harbeth P3ESRs had been sitting. And I freaked! I was using the Rogue RP-7 preamp and the Rogue Stereo 100 (100Wpc) amplifier, and I could never adequately describe how bad the shiny white Tannoys sounded. Imagine sound that's thin, metallic, herky-jerky, dull, and rolled off completely below about 90Hz.
Robert Schryer  |  May 21, 2020  |  115 comments
Reviewing a new loudspeaker from Totem feels like destiny—as if a formative moment 30 years ago has come full circle. That's because the first genuine audiophile speaker I ever owned was Totem's now-iconic Model 1, a product whose arrival altered many audiophiles' expectations of how much great—and wide-range—sound a small speaker can deliver. It's still being made today, at least in spirit.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 17, 2020  |  3 comments
Located outside Glasgow, in a geographical area that's also home to Linn Products and Tannoy Ltd.—and also near the storied whisky distilleries of Aberfeldy and Blair Atholl—Fyne Audio got off to a fast start. A mere three years after the company's 2017 founding, Fyne already has distribution deals in 50 countries and offers 24 products in seven series.
Martin Colloms  |  Apr 08, 2020  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1988  |  13 comments
Landmarks in speaker design have been few and far between. There are a few certain contenders: in the UK, the original Quad Electrostatic and the ESL-63 qualify, while the Celestion SL600 scored a big point for all small monitors; the Spendor BC1 changed forever the notion that cone speakers were always colored and that big boxes were essential for good sound. In the States, Apogee has taught us much with their surprising mid-treble ribbon-based designs. Other technologies have shown promise but have not achieved real commercial success.
Art Dudley  |  Apr 01, 2020  |  51 comments
In my January 2020 Listening column, I wrote about a place where three things overlap: the joys (and benefits) of being a record collector, the natural tendency to grow and challenge ourselves as listeners, and the need to forgive ourselves for the shortcomings of our youth. The hook was the story of how I started out disliking the music of guitarist John Fahey (1939–2001) and ended up loving it. But it could just as easily have been about cooking or hiking or Jethro Tull or any of a number of other things.
Ken Micallef  |  Mar 31, 2020  |  53 comments
Between the mid-1980s and late 2000s, Stereophile published 14 reviews of loudspeakers from England's ProAc Limited. First came Dick Olsher's review of the ProAc Tablette in 1984. The latest—until now—was in 2010, when John Marks wrote about the ProAc Response D Two.
Larry Greenhill  |  Feb 27, 2020  |  22 comments
The Sonus Faber Olympica Nova 1 ($6500/pair) is the company's latest stand-mounted, two-way monitor—a lineage that began with their first speaker, the Minima, which I reviewed some 24 years ago. Like the products that followed, the Minima featured a 1" silk-dome tweeter and a 4" reflex-loaded paper-based midbass driver, both attached to a leather-covered baffle and housed in a beautiful wood cabinet, hand-crafted in Italy. I enjoyed the Minima's sound, as did this magazine's Sam Tellig, who praised its "sweet, forgiving, slightly rolled-off on top, and somewhat ripe . . . mid-to-upper bass," with superb focus and imaging that was a "treat for sore ears."
John Atkinson  |  Jan 03, 2020  |  30 comments
When I performed the measurements of the Q Acoustics Concept 500 loudspeaker to accompany Thomas J. Norton's review in March 2019, I was impressed by what I found. The floorstanding Concept 500 offers a high level of audio engineering excellence for its price of $5999.99/pair. When I attended a Q Acoustics press briefing a few months back, where the English company announced the US availability of their stand-mounted Concept 300, I didn't hesitate to ask for a pair to review.

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