Floor Loudspeaker Reviews

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 27, 2018  |  32 comments
German manufacturer Elac had a significant North American presence in the 1960s and '70s, primarily with its Miracord automatic turntables. While it eventually disappeared from the US market, Elac never ceased to be a player in Europe, where it eventually shifted its primary focus from turntables to loudspeakers.

When Elac decided to reenter the US market a few years ago, its success was hardly assured. Faced with hundreds of brand names and thousands of models fighting for attention, it hired veteran speaker guru Andrew Jones to improve the odds. In his previous work, first for KEF and then for TAD and Pioneer, Jones had built a solid reputation on designing well-received, cost-no-object speakers as well as high-value budget designs.

Robert Deutsch  |  Oct 25, 2018  |  5 comments
"Any color, so long as it's black." That was the choice famously offered by Henry Ford to buyers of his Model T. Some makers of loudspeakers, notably GoldenEar Technology, follow the same dictum.

Not Focal. The Kanta No.2 ($9999/pair) is available with a cabinet finished in High Black Lacquer or Walnut veneer, with baffles finished in a variety of colors, including High Glass Carrara White and Gauloise Blue. The review samples had black cabinets and white baffles, which made me think of the two-tone cars that were the rage in the 1950s and '60s—and which may be coming back.

John Atkinson  |  Oct 18, 2018  |  34 comments
Doug White, of Philadelphia-area retailer The Voice That Is, has been a fixture at US audio shows the past few years, where he always gets great sound using loudspeakers from Tidal Audio. (There is no connection between the German audio manufacturer and the music-streaming service owned by Jay Z and Sprint.) In early 2017, Herb Reichert, Jana Dagdagan, and I visited White and spent a delightful afternoon listening to Tidal's then-new Akira loudspeakers. I promised myself to review the Akira, which costs a wallet-straining $215,000/pair, when my schedule opened up. As things turned out, it was more than a year before that opportunity presented itself.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Sep 20, 2018  |  27 comments
Since its founding in 1982, Paradigm has developed and sold high-value loudspeakers. When my wife and I acquired our weekend house in 1992, I selected a pair of Paradigm Esprit/BP speakers for our audio system there. Shortly thereafter, however, I wanted to take my big step into multichannel, and it seemed that the Esprits' bipolar radiation would present problems for multichannel sound in my relatively small room. Back then, Manhattan still had many audio salons; after shopping around, I replaced the Esprit/BPs with Paradigm's Reference Studio/60 v.2s, and in 2004 stepped up to the Studio/60 v.3s.
Michael Fremer  |  Sep 18, 2018  |  40 comments
In 1959, in their musical revue At the Drop of a Hat, the British musical-comedy team of Flanders and Swann sang their "Song of Reproduction." It's not about sex. The song mocks audiophiles (you thought this was something recent?) for how we spend "all of that money to get the exact effect of an orchestra actually playing in their sitting room." Before launching into the song, Flanders quips, "Personally, I can't think of anything I should hate more than having an orchestra playing in my sitting room!"
John Atkinson  |  Jun 14, 2018  |  99 comments
One of the benefits of being a reviewer is that, of the large number of products that pass through my listening room, occasionally there are those that I really would like to see take up more permanent residence. One of these was Wilson Audio Specialties' Alexia loudspeaker, which I reviewed in December 2013. "Its clarity, its uncolored, full-range balance, its flexibility in setup and optimization, and most of all its sheer musicality, are, if not unrivaled, rare," I wrote, and concluded: "If I were to retire tomorrow, the Wilson Alexia would be the speaker I would buy to provide the musical accompaniment to that retirement." Nothing I subsequently heard disabused me of that dream, though a couple of other speakers, in particular Vivid Audio's Giya G3 and KEF's Blade Two, joined the Alexia on my bucket list.
Michael Fremer  |  May 24, 2018  |  9 comments
Viginti is Latin for twenty. It's also the name of a new loudspeaker from EgglestonWorks, to be produced in a limited edition of 250 pairs in celebration of the launch, 20 years ago, of the company's original Andra, on which the Viginti is based. The Viginti is a shapely and eye-pleasing 4' 2" tall, and weighs 255 lb—kind of heavy for its size.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Apr 26, 2018  |  25 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.
Art Dudley  |  Feb 27, 2018  |  12 comments
Five years ago, I reviewed the Alumine loudspeaker from Stenheim, a Swiss company founded by four former employees of Goldmund SA. I noted the Alumine's surprisingly "high sensitivity and easy drivability," praised its performance for being "clean but neither sterile nor colorless," and admired, in my geeky way, the coated cellulose-fiber cone of its 5" midbass driver, which is made in Chartrettes, France—just southeast of Paris—by a company called PHL.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Feb 22, 2018  |  9 comments
It seems to me that my review of Monitor Audio's Silver 8 loudspeaker was published only a few months ago. Actually, it's been three years. The Silver 8 so impressed me that I bought three of them, along with two Silver 2 bookshelf speakers, for my multichannel system in Connecticut—and still greet them as the newcomers to my system. So installing and reviewing their successors, the 300, from the sixth generation of Monitor's Silver line, seemed very familiar.
Jim Austin  |  Jan 04, 2018  |  14 comments
Phrases like high fidelity and perfectionist audio suggest a central norm to which all things audio should aspire. Not a bad idea, in some ways, but if you look at the wide variety of loudspeakers out there that people love, from the old-school Auditorium 23s to the high-tech KEFs and Vivids, it can be hard to figure out what they all have in common.
John Atkinson  |  Dec 19, 2017  |  13 comments
Back in January 2010, in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, I was prowling the corridors of the Venetian Hotel when I bumped into loudspeaker auteur Sandy Gross, cofounder first of Polk Audio and then of Definitive Technology. Knowing that Gross was no longer associated with Definitive, I asked him what he was getting up to in his retirement.

Retirement? He showed me a photo of a plain, cloth-covered, black tower speaker and promised to keep in touch. When next I heard from him, it was to announce that, along with his wife, Anne Conaway, and his former partner at DefTech, Don Givogue, he had started a new loudspeaker company, GoldenEar Technology, Inc., and that the plain black loudspeaker was the first in a line of models to be named Triton.

Jon Iverson  |  Dec 19, 2017  |  3 comments
It's been more than seven years since the late Wes Phillips reviewed Vivid Audio's top-of-the-line loudspeaker, the Giya G1, for Stereophile, and since then the speaker has been seriously revised. At first glance you still notice the sui generis form; closer inspection reveals fundamental changes that make it, in most respects, an entirely new speaker.
Art Dudley  |  Oct 05, 2017  |  8 comments
A place in the country: everyone's ideal.—Bryan Ferry, "Mother of Pearl"

Even at full strength, my family didn't need 3000-plus square feet of living space, let alone four acres of outdoor frolicking space, much of it wooded. But in 2003 that's precisely what we bought, partly because our deal fell through on another, very different house, partly because living next to a dairy farm was an appealing novelty, and partly because the hill on which the house is poised seemed defensible. On our very first morning in our new home—a Saturday in early June—we awoke to gunfire and puffs of smoke coming from the field below our hill.

John Atkinson  |  Sep 21, 2017  |  18 comments
Of all the speakers I have most enjoyed in recent years, two were from British manufacturer KEF: the LS50 Anniversary Model ($1500/pair), which I reviewed in December 2012; and the Blade Two ($25,000/pair), which I reviewed in June 2015. Though these two speakers lie at opposite ends of the price scale, they have in common KEF's unique Uni-Q drive-unit, in which the tweeter is mounted on the front of the midrange unit's pole piece, so that the lower-frequency cone acts as a waveguide for the higher-frequency output.

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