Loudspeakers

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John Atkinson  |  Feb 23, 2021
hfnvintageJohn Atkinson lives with the KEF R107, its new range-topping contender

An understated revolution in loudspeaker design has been taking place in Kent. KEF's Technical Director Laurie Fincham has put together a team of engineers who have been quietly but thoroughly examining the fundamentals of moving-coil, box loudspeaker behaviour, spinning off a regular series of products, starting with the original R105 nearly a decade ago.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 22, 2021
hfncommendedThe flagship of B&W's Anniversary Edition takes the range to a new price level, and promises performance to match

The special editions have been coming thick and fast this year, and this is the second recent 'tuned' range from Worthing-based Bowers & Wilkins, following hot on the heels of the 700 Series Signature models. We've reviewed the 702 Signature floorstander [HFN Sep '20], and the formula for the 600 Series Anniversary lineup is a familiar one: new finishes, and some mild performance tuning.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 17, 2021
hfnvintageBass-heavy behemoth or technical tour de force? We hear a range-topping speaker first launched in 1975 that promised 'true waveform fidelity'. How will it shape up?

Although the Japanese dominated much of the hi-fi scene during the 1970s, there was one important area where their reach was more limited. That was the loudspeaker market. Yes, the companies' catalogues may have been full of glittering arrays of tempting models, but dealers outside of Japan seldom had that many in stock for interested buyers either to see or hear.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 15, 2021
hfnoutstandingBucking the trend – Scansonic goes for the slender, multi-driver approach for its flagship design, to impressive effect

The MB series is the high-end range from Scansonic, and the MB6 B the flagship of the latest iteration of this lineup. Yet in an arena where bulky, room-dominating speakers prevail, this design takes a different approach. Yes, it's tall, at just over 1.4m, but the company has kept it slender – at under 18cm, the front baffle is narrower than that of many a much smaller design. For example, even the little B&W 606 standmount speaker is a centimetre wider than this floorstanding tower.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 04, 2021
hfnoutstandingAccordo standmount gains a dedicated woofer and larger, floorstanding cabinet. Hey presto: the Essence

No kidding: when I first fired up the Franco Serblin Accordo Essence, I figured it sold for around £20,000, somehow forgetting that the loudspeaker above it – the flagship Ktêma [HFN Sep '20] – cost £25k. Surely they wouldn't price two models so closely? Equally, I failed to recall that the standmount Accordo [HFN Jan '18] from which it is derived sells for only £7500. The pricing, however, illustrates how Massimiliano Favella is sticking to a plan where each model fills a sonic and fiscal gap: the Accordo Essence will set you back £12,998 per pair.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 25, 2021
hfncommendedDesigned and handcrafted by the father and son team at Lu Kang Audio, the Spoey230 is the heavyweight flagship standmount of this artisan range from Taiwan's Taipei City

The last time you bought a television you probably came across no more than five or six different brands. But what about the last time you bought loudspeakers? It's one of the joyful aspects of hi-fi: the industry is very broad here, supporting a diverse range of manufacturers with different design ideals, resulting in an equally diverse choice for enthusiasts.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 31, 2020
hfnoutstandingFive years on and Wilson Audio's Sabrina earns its 'X' – an overhaul that raises the bar for compact floorstanders

Five years – that's how long ago the Sabrina was launched and five years seems about right before making a new version of any model as good as the original was – and remains [HFN Aug '15]. Rightly, the upgrade is comprehensive, not a mere facelift, which is reassuring if you're wondering why a £15k per pair model is now priced at £21,500-£23,000. As for the price span, it covers three standard or three deluxe 'WilsonGloss' paint finishes, which can be co-ordinated with five grille colours. Our review sample is pictured here in the 'upgraded' gloss Ivory.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 23, 2020
hfncommendedWith a heritage that can be traced back over 60 years, and still now only in its fourth generation, the Heresy is manna from heaven for the nonconformist audiophile

American loudspeaker marque Klipsch has a longer history than many, something emphasised by its new 'p***ing off the neighbours since 1946' slogan. And its Heresy model itself dates back to 1957, when company founder Paul W Klipsch first developed a compact three-way floorstander to act as a centre speaker within a stereo installation. It has remained part of the Klipsch stable ever since, undergoing revisions first in 1985 and then 2006. Now it has been relaunched as the Heresy IV, priced £3500 per pair and forming the entry point to the Klipsch Heritage range.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 19, 2020
hfnoutstandingThe baby model in Paradigm's flagship loudspeaker range wants to prove good things can come in small packages

With its Persona series, Paradigm has taken the concept of a 'flagship' products to heart. This loudspeaker collection, launched in 2016, is not merely the Canadian manufacturer's most expensive, but one intended to represent 'the technological abilities of Paradigm engineering'. So what does that entail? Advanced driver and cabinet designs, a new-look aesthetic, and custom finish options across a range that drops from the £34,000-per-pair passive/active Persona 9H [HFN Dec '19], to the Persona B auditioned here.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 09, 2020
hfncommendedAn unchanged exterior hides PMC's crossover and driver upgrades made to its premium three-way floorstander

In The Who's 'Won't Get Fooled Again', Roger Daltrey memorably sings 'Meet the new boss – same as the old boss'. It's a phrase that sprang to my mind when confronted by PMC's twenty5.26i, as this floorstanding speaker is, outwardly, identical to its twenty5.26 predecessor launched in 2016, with cabinet dimensions matching to the millimetre. Yet PMC describes its new twenty5i series as a 'substantial re-engineering', improving performance without moving away from the signature sound of its forbear.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 22, 2020
hfnoutstandingAn enhanced crossover and Datuk Gloss ebony-coloured veneer sees the 702 S2 offered in a 'Signature' guise

You'd be forgiven for a double-take when gazing upon the latest offerings from Bowers & Wilkins, the £4499 702 Signature speakers. One of two new Signature models from the Worthing-based company – the other is the £2699 705 Signature standmount – there's little to set this slender floorstander apart from the £3399 702 S2 on which it's based [HFN Dec '17], beyond a rather snazzy wood finish to the cabinet, some shinier trim-rings around the drivers, with a matching grille over the tweeter, and a metal 'Signature' plate on the rear panel.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 01, 2020
hfnoutstandingAs boutique Italian brand Franco Serblin prepares to boost its range we look at the iconic flagship

Franco Serblin, who passed away in 2013, first unveiled his flagship Ktêma in 2010. He had left Sonus faber, which he founded in 1983, in 2006, so the Ktêma was in development for nearly five years before he felt it was ready to be sold by the new company bearing his name. I remember the tension during its gestation, and Franco's elation at being able to produce a no-compromise system – not that he was ever restrained at Sonus faber. Think of the phenomenal Extrema, Guarneri and Stradivarius. The wait for the Ktêma proved worth it – as did the anticipation lasting a decade to hear a pair in my own system.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 21, 2020
hfncommendedThis Danish brand, new to the UK, has made a name for itself on the Continent with its passive-to-active speakers

The 1994 Keanu Reeves movie Speed rewrote the Hollywood rulebook when it came to action cinema. System Audio's Legend 40 is not quite as disruptive, being a three-way floorstander with a mid-level price tag, but it too has a focus on speed. 'A System Audio speaker is much faster than a conventional loudspeaker', boasts the Danish brand. Time to buckle up, then…

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 14, 2020
hfnoutstandingA foundation range for two decades, MA's Bronze series goes for gold with the standmount 100

Is it brave to label a loudspeaker series 'Bronze', with the implication that its models are worse than second-best? Monitor Audio doesn't seem to think so, and has been using its precious metal hierarchy long enough for its Bronze lineup to now be relaunched in sixth-generation guise, five years after a previous update [HFN Feb '16]. The promise, as always, is of speakers that hit the price/performance sweet-spot via trickle-down driver tech, while looking good, too. Silver, Gold and Platinum are ranged above, and below you'll find the Monitor series, presumably because Copper felt like a step too far...

Review and Lab: Paul Miller, Review: Andrew Everard  |  Sep 02, 2020
hfnedchoiceThere certainly aren't many speakers that look like them, but these baby models – yes, really – in the Swiss brand's wireless active range combine style with all-alloy substance

When the entry-level model in a speaker range costs £70,000 a pair, and weighs no less than 80kg – that's each speaker – you'd rightly assume you're in very serious high-end territory. And yes, imposing though the Prana speaker looks, its two aluminium enclosures mounted on a hefty 'Z-frame' and the whole enterprise standing some 99cm tall, this is the baby of this particular range. Above it sit the Satya speakers, 1.23m tall, 140kg apiece and £110,000 a pair, while the flagship is the 1.47m tall, 180kg-a-pop Samadhi, yours for a nice neat £200k a pair...

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