Loudspeakers

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Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 26, 2022
hfnoutstandingNo mere trickledown, the R7t floorstander inherits a full flood of technology from its flagship stablemate

Shoppers are always on the hunt for a bargain, so anything labelled 'half-price' attracts attention. Okay, that usually applies more to supermarket biscuits than floorstanding loudspeakers, but with Perlisten's R7t selling for £8100 – pretty much half that of the American company's flagship S7t [HFN Apr '22], while looking strikingly similar – it immediately appears a potential bargain. On the other hand, there must be changes behind the scenes for the price tag to have dropped so much, so the question becomes, will it sound only 'half as good'?

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 15, 2022
hfnoutstandingThis well-established German brand's Reference K loudspeaker series starts off with a compact, but deep, standmount design and it sounds as polished as it looks...

What do you envisage when you think of 'serious speakers'? All too often it can seem that bigger means better, judging by some of the behemoths we've recently had through the HFN listening room. For a while it seemed that every speaker stood taller than us, and had a mass well into three-figure kilo territory, often with a price that would buy a very decent car, even in the current shortage-inflated market. In the face of all that, Canton's Reference 9K could look desperately unfashionable, standing as it does just 41cm tall and with a price of £2850 in either black, white or cherry veneer finishes, all with a multilayer lacquer topcoat.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 22, 2022
hfncommendedCanadian brand long-known for its high-end digital and analogue separates has now added a compact standmount to its range. So a full system is no longer a 'Blue Moon'...

Back in 2016, Simaudio added the MOON ACE to its range of pre, power and integrated amplifiers. A slimline machine with analogue, digital and network connectivity (the latter including Roon Ready status and streaming service support through its proprietary MiND module), the ACE clearly warranted 'just-add-speakers' status. The only problem? Simaudio didn't have any...

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 08, 2022
hfncommendedAvailing itself of the latest DSP and Class D amps, the Pearl Pelegrina is a sophisticated 'connected' speaker

There's no escaping it: sitting in front of Cabasse's Pearl Pelegrina, the £22,599 flagship of the French company's Pearl speaker range, the punning phrase 'the eyes have it' kept going through my mind, so great was the sense of these spherical enclosures fixing me with a beady stare. Of course, this look is nothing new for the designers in Brest, out on the tip of Brittany: at the top of its range is the huge La Sphère loudspeaker [HFN Feb '10], its 70cm globe perched atop a helical stand, and driven by a rackful of dedicated crossovers and amplifiers.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 25, 2022
hfncommendedLaunched 44 years ago, the original 770 loudspeaker with its polypropylene woofer and white baffle was nothing if not controversial. Will the reimagined 770 also make waves?

Hi-fi's 'subjective' revolution was just picking up steam when Mission's 770 shovelled a heap of coal on the fire in 1978. The move away from heavy plastics (Bextrene) was reflected in its polypropylene bass/mid driver while the light but rigid ply cabinet doffed its cap to earlier BBC-inspired designs. Its sound, meanwhile, provoked more column inches over the years than possibly any speaker since! The 770 received a very favourable review in Hi-Fi News [HFN Mar '79, 'Milestones' HFN Aug '12 and 'From the Vault' HFN Dec '15] but, writing elsewhere, a fledgling author by the name of Ken Kessler was, shall we say, less enthusiastic...

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 14, 2022
hfnoutstandingHaving wowed us with its flagship S7t floorstanders, Perlisten is looking to do more of the same with its DPC driver tech pressed into a more modest, room-friendly cabinet

Perlisten Audio, a newly arrived loudspeaker manufacturer from Wisconsin, US, has already made an impressive entrance with its flagship model, the seven-driver S7t floorstander [HFN Apr '22]. Yet as that speaker boasts a £16,000 price tag – and a 59kg cabinet – many newcomers to the brand will look elsewhere in the range to see how far their budget can stretch. The £7200 S4b auditioned here isn't exactly 'affordable' but does come with a more manageable bookshelf build, plus the promise of a high-end performance similar to that of its towering stablemate, by virtue of shared technologies.

Review: Andrew Everard, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 11, 2022
hfnoutstandingInspired by 1980s behemoths, PS Audio's inaugural loudspeakers have a sound to match their striking looks

At a time when every new high-end product seems to come with an extensive backstory, the legend behind the 'aspen' FR30, the first speakers from Colorado-based PS Audio, still takes some beating. The £28,000-a-pair floorstanders have, we're told, been '50 years in the making', which places their beginnings just before that of the company itself, started by Paul McGowan and Stan Warren in 1973. In between times, McGowan left, worked with Arnie Nudell of Infinity Systems and then bought back the PS Audio name in the late 1990s, becoming its CEO. So we can safely assume that what is now realised as the aspen FR30 has been in the works for all that time.

Review: Jamie Biesemans, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 20, 2022
hfnoutstandingFor 50 years and two generations Germany's Canton has been building 'audiophile' loudspeakers. We catch up...

The Reference lineup from Canton marks the apex of its engineering thinking, combining years of experience with new computer modelling software and a freshly built testing laboratory. Given 'free rein', its designers came up with no fewer than nine separate models for the new Reference K series, including six floorstanders, one standmount, a centre channel speaker and a 750W-rated active subwoofer for home theatre applications.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 06, 2022
hfnoutstandingKEF's flagship Blade cuts to the heart of the music, and with 'MAT' on board its edge has never been keener

More than a decade after their launch, there's still nothing quite like the KEF Blade One speakers. Well, OK, there's the smaller Blade Two [HFN Jul '15], but the point still stands! The result of one of those 'no constraints' projects that speaker companies seem to love, the original 'Concept Blade' created a stir with its radical styling and carbon-fibre construction. The final retail version employed a more production-friendly high-density polycarbonate, but the speakers were unmistakably the same, and just as unmistakably odd.

Review: Mark Craven  |  May 09, 2022
hfnoutstandingInspired by the flagship Concept 500, Q Acoustics' '50 packs a host of trickledown thinking into its slender frame

When Q Acoustics launched its Concept loudspeaker range in 2013, it began with a sub-£500 standmount – the Concept 20 [HFN Feb '14]. While this was in keeping with the value-for-money reputation the UK brand had developed since its arrival in 2006, within a few years it was reaching higher with the (then) £3000 Concept 300 and £4200 flagship Concept 500 [HFN Jul '17].

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 05, 2022
hfnoutstandingNew kid on the block, Perlisten Audio, is creating a stir straight out of the gates. We test the flagship floorstander

There's a perception that the US, the home of muscle cars, foot-long hot dogs and canyons a mile deep, is also the home of monster-sized loudspeakers. And not, it must be said, without good reason – there are various American manufacturers that frequently put the floor into 'floorstander', building models that require considerable carpet space and suit large listening rooms. So it wasn't much of a surprise to discover Perlisten Audio, a new brand from Verona, Wisconsin, kicking things off with the S7t, an almost 1.3m-tall seven-driver tower weighing in at 55kg.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 21, 2022
hfncommendedNot all audiophiles have massive listening rooms... System Audio comes to the rescue with an on-wall 'LCR' loudspeaker aimed at both AV and two-channel enthusiasts

If you're looking at System Audio's Legend 7.2 and thinking 'Why would I want to hang a loudspeaker on my wall?' then it's probably not the model for you. And that would be understandable. Many hi-fi enthusiasts have the space and flexibility to accommodate floorstanding or standmount speakers, and no need to pinch real estate from any surface other than their living room floor. For those, an on-wall speaker is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 29, 2022
hfnoutstandingAVID's 'sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut' two-way features a massive all-alloy cabinet with tuned mass dampers to kill unwanted resonances – and this is the smallest in its range!

The friend who helped me unload these three AVID Hi-Fi boxes – one for each Reference Four speaker, at £20,000 a pair, plus one for the included (and very hefty) stands – thought he'd nailed it. 'What are these for, then?' he asked, 'heavy metal music?'. He wasn't far off the truth for while most speakers do very nicely indeed with variations on the wooden box theme, the Reference Fours use all-alloy cabinets, with panels up to 15mm-thick, sitting on six 'risers' attached to a thick alloy baseplate. Hence why each of these relatively compact speakers, at just under 37cm tall, weighs 25kg.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 08, 2022
hfnoutstandingThe 'baby' of B&W's latest 800 series may be a compact standmount but it packs a good deal of the D4 DNA into its 'reverse wrap' enclosure. There's a walnut finish too...

There are standmount speakers, and then there is Bowers & Wilkins' 805 D4. Priced £6250, blessed with a suite of proprietary cabinet and driver technologies, and finished in a gorgeous blend of aluminium, leather and wood veneer or gloss paint, it's very much a premium proposition. Indeed, the idea here is that buyers either outpriced or out-sized by the floorstanding speakers in B&W's latest 800 Diamond range can still enjoy more than a taste of the hi-fi high-life.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 18, 2022
hfncommendedJBL is promising us 'great things from a small package' as it continues its theme of mixing pro heritage aesthetics with modern acoustic technology. Is the 4309 a blast?

The verdict was in almost before I started listening to the prosaically-named JBL 4309 speakers, yours for £1799 a pair in a choice of natural or black walnut satin wood veneers and with blue or black grilles over their mid/bass drivers. A visitor took one look at the speakers' horn-loaded tweeter and twin front-venting bass ports, and – before even a note had been played – opined that, 'They look like proper little rock-boxes'.

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