Loudspeakers

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Andy Whittle and Keith Howard  |  Aug 24, 2009
Vienna Acoustics was established in 1989 by Peter Gansterer in, believe it or not, Vienna. The city has some of the finest concert halls in the world, and may be considered as the birth-place of Classical (or Western Art) music. Peter lived in Vienna whilst studying acoustics… So no prizes for guessing how this ends up: a fine range of speakers named after classical composers, most of whom worked in Vienna. At the top of the Grand series is the Mahler, followed by the Beethoven Concert Grand, the Beethoven Baby Grand, the Mozart Grand and, finally, the Bach Grand.
Review: David Price, Review and Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jan 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngIt may not look as outrageous as the iconic B&W Nautilus, but this is its younger, and arguably superior offspring

When B&W introduced the Nautilus in 1993 it created what is surely the most iconic loudspeaker any of us will ever see. Its 'snail on steroids' look projected it on to countless magazine pages around the world and gave B&W the kind of PR boost company CEOs dream of. Only it wasn't a PR man that contrived the Nautilus, it was B&W's then senior design engineer Laurence Dickie. And though it looked like something created by H R Giger for the set of Alien, the Nautilus was actually an exemplar of the Bauhaus diktat that form follows function. It looked that way because it needed to be that way.

Review: David Price, Review and Lab: Keith Howard  |  Sep 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngIf you've admired Vivid Audio's design philosophy but baulked at its styling, the new Kaya range is for you

Audiophiles can be a conservative bunch. Me, I sometimes feel that if I ever see another wood veneered box loudspeaker I'll attack it with a chainsaw but others of you, I know, prefer the old aesthetic, or at least a modern take on it, to curved, organic cabinet forms – especially if painted in primary colours. For a company like Vivid Audio, which appreciates and exploits the benefits of curved cabinets in respect of structural stiffness and clean diffraction behaviour, this is a problem.

Steve Harris and Keith Howard  |  May 08, 2011
Forming an enclosure from glass is a costly process. So Waterfall’s floorstander represents fine value with style Peceived wisdom generally has it that a loudspeaker’s enclosure should be inert, so that we hear the acoustic output of the speaker’s transducers unsullied by the additional singing along of a cabinet. As ever in our wonderful world of sound reproduction there are designers who refute this given ideal. The late American speaker maestro Peter Snell, for example, whose Snell Type J and Type E models from the 1970s live on in the guise of today’s UK-made Audio Note speakers.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 30, 2015
Wharfedale describes the Jade range as its ‘new audiophile class speaker designs’, using computer-aided modelling and new material technologies. In the visually striking Jade 5, the tweeter and midrange are embraced in a combination housing that’s common to all the Jade models, raising the axis of the tweeter’s 25mm aluminium dome to peep above the front edge of the curved, sloping cabinet top. While the midrange has a 75mm concave aluminium/pulp diaphragm, the twin 165mm bass units use a new cone material called Acufibre, said to ‘marry the responsiveness of glass and carbon fibre’ in aself-damping woven matrix. They are impressed with a moulded pattern to break up standing waves.
Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Mar 19, 2019
hfnoutstandingWith its D series, Wharfedale yet again aims to redefine the art of the possible in budget loudspeaker design

There's something very special about a bargain hi-fi product able to defy expectations with a surprising level of performance. It stood the original Wharfedale Diamond speakers in good stead in the early 1980s, and continues to be a hallmark of the range to this day, in the Diamond 11 series [HFN Dec '17]. So it's intriguing to see the company launch another budget speaker series to run alongside the Diamond 11s, in the form of the D300 lineup.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Dec 01, 2017
hfnoutstanding.pngNot the diddiest of the new Diamonds, but can the smart-looking 11.1 live up to its heritage?

The highly competitive British budget speaker market has long been a thing of wonder – or should that be bafflement? – for overseas observers. For many years, all the major players in the industry vied to squeeze maximum sales appeal out of boxes designed to sell for around £100 a pair, with each successful debut instantly setting itself up as the brightly-lit target for its near rivals.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngWelcomed with open arms by those seeking a quality speaker for use in a tight space, the Diamond created the market for affordable mini monitors. How will it sound today?

Loudspeakers are surely the most fashion-conscious segment of the hi-fi market. There are Japanese amplifiers on sale today that look little different to their predecessors being sold in the late '70s. Yet the same 'period look' can hardly be said to be popular when it comes to speakers.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Oct 16, 2014
Customer and retailer reactions have suggested the need for a new Wilson speaker closer in performance to the universally-acclaimed Alexandria XLF [HFN Nov ’12], but one that swallowed no more real estate than a Sasha. With a footprint close to the Sasha’s, the Alexia hosts only a slight increase in height, due mainly to the necessarily larger woofer enclosure. To provide a goodly portion of the XLF’s adaptability, precision and coherence, the smaller Alexia had to offer adjustability of the midrange and tweeter positioning with to-the-millimetre accuracy, according to room specifics and the location of the owner’s ‘hot seat’. That meant a head section with movable segments, but with a volume akin to that of the original WATT.
Review: José Victor Henriques, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Mar 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngImproved sensitivity and a deeper bass are just two features of the Master Chronosonic-inspired Alexia S2

During their time, Wilson's famous 'Watt Puppies' were upgraded on as many as seven occasions, until the Sasha W/P was born (now also in its Series 2 iteration). The Sasha was no longer a standalone monitor with a carrying handle and a matching subwoofer but a fully-fledged modular integrated loudspeaker system.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 30, 2015
The Duette 2 is a thorough revamp of the 2006 original, with its aesthetics enhanced by design cues that first appeared in the larger Wilson models – the optional stand, too, is a visual treat. Like the original, the Duette 2 uses the separate Novel crossover, its outboard status increasing the internal volume of the speaker so it still has ample space for an 8in woofer. Mounted inside the newly-designed stand, the crossover is mechanically isolated in its own dedicated enclosure. Upgrading the tweeter has involved the inclusion of a rear wave chamber, which is said to attenuate spurious energy ‘generated at the rear of the driver that would otherwise leak out of the acoustically translucent dome’.
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: José Victor Henriques, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 10, 2019
hfnoutstandingLaunched to celebrate the life's work of Wilson Audio's founder, this new Sasha is no mere mk3

The Sasha DAW is a tribute product launched by Daryl Wilson to honour his recently deceased father and Wilson Audio's founder, David Andrew Wilson, whose initials denote the latest form of this iconic loudspeaker. In practice, the Sasha DAW has the same form factor and three-way, four drive configuration as the Sasha Series-2 [HFN Jun '14].

Ken Kessler & Keith Howard  |  Jan 16, 2010
Since the early 1980s, Wilson Audio has produced speakers as physically small as the Duette and the original WATT, not just behemoths such as the Alexandria. It has been my good fortune to have heard almost every model, either at shows, at the Wilson listening room in Provo, Utah or in friends’ homes. And there’s a reason why I have used the smaller Wilsons as my primary reference for 25 years or so: they allow me to listen into the recording. Unlike most, though, I don’t necessarily believe that the progression from smallest model to largest should incite an automatic desire to follow that ascent.
Martin Colloms, Ken Kessler  |  Jun 22, 2021  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1995
hfnvintageWilson Audio's Tiny Tot and matching Puppy subwoofer reach maturity with the new System V versions. Martin Colloms and Ken Kessler listen

During the preliminaries for this review I suffered a major blow at around 3am one morning [writes Martin Colloms]. I was woken up by a thundering roar from the listening room that sounded like a door being smashed down by men with sledgehammers and which wrote off a number of drivers in the speakers.

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