Loudspeakers

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Paul Miller  |  Nov 20, 2011
Classy German design matches fine build to engaging sonics Elac’s F247 Sapphire is finished with the sumptuous attention to detail. A slim, elegant floorstander boasts an eye-catching front baffle and mirror-like piano black finish. Elac’s signature JET tweeter and a pair of its multifaceted aluminium mid/bass drivers are fitted. These unusual cones are an aluminium sandwich design with cellulose filling, shaped to reduce unwanted vibrations.
Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Oct 30, 2019
hfnoutstandingThe new ELAC Navis 'powered speaker' series is a slick system alternative, whether or not you use it wirelessly

As one of the largest-scale speaker manufacturers around, US/German company ELAC has what can sometimes seem like a baffling range, all the way from very affordable mini-monitors and 'subwoofer and satellites' packages right the way up to very high-end floorstanding designs. And apart from the sheer breadth of the lineup, this diversity allows it to explore a variety of technologies: in this range there's no signs of a 'one design fits all, just in different scales' approach.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 28, 2020
hfncommendedDespite the success of its Debut and Adante models, ELAC retains its traditional designs, complete with JET tweeter

Constant change is here to stay' as the saying goes. And it's certainly true of ELAC – one of Germany's most long-established hi-fi manufacturers – as the brand has spread its wings over the past few years. ELAC began life way back in 1926 in the coastal town of Kiel, where its main focus concerned the development of sonar systems. It was after the Second World War that it began manufacturing turntables and pick-ups.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Oct 16, 2014
These Estelons deftly bridge the gap between the radically bizarre and domestically acceptable. Simply put, they look wonderful. Made from a marble based composite, standard finishes include black or white gloss, or matt black for £22,000 per pair. The review pair was finished in ‘Red Rocket Liquid Gloss’ [+£3000].
Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Mar 21, 2019
hfnoutstandingAn audio fantasy realised: the return of a bona fide, BBC-approved LS3/5a to match the original – Falcon Acoustics applies provenance and purism to the project

Handing me a pair of 'new' LS3/5as always elicits mixed feelings. Part of me wants the speaker back in production so badly that I tend to go soft on the latest contender. My dark side says it's impossible without KEF drivers, but that was to overlook Falcon Acoustics' pedigree. This brand offers kits and drivers plus the reincarnated LS3/5a we have here, selling for £2350-£2500 per pair depending on finish. It also has a secret weapon in its gene pool: Malcolm Jones.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jun 19, 2019
hfncommendedAn unusual blend of traditional tech and modern design practice, here's a deceptively capable floorstander

Sometimes you can be too clever by half. The pursuit of perfect sound, such as it is, takes many loudspeaker manufacturers way off-piste into all sorts of weird and wonderful drive unit types, cone materials and radical cabinet shapes. Yet there's a decent body of evidence to suggest that a conventional but well made box speaker - complete with high quality drive units that don't try to trip the light fantastic - can deliver just as impressive results.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Apr 16, 2020
hfncommendedTwo-dimensional wonder-material, Graphene, is making its way into driver cones, including Falcon's flagship

Oxfordshire-based Falcon Acoustics is perhaps best-known for two aspects of its business: first, it's a major supplier of drive units, both its own designs and those of partner companies; and second, it's the manufacturer of its own version of the classic LS3/5a speaker design [HFN Jan '19]. The Falcon Acoustics Classic 15ohm LS3/5a is fully BBC-licensed, hand-assembled in Oxford and 'the only LS3/5a in production that faithfully replicates the original BBC design published in Oct 1976'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 11, 2021
hfnoutstandingMore room and wallet-friendly than the flagship Borg, Fink's compact KIM packs no less 'tech'

No, they're not named after a Kardashian, a Rudyard Kipling novel or even Mel & pop partner. Instead, the new KIM standmount speakers from FinkTeam, selling for £8900 a pair complete with their dedicated open-frame stands, take their lead from the company's Borg speakers in having a Star Trek association. In this case it's somewhat less villainous, in the form of Voyager character Ensign Harry Kim, the ship's Operations Officer. It could all have been so different: story is, Kim was originally to be called by one of several names, including Jay Osaka.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 15, 2020
As Focal replaces its Chorus range of high-value speakers with a new Chora lineup, we test the flagship floorstander

Time waits for no one – especially if you're a speaker manufacturer. Focal knows this, and will regularly refresh its ranges to maintain its competitiveness. That said, the popular entry-level Chorus lineup [HFN Jun '08] has held sway for longer and only now is it superseded by the high-value Chora range.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Dec 01, 2018
hfnedchoice.pngThe latest Utopia flagship has improved drivers and cabinets – does the sound match its impressive presence?

When it comes to the description of products – and not just in hi-fi – one word has become so ubiquitous that it no longer has much meaning: that word is 'iconic'. Yet Focal has dodged that particular bullet by describing its new Grande Utopia EM Evo – all 265kg, two metres and £160k-a-pair of it – and its smaller stablemate, the Stella Utopia EM Evo, as 'the most emblematic high-fidelity loudspeakers of all its collections'.

Review: Cliff Joseph, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jan 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngA new range combines Focal’s traditional performance values with a more relaxed – and colourful – design

Based in Saint-Étienne, the company’s resolutely ‘made in France’ philosophy has led Focal to develop a number of its own acoustic technologies and designs, and even to use locally grown materials in the manufacture of its speakers. And now the company is continuing that no-compromise approach with its Kanta No2, the first in a new range of compact loudspeakers.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Aug 29, 2019
hfncommendedCelebrating its 40th anniversary, Focal continues to diversify and expand – its Kanta range now three-strong

Sitting smack-bang in the middle of the company's vast loudspeaker range, the Focal Kanta series is described as 'a new vision for a premium speaker', no less. Personally I'm not entirely convinced that this is so revolutionary, but the £4499 Kanta No1 still makes a fine case for itself. It's attractive, very well finished and sports some novel technologies.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Nov 12, 2019
hfnoutstandingThe latest – and largest – model in Focal's Kanta range combines its signature style with innovative materials

You might be tempted to see the Focal Kanta range as Utopia-lite: while the loudspeakers in what is now a three-strong lineup are one-piece designs, lacking the adjustable articulation of the flagship offering, they do echo the company's Utopia style [HFN Dec '18]. This is done by shaping the front baffle so that, in the £9000 Kanta No3 we have here, the two bass drivers are in a section of baffle sloping gently back from bottom to the midpoint where the tweeter is mounted, while the midrange driver at the top is slanted slightly downwards.

John Bamford and Keith Howard  |  Oct 25, 2009
When Scott Walker famously sang ‘My Ship Is Coming In’ he could have been describing taking delivery of a pair of Focal’s £110,000 Grande Utopia EMs, surely one of the finest dynamic loudspeakers known to humankind. Standing over 2m tall and weighing 260kg (each!), the four-way ‘Grande EM’ with its electromagnetic 16in woofer and user-adjustable ‘Focus Time’ cabinet construction is a statement product that challenges the envelope of speaker performance. Privileged indeed are the audiophiles with adequately large listening rooms in which to accommodate them and deep enough pockets to afford them. Focal is France’s largest and most successful speaker manufacturer, producing several series of hi-fi models ranging from affordable to, well, the price of a Bentley in the case of the aforementioned flagship.
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.

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