Loudspeakers

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Review and Lab: Keith Howard  |  Apr 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngA staple at the Hi-Fi Show Live, Magnepan's largest Magneplanar finally gets its first in-depth test

Back in the 1980s, when the UK hi-fi scene began, belatedly, to experience products from places more exotic than Glasgow, Bradford, Huntingdon, Maidstone and Salisbury – ones that didn't say 'Made in Japan' on them – the USA provided a stream of surprises, one of the most memorable being Magneplanar loudspeakers. For most audiophiles, isodynamic drivers were something you found in a left-field Wharfedale headphone of the early 1970s, yet here were full-range panel speakers using essentially the same technology.

Paul Miller and Keith Howard  |  Mar 10, 2011
After a long absence, Magnepan's iconic 'room screen' panel speakers are finally back in the UK Firsts linger long in the memory. That first school, first car, first kiss. . .
Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Mar 21, 2019
hfncommendedWith its unique Manger Sound Transducer full-range driver, this high-end floorstander is as unconventional as it looks

It is refreshing to see that there's still a place for purple prose in press releases. While so many documents describing new products are rather dry, German company Manger does things differently. It talks about its 'technological masterpiece' opening up 'a new horizon' and of 'goose bumps' triggering emotions and 'touching the heart'. Such flowery fluff might sail over the heads of hardened hi-fi hacks, but it's hardly necessary because the £11,429 P2 needs no hype at all. In practice, it's an intriguing, thought-provoking design featuring transducer technology that's far from run-of-the-mill.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 20, 2021
hfnoutstandingFlagship of the ElectroMotion series, this hybrid electrostatic promises a taste of the range-topping Masterpiece loudspeakers at a more wallet-friendly price

The hi-fi market is replete with loudspeakers that look a little 'different', but few are as eye-catching as an electrostatic design where music appears to be coming almost from thin air. MartinLogan, the Kansas-based company established in the early 1980s, is one of the technology's best-known advocates. It began life with a 'static model, and even though its range has expanded since into conventional box-type speaker territory, its mantra remains 'wherever possible, we go electrostatic'.

Ken Kessler and Keith Howard  |  Apr 24, 2009
Purists will never yield on the topic of full-range electrostatic vs hybrid. The reality is that ESLs need to be huge if they’re to deliver deep bass and high SPLs. So mazel tov to those who can house and afford, say, big Sound Labs. For the rest of us, hybrids are a sane compromise.
Ken Kessler and Keith Howard  |  Nov 25, 2009
Blown away by MartinLogan’s Spire earlier this year [see HFN, Apr ’09], I assumed that it would replace the Summit. Before the ink was dry, the Summit X was announced, and at a higher price point to ensure that the gap would prevent customer confusion. But in order to justify the cost difference, for a speaker not that much larger, its performance would have to be instantly, audibly superior. Luckily for ML, the Summit X may be the best hybrid the company has delivered to date.
Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 01, 2021
hfnedchoiceThe speaker with no sweet spot arrives on our shores, offering a sound that's as distinctive as its aesthetics

Few loudspeakers are as instantly recognisable as the 'Radialstrahlers' – directly translated 'radial emitters' – designed and built by German brand MBL. At every international hi-fi show their appearance draws crowds while the all-encompassing sound of those iconic 'melons' keeps visitors rooted to their seats. Am I giving away the punchline? Not really. Few seasoned audiophile travellers will not have heard these incredible music machines, but we have still waited a decade for them to reach these shores and be explored, inside and out, Hi-Fi News-style.

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...

David Berriman and Keith Howard  |  Oct 25, 2009
These new Mission 792s certainly have kerb appeal, or maybe that should be curve appeal. With their contoured sides, wrap-around grilles and sculpted front, no one could accuse them of not standing out from the crowd – even if their looks are sure to divide opinion sharply. The shiny black finish is actually genuine piano lacquer, with seven coats applied to create a truly deep and lustrous gloss. This approach is both labour and time intensive, as each coating must be dried for 24 hours before it is rubbed down by hand and re-sprayed.
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: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 16, 2021
hfncommendedThis slim floorstander has million-dollar looks but a wallet-friendly price, and aims to sound bigger than it seems

Monitor Audio's close-to-entry-level Bronze series wants to offer something for everyone – the full range runs to eight models, including various multichannel options – but it's perhaps the Bronze 200 floorstander that many potential buyers will investigate first. A slim two-and-half-way tower speaker priced £569, with attractive finish options (white, walnut, urban grey and black), plus driver technologies borrowed from pricier models, it appears at face value to offer performance potential and that hi-fi holy grail: value for money.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Oct 21, 2019
hfnoutstandingThis may be the baby of the latest Gold range, but it has the company's usual impeccable design, fit and finish, and a big sound that belies its compact dimensions

The hierarchy of the Monitor Audio loudspeaker range – starting with Bronze, and progressing through Silver and Gold to the flagship Platinum series – is well-established, and so too is the company's rolling programme of updating the products line by line. In recent times this has run alongside a series of acquisitions – the company scooped up electronics manufacturer Roksan in 2016, and more recently added Blok, the maker of the STAX range of hi-fi stands and AV racks, to its stable.

John Bamford and Keith Howard  |  Oct 02, 2011
Monitor Audio pushed the boat out with its prestigious PL300 floorstanders in 2007, the first speakers in its then new Platinum range to employ an in-house designed ribbon tweeter. Later came the more affordable PL200s with a slightly smaller footprint, £5000 three-ways whose sharp clarity and fi nesse impressed me greatly when we reviewed them in Dec ’09. Below the company’s flagship Platinum range comes the Gold series: substantially more affordable speakers with less elaborately constructed enclosures and drive units. The Gold GS models, in the market since 2006, have been replaced this year by an entirely new Gold line-up now called GX.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 24, 2010
If the Platinum Series was designed to enhance Monitor Audio’s ‘street cred’ among audio purists in the 21st century, it certainly hit the mark, the compact PL100 standmount and fl oorstanding PL300 having garnered numerous awards and accolades around the world. In photographs the ’200 might look identical to the PL300 but sit them side by side and immediately you’ll notice that it is unquestionably better suited to cramped living spaces, being 155mm slimmer, 85mm shallower and standing 115mm shorter at 998mm (39in) in height. The ribbon tweeter employed is formed of a material that Monitor Audio calls C-CAM: Ceramic- Coated Aluminium/Magnesium, the company claiming an output approaching as high as 100kHz. The ribbon was developed to work in a two-way speaker so it had to be able to operate from 2.
Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 18, 2022
hfnoutstandingMA's smallest fistful of Silver features a host of '7th generation' technology to punch above its weight

Arguably more so than any other UK loudspeaker manufacturer, Monitor Audio seems keen to offer something for everyone. Across its four ranges named after precious metals and an alloy (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze), it sells 16 different standmount/bookshelf and floorstanding models, stretching in price from £285 (the Bronze 50 6G) to £14,995 (the Platinum PL500 II). There are other lines too, including the budget Monitor series, compact Mass and Radius, and in-wall 'architectural' speakers. The Silver 50 7G auditioned here, a compact two-way priced at £575, hails from Monitor Audio's mid-range, although it's a mid-range that's considerably more crowded than most.

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