Loudspeakers

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Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 02, 2021
hfnoutstandingA new 800 series, and a return to the original 801 name, but the 801 D4's enhancements are more than skin deep

Some six years since the arrival of the Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond range, and over 40 years after the launch of the company's original 'no compromise' 801 model [Audio Milestones, HFN Jan '13], here we are with an all-new flagship lineup for the Worthing-based company. The timing's about right: in the rolling programme of upgrades, we've seen the 600 and 700 series replaced since the 800 D3 models broke cover [HFN Dec '15], and the company makes no secret of the fact that work started on these new 800s almost as soon as the last generation was released.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 24, 2021
hfncommendedSince its birth, devotees of the LS3/5A have craved more bass – does the answer lie in Rogers' active AB3a sub?

Delayed because of the pandemic, Rogers' AB3a subwoofer is one year off being able to claim it's the 25th anniversary celebration of its passive predecessor, 1995's AB1. Yes, the gap between them has been that long. The postponement doesn't, however, diminish the delight LS3/5A users will show for the arrival of a dedicated active subwoofer for one of the most celebrated small monitors in the history of hi-fi. It's here, and it's a honey.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 18, 2021
hfnoutstandingArguably the most durable model in the Kudos catalogue, the C20 has witnessed a graceful 12-year evolution

As is so often the case, last time I was at a hi-fi show – c'mon, you remember shows – I was amused by the reaction of a visitor. Having listened to a fully active system using Naim electronics and a pair of Kudos Titan speakers, 'Hmmm,' he said to no-one in particular, and with deadpan seriousness, 'Not bad for a stand company…'. Well, stands may have been the beginnings of Kudos, but it's come a long way since then.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 08, 2021
hfnoutstandingHot off the production line, this flagship of MA's 7th-gen Silver range marks a significant uplift in performance

By now, there's surely not an audiophile alive who doesn't know that Monitor Audio's Platinum loudspeaker series is its pinnacle, and that as you move down through Gold, Silver and Bronze the prices become friendlier and the technology trickles. Silver – a range that's been rolling for over 20 years – represents the sweet spot in this hierarchy, and, says the UK company, is its most popular series. Judging from the performance, build quality and elegant design of the £1725 Silver 500 7G, I can't imagine this popularity waning.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 22, 2021
hfncommendedFrench brand celebrates its Ruby Anniversary with a rose-gold tinted treble and two fabulous cabinet finishes

There's a definite feeling you're getting your money's worth when you encounter Triangle's Antal 40th Anniversary loudspeaker. This French floorstander, reasonably tall at 113cm and surprisingly deep at 35cm, arrives in an oversized box and, once excavated, greets you with 40th Anniversary branding on the front baffle and its quartet of drivers with eye-catching rose-gold anodised aluminium trims. I wouldn't say it looks a million dollars – there are too many right angles for that – but it certainly looks like it should cost more than the £3000 ticket (less still via some online retailers).

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 11, 2021
hfncommendedThe middle model in Scansonic's trio of M-series loudspeakers is one of the growing breed of 'compact floorstanders'

Take a look at these Scansonic floorstanders, and you'll notice they look big and impressive, especially for speakers selling for a sensible £1499 in very on-trend black or white silk finishes. But don't let our photographs of the M20 fool you for those mid/bass drivers are just 10cm in diameter – or four inches in old money – and the baffle a few cm wider still. Recalibrate your view based on those figures, and you'll realise these speakers are well short of a metre tall – 93.5cm, in fact – and that, if not quite knee-high to a grasshopper, means these aren't what you'd call 'room-dominating'.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 01, 2021
hfncommendedPromising the 'iconic JBL sound' from modern cabinets, we hear the flagship HDI floorstander

Some speakers are large, but manage to conceal their bulk through clever styling, but the £4000 HDI-3800 flagship of JBL's 'High-Definition Imaging' series manages to do exactly the opposite. It may only stand 1.1m tall, yet the combination of width and depth – 30cm and almost 42cm respectively – and a particularly upfront driver array makes this a rather imposing speaker to have in the room, with echoes of the company's PA range.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 23, 2021
hfncommendedMost compact SA floorstander is not only offered in fully active 'Silverback' guise, but now supports 'RAM Tweaks'

System building and component matching is the backbone of hi-fi. Sure, it might seem a never-ending process, each change yielding new results and then more experimentation, but it's an enjoyable one. The Legend 40.2 Silverback tested here, an active three-way floorstander with digital crossover, Analog Devices DSP and integrated DAC, bypasses a lot of that journey – and if combined with the optional wireless Stereo Hub (£400 when purchased with the speakers, £700 separately), removes the need for any cabling except a mains lead. Yet Danish manufacturer System Audio (SA) then uses the Silverback's digital architecture to offer its own take on audiophile fine-tuning, via a newly-launched range of DSP upgrades it calls 'RAM Tweaks'.

Review: Ed Selley, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 06, 2021
hfnoutstandingThere are three two-way standmounts in Spendor's 1970s-inspired Classic range, and the 3/1 is the centre model. Is this entirely UK-built model the sweetspot of the series?

Rather than follow tradition in everything it does, Spendor has wisely divided its loudspeakers into different categories. The company's A-Line and D-Line models aim to reflect changes in consumer tastes by combining fresh in-house design thinking with engineering philosophies it has spent years refining. Alongside these sits the Classic Series which, as the name suggests, sees the brand build upon proven technologies from its earliest days with an eye to keeping the flame of its renowned '70s designs alive.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 02, 2021
hfnoutstandingLaunched three years ago but only now released for review, PMC's flagship fenestria is a towering statement

The PMC fact fenestria – the British brand's flagship 'domestic' speaker (note lower case f) – was launched at a packed press conference at Munich's High End Show. That's the 2018 High End Show, and it's taken over three years for it to arrive for review – in which time the price has risen from the inaugural £45,000 to the £54,995 for the pair you see here. In the intervening period there's actually only been one Munich show – that in 2019, at which the company launched its smaller 'fact signature' models: the 2020 show fell victim to the pandemic, as did this year's at least twice, being rescheduled from May to September, then cancelled completely.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 16, 2021
hfnoutstandingTop passive floorstander in Paradigm's new Founder series is keenly, but not ambitiously priced. A high-end bargain?

My first, AV-focused, experiences of Paradigm were misleading. In times gone by the UK distribution of this 40-year-old Canadian company favoured a curious mix of its entry-level, compact loudspeakers and its far-from-entry-level subwoofers (including the 106kg Signature SUB 2, whose hexagonal cabinet featured six 10in woofers and a claimed 4.5kW of amplification). More recently, however, first with the Persona B standmount [HFN Oct '20] and now with its £5400 Founder 100F floorstander, I've discovered its grown-up side. And I like it a lot.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 02, 2021
hfnoutstandingFlagship A series model from California's premier speaker brand is its most advanced 'affordable' floorstander yet

Finding positives during a time when audiophiles and civilians alike are under the cosh of 'that-which-shall-not-be-named' is important, and celebrating those rays of sunshine when we discover them, doubly so. And Magico's flagship A series floorstander is a particularly golden beam of musical light that, so the story goes, might not have been released so soon if it were not for the coercions of Covid. Oops, I mentioned it...

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 26, 2021
hfnvintageA covetable compact or a mere nearfield monitor for the acutely design-conscious? We hear how this miniature bookshelf loudspeaker from 1983 shapes up today

In the frantically fast-paced hi-fi market of the '70s and '80s, it is pleasing to find a product that remained in its manufacturer's catalogue virtually unaltered for years. If something looks good, sounds good and sells profitably why change it? Some products remain available simply because the company making them lacks the resources to do anything different. But that could not be said of Danish brand B&O, which was then at the height of its powers.

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: Ken Kessler, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 09, 2021
hfnoutstandingAfter nearly a decade in production, KEF's iconic LS50 compact monitor has been comprehensively updated. We compare the original with the latest 'Meta' variant

Hardly a curse, but it's still a massive challenge for any manufacturer to improve on a smash hit. I don't care if you're talking about cars, cameras or cookers – whatever the classic, the follow-up is metaphorically referred to as 'that difficult second album'. KEF faced this with the LS50 which (terrifyingly) will be ten years old in 2022. In the interim, there have been active and wireless versions of the speaker, but the passive original [HFN Jul '12] is a much-loved default purchase in the under-£1000 sector. The new LS50 with the Meta suffix (£999) is KEF's The Godfather Part II. Yes, it's really that good.

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