Loudspeakers

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Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 02, 2023
hfnoutstandingIt's V for Victory as Wilson's Alexia loudspeaker is more than simply 'tickled-up' with a host of detailed revisions

Ah, the sweet spot! Positioned in the exact middle of a seven-model range of Wilson Audio floorstanders, between the Sasha DAW [HFN Mar '19] and Alexx V [HFN Jan '22], the new Alexia V – by accident or design – now occupies that most coveted of spaces. One of hi-fi's inexplicable phenomena, a 'sweet spot' seems to exist in pretty much every hi-fi model range, from turntables to amps to speakers, when a stand-out in performance relative to size and cost just happens. Yes, the new Alexia V is that special.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 05, 2023
hfnoutstandingThe smallest of the five-strong standmount/floorstanding Peaks series from YG Acoustics promises to move mountains

Depending on your age, there's the potential for confusion in the naming of YG Acoustics' latest loudspeakers. The Peaks series is inspired by the Rocky Mountains looming over YG's base a few miles outside Denver, and most of our readers will be from generations with 'life experience', and upon hearing the title 'peak' will likely associate it with products of aspirational quality. In the argot of London teenagers, however, 'peak' is now taken to indicate unexpected bad luck. In truth, the recent collaboration between Cambridge Acoustic Sciences and YG's mid-US manufacturing base has been nothing but fortuitous.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 02, 2023
hfnoutstandingYears in the making, DALI's KORE flagship breaks cover and it's a triumph of engineering, style and superlative sound

There are many ways to express that emotion of delighted surprise when encountering something unexpected: everything from the archaic 'Gosh' or 'Goodness', through the more contemporary low whistle or 'Wow', or even the kind of expletive never found in these pages. Meanwhile, the Blessed Google suggests that the Danes might say 'hold da helt ferie', literally 'take a whole vacation', which I guess is somewhere close to the American 'get outta here'. But for those of us brought up on British films of the latter part of last century, perhaps the best reaction to these new DALI flagship speakers is just to mention their name, perhaps followed by 'blimey' for the full effect.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 22, 2022
hfnoutstandingThe largest standmount in AVID's all-alloy Reference range is bigger and heavier than most floorstanders...

Standmount speakers – it's easy to see why they're popular. They're relatively compact and light enough to position with ease, whether on bookshelves or stands. They aim to offer a compelling sound in smaller spaces, are affordable, often due to mass-production overseas, and can be driven with ease by relatively modest amplification. Trouble is, the AVID Reference Three, while undeniably a standmount speaker, flies in the face of all the above.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 08, 2022
One-time royalty of the horn-loaded full-range driver, Lowther is reclaiming its crown. We hear the 'princess'

Although I am no devotee of horns, I adore two of the genre's specialists, Lowther and Klipsch, and recall the delights of the former's Bicor and Acousta. But I had thought Lowther had joined other defunct brands until I met Martin Thornton in late 2019, at the last pre-Covid Tonbridge Audiojumble. I was overjoyed to hear that he had acquired the company's remnants, designs, name and everything else needed to relaunch it. Three years on, and he's arrived with an all-new Lowther, dubbed the Almira.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 22, 2022
hfncommendedBest known for its 'silverback' speakers, SA also has a range of affordable, compact 'saxo' floorstanders

System Audio's product catalogue, although spanning only three loudspeaker 'families', aims to offer a solution for almost every eventuality. The Danish manufacturer, based in Roskilde, west of Copenhagen, makes on-wall models, including the legend 7.2 [HFN Mar '22], AV-specific centre channel enclosures and subs, plus various standmounts and floorstanders. Many can be bought in active 'Silverback' guise (or upgraded at a later date), their potential then expandable via DSP 'RAM tweaks' and a WiSA-based wireless streaming hub [HFN Aug '21]. There is, to put it mildly, a lot going on.

Review: Jamie Biesemans, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 10, 2022
hfncommendedFeaturing a concentric mid/treble driver with a difference, ELAC's Concentro range goes 'compact' with the S 503

For those who felt that ELAC wasn't one for adventurous industrial design, the Concentro series has proved them wrong. You'll find some very curvy and organic-looking models in this range, which rises even above the finely crafted and attractive Vela series [HFN Apr '19]. However, the Concentro range still feels more like a disparate collection rather than a real product family. Virtually every model has its own design, from the menhir-like Concentro and Concentro M to the high-heeled S 507 and S 509 floorstanders.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 24, 2022
hfnoutstandingNow owned by AudioQuest cable's parent company, GoldenEar has added the compact Bookshelf Reference X to its range – the final design from longstanding CEO Sandy Gross

Looking at the BRX (Bookshelf Reference X) loudspeaker, it's easy to feel slightly unnerved by the amount of, well, 'technology' that's been squeezed into its compact dimensions. But then we should remember it hails from American brand GoldenEar, a company that – under the auspices of founder Sandy Gross – has always seemed to approach loudspeaker (and subwoofer) design a little differently to many rivals.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 13, 2022
hfnoutstandingNot all Wilson Audio's loudspeakers are man-sized floorstanders and its most compact models have been crying out for a partnering, flexible active subwoofer. Meet LōKē...

Wilson Audio's product naming strategy has always raised eyebrows, but the new LōKē reinforces its love for puns. This £9500 powered subwoofer's moniker either shows that it's the baby sister to Wilson's gigantic Thor's Hammer, or it's a play on 'Low Key'. Or maybe not. Whatever the rationale, its pronunciation is helped by diacritical marks to ensure we do not rhyme its name with 'woke'…

Review: Jamie Biesemans, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 06, 2022
hfnoutstandingBoasting wireless connectivity with high-res digital sources, the LS60 W combines style with substance and great sound

In the decade since the launch of the LS50, in celebration of KEF's 50th birthday [HFN Jul '12], there have been rumours about a floorstander to complement the popular bookshelf model. But whatever these wishful thinkers had in mind, I'm pretty sure it wasn't as outlandish as the LS60 Wireless. As the name indicates, it's both a nod to the 60th anniversary of the brand and its technical evolution by incorporating active electronics – DSP, DAC and amplification – and streaming.

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...

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