Keith Howard

Keith Howard  |  Jan 14, 2010  |  0 comments
The use of ceramic materials in loudspeaker diaphragms can’t be described as novel because every anodised aluminium cone or dome has a surface layer of alumina (aluminium oxide), allowing it to be described as a ceramic-metal sandwich or similar – as at least one speaker manufacturer has indeed done. But pure ceramic diaphragms are a rarity, and loudspeakers that use them exclusively, as the Lumen White Silver Flame does, are rarer still. All five drivers in this arresting-looking three-way design have white ceramic diaphragms in the form of everted (concave) domes. As explained in the box-out, the attraction of a ceramic diaphragm material is that it can be lighter and stiffer than common metal equivalents, which promises higher bending wave velocity and hence higher breakup frequency for a given diaphragm size and shape.
Keith Howard  |  Nov 25, 2009  |  0 comments
Not having had a Tannoy sub for review before, I was surprised to learn that the new, inexpensive TS range – of which this is the top model – is the first from this famous marque to include high-level inputs, which allow connection to the speaker terminals of a power amplifier. Of course, line-level inputs are also provided for direct connection to processors or multichannel disc players. What this means is that Tannoy’s latest trouser flappers – the 801 with an 8in driver, 1001 with a 10in driver and, you guessed it, 1201 with a 12in driver – are easier to dovetail into a wide variety of audio systems. In a home theatre context you will generally use the LFE output from the AV amplifier or processor, whereas in a conventional music replay system, where line-level outputs downstream of the volume control are often not available, the speaker-level inputs will be a boon.
Keith Howard  |  Nov 17, 2009  |  0 comments
Not many audio companies, to my recollection, have made the transition from manufacturing speaker stands to making the boxes atop them, but that’s the journey undergone by Kudos Audio. Its stands are still winning awards but today the marque is as well known for the five-model range of Cardea loudspeakers, ranging from the compact C1 – joint winner of our group test last year (HFN Nov ’08) – to the recently introduced, top-of-the-range C30. Slotted beneath the latter and previous alpha male is the C20, a two-way floorstander that uses the same cabinet and bass-mid driver as the lesser C2 but is equipped with a superior SEAS Crescendo tweeter and higher-grade crossover components. Included in the latter are the bespoke silver-wired capacitors that also feature in the C10 – the cut-above version of the C1.
Keith Howard  |  Sep 25, 2009  |  0 comments
Perhaps because Audioplan is more than just a loudspeaker manufacturer – it makes cables, Sicomin isolation and damping products, and mains conditioners as well – the German company offers just three models of speaker. Each is a two-way design, although the costliest Konzert III incorporates three drivers: two forward-facing and a second bass-mid driver firing rearwards from the back of the cabinet. The bottom of the range Kontrapunkt IV B, on review here, has no such elaboration but still sports some unusual features. First of these to catch the eye is its – for want of a better term – cabinet stand.
Keith Howard  |  Sep 25, 2009  |  0 comments
Gamut by name, gamut by nature. Danish audio company Gamut (it writes it GamuT), not content with offering eight models of loudspeaker, of which the Phi7 is top of the four-model Phi range, also manufactures a CD player, preamplifier, two integrated amps and four power amps plus interconnect and speaker cables. So it can supply you with an entire hi-fi system, wires included. Phi in the context of this Gamut speaker and its siblings is the golden ratio, 1:1.
Keith Howard  |  Aug 24, 2009  |  0 comments
If you haven’t heard of PSB before it’s not because the company is a young one – it was established as long ago as 1972, when founder Paul Barton was still at high school. But PSB’s products, well respected in its native Canada and elsewhere in North America, are only now coming to our attention in the UK, with the Armour Group (responsible for NAD and many other brands) having been appointed UK distributor. As an emissary, the Synchrony One is impressive even given that it is the most expensive speaker in this test. Almost as tall as the Pioneer but broader, it also features five drivers but in a three-way configuration: a 25mm titanium dome tweeter, 102mm cone midrange and no fewer than three 165mm bass drivers (effective diameter about 153mm) positioned at the top, middle and bottom of the cabinet.
Keith Howard  |  Aug 24, 2009  |  0 comments
As well as being the smallest speaker in this test, the Spendor A6 is also the simplest. Like the Dynaudio it is a two-way design but with only one bass-mid driver, not two. Spendor manufactures its own bass-mid units, this nominally 180mm version (effective cone diameter about 135mm) claiming low coloration and high power handling, its most eye-catching feature being that it has a transparent cone. Crossover to the soft dome tweeter is at 4kHz, and unusually is linear-phase.
Keith Howard  |  Aug 24, 2009  |  0 comments
Like Audio Physic’s Sitara model recently reviewed in these pages [see HFN June ’09], the latest incarnation of the Audio Physic Tempo – the sixth, no less – catches the eye by being notably slim, deep and tilted back at 7º to provide time alignment of its small midrange driver and soft-dome tweeter. As the grilles on either side of the cabinet hint, a pair of opposed bass drivers handle the low frequencies, an arrangement which facilitates the narrow front baffle and reduces vibration through cancellation of their magnet reaction forces. The only puzzle is why Audio Physic didn’t take the opportunity to mount the two bass units at the bottom of the cabinet, a disposition pioneered by Roy Allison to help reduce low frequency power output variations caused by interaction with the room boundaries. Its narrow footprint makes the Tempo cabinet relatively unstable, so Audio Physic provides aluminium outriggers which screw to the bottom of the cabinet to carry spikes outboard of the base at either side.
Keith Howard  |  Aug 24, 2009  |  0 comments
I admit to double-checking the price of the CM9 because it appears to offer such a lot of hardware for the money. As well as being one of the largest speakers here, it has four drivers including B&W’s highly regarded FST midrange unit whose woven Kevlar cone, rather than having a conventional roll surround, is swaged at the edge and rests on a ring of foamed plastic which operates in compression. This novel arrangement improves the dissipation of cone vibrations but limits the available cone excursion, making the FST unit unsuitable for reproducing bass frequencies. So here the CM9 hands over to twin 165mm bass drivers (effective diameter about 132mm) which are reflex loaded via B&W’s familiar dimpled Flowport.
Keith Howard  |  Aug 24, 2009  |  0 comments
Along with the Spendor A6, Dynaudio’s Focus 220 – now in Mk II guise – is the most conservative looking speaker here. Whether you consider that a merit or demerit will depend on both your taste and your décor. Also like the Spendor it is a two-way, although in this case the soft dome tweeter is accompanied by twin bass-mid units operating in parallel. In common with all the other speakers here the 220 II is reflex loaded in the bass, with a port venting on the cabinet’s rear panel.

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