Lab: Keith Howard

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jun 23, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingBetter known for its high-value, high-performance subs, SVS is now turning its attention to audiophile speakers

If there was ever a speaker that seemed, on specification alone, to warrant the phrase 'bang for your buck', it's SVS's Prime Pinnacle. For less than £2000 a pair, this US audio brand is offering a three-way floorstander with bespoke midrange unit, an unusual-at-this-price trio of woofers, and the promise of a 'world-class performance'. Even accepting the latter as marketing hyperbole, it's impossible not to view the Prime Pinnacle as potentially superb value for money.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 28, 2020  |  0 comments
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.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 15, 2020  |  0 comments
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 That said, the popular entry-level Chorus lineup [HFN Jun '08] has held sway for longer and only now is it superseded by the high-value Chora range.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  |  May 13, 2020  |  0 comments
hfncommendedSix years after the birth of the first lute-shaped Olympica speakers, Sonus faber announces the second generation

Several factors set the 2013 launch of the Sonus faber Olympica range apart: not only was this one of the first complete lineups from a company previously better known for individual models, but it also marked the brand's debut as a manufacturer of drive units, built in-house [HFN May '14 and Mar '15]. The new Olympica Nova range represents a next logical step, comprising no fewer than seven models. The series kicks off with the compact Nova I standmount but is headed by the £14,900 Nova V floorstander featured here, available in a choice or walnut or wenge finishes, standing some 117.5cm tall and weighing a not insubstantial 44kg each.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 05, 2020  |  0 comments
hfncommendedStill going strong after 20 years, the Venus is nothing if not the ambassador for the room-friendly 'omni'

Mention 'omnidirectional' and most worldly-wise audiophiles will remember seeing MBL's remarkable Radialstrahler loudspeakers at one hi-fi show or another. Once seen and heard they are not easily forgotten, but they are also devastatingly expensive! By the same token, affordable omnidirectional speakers have never quite made it into the mainstream of hi-fi despite Sonab being a major player back in the 1970s and Canon's models from the 1980s also finding favour with many listeners.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Apr 16, 2020  |  0 comments
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: Keith Howard  |  Apr 08, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingActive or passive? Exposure's new outboard crossover allows you to experience both with the Kudos Titan 707

As divisive audio issues go, few get the battle lines drawn more steadfastly than the matter of passive versus active loudspeakers. It's not so long ago that we were hearing about tiny monitor speakers with onboard amplification said to be good enough to have dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts abandoning five-figure systems of conventional amps and speakers. Forget valves vs. solid state, or analogue vs. digital: when it comes to the topic of active speakers, tempers seem to flare among the keyboard warriors.

Review: Paul Miller, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Mar 18, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingMore than a chip off the Magico block, the A1 sets the standard for pint-sized standmounts

Chalk and cheese. Night and day. Or perhaps David and Goliath... Call it what you will, but the transition between Avantgarde's huge, horn-loaded Duo Primo XDs departing my listening room, and the diminutive A1s arriving, demanded a recalibration of reality. Just 20kg versus 185kg per enclosure and a drop of 20dB in sensitivity – so the volume control on our resident dCS Vivaldi One DAC/preamp also needed a reset from 500mV output to 6V.

Review: Christopher Breunig, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Feb 19, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingHiFiMan has done as much as any brand to popularise the planar magnetic headphone since the technology's revival, and the Susvara is the best PM it knows how to make

Astute readers will have noticed that we've been exploring the HiFiMan range in stepwise fashion. We began with the £475 Sundara [HFN Jun '19], progressed to the £1500 Arya [HFN Aug '19] and have now reached the £5750 Susvara. While, despite its elevated price tag, the Susvara isn't the most expensive headphone the Chinese manufacturer currently offers, the costlier Shangri-La and Shangri-La Jr are both electrostatic models, making the Susvara its flagship planar magnetic design.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Feb 14, 2020  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThe latest compact speaker from Jamo blends designer appeal with solid audio engineering

The small speaker market is a fiercely fought arena, with every major speaker brand having at least one dog in the fight, and often several. It's not hard to see why: there's a tradition of speaker companies making over-achieving budget boxes, while the interior design appeal of small enclosures delivering a big sound has encouraged builders to develop the idea of the compact standmount/bookshelf speaker beyond the entry-level. The result is a choice of models with more expensive engineering – and hopefully even better performance – while still keeping the dimensions neat and tidy.

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