Lab: Keith Howard

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jan 06, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingBreathed on with the spirit of the company's flagship model, these speakers are nothing less than spectacular

From the sheer performance and value of the flagship Triton Reference [HFN Jun '19], down to the bargain that is the Triton Five [HFN Mar '19], we've been very much taken with the sound of the GoldenEar range. And this despite the 'but it shouldn't work' cost-effective engineering employed by the company, including its liberal use of plastics in the cabinets' construction.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Dec 24, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingClearly inspired by its LS50W, KEF's tiny 'wireless' system in a box is a big triumph

There are active speakers and active speakers. Some models claim to be 'active' but are really just powered, with a single amplifier within the speaker cabinet driving the tweeter and mid/bass unit via a conventional passive crossover, sometimes even with a stereo power amp in one speaker driving both it and a slave partner.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Dec 16, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingWe report on a classic with a modern twist as Spendor launches a flagship inspired by its iconic 1970s models

As any hi-fi enthusiast will know, Spendor has an illustrious history, its co-founder Spencer Hughes creating the company's first speaker, the BC1, using knowledge he'd gained while working at the BBC in the '60s. Yet for the past decade the brand has been working hard to reinvent itself, its affordable A and higher-end D series selling into the mainstream speaker market.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Nov 19, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceRedesigned from the ground up, Klipsch's all-new Reference Premiere series leverages over 70 years of loudspeaker history. We audition the largest of its bookshelf trio...

With no shortage of standmount loudspeakers vying for our attention, any newcomer needs to stand out from the crowd. And few stand out as boldly as Klipsch's £625 'Reference Premiere' series RP-600M, arriving from a company with an auspicious portfolio of exciting-sounding horn-loaded loudspeakers [HFN Jun '19], all dating back to the first ever Klipschorn model launched in 1946.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Nov 12, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe latest – and largest – model in Focal's Kanta range combines its signature style with innovative materials

You might be tempted to see the Focal Kanta range as Utopia-lite: while the loudspeakers in what is now a three-strong lineup are one-piece designs, lacking the adjustable articulation of the flagship offering, they do echo the company's Utopia style [HFN Dec '18]. This is done by shaping the front baffle so that, in the £9000 Kanta No3 we have here, the two bass drivers are in a section of baffle sloping gently back from bottom to the midpoint where the tweeter is mounted, while the midrange driver at the top is slanted slightly downwards.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Oct 30, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe new ELAC Navis 'powered speaker' series is a slick system alternative, whether or not you use it wirelessly

As one of the largest-scale speaker manufacturers around, US/German company ELAC has what can sometimes seem like a baffling range, all the way from very affordable mini-monitors and 'subwoofer and satellites' packages right the way up to very high-end floorstanding designs. And apart from the sheer breadth of the lineup, this diversity allows it to explore a variety of technologies: in this range there's no signs of a 'one design fits all, just in different scales' approach.

Review: Christopher Breunig, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Oct 28, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingWith their unusually extended ovoid cups – pear-shaped, you might say – these new planar magnetics, once auditioned, could easily become the apple of your eye

With 16 current models in its Reference range, HiFiMan's product offering many not be as extensive or potentially confusing as Audio-Technica's but still it's a lot to get your head around. I classify them, informally, into round capsule and ovoid capsule models, the £1500 Arya being one of the latter. It's an apt classification in that once you've worn the Arya – or any other headphone whose capsules better reflect the shape of the external ear – you wonder why headphones aren't all designed this way. You wouldn't wear rectangular shoes, so why are these shapes so widely used for headphone capsules and earpads? It flies in the face of anatomical logic.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Oct 21, 2019  |  0 comments
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.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Sep 25, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstanding35 years on from Sonus faber's birth, a blessed return to the values on which it was founded: the Electa Amator III

Two blasts from the past in one month, both small two-way monitors, both with a massive presence in my hi-fi history, but so dissimilar that loving both seems like a case of schizophrenia. As with the LS3/5a, I have been a devotee of Sonus faber for over 30 years, though of late the passion has cooled. But something tells me that the company has again found its mojo, and the Electa Amator III is its herald.

Review: Christopher Breunig, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Sep 24, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedTaking a load off your mind, these headphones are claimed to be the lightest open-backed planar magnetics around. Great for comfort – but what about the sound?

We've reached the stage in the renaissance of the planar magnetic (aka isodynamic) headphone where merely being one is no longer worth more than a passing mention. In fact it's a few months since I've had anything but PM headphones arrive for review. So to be more than the PM headphone du jour, any new model needs something extra: a true USP.

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