Lab: Keith Howard

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jul 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfnoutstanding.pngWith a coincident driver array and interport-coupled cavity bass, meet the company’s most radical floorstander in years

Out with the old and in with the new. ELAC is a German loudspeaker company of quite some repute and a great many years’ standing. Yet major changes have been afoot at the company, with its new VP of Engineering, Andrew Jones, indelibly stamping himself on the brand’s products. A former KEF man – there in what were arguably the company’s harvest years with Laurie Fincham, in the late 1980s – he went on to put Pioneer’s luxury brand TAD on the map with some great soundinghigh-end loudspeakers [HFN Jan ’15].

Review: James Parker, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jul 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfncommended.pngAnd then there were three: Neat's little Iota range is all grown up with the arrival of the Xplorer model

One of the best sounds at Bristol's Sound & Vision Show [HFN Apr '18] came not from a gazillion-pound set-up, but the latest arrivals from Neat Acoustics, driven by modest amplification, in a small room that just made you want to stay and listen some more. The Iota Xplorers are the new model in a range that began with the tiny original Iotas some seven years ago, and while they draw on the same principles, the newcomers are very decidedly grown-up despite standing just 780mm tall on their polished conical spikes.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfnvintage.pngWelcomed with open arms by those seeking a quality speaker for use in a tight space, the Diamond created the market for affordable mini monitors. How will it sound today?

Loudspeakers are surely the most fashion-conscious segment of the hi-fi market. There are Japanese amplifiers on sale today that look little different to their predecessors being sold in the late '70s. Yet the same 'period look' can hardly be said to be popular when it comes to speakers.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfncommended.pngWith its lustrous-looking swooping cabinet, exotic drivers and colossal price tag, this is a seriously special speaker

When you're designing a loudspeaker that sells upwards of £38,000, depending on finish, you can pretty much do what you like. Brands selling sub-thousand pound floorstanders have a super-keen eye on what their competitors are doing, and what the market wants. By the time you reach the Raidho Acoustics D-2.1's level, however, you're in a whole new world – it's where designers spread their wings and fly.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfncommended.pngWith a legacy stretching back about 28 years, the 805 may still be the pint-pot of B&W’s 800-series but this latest D3 standmount can still pack a musical punch

One of the world’s largest, if not the largest, loudspeaker brands, B&W dominates the global high-end market. From the launch of the iconic 801 Series 80 nearly 40 years ago, the 800-series has been periodically improved along with advances in engineering and materials.

Review: José Victor Henriques, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Mar 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfnoutstanding.pngImproved sensitivity and a deeper bass are just two features of the Master Chronosonic-inspired Alexia S2

During their time, Wilson's famous 'Watt Puppies' were upgraded on as many as seven occasions, until the Sasha W/P was born (now also in its Series 2 iteration). The Sasha was no longer a standalone monitor with a carrying handle and a matching subwoofer but a fully-fledged modular integrated loudspeaker system.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Mar 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfncommended.pngFocal’s latest luxo-headphone slots in between the Elear and Utopia models, in the hotly-contested ‘affordable high-end’ middle ground – we hear the sound of £1400

If I have learned anything about committing one’s thoughts to print, it is Never Make Predictions. They will invariably be wrong and will come back to haunt you. I am thus unwilling to hazard a guess as to the longevity of the boom in headphone sales and usage. As long as it continues, however, in the best ‘make hay while the sun shines’ manner, Focal is covering all its bases. The latest to join its high-end family is the £1399 Clear, between the dearer Utopia [HFN Feb ’17] and less costly Elear [HFN Apr ’17].

Review: Cliff Joseph, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Feb 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfnoutstanding.pngWith a concentric mid/treble and coupled-cavity bass, the smallest Adante series speaker is no ordinary standmount

There was a time, back in the 1980s, when much of what was novel in loudspeaker design emerged from KEF’s R&D department in Maidstone, Kent. Odd as this may seem as a way of introducing a new ELAC speaker from Germany, it’s doubly relevant because the £2600 Adante AS-61 – indeed, the entire three-model Adante range (not including the ASW-121 powered subwoofer) – incorporates two features associated with that golden era at KEF: one that has remained familiar, and a second that has rather declined into obscurity.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Feb 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfnoutstanding.pngThe 'entry-level' floorstander of Sonus faber's Homage Tradition series is much more than a shrunk-down Amati

Anyone familiar with Sonus faber will love the superlative craftsmanship of the Vicenza-based company's loudspeakers. Although pretty much all high-end designs are extremely well turned out these days, this Italian company remains on another level – producing speakers that resemble art pieces, rather than just big boxes trying to look expensive.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Feb 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfnoutstanding.pngA high-end luxury headphone solution from a new name, the M1 offers a unique in-house twist on established technology. Is it the ideal solution for 'head-fi' enthusiasts?

There's no denying that headphone listening, or 'head-fi' as some fans describe it, is one of the boom sectors of the audio industry. There are now more upmarket headphones on the market than ever before, along with dedicated amplifiers and other accoutrements, and it's a safe bet that one of the busiest areas of any hi-fi shows is going to be the personal audio zone.

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