Loudspeakers

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Ed Selley  |  May 05, 2015  |  0 comments

Let us for a minute consider the thorny issue of ‘style’ – the indefinable quality of a product beyond the more understandable virtues of performance, build and features. In the UK, much AV gear tends toward form following function, and while this can result in stylish things, it's often a by-product rather than the intention.

Danny Phillips  |  Jan 06, 2015  |  0 comments

US brand Polk Audio attacks the UK compact speaker market with the TL1600, an affordable 5.1 pack bristling with innovation. In the box are four bijou TL1 satellites that stand just 165mm high, plus a horizontally aligned centre speaker and a cute, cubed sub. The satellites’ gloss finish and curved enclosures catch the eye, whereas as many sub/sat rivals in this market are resolutely boxy. And note that the non-parallel construction serves an acoustic purpose in reducing internal resonances.

Danny Phillips  |  Nov 20, 2014  |  0 comments

Like Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit, Dynaudio’s latest Excite speaker range is on a quest. In this case, to unite the armies of high-end and budget audio buyers to defeat the dragon of bad sound quality. These speakers are designed to sound great with any partnering kit, from entry-level amps right up to reference gear.

Ed Selley  |  Oct 01, 2014  |  0 comments

The public perception of a brand is a curious thing. JBL is one of the most venerable outfits in the market and has an extensive range, including lush high-end models such as the Everest flagship. Yet in the UK it has a rather low profile, one that is largely influenced by its compact speakers and desktop audio biz.

Danny Phillips  |  Sep 21, 2014  |  0 comments

Monitor Audio is a revered name in audio circles but if you’re yet to sample its wares then this newly-buffed Silver series is a superb starting place. Sandwiched between the Gold and Bronze ranges, it marks the point where you start getting a proper high-end performance without having to remortgage. 

Danny Phillips  |  Aug 21, 2014  |  0 comments

‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ goes the saying, but no-one told Tannoy. Its affordable Mercury V speaker system blew my socks off back in 2012, but that hasn’t stopped the company tinkering with the fifth-generation blueprint in a bid to further pimp up its performance. The result of this tweakage is the Mercury Vi system (not 'six'), which boasts a number of significant component and tuning upgrades but retains the same wallet-friendly prices as the original range.

Adam Rayner  |  Aug 13, 2014  |  0 comments

The 600 Series has been part of B&W's speaker lineup for many years now, offering movie fans a first step on the brand's floorstanding ladder below the CM Series and the 800 Series Diamond. In that regard it could be classed as 'entry-level', if it wasn't for both the price demanded and the technology used.

Adrian Justins  |  Jul 14, 2014  |  0 comments

Bang & Olufsen's BeoLab 17 is the first speaker in the world that meets the WiSA standard for wireless audio. Decoded sound up to 24-bit/48kHz (WiSA is capable of 96kHz, but 48kHz is imposed for signal robustness) is transmitted to each active speaker. 

Danny Phillips  |  Jul 09, 2014  |  0 comments

Monitor Audio’s Radius range has already proved a firm favourite thanks to its living room-friendly looks and spine-tingling sound quality. Yet the British brand isn’t resting on its laurels, recently updating the product stable with a crop of new designs. This 5.1 package brings together some of these new additions, including a reboot of the Radius 90 compact speaker (here on front and surround duties) and the brand-new Radius 200 centre speaker. Providing the low-end grunt is the Radius 390, the pricier of two freshly-minted subwoofers. Monitor Audio has styled every speaker in this system with effortless panache. The gleaming gloss-white finish that adorns our sample is pure disco, but the swanky black version is equally dapper.  Each speaker is a solid, impenetrable box with no joins or seams aside from the grooved HiVe II port on the back, which appears for the first time on the Radius range. This, says Monitor Audio, accelerates the flow of air and reduces turbulence for a more dynamic bass response, having the same effect on airflow as a gun barrel on a bullet.

Danny Phillips  |  Jun 22, 2014  |  0 comments

Insane high-end speakers carved from pure unicorn horn by Apollo himself are all well and good if you can afford them, but what about mere mortals with only a meagre budget to play with? Don’t they deserve spectacular sound quality, too?

Mark Craven  |  Jun 02, 2014  |  0 comments

Artcoustic is well known for its living room-friendly on-wall speakers that can be specified with custom grilles to match your room's décor – indeed, you could argue it's perhaps too well-known for them. There's a temptation to see any company with products that wouldn't look out of place in an interior design mag (especially with a name like Artcoustic) as, well, not a proper home cinema player. Yet that couldn't be further from the truth.

Adam Rayner  |  May 02, 2014  |  0 comments

Here’s a deliciously odd one – a subwoofer designed to be mounted on a wall. A 'lifestyle product', I would bet my life that REL's original designer Richard E Lord would never have designed this. However, it is with pleasure that I can suggest that, had he been asked to approve the performance of the Habitat 1, he would have done so.

Danny Phillips  |  Apr 07, 2014  |  0 comments

Compact speaker systems can be real problem-solvers in small rooms thanks to their size and cosmetic appeal, but their inherent lack of cabinet volume means they’re not always the most commanding performers.

Danny Phillips  |  Mar 29, 2014  |  0 comments

While Danish brand DALI offers a varied speaker range across the worlds of home cinema and hi-fi, its products share design characteristics at all price points. The most obvious is the use of wood fibre drivers – which differ from more conventional paper cones thanks to the employment of longer untreated fibres in their composition to add to the overall strength – in different sizes with varying degrees of sophistication in all DALI lines. These are then partnered with a soft dome tweeter, sometimes augmented by a ribbon unit as well.

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