I was bowled over by Anthony Gallo Acoustics' original Reference Strada when I heard it at a hi-fi show a few years ago. The small speakers projected a sound that rivaled the scale of big, flat-panel speakers, like my Magnepans. I never got around to reviewing the Strada, but when I heard that the Reference Strada 2 was coming out I let the company know I wanted a pair ASAP.
Unboxing the speakers it was impossible not to be impressed by the solidity of the cast-aluminum chassis and brushed stainless-steel spheres. The Strada 2 is 13.5 inches tall, and … Read more
I'm not a big fan of really small subwoofers. Not that the little ones can't make deep bass -- the best of today's mini subs can deliver lots of low-end oomph, but the quality of the bass won't be anything to write home about. The bass is usually sloppy and poorly defined, so individual bass notes blur together. That's not such a big problem when reproducing the sound of explosions and special effects, but most small subs are less adept with music.
Even before you hear KEF's new LS50 speaker, there's no doubt it's a unique design. The speaker's single "rose"-color driver sports radial fins, and the cabinet has a swept-back front baffle. I've never seen anything quite like it before. The speaker stands 11.9 inches tall, 7.9 inches wide, 10.9 inches deep, and weighs 15.8 pounds. The MDF cabinet has the build quality of a very high-end design. The sound is just as extraordinary as the look, and the LS50 can be used as a desktop monitor or as … Read more
Nothing gets older faster than high-tech, but the Harbeth P3ESR sounds so good you may never want to replace it with another speaker. That's no hype; I know audiophiles still using similar speakers originally manufactured in the 1970s.
That's when American audiophiles first fell in love with small British monitor speakers engineered and designed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and manufactured by a number of companies, including KEF, Goodmans, Rogers, Spendor, and Harbeth. Though the speakers were all built around the same design, known as the LS3/5A, not all LS3/5As sounded exactly the same. Back … Read more
Go to any hi-fi show and you'll see room after room filled with the latest and greatest-sounding speakers, but chances are you won't come away from the experience captivated by brilliant designs. I sometimes wonder if the audio industry will ever get its act together and make speakers you don't have to be an audiophile to love.
Extreme cars, like Ferraris and Lamborghinis, arouse strong, positive reactions from people who would never buy or even drive them, but high-end audio speakers rarely achieve that sort of admiration. My best guess as to why that's so is that truly beautiful audiophile speakers are rare. Or to put it another way, do you have to be an audiophile to think speakers are beautiful? Granted, if you're already an audiophile you might be predisposed to view large speakers in a positive light and see their form as part of their function. For nonaudiophiles, size is definitely a factor, in the opposite direction: the smaller a speaker is, the easier it is to fit into the average person's living space.… Read more
Atlantic Technology's WA-50 Wireless Audio System can transmit high-quality sound throughout your home, or out to your pool. The system accommodates up to three zones and eliminates the need to run long cables to subwoofers or amplified speaker systems.
I've heard these sorts of quality claims before, but this time it's for real. During my in-home trials, the WA-50 was noise-free and didn't suffer from any malfunctions. I first put the WA-50 into service transmitting sound from my Mac mini to my high-end stereo system. Setup took about two minutes, and the sound was really good, … Read more
British speaker manufacturer KEF is now offering a range of superthin (less than 1.5 inches deep) flat-panel speakers designed to look great mounted next to flat-screen TVs. The T Series speakers all feature a radically new ultralow profile bass/midrange driver and a new tweeter. Designing audiophile-grade skinny speakers isn't easy, but KEF might be able to pull it off.
The T Series models all feature KEF's Selecta-Mount system, which automatically adjusts the speaker's frequency response to compensate for how and where the loudspeaker is mounted. The idea is to produce a consistent tonal balance, for on-wall and in-room speaker placement. The T-Series speakers' thin driver technology was developed using finite element analysis (FEA) computer modeling. … Read more
Sales of ridiculously expensive and absurdly powerful cars are holding steady, and the same can be said for extreme, high-end speakers. Granted, there's no practical reason for the existence of the new 450-horsepower Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 Quattro supercar ($161,000), or a Klipsch P-39F tower speaker ($20,000), but if you can afford them, why not? High-end speakers have one very practical advantage over extreme performance cars; they can provide satisfaction on a daily basis. Few Ferrari and Maserati owners use their flashy wheels as everyday rides, and far fewer are brave enough to drive them anywhere near their top speeds! No, these prized possessions remain stowed in garages most of the time.
Prices listed in this top-10 list are for pairs of speakers, and if these are all out of reach, please don't fret, as the next top-10 speaker list will feature the best sub-$1,000 speakers on the planet. Or check out my "Top-10 must-have audio bargains" list.
I've auditioned many of these ultra-high-end speakers personally, so I can attest that they can take you places everyday speakers never go. … Read more
Sound bar speakers generally only appeal to a small portion of home audio buyers. If you've got a large budget, minimalist ethos, appreciate sound quality--but not enough to insist on a pair of standalone speakers--a sound bar speaker fits your niche.
The KEF HTF8003 doesn't offer anything radically different from the competing models available, with a long tubelike design and glossy black finish. Its sound quality with movies was among the best we've heard on sound bars (although it doesn't do any virtual surround effects), but music fans will want something more substantial.
As usual with … Read more