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Hi-Fi Choice  |  Nov 15, 2017  |  0 comments
It is hard to believe that it is now over a decade since Q Acoustics first began selling speakers. As a brand developed under the banner of Armour Home Electronics in 2006, it has successfully managed to swiftly migrate from newcomer to become the new benchmark for entry-level speakers (see our Group Test starting on p24). Even when it pushed its designs slightly upmarket with the arrival of its first Concept models in 2014, it delivered speakers that remain some of the best at their price points today. With barely any speaker markets left to conquer under £1,000, it was inevitable that eventually the brand would move more upmarket.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Jun 01, 2017  |  0 comments
Having set up shop 30 years ago, the first speaker that Acoustic Energy made has gone on to become its most famous and enduring. The original AE1 was the little speaker that could. What it could do was largely defined by what the considerably older granddaddy of classy compact monitors, the BBC-designed LS3/5A, couldn’t. In other words, it excelled where the seductively mid-neutral old-timer was most obviously compromised – namely in its bass power and extension, loudness and dynamic range.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Feb 24, 2017  |  0 comments
Conveniently, you can count Denmark’s major speaker makers on the fingers of one hand. But while DALI, Dynaudio, Jamo and B&O could all rightly claim to be hi-fi savvy household names in the UK, you’re probably a little less familiar with Audiovector. I’m pretty sure the company’s home town of Copenhagen wouldn’t be quite such a wonderful place without it, though – not least for its highly unusual policy of making upgradeable speakers. Yes, you can send your base level standmount or tower back to the factory for a shot of material fettling so that when you unpack it for the second time, the déjà vu stops when the music starts and it sounds a whole lot better than before.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Feb 24, 2017  |  0 comments
When is a replacement not a replacement? This slightly abstract question comes about as a result of the loudspeaker you now see before you. When PMC started work on the twenty5 range, the intention was to replace the well-regarded twenty series models. But it very quickly came to the realisation that the speaker it was developing had the potential to be considerably better if the range was repositioned to sit between the twenty series andthe equally lower-case fact range. The result is that the twenty series continues as before with simplified finishes and a reduced price, while the twenty5 series arrives as a range in its own right.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Jun 14, 2016  |  0 comments
Trickle down. An expensive, cutting-edge product lends key aspects of its design and tech to a much more modest, affordably constructed and priced item, raising its performance/price ratio and gifting the brochure copywriter some useful ammo to spin-up a nice little cachet halo. It’s certainly an efficient and logical way of doing business and routine practice for many loudspeaker manufacturers. But with its new premium Reva range, Wharfedale seems to have turned the whole idea on its head.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Feb 01, 2016  |  0 comments
When a 90-year-old company has become so famous that its name is synonymous with the things it produces, perhaps there’s a temptation to rest on one’s laurels. After all, everything has been said and done, hasn’t it? Well Dr Paul Mills, Tannoy’s director of development, does not take that view. Indeed, he has just finished work on a substantial revamp of the very thing for which the company is famous – its Dual Concentric driver. This has given Tannoy its distinctive sound over the years, and does some things better than conventional loudspeakers.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Jan 20, 2016  |  0 comments
It’s Elac Jim, but not as we know it! I have reviewed countless loudspeakers from this established German company over the years, and been impressed by many aspects of the sound, style and design – but the Debut B6 represents a ‘clean sheet’ loudspeaker by a newly hired acoustic engineer, done in a foreign country at a new price point. How’s that for a change of direction? Traditionally, Elac loudspeakers have had a distinctively bright, bracing and detailed sound with a delicate and well resolved treble thanks to the innovative and expensive tweeter. However, the new B6 – designedin Cypress, California – sells at a substantially lower price point than the company’s previous wares – at £299 per pair. For this, says designer Andrew Jones, a completely new approach was required that has meant new, bespoke drive units, careful fettling of less exotic cabinets and a meticulous costing of all the component parts to give the best sound per pound.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Apr 09, 2015  |  0 comments
When thinking of countries that embody qualities of high-end audio, you’d typically mention the UK for refined, understated amps, Italy for craftsmanship, the USA for muscly power and Scandinavia, Germany or Japan for cool, engineered accuracy. Now it’s time to add India to the list for expressive hybrid loudspeakers. Cadence Audio – based in Pune, India – celebrated its 25th anniversary recently by announcing that some of its most celebrated products would be available in the UK. Leading the way are the Avita speakers, considered one of the entry-level products in its hybrid electrostatic range.
 |  Feb 05, 2015  |  0 comments
There are umpteen wireless speakers around now, but what makes the Air-X 403 interesting is that it’s aimed at serious audiophiles and yet is (relatively) affordable. Startingat £2,499 for these entry-level 403s plus £349 for the base station, there’s also the option of the larger 407 floorstanders for £4,299. Elac makes very fine loudspeakers and has done some pioneering work especially with tweeter technology over the years. So we’re not talking about a consumer electronics company sticking its wireless tech into any old pair of transducers here! They are effectively active, wireless versions of the highly capable BS 403 passive standmounter.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Feb 05, 2015  |  0 comments
What’s the best kind of hi-fi product? The only problem with a dreamy vision of ‘the-one-that-gets-you-closest-to-hi-fi-heaven’ is the painfullyhigh price tag or, worse still, a speech bubble that reads: “if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it”. Life’s cruel. Fortunately for most of us, there are more hi-fi designers and engineers tasked with wringing the last drop of performance from every pound you spend than those chasing sonic Shangri-La at any cost. As Ross Walker, son of Quad founder Peter Walker, once told me: “Any fool can design a great-sounding amplifier for £30,000, the trick is to do it for £300.
 |  Feb 02, 2015  |  0 comments
There is a school of thought among certain loudspeaker manufacturers that what’s good for studios is alsogood for the home. One of those manufacturers is ATC, the Acoustic Transducer Company, which builds professional and domestic monitors and voices both in the same way. In studios monitors are used to reveal problems, to highlight sounds that shouldn’t be there. Monitors are a fundamental tool of recording and mastering, the window into the production.
 |  Feb 02, 2015  |  0 comments
On occasions, a design idea that notionally offersthe highest possible performance can fail to deliver on that promise in reality. In theory, a crossover is a considerable impediment to the performance ofa speaker and far less effective than having a single driver reproduce the entire frequency range. In reality, the laws of physics ensure that the single driver speaker has as many issuesas one with a crossover in terms of performance at frequency extremes. This hasn’t stopped Eclipse from becoming perhaps the best known manufacturer of single driver speakers.
 |  Jan 29, 2015  |  0 comments
Famed for producing loudspeakers since the days of the BBC LS3/5A back in the mid seventies, Spendor made vast numbers of the mini monitor as well as offering its own SA1, which shared the BBC design’s tiny dimensions but was turned through 90°. The D1 you see here is the successor – the result is a tiny loudspeaker that’s purposed to deliver extremely high-quality sound. Purists may look on disapprovingly, but the venerable BBC design is virtually prehistoric by modern standards. The D1, however, uses the latest thinking in drive units, cabinet construction and bracing and crossover design – rather than being a rival to the BBC box, it’s the spiritual heir.
 |  Jan 29, 2015  |  0 comments
Apparently, wireless speaker systems are like buses. No sooner had Elipson’s impressive Planet LW and Bridge system passed through the Hi-Fi Choice review process (HFC 387) than the Audiovector Ki 1 Super Discreet System hovers into view. On paper, the similarities are striking. The Audiovector system comprises a pair of the Ki 1 standmounts and the company’s Discreet hub that form a self-contained system uncannily like the Elipson.
 |  Jan 29, 2015  |  0 comments
There’s something odd about ATC’s SCM40 – it doesn’t look or feel like almost any other loudspeaker in its price class. It’s almost as if someone has forgotten to style it, like they’ve taken three drivers and put them in a box designed to do the job and then gone home. This is in marked contrast to many rivals, which have all kinds of stylistic flourishes. Despite looking rather ‘old school’ – albeit in a timeless sort of way – the SCM40 is actually a new model that came out in 2013, replacing a 2007 design of the same name that looked as if it had been launched in 1988! ATC, it seems, doesn’t pay too much attention to matters of fashion.