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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.
 |  Jan 28, 2015  |  0 comments
Proper hi-fi means piles of separates and reams of cables, right? Not so according to Dynaudio, which introduces a wealth of updates to its active Xeo range to push them further into steadfast audiophile territory. Many audiophiles believe that active speakers offer obvious benefits over passive designs, evidenced by the likes of Linn and ATC as two high-end brands offering active models with equally high-end price tags. Why? Because as well as freeing up some hi-fi rack space, placing a tailor-made amplifier inside a speaker’s cabinet takes the trial and error of amp and speaker matching out of the equation, meaning the sound you get is closer to what the manufacturer had in mind. The Xeo 6 replaces the outgoing Xeo 5 (HFC 376), bringing with it a bunch of new features and improved tech that’s packed into a more compact cabinet.
 |  Jan 28, 2015  |  0 comments
One day, people might look back at 2014 and say it was a significant year for loudspeakers. The newK2 series isn’t a dramatic change of trajectory for Epos, but it’s certainlya clear move in a certain direction. It ushers in a brave new world of active operation for the company; these speakers aren’t actually active, but they have the capability to be so built in. In a few months’ time, there will be an Active-K module that will transform the K2 into something completely different… Look at the back and you’ll see it’s not the prettiest.
 |  Jan 28, 2015  |  0 comments
Can you imagine the seventies without Compact Cassette, or the eighties without Compact Disc? Philips was one of the great innovating consumer electronics companies of the last century, easily surpassing most of its Japanese and American rivals. It may not have had the marketing nous of Apple, but it has originated far more technology than anyone in Cupertino ever did. But what of this century? Many would say its performance has been something of a mixed bag, but more recently there have been encouraging signs. A few years ago, it came up with its new audio brand ‘Fidelio’.
 |  Jan 26, 2015  |  0 comments
Every once in a while someone does something remarkable that seems bizarre and contradictory to the received wisdom, yet sometimes they stick to their guns, resist ridicule and peer pressure and eventually turn out to be right. When Dick Fosbury jumped backwards over a high jump bar at the 1968 Olympics, many in the crowd thought he was mad. But this madness won him a gold medal as well as setting a new Olympic record. Origin Live may be better known for its highly engineered tonearms and turntables, but with the launch of its Astute speakers it’s bending over backwards to declare that there may be alternative ways to reproduce high fidelity music.
 |  Jan 26, 2015  |  0 comments
Anyone who thinks of themselves as an audiophile may be more than a little dismayed to see a subwoofer review in these pages, but there’s alot to be gained from integrating a subwoofer into a two-channel hi-fi system that stretches beyond the reach of the majority of traditional loudspeakers. Subwoofers have come a long way in recent times, and with careful integration including a sub in your setup can have benefits on other elements of the sound aside from just extending its low-range performance. REL has been at the top of the subwoofer game since the Welsh company first appeared on the scene with models back in the nineties. It perfectly positioned itself for the home theatre boom, and the growth of the surround sound speaker market, with a range of dedicated subwoofer models that enabled movie fans to unleash multichannel soundtracks in their home.