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Ed Selley  |  Dec 23, 2011  |  0 comments
Quadral Aurum Megan VIII This very solid compact features a ribbon-type planar tweeter and a complex alloy main driver diaphragm Little known here in Britain (though we did review a couple of models about five years ago), Quadral is apparently the third most successful hi-fi speaker specialist in Germany, which must mean that it’s a good size operation by any standards. The Aurum range is actually a higher performance sub-brand of the main Quadral operation, with its own website and an extensive range of ten loudspeakers, plus some electronics. We reviewed the Altan VIII standmount quite recently (HFC 350), so now it’s time to cast an ear over the somewhat smaller Megan VIII model. The family resemblance is unmistakeable and build again seems very solid indeed.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 23, 2011  |  0 comments
Spendor SP3/1R2 Classic 1970s styling distinguishes this relatively large model from the pack Spendor was founded by an ex-member of the BBC’s Research Department more than forty years ago, primarily to make broadcast monitor loudspeakers, but that original – and with hindsight very radical – design soon became just as much of a favourite amongst hi-fi cognoscenti. So much so that, despite changes in ownership and the development of numerous models that look better suited to domestic environments, those original monitors remain the inspiration behind Spendor’s Classic R2 range of traditionally styled models. The five models in the Classic R2 range are all standmounts with ‘picture frame’ front baffle edges around inset grilles. They cover a wide range of enclosure and driver sizes, but all feature Spendor’s traditional approach to enclosure construction, using relatively thin but well-damped panels, albeit now executed in MDF, rather than birch ply.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 23, 2011  |  0 comments
Totem Rainmaker Canadian manufacturer Totem has built a strong reputation with its attractive compact speakers Totem has the rather quaint tradition of naming its models after the country’s First Nations shibboleths, a procedure which is, frankly, rather more imaginative than most rivals manage. The Rainmaker is a compact standmount, loading its bass/mid driver by a reflex-ported enclosure of just nine litres capacity. The shape is a little unusual, rather taller and less deep than most speakers of this size and the construction is strong, linking all the panels with properly mitred joints. Yet it’s also quite light in weight, since mass tends to store energy.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 23, 2011  |  0 comments
DALI Mentor 1 This exceptional standmount has a unique hybrid tweeter module, combining dome and ribbon diaphragms This Danish operation was once closely linked to a leading Scandinavian hi-fi retail chain, but it has always operated entirely autonomously and independently as a speaker manufacturer and indeed has proved more successful on the UK market than most overseas brands. The DALI name has nothing to do with surrealism here, but is actually an acronym for Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries. The Mentor range, probably best described as ‘affordable upmarket’, is one of several in the DALI portfolio and consists of six stereo pairs which share a number of proprietary engineering techniques. The most obvious of these is seen in the tweeter arrangements.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 01, 2011  |  0 comments
It’s a gas The Helium 410 is Amphion’s smallest speaker, but as Ed Selley discovers it still packs a punch The premise of an advert, inviting you to listen to a speaker with the volume turned down, might not be the most obvious way of selling it to a wider audience. For Amphion however, there is a reason for this unusual approach. The entire range is designed to offer excellent intelligibility and clarity even at very low volumes. The Helium series is the entry-level offering in the range and the 410 is the smallest speaker in the group.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 30, 2011  |  0 comments
Let the beat drop The Drop is one of the most distinctive-looking speakers on the market. Ed Selley investigates whether the music is as smooth as the lines Scandyna has been producing its distinctive pod speakers for over a decade and there is now an eight-strong range of stereo models with supporting subwoofers and amps. The Drop is, however, as the name suggests, modelled on a droplet – even down to the ‘separating stem’-effect at the top of the cabinet. Plastic fantastic The Drop retains many classic Scandyna features, including a cabinet formed of ABS plastic.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 29, 2011  |  0 comments
Arro takes Flight Totem’s super-slim new Arro is a beautifully made speaker. Paul Messenger gets close up and personal with the Canadian rocker Well established Canadian manufacturer Totem takes its name from – and tends to name its models after – elements of that country’s First Nations culture, though quite where Arro comes from remains a little obscure. Perhaps it simply reflects the fact that the speaker itself is unusually straight and slim, albeit devoid of point or flights. Whatever, few serious speakers manage to look more discreet and self-effacing, especially in the highly reflective (and very fashionable) high-gloss black of our review samples.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 28, 2011  |  0 comments
Small is beautiful This latest model from Bowers & Wilkins is, says Paul Messenger, a beautifully styled and finished luxury miniature Although the mainstream marketplace for hi-fi loudspeakers invariably tends to equate price with size and necessarily expects a costly loudspeaker to be a large loudspeaker, more sophisticated hi-fi customers are aware that this relationship is largely false. It’s certainly true that a small loudspeaker is bound to have certain limitations, especially in areas such as bass extension, loudness capability and power handling. However, such designs also have certain strengths that are often all too easily overlooked, over and beyond the obvious fact that for many customers, when it comes to loudspeakers (rather than, say, TV screens), small is, by definition, beautiful. For example, the smaller the loudspeaker, the less the enclosure area available to radiate unwanted cabinet colorations.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 28, 2011  |  0 comments
Blade Runner KEF’s Blade celebrates 50 years of loudspeaker innovation with the most dramatic leap forward in decades, says Paul Messenger KEF has been virtually synonymous with loudspeaker innovation for five decades. Although in recent years the company’s main preoccupation seems to have been with multichannelhome cinema, through an impressive succession of clever designs, but the Blade looks likely to put KEF back on the stereo hi-fi top table. Conceived by Mark Dodd and executed with considerable assistance from Jack Oclee-Brown, a Project Blade ‘technology demonstrator’ first appeared two years ago. There was talk of it going into production, but nothing had been decided and its elaborate and costly enclosure – a carbon fibre,balsa wood sandwich – meant that the price was likely to be something like twice our review speaker’s £20,000 price.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 09, 2011  |  0 comments
Music of the spheres Elipson’s Planet L brings the acoustic benefits of a spherical cabinet down to a new price point. Ed Selley goes listening ‘outside the box' French hi-fi has made significant inroads to the UK market in recent years, but Elipson remain one of the lesser-known brands. This is in spite of the fact that it has been in existence since 1938 and amongst other achievements were the default loudspeaker choice of French national television for over forty years. Bowling ball The striking looking Planet L is the latest in a long line of spherical designs dating back for most of the history of the brand.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 11, 2011  |  0 comments
Ken goes to Boston Boston Acoustics’ new range has been tuned by Marantz’s Ken Ishiwata for European ears. Ed Selley goes hunting for the ‘signature’ sound Boston Acoustics are one of the major players in the American speaker market, producing a full range of conventional box loudspeakers, custom install products and car audio. Since the company was acquired by D&M holdings – which oversees Denon, Marantz and McIntosh amongst others – it has been raising its UK profi le. The A Series speakers are the new entrylevel range and made its low key debut at Bristol this year.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 07, 2011  |  0 comments
Code Red Triangle's new Color range sees a lower price of entry for the French marque. Ed Selley reckons the future’s bright for the popular brand Triangle speakers rarely look anything other than distinctive – it’s a range that usually manages at least one quirky styling feature in any given model. The Color range is the new entry level to Triangle ownership and at this price point, distinctive styling touches are a little harder to achieve. Triangle’s solution is simple enough; the Color is available in three gloss finishes including the eye-catching fire-engine red (pictured).
Ed Selley  |  Sep 06, 2011  |  0 comments
Precious metal Monitor Audio's new Gold GX series incorporates many of the refinements pioneered by the more costly Platinum range, says Paul Messenger Monitor Audio began operations nearly forty years ago, but is probably best known for introducing and proselytising metal diaphragm drive units, initially for its tweeter domes and soon afterwards for the cones used in its bass and midrange drivers. Add in some very classily veneered enclosures that were manufactured in its own cabinet shop and the company established a template that still holds good today. Twenty years down the line, plenty has changed of course, but the same core values remain at the heart of Monitor Audio’s more upmarket ranges. The first Platinum series models appeared some four years ago and have been covered extensively in Hi-Fi Choice in recent times: PL100 (HFC 343); PL200 (HFC 330) and PL300 (HFC 301).
Ed Selley  |  Aug 27, 2011  |  0 comments
Boxing clever Dominic Todd looks at the latest offering from Q Acoustics, the relative newcomer that's defining the high-value loudspeaker concept Acoustics loudspeakers have a great reputation for their accuracy of timing, imaging and, given their size, dynamic prowess. An attribute we recognised here in the pages of Hi-Fi Choice with a Best Buy badge (HFC 318) and an Awards Finalist citation (HFC 326) for its previous model, the 1020i. Cue the 2050. With its twin woofers and cabinets that stand over one metre high, the 2050s appear to have what it takes to add even more muscle to the Q Acoustic family.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 07, 2011  |  0 comments
Magnificent Seven DALI's IKON 7 MKII boasts proprietary drivers and Danish assembly, a combination that as Paul Messenger finds, gives them high-end sparkle DALI (the name is actually an acronym for Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries) debuted its new IKON range at the May 2010 Munich High End Society show and while the overall sizes and configurations of the various MK2 models do correspond closely to those of the original IKON range (first launched in 2005), they also incorporate plenty of engineering and cosmetic changes. The IKONs are Danish-made loudspeakers, so manufacturing isn’t cheap. Furthermore, the value of the Danish Krone (linked to the Euro) has appreciated significantly compared to sterling in recent years, so a significant price rise for this MK2 range was inevitable. Even so, an increase from £999 to £1,699 over a six-year span is pretty hefty, especially for a speaker finished in vinyl woodprint.