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BOOKSHELF SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 18, 2013 2 comments

Aon 2 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

ForceField 5 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $3,000 At A Glance: Broad dispersion • Good power handling • Powerful subwoofer

A review is more interesting when it tells a story. How should the story of the GoldenEar Aon 2 begin? There’s the technology angle: The Aon 2 is among the few speakers on the market with an unusual pleated tweeter design that uses a squeezing motion (as opposed to a piston motion) to generate the changes in air pressure that we hear as sound waves. Because the benefits—wide horizontal dispersion and vivid imaging—are easy to describe, that would be a good way to begin. And then there’s the human interest angle: GoldenEar is the third brand to be cofounded by Baltimore-based loudspeaker impresario Sandy Gross, whose genuine love for audio is balanced by his love for gourmet food, Expressionist canvases, and ancient statuary. The only thing wrong with these angles is that reviewers hither and yon have used them so often in the past. That leaves the musical angle. Here I believe I have a variant that might qualify as an exclusive.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Apr 09, 2013 0 comments

The Motion 15 is in my listening room partly because I've wanted to hear it ever since I first saw it about a year ago, and partly because I mistakenly ordered it for our massive "Clash of the Minispeakers" test.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 03, 2013 Published: Apr 02, 2013 0 comments
M25 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

MSubwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $3,345 At A Glance: Leather-like enclosure finish • Beefy subwoofer • Easy-listening, aggression-free treble

The question “what speakers should I buy?” is increasingly giving way to the more provocative “why should I buy stand-alone speakers at all?” Loudspeakers have to argue for their very existence in a world where consumers are logging fewer listening hours with component systems. Instead, stylish music sources such as tablets and smartphones are driving listeners toward equally stylish all-in-one wireless/docking systems and headphones. Today, the poor old loudspeaker has to work harder to attract attention. It has to convince you to buy it—oh, and one of those pesky audio/video receivers to power it.

Bob Ankosko Posted: Mar 28, 2013 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $299 (accessories: Air DAC Receiver, $149; iTX Transmitter, $79; uTX Transmitter, $59) At a Glance: Easy setup • Excellent wireless performance • Good sound from compact speakers

The promise was enticing: A compact wireless speaker system offering “exceptional” performance with the option of using an outboard digital-to-analog converter (DAC) to achieve a “much needed, audiophile-grade alternative to mediocre wireless sound.” Amen. The last thing the world needs is another pair of bad-sounding wireless speakers.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 3 comments

For decades, the minispeaker has been a touchstone for audio enthusiasts. Because you can get a respectable pair of minis for a few hundred dollars, the mini is where most audiophiles start their journey into sound.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 0 comments
The Monitor series of speakers from Paradigm is now in its seventh generation. It's always been the company's most affordable line, but it's always been designed in the same no-nonsense, engineering-focused style as the company's other speakers. The Atom Monitor 7 ($398/pr) is no exception.
Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 0 comments

“Really?” I blurted out loud when I opened the RTiA1’s box to find a substantial, beautifully made minispeaker with curved sides and a higher level of fit’n’finish than that found on any of the other speakers in this group (the Monitor Bronze BX1 perhaps excepted). I even double-checked the price, doubting that Polk could sell such a nice-looking speaker for less than $400 a pair, especially $325 a pair (or even less online).

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 0 comments

The Marimba ($349/pr) is the first speaker ever offered under the Music Hall brand, known for affordable turntables and audiophile electronics. Clearly, the sound was the focus; the Marimba's black ash vinyl wrap finish won't win any design awards. The 1-inch silk-dome tweeter and 5.25-inch, polypropylene-cone woofer are mounted in a rear-ported, 11-inch-high cabinet.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 0 comments

More than any other speaker in this group except perhaps the Polk, the BX1 ($379/pr) looks like a high-end product, with its walnut finish; its 1-inch, gold-finish C-CAM (composite ceramic metal) tweeter; and its 5.5-inch C-CAM woofer. Unusually, the woofer is attached to the back panel, not the front, so its vibration won't be as easily transmitted to the front panel.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 0 comments

Usually, a sub-$400/pair minispeaker is part of a manufacturer's entry-level line, but the RB-41 II ($299/pr) is part of Klipsch's Reference line. It uses the horn-loaded tweeter that has been a Klipsch hallmark since the 1940s - in this case, a 1-inch titanium-dome model - and a ceramic/metallic-cone 4-inch woofer in a rear-ported enclosure.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 0 comments

Audio cognoscenti won't recognize the C3 ($350/pr) as a KEF because it doesn't have KEF's trademark concentric tweeter-inside-woofer design. Its 0.75-inch aluminum-dome tweeter sits above its 5.25-inch polypropylene-cone woofer in an 11.4-inch-high front-ported cabinet.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 0 comments

Hsu Research ranks high on home theater enthusiasts' "most favored brands" list, largely because of its high-performance, low-priced subwoofers. Indeed, the HB-1 MK2 ($318/pr) seems to be designed primarily as a home theater bruiser: At 15.4 inches high, it's the largest speaker in this roundup, and its 6.5-inch, polypropylene-cone woofer gives it more bass real estate than any but the Axiom M3v3.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 0 comments
A longtime fave of home theater enthusiasts, Axiom sells its speakers direct through its Web site. The M3v3 ($378/pr) features a 1-inch titanium-dome tweeter and a 6.5-inch aluminum-cone woofer, crossed over at 2.2 kHz and mounted in a rear-ported cabinet. At 13.5 inches high, it's one of the largest speakers in this roundup.
Daniel Kumin Posted: Feb 13, 2013 0 comments

Everybody loves small speakers, and why not? Smaller is — often — easier to afford, easier to schlep home, easier to place, and easier to live with. Smaller also has certain acoustical advantages in achieving smooth response and in yielding the broad, even spread of sound that favors good imaging and an open, believable tone color.

But how small is too small? Some say there’s no limit, and at least one manufacturer (Bose) has had success with subwoofer/satellite designs whose sats are smaller than a pepper mill, let alone a breadbox. But as the front satellites of a speaker system become smaller, their ability to reproduce bass low enough to bridge effectively with the practical upper limits of a single subwoofer, at around 150 Hz (and ideally lower), becomes questionable.

Klipsch thinks it has found the sweet spot with its HD Theater 600 system

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 25, 2013 0 comments
CL-2 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
 

CLS-10 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $2,888 At A Glance: 180-degree cylindrical tweeter • Stable, wide-open sound • Tilted sub driver

Shape is destiny for Anthony Gallo Acoustics. The company is best known for its spherical and cylindrical speaker enclosures, made of metal and tough as tanks. But the Classico Series is the first Gallo product to use a plain rectan-gular box—for consumers, the company says, who prefer a more traditional look. Though not as curvaceous as other Gallo lines, the Classico is still available in a beautiful Cherry veneer finish, along with the more staid Black Ash veneer of our review samples. Note that the speakers are sold only through the Gallo Website: roundsound.com. The more conventional construction and factory-direct approach make the Classico models among the most affordable Gallo speakers ever.

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