BOOKSHELF SPEAKER REVIEWS

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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
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CLS-10 Subwoofer
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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.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Dec 20, 2012 1 comments

KEF made the LS50 minispeaker for lots of reasons. It’s a celebration of the company’s 50th anniversary. It’s the first affordable application of the technology developed for the $29,999/pair Blade. It’s a throwback to the LS3/5a, a beloved, BBC-designed minimonitor for which KEF made the drivers.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 15, 2012 7 comments

SP-BS22-LR Speakers
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SW-8MK2 Subwoofer
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Price: $500 At A Glance: Affordable designer speakers • Second gen with improved parts • Clearer, meatier sound

Looking for a great sounding set of home theater speakers but on a tight budget? Read on and find out why Pioneer's newest speakers might be just what the doctor ordered and learn how gifted designer Andrew Jones met the challenge of building a high-performance speaker ensemble that can be had for only $500. Even he can't believe it.

Michael Berk Posted: Nov 15, 2012 0 comments

Danish manufacturer Jamo's been making a splash with the spherical speakers we saw back at the 2012 CES, and this week they've announced a pair of 5.0 setups in the appropriately named 360 Series, based around their unique architecture: the S 25 HCS ($649.99), including five of the company's S 25 speakers, and the S 35 HCS ($999.99), which groups four of the larger S 35 units with a C 35 center channel.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 19, 2012 0 comments

DX-1 HCP Speaker
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DX-1 subwoofer
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Price: $799 At A Glance: Sweet but detailed mids • High-gloss finish • Great sats, OK sub

One of your best friends calls up to announce that she is about to wed someone rich and powerful. He owns a shipyard that manufactures exceptionally luxurious yachts. You’re happy for her, but you worry, too. Would living with such a strong personality, a guy with all that money and all that power, be good for her? Would it make her stronger or weaker? A few years later you run into her, and after a few hours of conversation, you conclude that she’s in great shape internally as well as externally. There’s a serenity beneath the tan. Her husband is affectionate and faithful, a child is on the way, and she’s never been happier.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Oct 16, 2012 0 comments

Like so many British (and, for that matter, American) ür-audio brands, KEF — originally Kent Engineering & Foundry — had its roots in the post- WWII technology boom. In KEF’s case, it grew inside a Quonset hut on the grounds of the aforementioned foundry. A half-century down the road the Kentish maker is still there (in Kent, not in the metal shed!), still focused on its core competency (loudspeakers), and still producing wholly excellent designs.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Oct 11, 2012 0 comments

The surest way to future success is to repeat your past successes. Like that line? I made it up. If you think it’s a lot of B.S., I present as irrefutable evidence the careers of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Also the Paradigm Millenia CT, a 2.1 speaker system based closely on the MilleniaOne, our 2011 Product of the Year.

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