BOOKSHELF SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 26, 2012 2 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $900 each At A Glance: Comprehensive bass optimization in a small cabinet • Compelling midrange • Speckle gloss finish

As a surround-oriented magazine, we rarely review speakers in stereo. But when Atlantic Technology offered a pair of its AT-2 H-PAS speaker, we couldn’t resist a listen. This loudspeaker uses an intricately constructed stand-mount enclosure to deliver bass comparable to that of an equivalent conventional floorstander. Does anyone want it?

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 13, 2012 5 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $1,745 At A Glance: Sealed design controls bass • Satin-finish MDF enclosures • Factory-direct sales enhance value

Are you one of those people who can’t resist a supermarket circular? Do you trawl the Internet looking for coupon codes that can be pasted into online purchases? Loudspeaker pricing doesn’t often indulge us with the same feeling of satisfaction that we get from buying a jumbo jar of marinara sauce or a cashmere scarf at an extremely low price. But while researching this review last December, I couldn’t help noting that Emotiva’s factory-direct speakers offered some wiggle room to the timely shopper. The XRC-5.2 LCR speaker normally sold for $299/each—not a bad price to begin with—but was momentarily going for an introductory price of $239/each.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 21, 2012 0 comments

It seemed that audio companies had surrendered the home-theater-in-a-box concept to the TV manufacturers.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 07, 2012 4 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $1,706 At A Glance: Listening fatigue immunity • Extremely solid build • Factory-direct value

SVS Sound designs its products from the bottom up. The company got its start as a subwoofer manufacturer, fascinating point-one-obsessed audiophiles with unusual (and potent) cylinder-shaped models. Check out the company’s Website at svsound.com under products and you’ll find the subwoofer category listed above speakers and systems. If you want to add an SVS sub to an existing system, the Website’s Merlin engine lets you key in the make and model of your non-SVS speakers to obtain recommendations on compatible SVS subs. Merlin will even offer suggestions for subwoofer crossovers in both surround and stereo systems.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 29, 2011 9 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $2,075 At A Glance: Compression Guide Technology enclosure • Top-to-bottom ease and authority • Sub controls in separate remote-controlled box

Longtime readers know I often revisit the same manufacturers in loudspeaker reviews. I like to see how speaker lines from the same crucible evolve and grow. The downside is that returning to the same brands cheats me (and you) of new experiences. So for this review, I found myself placing a call to Howard Rodgers of RSL Speaker Systems. I dialed his West Coast number at 10 in the morning East Coast time with the intention of leaving a voicemail—only to roust him out of bed, to my surprise and embarrassment. He told me a little about the company and the 5.1-channel speaker package I was about to review.

Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 27, 2011 10 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $6,850 At A Glance: 0 for looks • 11 on a 10 scale for sound • Smooooth air motion transformer tweeter

Although Berlin, Germany–based Adam Audio is a recent player in the American A/V marketplace, the company has produced passive and powered loudspeakers for both pro and home use for 11 years. The acronym ADAM stands for Advance Dynamic Audio Monitors. ADAM Audio USA entered the pro market here in 2002 and only recently began building a home audio distribution and sales network.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Dec 26, 2011 0 comments

Emotiva made its name by offering high-end audio electronics that look like they cost thousands but actually cost hundreds. With the X-Ref line, it’s trying to do the same in speakers. The company has offered speakers in the past, but X-Ref is its first concerted effort to deliver a broad line of speakers at prices low enough to attract budget-minded-yet -serious home theater enthusiasts. The line includes two tower speakers, two LCR (left/center/right) speakers, two bookshelf speakers, one surround speaker, and two subwoofers.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Dec 22, 2011 0 comments

It’s been a dream of audio engineers and enthusiasts for decades: Create a compact speaker system that performs like a big one.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 16, 2011 0 comments
Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $880 At A Glance: Super-smooth-sounding top end • Spacious, big-sounding midrange • Compact form factor • Modest price

There are two schools of thought about speaker design for movies and music. The purist approach is that the fundamentals of performance affect both equally—what’s good for music is good for movies and vice versa. On the other hand, the pragmatic approach calls attention to the differing demands of movies versus music, suggesting that your choice of speaker should be optimized for one or the other, whichever you care about more.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 11, 2011 0 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $2,350 At A Glance: Smallest member of Imagine Series • Ingenious design, high build quality • Wood veneer or gloss finishes

A few decades ago, the Canadian government’s National Research Council built an anechoic—that is, non-echoing—chamber in Ottawa for the testing and refinement of loudspeakers. This investment nurtured a whole school of speaker designers. Paul Barton of PSB was among the earliest and most distinguished to emerge. Five years ago, Barton embarked on a wholesale redesign of his speaker lines, summing up his considerable experience and adding improvements made possible by the lowered cost of manufacturing in China. Yes, some manufacturers actually use China’s industrial prowess as an opportunity to improve their products. Barton regularly visits his contract manufacturers to ensure they’re delivering the quality he demands in his high-performing loudspeakers.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 04, 2011 0 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $2,494 (updated 2/17/15) At A Glance: Rethink of price/performance champ • Perfectly voiced for affordable electronics • Optional Perfect Bass Kit tunes sub

I envy the Paradigm Monitor Series 7 speakers, the latest in a durable line. Over time, the Monitors have gotten better and better, while I have only gotten balder.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Oct 16, 2011 0 comments

Romantics see Italy as a place of rich history and sophisticated culture. Not me. As a non-romantic, I can think of Italy only as the birthplace of the Fiat 128 that often left me walking instead of driving, and the location of a honeymoon in which I fought frenzied traffic and struggled to find a decent meal.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 20, 2011 1 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $3,350 At A Glance: 90-by-60-degree Tractrix horn • Extremely focused imaging • More decibels for your watts

The story of Klipsch is often told, but the storytellers, myself included, typically fail to mention two of the three key principals. Every audiophile has heard of Paul W. Klipsch. He founded the loudspeaker company that bears his name in 1946 and spent several decades patiently perfecting his use of horn-loaded drivers to provide—and here I’ll just quote the Klipsch mantras—high efficiency, low distortion, controlled directivity, and flat frequency response. Paul was also known to take notes during sermons so that he could grill the minister afterward on the fine points of theology.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 20, 2011 9 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $1,750 At A Glance: HVFR folded diaphragm tweeter • Dual woofers in slim enclosure • High sensitivity

There are no second acts in American lives,” F. Scott Fitzgerald gloomily mused. Don’t tell that to Sandy Gross. Having cofounded Polk Audio and Definitive Technology, he has recently formed a third Baltimore-based loudspeaker company called GoldenEar Technology. I’ve asked Gross more than once why he’s launched a third speaker brand when the first two have left him at a pinnacle of material success. He always starts his reply with a broad smile that says it all.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Sep 20, 2011 0 comments

RSL Speaker Systems is the current manifestation of Rogersound Labs, a SoCal company that goes back a few years — 30 or so, in fact. Like many speaker makers, RSL got its start through garage tinkering, in this case by Howard Rodgers, owner of a well-known retail chain of the same name. (How the “d” got dropped from the company name is a story for another day.)

Despite a long, successful run, the original RSL, again like many other speaker companies, eventually faded away. But after regaining rights to the company name just last year, the firm was reincarnated after a long hiatus by its founder and his family.

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