TOWER SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 04, 2012 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $7,197 At A Glance: Wide and deep soundstage • Clear, uncolored midrange • Superb fit and finish

The Wharfedale brand is one of the oldest and most widely respected in the loudspeaker business. Gilbert Briggs founded the company as the Wharfedale Wireless Works in Yorkshire, England, in 1932. While his name is less well known in the U.S. than, say, Saul Marantz, Avery Fisher, and James B. Lansing, Briggs was also clearly one of the founding fathers of the high-fidelity business that took off big time in the 1950s.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Jun 05, 2012 0 comments

History may one day judge “offshoring” to be the macroeconomic disaster that some pundits would have us believe. Still, you can’t argue that it’s been a microeconomics windfall for American consumers.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 30, 2012 2 comments

LSiM707 Surround Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
 
DSWmicroPRO3000 subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $9,900 (updated 3/10/15)
At A Glance: Excellent dynamic range • Solid imaging and depth • Could use more top-end air

Polk Audio has a proud history stretching back to the early 1970s. Its products have leaned more to the familiar and affordable rather than to the expensive and esoteric, but there have been exceptions. The SRT series, introduced in 1995, was a surround system with seven separate speakers encompassing 35 active drivers, including two subwoofers said to be capable of 120 decibels at 30 hertz. It corralled its fair share of buyers willing to pony up the $10,000 asking price.

Michael Fremer Posted: May 18, 2012 13 comments
Do you dream in surround sound? Since you’re reading this magazine, the answer is probably yes. Psychiatrists say dreaming is good for you. Thumb through any issue of Home Theater and you’re more likely than not to encounter components, systems, and lavish, dedicated rooms equipped with the latest 4K projectors and high-powered, surround-sound systems that most of us can only dream about.
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Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 20, 2012 0 comments
GoldenEar Technology may have had the fastest rise to the top of any speaker manufacturer in history. The company started less than 2 years ago. Yet its very first product, the Triton Two tower speaker, was named Sound+Vision’s 2010 Audio Product of the Year — and practically every other audio publication raved about it, too.

It shouldn’t have come as too big a surprise, though. GoldenEar is the creation of Sandy Gross, a co-founder of Polk Audio and Definitive Technology, and engineer Don Givogue, the other co-founder of Def Tech. Still, to have people comparing your $2,500-per-pair speaker to $10,000-per-pair models is an accomplishment.

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Al Griffin Posted: Mar 20, 2012 0 comments

Two years ago, I found myself listening to Monitor Audio’s flagship Platinum Series towers in the company’s CES demo room and thinking, Who drops 10 grand on a pair of speakers, no matter how good they sound?

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Jan 30, 2012 0 comments

It seems like there have been Paradigm Monitor-series speakers roaming the earth since shortly after Rice and Kellog patented the dynamic loudspeaker as we know it in 1924. (The original practical design was by Peter Jensen, co-founder of Magnavox, some years earlier.) And as the arrival of its “Series 7” might suggest, the Canadian maker’s Monitor family does in fact date back a couple of decades. Like the speakers that preceded them, Paradigm’s new Monitor models are benchmarks of performance/value quotient in the best Canadian-speaker tradition: rationally priced, excellent-performing, technically advanced designs that compete very effectively with some far more costly “high-end” designs.

So what has changed for Series 7? According to Paradigm, the answer is smaller, deeper, broader: The new models are smaller in size (and so more décor-friendly), yet thanks to redesigned waveguides and the adoption of aluminum bass/mid cones and tweeter domes, they offer improved low-frequency extension and smoother, wider off-axis response. In other words, just like before — but more so.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 27, 2012 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $3,195 (updated 3/10/15)
At A Glance: Little brother to the Triton Two • Built-in, powered subwoofer • Folded-diaphragm tweeters

Those of us who are “the baby of the family” know the ever-living hell of growing up surrounded by older siblings. In addition to the incessant abuse—both mental (teasing, taunting, terrorizing) and physical (wedgies, wet willies, purple nurples)—there’s the oxygen-depleting cloud of expectation that swirls around your every step, especially if you’ve had a particularly zealous overachiever blazing the familial trail ahead of you. By the way, for those parents who aren’t aware of it, “Why can’t you be like your brother?” isn’t, in most cases, a terribly motivating exhortation. Unless, of course, said brother happens to be a ne’er-do-well who lives off the proceeds of an obscenely large trust fund, drinks absinthe with impunity, and eats fresh beignets heaped high with powdered sugar for breakfast (at noon) every day. (That’s my kind of role model! Bring it on, sibling rival…) Unfortunately, few of us are blessed with the kind of bottom-feeding low-life for an older brother or sister who makes you look like a shining star just for getting out of bed and watching cartoons in the morning. Instead, we’re doomed to a life of waking up knowing that the rest of the day is likely to be nothing but another disappointment to our parents, grandparents, and every ancestor who ever walked (even remotely) upright.

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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Dec 05, 2011 0 comments

“This is the worst listening room I’ve ever heard,” Magnepan’s Wendell Diller said, half joking. It might have been less than half.

Honestly, I couldn’t disagree. We were sitting in my office, facing my computer and a newly setup Mini Maggie system. I don’t review speakers in my office, for good reason. It’s basically a cube with mostly bare walls: one of the worst acoustic environments possible.

And with any speaker — especially a planar magnetic speaker — the room is a huge part of the deal. So began my quest for a better room, better sound, and the perfect setup.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 31, 2011 0 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $5,600 (updated 3/10/15)
At A Glance: CLS Xstat electrostatic transducer • Folded Motion XT tweeter • Dipolar panels

I hate MartinLogan.

That’s right. I hate MartinLogan with a passion that borders on the obsessive. And there’s more to it than the fact that the company’s headquarters in Lawrence, Kansas, are just a hop, skip, and a third-and-long TD pass away from KU. (As a graduate of Mizzou, I say, “Pluck the Jayhawks.”) What gets me is that every time I see those tall, translucent, slightly curved, hard-to-believe-they-actually-work panels that are the hallmark of a MartinLogan electrostatic speaker, I want a pair.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Oct 19, 2011 0 comments

“But is it a real MartinLogan?” I wondered to myself as I read the press release for the ElectroMotion ESL tower speaker that had come through my e-mail.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Aug 24, 2011 0 comments

Typical tower speakers arrive with so many wonderful opportunities for self-injury: When you take them off the truck and when you haul them into the listening room, for starters. And that’s not to mention when you unpack them and set them up and when you adjust placement (especially with carpet spikes). But Oregon’s Aperion Audio, God love ’em, has finally delivered a tower speaker that even the most physically challenged audiophile can love: the Verus Forte.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 15, 2011 2 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $4,095 (updated 3/10/15)
At a Glance: Superior left-center-right uniformity • Excellent imaging and depth • Outstanding value

When Portland, Oregon–based Aperion Audio began selling speakers about 10 years ago, its business plan was simple: design the speakers here, build them where manufacturing costs are low (China—as with many of today’s speakers), and sell direct to buyers to avoid the middlemen—distributors and conventional dealers.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 20, 2011 1 comments
Price: $11,250 At A Glance: Silky-smooth sonics • Refined, furniture-grade cabinetry • Depth-charge deep bass

Videophile Ready

Show Vienna Acoustics’ living-room-friendly Beethoven Baby Grand system to your hesitant significant other, and you might get the long-awaited nod you’ve been looking for. This is a speaker system an interior-design-conscious, non–audio enthusiast can make peace with.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 25, 2011 1 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $4,250 (updated 3/10/15)
At A Glance: Superb sound on both music and movies • Wide, deep soundstage • Outstanding value

Cue the Qs

KEF’s Q Series, improved over multiple generations since 1994, has long been the British speaker company’s bread-and-butter line. The new Qs, which began shipping earlier this year, were designed in the U.K. and are manufactured in China.

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