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TOWER SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Roger Maycock Posted: May 15, 2006 0 comments
Sonic revelation.

When the assignment came in to review Revel's Performa system, I was more than just a little bit excited. After all, spending time with a Performa F52, C52, S30, M22, and B15A setup is akin to driving a Mercedes-Benz CL600 coupe with every conceivable option when you're accustomed to commuting in a Honda Accord. There's nice, and then there's, "Give me the keys, and get out of the way!" Yes, this would be fun.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 18, 2006 Published: Apr 19, 2006 0 comments
All the THX in China.

First-generation THX blossomed in the high-end sphere. The first companies to make THX-certified speakers were already making great ones, with or without certification. Even now, the list of THX speaker makers reads like an industry honor roll. That list is now one name longer.

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Roger Maycock Posted: Apr 09, 2006 0 comments
Home theater audio with a pro-studio heritage.

When I received the call to review PMC's OB1, CB6, GB1, and TLE1 home theater loudspeaker system, I was excited. The British company enjoys a stellar reputation throughout the professional audio community, and prominent clients, including Dolby Labs, BBC Radio, Capital Records, and Village Recorders use their equipment. The opportunity to discover how PMC's consumer equipment performs was more than a bit intriguing.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 12, 2006 0 comments

My first experience with Energy speakers came in 1994, when I reviewed the Canadian company's then flagship speaker, the Veritas v2.8. It rotated in and out of my system for years, occasionally bettered in specifics by speakers selling for its original price ($6000/pair) or more, but never trumped overall, to my ears. The pair I own is still a valued two-channel reference, but unfortunately Energy never made a center channel speaker to match it.

Michael Trei Posted: Mar 10, 2006 0 comments
Flexibility and value from a Scottish benchmark.

Imagine what it would be like if shopping for a new car involved the same number of decisions we must make when buying a home theater system. First, we would pick an engine, then we'd need a chassis to mount it in, and, to top it off, we would hire a coach builder to design a body to our specifications. This is, in fact, the way people bought luxury cars prior to World War II, before the car companies came to recognize that advancing technology required them to think of the design as an integrated whole rather than as a hodgepodge grouping of discrete components.

Rebecca Day Posted: Feb 14, 2006 Published: Feb 15, 2006 0 comments
A complete system you won't want to hide in the basement.

My basement audio/video system is so last century. It's a mix-and-match collection of gear that's been retired as I've put together my real home theater system upstairs. The TV, a 30-inch analog CRT, circa 1988, doesn't even have a flat picture tube to its credit. The receiver maxes out at four-channel Dolby Pro Logic, and the speaker system is a mishmash of center and surround speakers (unmatched), with unshielded front speakers that deliver a killer image with stereo music but an unwelcome rainbow of colors when placed next to a video display. The DVD player is the only current-millennium piece in the stack, but not by much.

Jerry Kindela Posted: Feb 14, 2006 Published: Feb 15, 2006 0 comments
A combination that hits all the right notes (and sounds).

There's a compelling magic that has kept my butt on the sofa— it's the enthralling And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself. It was for no small reason that this HBO film earned an Emmy for sound editing. The width and depth of the soundscape, the detailed sound bits, the way the dialogue comes through, and the score's ability to underscore the power and poignancy of scene after scene are remarkable. Each of these turns a made-for-TV movie into a film that transcends the limitations of the home venue for which it was created. And the system I've been using—an Epos M Series 5.1 speaker setup powered by the Butler Audio TDB 5150 vacuum-tube power amplifier—reveals such wonderful nuances in Pancho Villa that I have been completely glued to the couch.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jan 11, 2006 0 comments
Body and soul.

I don't think I've ever before referred to a speaker as "sexy," but Sonus faber's new Domus line is definitely hot stuff. Yeah baby, the Domus Series' enticing curves—sheathed in supple black leatherette, poised on spiked feet—will get audiophiles all hot and bothered. That's because they make for pretty sexy sound, too.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 24, 2005 0 comments

Manufacturers of many types of goods, from mattresses to consumer electronics, sell different products through different distribution channels. One channel might be the big chains like Best Buy and Circuit City. Another might be higher-end, specialty retailers like Harvey's and Tweeter, Etc. Yet another might be custom installers. In fact, some brands, like Triad, are available exclusively through the custom installers. You can't buy them at retail.

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Chris Lewis Posted: Dec 21, 2005 0 comments
Quality drivers in quality cabinets equals quality sound—at a nice price.

It's easy to find your eyes dazzled, and your mind befuddled, by the outpouring of new speakers over the last few years, particularly those of the nontraditional variety. In-walls, plasma-friendly speakers, and even flat-panel speakers are all the rage with the general public. This is hardly a bad thing—anything that can get people to recognize that the speaker realm extends far beyond the two-dollar paper drivers in their televisions serves a valuable purpose. Many of these people may also come to realize that, at this point, most of these recent unconventional designs embody some degree of compromise, and they hopefully won't fall victim to the dreaded anything-that-is-new-is-better philosophy. It is true that manufacturers are getting more out of unconventional designs than ever before. But, generally speaking, the best speaker sound still comes out of old-fashioned cone drivers and dome tweeters in cabinets with the proper interior and exterior qualities, along with the proper space for them to do their work.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 18, 2005 0 comments

While I'll be the first one to defend the importance of the independent dealer who can provide expert demonstrations and face-to-face advice, the reality is that these dealers are experiencing an increasingly diverse and difficult market. And in some parts of the country, they're hard if not impossible to find.

Chris Lewis Posted: Dec 12, 2005 0 comments
This time, it's all English.

After the parade of international system mates that we've had in every other installment of this column recently, we finally settle into a system whose parts share their nation of origin. Don't be too quick to assume that it is the United States or Japan I speak of—this month's system hails entirely from merry old England. This isn't terribly surprising, but it does give me an opportunity to say a few things to our friends across the pond that I've been meaning to say for a while, such as: Sorry about that whole revolution thing (although I don't really mean that sincerely), and thanks for the Rolling Stones, Lord Stanley (who gave us the Stanley Cup), and Elizabeth Hurley—in no particular order, of course.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Dec 12, 2005 0 comments
All clear!

I think it's time we revived the old maxim that speakers are the most important part of an audio system. Yes, DVD players, A/V receivers, pre/pros, and power amps all play crucial roles, but speakers give you a bigger shot at personalizing your sound. Some speakers deliver exacting resolution, while others effortlessly unleash a wide range of dynamics or shake the foundation of your abode. Dynaudio speakers excel on every front and remain loyal to the sound embedded in your DVDs and CDs. So don't let the Dynaudio Focus speaker series' understated demeanor throw you off track; these speakers can get down and boogie.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Nov 22, 2005 0 comments
Real speakers have curves.

I remember when Ferraris and Maseratis topped out around 400 ponies, but, nowadays, that much oomph is available in Ford Mustangs. Blisteringly fast rides have never been cheaper, and, over in the consumer electronics world, the speed with which technology migrates from bleeding-edge surround processors to $500 A/V receivers demonstrates the benefits of trickle-down engineering. But the quality gap between high-end and affordable speakers hasn't appreciably narrowed, until now. Wharfedale's real-world-priced Pacific Evolution Series speakers are engineered like far more expensive speakers.

Chris Lewis Posted: Nov 17, 2005 0 comments
A new page—or is it the first page—in the annals of Japanese-Danish collaboration.

It's a true testament to the international character of home theater, circa 2005, that so many of our Spotlight Systems include equipment from different countries—which usually provides a convenient opening angle in the process. Some of these worldly connections have been easier to make than others, and I already thought I was stretching things in our August 2005 issue by trying to come up with a compelling storyline for England and Japan. This time, I'm officially stumped. If you can come up with an introduction-worthy link between Japan and Denmark, then consider yourself truly educated in world affairs. I certainly like to imagine a band of Vikings and a band of Samurai trading blows on the battlefield, but, somehow, I don't think that ever happened. It's possible that these two countries squared off on a soccer field at some point, but I'd be the last person to know about that. Maybe this is finally a sign that I should stay more focused on what we're all really here for anyway—what these countries do when they get together in the listening room. Point taken.

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