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Brent Butterworth Posted: Sep 18, 2012 0 comments

As athletes such as Michael Vick, Kobe Bryant, and the whole New Orleans Saints defense have learned the hard way, even when you’re the best, it helps to be friendly. Big surround sound systems aren’t friendly to your décor or your pocketbook. Fortunately, in the last 2 years, we’ve seen major speaker companies put serious effort into designing compact 5.1 systems that deliver no-compromise performance. The Mini Theatre line from Bowers & Wilkins is the latest to make its way through my listening room.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 27, 2010 2 comments
Price: $14,500 At A Glance: Diamond-domed tweeter in tapered Nautilus tube housing • Center well matched to other speakers • Focused highs, controlled bass

The 800 Dynasty Continues

The world is full of B&Ws. Former and current users of the acronym include Bra & Wessels, the Swedish department store chain; Burmeister & Wain, the Danish shipyard; Boeing & Westervelt, the predecessor of Boeing; and the Black & White Audiovisual Festival of Portugal. The most notorious B&W would be Brown & Williamson, depraved tobacco pushers. So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that B&W, the formidable British loudspeaker maker, has reverted to its original name—Bowers & Wilkins—even though John Bowers and Roy Wilkins are no longer in the picture.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Sep 26, 2014 1 comments

Mini T Speaker System
Build Quality

Mini T Subwoofer
Build Quality
PRICE $8,881 (as tested)

Outstanding sonics and dynamic ability
Impressive bass extension from Mini-T alone
Made in Canada, not overseas
Requires substantial
amplifier power for best performance
Classic boxy designs won’t thrill everyone

They’re big, boxy, and expensive, but these speakers are world-class performers, top to bottom.

Bryston’s new Mini T loudspeakers spoke to me early, even before I’d fully wrestled them out of their imposing, oversized packaging. And what they said was, “We were designed by guys who don’t give a hamster’s hindquarters for new-age cosmetics, ‘breakthrough’ transducers, or 21st-century styling: We’re old school!”

For the record, Bryston Ltd.—based in the small Canadian city of Peterborough, an hour or so east of Toronto—has for decades produced some of the world’s preeminent power amplifiers (also preamps, surround processors, and even the odd integrated amp), impeccable performers built to a standard of brick-house quality seldom bettered, and warrantied accordingly. If you wanted vast reserves of current, bulletproof design, road-ready ruggedness, and genuine craftsmanship, Bryston fit the bill.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 04, 2008 0 comments
Let’s face it: The French have a better shape.

To Americans accustomed to seeing other Americans waddling through shopping malls—and let me be the first to admit I’ve been doing a fair amount of waddling myself lately—the streets of Paris come as a pleasant shock. How do people who feast on duck liver and red wine stay so lean and sexy? Perhaps that eternal mystery springs from the same source as Cabasse’s fashionably thin Artis Baltic Evolution tower loudspeaker. Like one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s amazing cantilevered houses, it seems to defy gravity, the sphere holding its coaxial driver array floating on a skinny diagonal slash of solid wood. I suspect that the people who designed the speaker sat down to an excellent dinner afterward.

Gary Altunian Posted: Jan 18, 2008 Published: Dec 18, 2007 0 comments
Sleek style and sound.

"The only thing constant is change" is a corollary that surely applies to consumer electronics, as new technologies and products are regularly brought to market. Loudspeakers are no exception; however, it seems as though some speaker designs remain timeless. A good example is coaxial speakers that have passed the test of time because they work. The French manufacturer Cabasse produces an entire line of speakers built around the coaxial design, and their latest offering is the Eole 5.1-channel speaker system.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 18, 2014 0 comments

Aero 2 Speaker System
Build Quality

Aero 9 Subwoofer
Build Quality
PRICE $2,446

Flat BMR in lieu of tweeter
Clear sonic window into the midrange
Unusual dual-mono/bipole surrounds
Affordable price
Boxy vinyl-wrap enclosures

Cambridge Audio’s Aero reinvents the two-way loudspeaker in midrange-friendly fashion with excellent performance and value.

What if you needed two throats to speak? Sounds a bit cumbersome, right? But that’s how a two-way loudspeaker usually treats the human voice. Its drivers divide the midrange frequencies where the voice resides into two parts, sending higher frequencies to the tweeter and lower frequencies to the woofer. While the crossover varies from speaker to speaker, the frequencies that handle the voice usually get split right in the region where human ears are most sensitive to vocal timbre.

Of course, good speaker designers routinely surmount this obstacle to natural vocal sound, either by carefully tweaking their two-way designs or by going to three-way designs that dedicate a separate driver to midrange reproduction. But the three-way approach adds two more crossover sections, potentially leading to other troubled areas of reproduction.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 06, 2011 0 comments

Build Quality
Price: $850 (updated V2 system)
At A Glance: Single-cube speaker with full-range driver • Polymer and extruded-aluminum enclosure • Wireless option

Surround Cubed

The cube speaker at the heart of Cambridge Audio’s Minx satellite/subwoofer set has become an enduring form factor for people who don’t like loudspeakers. Of course, in their zeal to get speakers off the floor, some speaker-haters poke holes in their walls for in-walls. But not everyone is willing to go to that extreme. And while in-wall and on-wall speakers have no footprint, they do have what you might call a wallprint. For folks who don’t like speakers, don’t like holes in their walls, and don’t like wallprints, but do like movies and music, the cube speaker—something the size of a Girl Scout’s fist—shapes up as the least invasive solution.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 19, 2013 1 comments

Minx S325v2 Speaker System
Build Quality
X300 Subwoofer
Build Quality
Price: $1,449 At A Glance: Second-gen high-end compact satellites • Mix of flat and cone drivers • Incredible dispersion

Compact cube speakers are an intriguing subset of the satellite/subwoofer speaker genre. Though not invariably high performers, cubes have achieved iconic status, and some manufacturers have made a fortune marketing them to folks whose significant others look at the diminutive geometric forms and say, “Bingo. That’s what I want your speakers to look like. Now get those big tombstones out of our den.”

Cambridge Audio has tapped into the cube mystique with its Minx sat/sub sets. In fact, the Minx has done so well that it is now a separate division of the company. Part of the Minx suc- cess story is, believe it or not, performance. The first-generation Min 10 (single cube) and Min 20 (double cube) earned rave reviews all over the place, and the single- cube version found a coveted perch on our Top Picks list.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 07, 2009 0 comments
Price: $5,550 At A Glance: Distinctive round-edged Cantons are easy to live with • Monitors deliver superb all-around performance • Adjustable sub delivers deep bass without bloat

Brilliant at Making Things

Last year I spent my vacation in Munich, Stuttgart, and Nuremberg. Afterward I sent e-mails and pictures to friends, raving about Germany’s high-speed trains and pedestrianized shopping districts. One friend wrote back and said that I made him sad because I spent all that time in Munich without visiting BMW, and in Stuttgart without visiting Mercedes-Benz. Let’s face it, the Germans are brilliant at making things: cities, cars, trains, eyewear, clothing, sausages, and beer—all the little things that enhance our quality of life. Wouldn’t you like your loudspeakers to measure up to that standard?

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 16, 2007 Published: Jun 16, 2007 0 comments
Fussy in the front; pragmatic in the back.

Three identical stand-mounted speakers in front, two on-wall speakers in back—that's the unusual configuration I used in this review of the Canton GLE Series. Now I've got some explaining to do.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Oct 24, 2006 Published: Oct 25, 2006 0 comments
The little system that could.

Some guys fantasize about winning the Mega Millions Lottery and driving into the sunset in a $1.25-million Bugatti Veyron 16.4 supercar. Or maybe a giddy winner would fork over heaps of cash for an ultimate home theater. The market for ultrahigh-end exotica is surging, but, while I'm waiting for my big payday, I thought I'd come back down to earth and have some fun with one of Onkyo's most reasonably priced audio/video receivers, the TX-SR504 ($300), partnered with Canton's sleek Movie CD 201 speaker system ($1,999). Budgetary constraints be damned, the little system still had to sound great in my home theater and deliver the goods in a cozy bedroom, office, or den.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 01, 2003 0 comments
Speaker System Small sats, a big sub, and visions of hops and sausages.

My sociological spiel about the French in my JMlab Digital Home Cinema System review (April 2003) inadvertently hit newsstands around the start of the war with Iraq, so I'll limit my wantonly idiotic cultural commentary on the Germans to food and drink references. Have you ever tried their smoked beer? I'm not joking. It's called Rauchbier, and it's delicious. I should note that, although my byline is German, my ethnic makeup is German, English, Scots, and Irish, and they all make good beer. My oft-misspelled name literally translates as "meat man" (no jokes, please), and my great-grandfather was the last in a long line of sausage-makers. After he emigrated from Germany, he continued to practice his craft in New Jersey. According to my father, his sausages were so rich that you had to wash them down with a quart of milk.

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.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 15, 2007 Published: Oct 15, 2007 0 comments
Tie a rectangular ribbon.

Tweeter is the name of a speaker driver, an audio retail chain, and a Warner Brothers cartoon character. No, wait, that would be Tweety Bird. However whimsical the name may sound, the tweeter plays a crucial role in speaker design. An average one delivers not only high frequencies, as the chirpy name suggests, but also a significant share of the upper midrange. It's possible to design a loudspeaker without a tweeter. But most speakers depend on their tweeters to deliver harmonics, detail, airiness, and all frequencies above the crossover to the lower drivers.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 15, 2007 0 comments
A budget sub/sat set for the divinely inclined.

Nowhere is the universal human desire to get something for nothing more evident than in consumer electronics. While I'm always amenable to reviewing mass-market gear that offers high value to the consumer, I also spend a large portion of my time convincing more discerning listeners that an investment in higher-priced gear is really worth it. Why, then, would I work up a froth of enthusiasm for a modest subwoofer/satellite set like the DCM Cinema2? It would be convenient simply to say that I heard it and liked it, but the truth doesn't always lend itself to a glib lead.


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