TOWER SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 11, 2007 Published: May 11, 2007 0 comments
API crosses the border.

This is a momentous time for Energy Speaker Systems. Until recently, Energy was one of several brands owned and operated by Audio Products International of Toronto, Canada. (The others included Mirage, Athena, and Spherex.) Now the API brands have been merged into Klipsch of Indianapolis, Indiana, creating a new fusion of Canadian design and American ownership. Energy has also moved their manufacturing to China, where they will have more control over parts, while achieving greater cost-effectiveness. John Tchilinguirian, the longtime lead designer for the brand, has moved on to independent consulting. That makes the Energy RC-70 towers, RC-LCR (serving as center), and RC-R surrounds partly a chapter from a previous tome and partly the first chapter in a new story.

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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.

Scott Wilkinson Posted: Jul 21, 2002 0 comments

When it comes to surround-speaker systems, good things rarely come in small packages. Microsatellites and little subwoofers typically sound thin and anemic, with poor tonal balance and low volume capabilities. Yet there are many situations (e.g., small apartments, dorm rooms, guest rooms) in which such speakers would be ideally suited, if only they produced a reasonably good sound.

Chris Lewis Posted: Jun 11, 2002 Published: Jun 12, 2002 0 comments
Energy's updated Veritas line lives up to its legacy

It was a question I hadn't considered until I stepped into the listening room on that gloomy Monday morning to greet my Canadian guests. Then it hit me like a slap shot to the forehead. Could I be the unbiased, emotionally unruffled reviewer that I know I am on this day, or was my bitterness simply too strong to give these visitors their fair shake? For you see, it was less than 24 hours earlier that one of the most important games in North American hockey history—the gold-medal final between the United States and Canada—had ended in utter disappointment for the Stars and Stripes. And now, these Canadian speakers were staring me right in the face—their phase plugs pointing at me in ridicule, their ports directing a sly, triumphant wink my way, and their cabinets standing a little taller and straighter after 50 years of Olympic-hockey frustration. My doubts quickly passed, though, as my foreign guests began expertly filling the room with the soothing sounds of the Mississippi delta and Virginia mountains, bringing an undeniable calm over me—even a hint of resignation. As much as I love hockey, it's their game, after all. If Canada starts beating us in football or baseball, I'll know the sports gods have really turned their backs on the good old U.S. of A.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 13, 2002 0 comments

Veteran readers of <I>Stereophile Guide to Home Theater</I> and <I>Stereophile</I> will know that my longtime reference speaker for 2-channel playback has been the <A HREF="http://www.stereophile.com//551/">Energy Veritas V2.8</A>&mdash;it's capable of dominating a room in a way that few other speakers in its price range can. For years now at trade shows, I've badgered Energy to produce a suitable center-channel and surrounds, but what Energy has had in the works the last few years were not additional models to fill out a home-theater setup based on the V2.8, but a complete new Veritas line. Everything about the current flagship of that updated and expanded range, the Veritas V2.4&mdash;from drivers to cabinet&mdash;is new, and many of those new developments are carried over to the full Veritas line.

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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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 02, 2008 0 comments
A grand canopy of surround sound.

Speakers come and go in my listening room—as I persist in calling it, although it also includes a front-projection system, an LCD HDTV, and my home office. But there’s one review I relive every day. And that’s my rave review of era’s Design 4 speaker system, which appeared in our April 2006 issue. Why? Because I have only to look at my desk, where of course I’m typing this now, and there they are, the Eras, on either side of my recently and joyously installed 24-inch NEC monitor. When I do YouTube, this trusty pair of the Design 4 does the honors, along with an Onix OA21S integrated amp and a Pinnacle Baby Boomer sub.

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Clint Walker Posted: Oct 28, 2000 Published: Oct 29, 2000 0 comments
Polk vs. Klipsch vs. RBH

Gestalt
Time after time, I find myself asking, "Now what did I go and say that for?" Recently, while sitting in our weekly staff editorial meeting, I once again opened myself up to an idea that would inevitably lead to more work for me. After requesting speaker systems to have on hand for review, I realized that they all shared one common similarity: They were all around $3,500 or less. I don't know of a retailer on this planet where you can audition Polk, Klipsch, and RBH speakers at the same time, yet I'm sure it will cross some reader's mind who's looking to spend that extra change under the mattress.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Oct 01, 2013 5 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $800

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crazy-affordable prices
Great cosmetics for the money
Minus
Sounds a little unrefined

THE VERDICT
It’s not without flaws, but the $500/pair XL7F tower delivers a surprising value.

I actually did a double-take when I added up the price of Fluance’s XL7 speaker system. Two tower speakers for the price of a good pair of minimonitors. A center speaker for the price of a cheap Blu-ray player. A pair of minimonitors for the price of … well, an inexpensive pair of minimonitors. And the whole shebang for about what most Sound & Vision readers I know would spend for a decent subwoofer. Shipping’s free, too!

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Mar 10, 2008 2 comments
I'm a big Samuel L. Jackson fan, but I didn't totally buy his performance in Black Snake Moan. Jackson plays a righteous old man who takes in a trashy nymphet (Christina Ricci) to set her straight. I was especially intrigued with the story because Jackson's character was loosely based on R.L. Burnside, who didn't just sing the blues, he lived them. Up to the point where Jackson picked up his guitar, he was perfectly fine. But when he started to sing, his performance didn't ring true. It comes down to authenticity. Acting is one thing; singing with a voice that sounds so rough it bleeds is something else. Come to think of it, I could say the same about great speakers. It's one thing to design a speaker that measures well, but that doesn't necessarily make for a great-sounding speaker.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 24, 2011 4 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $21,480 At A Glance: Highs to die for, uncolored midrange, tight bass • Cinematic soundstage • Flawless build quality

Going for the Beryllium

Focal first became a household audio name in the 1980s. Located in Saint-Etienne, France, the company furnished driver units for a number of well-known speaker manufacturers, among them Wilson Audio Specialties. Wilson continues to use an exclusive version of a Focal inverted titanium-dome tweeter. With that exception, Focal has long since kept all of its driver production in-house for its own complete lineup of loudspeakers for the consumer, professional, automotive, and multimedia markets.

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Fred Manteghian Posted: Jul 23, 2006 0 comments

Focal, the French speaker and speaker component manufacturer formerly doing business as Focal-JMLabs, has always made a point of getting great sound at shows. While I didn't run into Focal at Primedia's Home Entertainment 2006 show in Los Angeles this June, I did hear some music in the MBL room that morphed into another sale for Amazon. As I work on the final edit of this review I'm listening to the just-delivered Jeff Buckley rendition of "Hallelujah" from his 1994 album <i>Grace</i> (CD, Columbia, CK 57528). The memory of what this song sounded like on the <a href="http://blog.ultimateavmag.com/he2006/060206mbl/" target=new> $47,000/pair MBL 101E speakers</a> is still fresh. At just 1/10th the MBL's price, Focal's Profile 918 speakers get me very, very close to the fire-branded goose bumps I felt in LA last month.

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Ultimate AV Staff Posted: May 26, 2006 0 comments

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Michael Trei Posted: Sep 18, 2004 Published: Sep 01, 2004 0 comments
Trickle-down economics, audio style.

While those on the left and right sides of the political fence are bound to debate the pros and cons of trickle-down economic theory for the rest of time, it's hard to deny the way in which many high-tech developments that began life in projects bearing stratospheric price tags eventually came to benefit the masses, in products we can use every day. Today, many of us can afford gadgets like GPS navigation systems and laser pointers, whereas a few years ago this type of technology was available only to the largest institutions and military powers. This access to technology has had a major effect on today's audio components; for example, most of the latest surround processors have far more computing power than the in-flight computer used for the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 20, 2005 0 comments

Focal-JMlab has been manufacturing speaker drivers and systems from its home base in Saint-Etienne, France, since 1980. They first became known to audiophiles in the US for their range of Focal drive units, particularly their inverted-dome tweeters. The latter were used by a number of makers of speaker systems. One of them, Wilson Audio Specialties, has likely been Focal's most loyal customer over the years, having used various Focal drivers in most of its models since the original Wilson Audio Tiny Tot, aka the WATT, was produced in the mid-1980s.

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