TOWER SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Mar 31, 2011 14 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $3,745 (updated 3/10/15)
at a glance: Folded diaphragm tweeters • Built-in 1,200-watt subwoofers with DSP • Super-slim center and surround speakers

Squeeze Me. Please Me.

Laurels can be an extremely comfortable and cushy thing to rest on. (They’re good for the environment, and they’re hypoallergenic.) Companies and individuals often rely on past successes to carry them along like giant helium-filled balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Just because you were the first to do or invent something doesn’t necessarily mean your next project or idea will be any better than a picture painted by a monkey throwing his poo at the zoo. As the investment caveat goes, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” That being said, though, how can you not be pee-in-your-pants excited when a true giant in the speaker industry says he’s going to start a new speaker company?

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Mike Mettler Posted: Jul 24, 2013 0 comments

The seeds were planted at CES this past January in Las Vegas. I was ushered directly to the SSS, the Sweet Spot Seat (middle chair, second row) in GoldenEar Technology’s private suite at The Venetian. GoldenEar’s major audio domo, Sandy Gross, had been waiting patiently for my arrival so I could hear the company’s new speaker pair, the Triton Seven towers.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Apr 17, 2005 0 comments
Synergistic sounds.

This review brings together two brands that are special to me: Harman/Kardon and Paradigm. When I was a teenager, I bought a Harman receiver with the money I earned running deliveries for the local supermarket. You know how that is: Nothing ever gets close to the thrill of the first one. I wore out several LP copies of Sgt. Pepper and Led Zeppelin II over that 15-watt-per-channel receiver. Much, much later, in the late '90s, I reviewed a set of Paradigm Atoms. Those little speakers sounded surprisingly huge, and, even more importantly, they were a lot of fun. The Atoms lingered in my listening room long after I finished the review, and that's probably the best indication of what separates good speakers from great speakers. For this back-to-the-future review, I paired Harman's DPR 1005 Digital Path Receiver with Paradigm's newly revised Monitor Series v.4 speakers. Looks like a good combination, but let's see.

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Fred Manteghian Posted: Mar 17, 2007 0 comments

I've been reviewing speakers for a long time. I'm not saying my ears are any better than yours, but they're trained. Give me that much credit. I can wax rhapsodic paragraphs ad nauseam on why the latest multi-thousand dollar speaker can bring you closer to your music and movies. If you can afford them, great! But if you can't, it's not the end of the line. A more than decent system can be built around five mid-priced speakers, like the Polk LSi-9 ($500/ea), plus a good sub. But <i>really</i> inexpensive speakers? Well, that's always been a big challenge &ndash; until now that is.

Robert Deutsch Posted: Dec 28, 2002 0 comments

Doing one thing well is an effective strategy for success in business, and one that appears to have been followed by Hsu Research. Headed by Singapore-born, MIT-trained (Ph.D. in civil engineering) Poh Ser Hsu, Hsu Research has been in business for more than 10 years now, and has not wavered from its single-minded mission of offering high-quality, low-cost subwoofers to the public. Hsu produces subwoofers and only subwoofers, resisting the temptation to come out with a line of speakers, cables, amplifiers, digital processors, etc. They have also stuck to the principle of offering products that the average audiophile can afford, selling factory-direct with prices staying below $1000.

Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 14, 2005 0 comments

Who do you think benefits most from corporate investments in technological research and development: so-called "early adopters" or average consumers? After I reviewed Infinity's top-of-the-line, high-performance Prelude MTS speakers a few years ago for <I>Stereophile</I> (Joel Brinkley reviewed the 5.1 version in <I>The Stereophile Guide to Home Theater</I>), I would have concluded "early adopters." But after spending a few months with the relatively inexpensive Beta ensemble, which is based on the driver technology developed for the Prelude MTS, I think mainstream consumers gain the most and they get it at near Wal-Mart prices.

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Joel Brinkley Posted: Sep 23, 2006 1 comments

The advertising brochures for Infinity's new Cascade line of speakers tell much of the story. The speakers are pictured nestled snugly up against a plasma TV, the center channel mounted on the wall. The stylized shot is from above, to show that the speakers are barely deeper than that ultra-thin TV. These are speakers designed for acceptance by both the enthusiast and the spouse.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 30, 2009 0 comments
Price: $4,494 At A Glance: Distinctive angular form makes for an un-boxy look • All drivers utilize Ceramic Metal Matrix Diaphragms • Subwoofer has bloat-killing EQ and wireless option

Curves Ahead

Where ideas are concerned,” the late George Carlin said, “America can be counted on to do one of two things: take a good idea and run it completely into the ground or take a bad idea and run it completely into the ground.” Many loudspeaker manufacturers tend to follow one of these two trains of thought, with results that range from staid to disheartening. But there is a third path, the one that Infinity Systems follows, and it will take more than a sentence to summarize, period, enter, tab.

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Chris Lewis Posted: Sep 30, 2005 0 comments
Infinity comes through again.

When it comes to expectations, setting the bar high can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you can't establish credibility or customer loyalty without coming through time and time again. On the other hand, the higher you set the bar, the easier it is to go down rather than up. Infinity quickly comes to my mind as one of the companies that isn't afraid of this challenge, whether it be with a $500 speaker or a $5,000 speaker. No reviewer can ever predict how tuned his ear will be to a particular set of speakers, or even a brand. However, with Infinity, you can count on getting a well-designed, well-built speaker from a company that has the right priorities in mind. Some speaker manufacturers get it, and some don't. Infinity is clearly one that does.

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Chris Lewis Posted: May 02, 2001 Published: May 03, 2001 0 comments
Innovative Audio's new speaker system begs the question, "What has your furniture done for you lately?"

I'll wager that, if you were to poll the attendees at January's Consumer Electronics Show as to which was the most intriguing audio demo at the expo this year, a large majority would respond with Tom Holman's 10.2-channel sonic roller-coaster ride over at Alexis Park. Sure, the high-resolution demos were purer, and I'll be damned if the two-channel rigs at that same venue didn't, on the whole, sound better than ever (two-channel ain't dead just yet, gang). Still, when it came down to pure entertainment value, Holman's demo undoubtedly stole the show.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 24, 2006 0 comments
The well-tempered speakers.

Some speakers start communicating immediately. Ten seconds after I got these JBLs started, I was engrossed. Before I set them up, I'd just gotten halfway through the first disc of Vladimir Feltsman's hard-to-find four-disc set of Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier. Having just rearranged my reference system to better visual and sonic advantage, I was loath to pull it apart again, but duty called. The Cinema Sound speakers simply picked up where my reference speakers left off. They sounded neutral, substantial, and well able to keep up with both the recording's shifting dynamics and its liquid beauty.

J. Gordon Holt Posted: Jun 24, 2002 0 comments

It's an article of faith among audiophiles that you can "hear" materials. It just stands to reason that, if a loudspeaker cone has a certain sound when tapped with a fingernail, then everything it reproduces will be colored by that sound. This is why an audiophile will tap the exposed cones of an unfamiliar loudspeaker to see what they sound like. But not every material has a characteristic sound; some aren't stiff enough to vibrate. A wet dishrag, for example, has no sonic "signature." Only if you hit something with it does it make any sound at all, and then it just goes splat. But any material stiff enough to push air without wilting is likely to have some kind of resonant mode that we can hear, so you just know that a metal loudspeaker diaphragm is going to sound metallic.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 05, 2007 0 comments

Spending a lazy summer afternoon running wires around the room to hook up a 5.1-channel speaker system is not a favorite family activity. Polls have shown, in fact, that most consumers who buy home-theater-in-a-box systems never even hook up the surrounds. Or if they do, they put them up front, further apart than the left and right speakers! Of course, that doesn't apply to owners of more advanced systems. Or does it?

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 22, 2007 Published: Feb 22, 2007 0 comments
Tubular chic meets comforting conformism.

KEF's KHT5005.2 speaker system and Onkyo's TX-SR674 surround receiver are an odd couple. The KEF speakers are slim, tubular, and chic, the latest thing in décor-friendly sub/sat sets. And the Onkyo receiver? It couldn't be more conventional, conservative, even conformist. It's a plain black box with a very good features set for the price. But could it be that the two complement one another? Could this, in fact, turn into a long-term relationship?

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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