TOWER SPEAKER REVIEWS

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

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $4,000 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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Tom Norton Posted: Apr 23, 2013 0 comments

KEF R900 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
KEF R400b Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $9,400 At A Glance: Sweet, clean highs • Big, generous soundstage • Flawless fit and finish

If you’ve been passionate about audio for more than a few years, or can name five loudspeaker companies with names that don’t rhyme with rose and begin with a B, you’ve certainly heard of KEF. In the late 1980s, KEF introduced a new concentric driver that placed the tweeter in the throat of the midrange cone. Dubbed Uni-Q, the design has been continually refined for over 20 years and remains the centerpiece of most KEF loudspeakers.

KEF today is part of a Hong Kong conglomerate...

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Oct 22, 2007 0 comments
A bigger bang.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit up front that I have a thing for big speakers. Not because they can play louder, reproduce much wider dynamics, and make more bass than smaller speakers—it's that the big ones are just more fun to listen to. Yes, a lot of them come with big price tags, and Klipsch's full-size Reference RF-83 Home Theater definitely sounds pricey. Its formidable transparency and resolution are a big part of that; you hear subtleties that other speakers gloss over. When I turn up the volume, the sound's character doesn't change, and there's no sense of increasing distortion or strain; the sound simply grows louder. No small speaker I've used, and certainly no in-wall speaker I've heard (no matter how advanced or expensive), has matched the big References' ease under pressure. The six-piece Klipsch Reference RF-83 system sells for $6,394, a slam-dunk bargain, at least by high-end standards. Stereophile magazine reviews interconnect cables with a price tag higher than that.

Chris Lewis Posted: Jun 16, 2005 0 comments
Klipsch and Yamaha show that not every Spotlight System requires a second mortgage.

So far, we may have given you the false impression that the pages of this new column were going to be dedicated almost exclusively to the rarified air of the high end. After all, there has only been one installment so far that rang in under five figures, and last month's MiCon Audio system seriously blew the curve with a price tag roughly equivalent to that of a decent house in some parts of the country. Little did you know it was all part of an ingenious plan to build momentum for the column with flashy, big-ticket systems before settling in to the meat and potatoes of the A/V world—i.e., the systems the rest of us can afford. This month's Klipsch/ Yamaha combo is just such a system. Sure, it's not something you'll be able to buy with the change you find in your sofa, but it is certainly more attainable to a broader range of people than the MiCon Audios of the world are.

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uavSteve Guttenberg Posted: Nov 24, 2008 0 comments
Nowadays, it seems like I can't write a review without acknowledging the impact of flat-screen TVs on speaker design. Today's speakers have a tough assignment—they better be super-model thin and still have what it takes to belt out heavyweight home-theater sound.
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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jul 01, 2004 0 comments
Licensed to thrill.

Krell's new Resolution Series speakers are all about pure hedonistic pleasure. Think of them as the speaker equivalent of a fire-breathing, 500-horsepower Dodge Viper SRT/10. But hold on a sec: The Resolutions are more than an exercise in brute force engineering. Their manifest also includes incredible precision, hyperclarity, and ultra-low distortion. Forget the Viper; the Resolutions are closer to a Porsche 911 GT3.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jul 05, 2013 1 comments

HD Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Metro Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $10,785 ($9,675 in standard finish) At A Glance: Folded-planar magnetic tweeters • Treble and bass trim switches • Biwire and biamp capable

Every company has its genesis story, be it the back of a napkin or something more grandiose. Apple, of course, is famous for starting out in Steve Jobs’s parents’ garage. Lutron’s backstory isn’t quite as well known, but its unassuming beginnings were in the bedroom founder Joel Spira and his wife intended to use as their first child’s nursery. (“Sorry, kid, you’ll have to sleep on the couch. Daddy’s got a solid-state dimmer to invent.”) Similar to Apple, Legacy Audio’s birthplace was in a garage; but this garage was far from Cupertino. Instead, it was located in the midst of the cornfield-filled upper Midwest where, according to Legacy, Bill Dudleston and “a stubborn Dutch craftsman,” Jacob Albright, built the company’s first speaker, the Legacy-1, in 1983. Thirty years later, though, what the heck does any of this have to do with Legacy Audio’s loudspeakers today? Really, who gives a flying flip about two dudes, a garage, cornfields, and some woodworking equipment? (Hmm…cornfields. Wasn’t there a movie about that? “If you build it, they will listen.”)

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Michael Trei Posted: Jan 18, 2005 Published: Jan 19, 2005 0 comments
Can more really give you more?

I've always been a sucker for simplicity. Whether it's the functional beauty of a Mies van der Rohe building or a diesel-engine Mercedes-Benz with a manual-shift transmission, the "less is more" concept has always made sense to me. Unnecessary complexity often does little more than dilute a design's original functionality. This way of thinking has also been used in high-end hi-fi design, with some designers on the tweakier fringe embracing concepts like ultra-simple single-ended tube amplifiers and single-driver loudspeakers. Simple designs like these often have a straightforward clarity to their sound; each time you introduce new elements in order to make something play louder, higher, or deeper, you risk losing some of that clarity in the process.

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.

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