BOOKSHELF SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Dec 20, 2012 1 comments

KEF made the LS50 minispeaker for lots of reasons. It’s a celebration of the company’s 50th anniversary. It’s the first affordable application of the technology developed for the $29,999/pair Blade. It’s a throwback to the LS3/5a, a beloved, BBC-designed minimonitor for which KEF made the drivers.

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.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Apr 09, 2013 0 comments

The Motion 15 is in my listening room partly because I've wanted to hear it ever since I first saw it about a year ago, and partly because I mistakenly ordered it for our massive "Clash of the Minispeakers" test.

Brent Butterworth Posted: May 09, 2012 0 comments

If there’s any speaker spec that’s routinely bogus, it’s bass response. You see a lot of little speakers rated to deliver bass below 40 Hz, but that measurement is almost always taken at -10 dB, instead of the industry standard of -3 dB. Even if the little speaker does hit, say, 36 Hz at some level, it almost certainly can’t deliver any usable volume at that frequency.

There are ways, though, to get legit sub-40 Hz response from a little speaker. One is H-PAS, or Hybrid Pressure Acceleration System, invented by Solus-Clements and now used and licensed by Atlantic Technology.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 0 comments

The Marimba ($349/pr) is the first speaker ever offered under the Music Hall brand, known for affordable turntables and audiophile electronics. Clearly, the sound was the focus; the Marimba's black ash vinyl wrap finish won't win any design awards. The 1-inch silk-dome tweeter and 5.25-inch, polypropylene-cone woofer are mounted in a rear-ported, 11-inch-high cabinet.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Dec 22, 2011 0 comments

It’s been a dream of audio engineers and enthusiasts for decades: Create a compact speaker system that performs like a big one.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 0 comments

Audio cognoscenti won't recognize the C3 ($350/pr) as a KEF because it doesn't have KEF's trademark concentric tweeter-inside-woofer design. Its 0.75-inch aluminum-dome tweeter sits above its 5.25-inch polypropylene-cone woofer in an 11.4-inch-high front-ported cabinet.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Aug 16, 2011 0 comments

Since time immemorial (or at least the late 1980s), designers of compact subwoofer/satellite speaker systems have struggled against The Hole.

The Hole is the gap between the lowest note the satellites can play and the highest notes the subwoofer can play. The Hole can make voices sound thin, and can rob gunshots and other sound effects of their dynamic impact. But the usual methods for filling The Hole can cause worse problems than The Hole itself.

Michael Berk Posted: Nov 15, 2012 0 comments

Danish manufacturer Jamo's been making a splash with the spherical speakers we saw back at the 2012 CES, and this week they've announced a pair of 5.0 setups in the appropriately named 360 Series, based around their unique architecture: the S 25 HCS ($649.99), including five of the company's S 25 speakers, and the S 35 HCS ($999.99), which groups four of the larger S 35 units with a C 35 center channel.

Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Dec 03, 2007 0 comments

Having worked in and around recording studios for 30 years, I cut my teeth on professional gear before broadening my horizons to the vast consumer audio/video world. In studios, you quickly learn that trustworthy monitors are essential. Every tracking and mixing decision hinges on what your monitors tell you; if they mislead you with any inaccuracy, your recording will suffer.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Feb 13, 2013 0 comments

Everybody loves small speakers, and why not? Smaller is — often — easier to afford, easier to schlep home, easier to place, and easier to live with. Smaller also has certain acoustical advantages in achieving smooth response and in yielding the broad, even spread of sound that favors good imaging and an open, believable tone color.

But how small is too small? Some say there’s no limit, and at least one manufacturer (Bose) has had success with subwoofer/satellite designs whose sats are smaller than a pepper mill, let alone a breadbox. But as the front satellites of a speaker system become smaller, their ability to reproduce bass low enough to bridge effectively with the practical upper limits of a single subwoofer, at around 150 Hz (and ideally lower), becomes questionable.

Klipsch thinks it has found the sweet spot with its HD Theater 600 system

Daniel Kumin Posted: Oct 16, 2012 0 comments

Like so many British (and, for that matter, American) ür-audio brands, KEF — originally Kent Engineering & Foundry — had its roots in the post- WWII technology boom. In KEF’s case, it grew inside a Quonset hut on the grounds of the aforementioned foundry. A half-century down the road the Kentish maker is still there (in Kent, not in the metal shed!), still focused on its core competency (loudspeakers), and still producing wholly excellent designs.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Jul 03, 2013 1 comments

In my career as a reviewer, I've always focused totally on home and portable products, because other speaker categories seemed so different and I figured I couldn't be good at everything.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Aug 23, 2012 0 comments

When the economy tanked in 2007, a funny thing happened in high-end audio: Many manufacturers prospered by creating even higher-priced products. As a speaker reviewer, I lack the economics chops to explain this turn of events, but I can tell you it has spawned some fascinating audio gear.

Take, for example, Steinway Lyngdorf ’s S-Series, built to be the Bugatti Veyron of compact home theater systems.

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.

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