BOOKSHELF SPEAKER REVIEWS

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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.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Dec 26, 2011 0 comments

Emotiva made its name by offering high-end audio electronics that look like they cost thousands but actually cost hundreds. With the X-Ref line, it’s trying to do the same in speakers. The company has offered speakers in the past, but X-Ref is its first concerted effort to deliver a broad line of speakers at prices low enough to attract budget-minded-yet -serious home theater enthusiasts. The line includes two tower speakers, two LCR (left/center/right) speakers, two bookshelf speakers, one surround speaker, and two subwoofers.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 0 comments

Usually, a sub-$400/pair minispeaker is part of a manufacturer's entry-level line, but the RB-41 II ($299/pr) is part of Klipsch's Reference line. It uses the horn-loaded tweeter that has been a Klipsch hallmark since the 1940s - in this case, a 1-inch titanium-dome model - and a ceramic/metallic-cone 4-inch woofer in a rear-ported enclosure.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Sep 20, 2011 0 comments

RSL Speaker Systems is the current manifestation of Rogersound Labs, a SoCal company that goes back a few years — 30 or so, in fact. Like many speaker makers, RSL got its start through garage tinkering, in this case by Howard Rodgers, owner of a well-known retail chain of the same name. (How the “d” got dropped from the company name is a story for another day.)

Despite a long, successful run, the original RSL, again like many other speaker companies, eventually faded away. But after regaining rights to the company name just last year, the firm was reincarnated after a long hiatus by its founder and his family.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 1 comments
A longtime fave of home theater enthusiasts, Axiom sells its speakers direct through its Web site. The M3v3 ($378/pr) features a 1-inch titanium-dome tweeter and a 6.5-inch aluminum-cone woofer, crossed over at 2.2 kHz and mounted in a rear-ported cabinet. At 13.5 inches high, it's one of the largest speakers in this roundup.
Brent Butterworth Posted: Apr 12, 2011 0 comments
Glancing over the stylish, diminutive Paradigm MilleniaOne speaker, you might assume it’s nothing more than a flimsy plastic housing packed with 25-cent drivers scavenged from a parts bin somewhere in the bowels of Guangdong Province. But besides its cute looks, the MilleniaOne has nothing in common with the typical “lifestyle” speaker.
Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 0 comments

“Really?” I blurted out loud when I opened the RTiA1’s box to find a substantial, beautifully made minispeaker with curved sides and a higher level of fit’n’finish than that found on any of the other speakers in this group (the Monitor Bronze BX1 perhaps excepted). I even double-checked the price, doubting that Polk could sell such a nice-looking speaker for less than $400 a pair, especially $325 a pair (or even less online).

Brent Butterworth Posted: Oct 11, 2012 0 comments

The surest way to future success is to repeat your past successes. Like that line? I made it up. If you think it’s a lot of B.S., I present as irrefutable evidence the careers of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Also the Paradigm Millenia CT, a 2.1 speaker system based closely on the MilleniaOne, our 2011 Product of the Year.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Aug 23, 2012 1 comments

When I’m looking for speakers to review, I gravitate toward two types: ones that have the potential to sound great, and ones with weird designs. The former offer the potential for hours of joyous listening. The latter offer the potential for either a previously unimagined sonic nirvana or an audio train wreck, both of which are fun to write about.

Definitive Technology’s $899-per-pair StudioMonitor SM65 fits both descriptions.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 0 comments
The Monitor series of speakers from Paradigm is now in its seventh generation. It's always been the company's most affordable line, but it's always been designed in the same no-nonsense, engineering-focused style as the company's other speakers. The Atom Monitor 7 ($398/pr) is no exception.
Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 21, 2012 0 comments

It seemed that audio companies had surrendered the home-theater-in-a-box concept to the TV manufacturers.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 0 comments

More than any other speaker in this group except perhaps the Polk, the BX1 ($379/pr) looks like a high-end product, with its walnut finish; its 1-inch, gold-finish C-CAM (composite ceramic metal) tweeter; and its 5.5-inch C-CAM woofer. Unusually, the woofer is attached to the back panel, not the front, so its vibration won't be as easily transmitted to the front panel.

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