BOOKSHELF SPEAKER REVIEWS

Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 30, 2010 0 comments
Price: $1,410 At A Glance: Middle of Polk’s three main speaker lines • Cherry or black veneers at modest price • Remote-controlled subwoofer

From Baltimore with Love

Did you know that Baltimore was the second U.S. city to achieve a population of more than 100,000, after New York? It has given us great Americans as diverse as Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court, and John Waters, who will probably never serve on the Supreme Court, although I’d love to see him try. Barry Levinson based four movies in Baltimore: Diner, Tin Men, Avalon, and Liberty Heights. Six Fortune 500 companies reside in greater Baltimore. The city’s best known university is Johns Hopkins, which educated Polk Audio’s three cofounders: Matthew Polk, Sandy Gross, and George Klopfer. All of them have since moved on, although Matthew Polk maintained an active design presence until recently. Polk Audio is currently owned by DEI Holdings, which also owns Definitive Technology and the Directed Electronics car technology empire. It remains a Baltimore stalwart as well as one of the few truly distinguished speaker brands available to megachain shoppers.

Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 30, 2010 0 comments
toppick.jpgPrice: $600 At A Glance: Dual powered subs go low • Single-box analog domain “virtual surround” • Ultra-clear vocal presentation

A Base With Good Bass

Despite the predictable claims that manufacturers make—and the breathless, indefensible hyperbolic shrieks made by computer geeks posing as audio reviewers—no one-box-solution soundbar can really replace a discrete 5.1-channel surround sound system. ZVOX founder and former Cambridge SoundWorks marketing executive Tom Hannaher knows that, and the ZVOX Website says it. Bravo.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 23, 2010 0 comments
Price: $5,385 At A Glance: Ultra-thin bar for skinny flat panel display • Passive sub can fire forward or down • Sub amp offers lots of adjustability

Looking for Mr. Goodbar

There’s one basic truth about home theater that I can never repeat often enough: It is the union of big-screen television and surround sound. They do not operate in isolation from each other. Instead, successive waves of video technology have affected the way people think about audio for video.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 09, 2010 0 comments
Price: $2,350 At A Glance: 41-inch-wide soundbar contains three front channels • Remote-controlled sub with presets • A smooth, warm, unhyped, high-fidelity sound

Genius Bar

Quad is one of those great speaker companies whose pedigree encapsulates some of the fascinating and significant parts of audio history. The name is an acronym for Quality Unit Amplifier Domestic. Born in London in 1936, the company first produced publicaddress equipment, then moved into hi-fi after World War II. It eventually became known for producing relatively thin electrostatic floorstanding speakers that are considered classics—heirlooms, even—and are still produced today. That our sister publication Stereophile named the Quad ESL-2805 Product of the Year for 2007 should indicate how much Quad’s current owner, IAG, venerates this Anglo-Chinese brand. It produces its products at a state-of-the-art factory in Shenzhen and ardently defends its historic reputation. Have I mentioned that Quad also produces both tube and solid-state electronics for the two-channel market? Now get ready to change gears.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 19, 2010 0 comments
toppick.jpgPrice: $2,396 At A Glance: Redesigned horn offers 80-degree horizontal and vertical dispersion • Dark, rich Berlinia wood veneers • Sub has top-mount controls and three EQ settings

Tale of the Flower Horn

This is the story of the flower horn. It is a story of bumps and mumps. It is getting started a little cryptically. I always love it when that happens.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 12, 2010 0 comments
toppick.jpgPrice: $2,650 At A Glance: Two-way monitor with silk-dome tweeter • 10-inch sub with both low- and high-pass filters • Refined performance with a touch of warmth

Sweet Silk Dome

The Dynaudio DM 2/6 monitor comes in a vinyl-wrapped mediumdensity-fiberboard enclosure. This is so traditional, it’s almost retro. At the audiophile end of the speaker market, the vinyl-MDF box is outclassed by tantalizing veneers. At the pragmatic end—which is where a lot of the innovation comes these days—the vinyl-MDF box has given way to sound-bars and sat/sub sets with curvy molded-plastic or extruded-aluminum enclosures.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 06, 2010 0 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $4,694 At A Glance: Three-way monitor with horn-loaded tweeter and super-tweeter • Ebony/mahogany side panels • Tightly focused soundfield and good bass

Two-Horned Demon

Hey you. Did you notice what I just did when I yelled at you? I cupped my hands around my mouth. That guided my voice’s acoustic output toward your ears. It also limited its off-axis response to reduce room interaction, enabling you to hear me better. You probably noticed that it also introduced an added coloration to the sound of my voice. But you heard me, didn’t you?

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 28, 2010 0 comments
Price: $2,396 At A Glance: Left and right speakers include concealed phantom center • Flat-panel form factor is ideal for wall mounting • Fabric wrap comes in black, gray, or cream

Hide the Center

What’s wrong with this word picture? A sexy flat-panel TV hangs on the wall. On either side of it are some almost equally sexy on-wall speakers, and the screen has a center speaker below it. Let’s assume that surround speakers and a subwoofer are elsewhere in the room. Surely this is a recipe for great audiovisual entertainment.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 21, 2010 0 comments
Price: $599 At A Glance: Beautifully styled satellite/subwoofer set • Keyhole mount for on-wall placement • Well-rounded sound

From England to China

Wharfedale is an Anglo-Chinese speaker brand and one of the most storied names in the high-end audio industry. The brand began in 1932 in Yorkshire, in the north of England, and it went through a few changes of ownership before it became part of the International Audio Group (IAG) in 1996. IAG is owned by two Taiwanese brothers, Bernard and Michael Chang, who made their fortune with karaoke equipment. For a decade and a half, they restored the luster to Wharfedale and its sister brand Quad.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 12, 2010 0 comments
Price: $2,134 At A Glance: Extensive experience with aluminum driver diaphragms • Sub notch filter surgically removes bass bloat • Unusual bullet-shaped speaker terminals

Take Aim at Bass Bloat

Mordaunt-Short’s Aviano is a new speaker line from a British company that’s been making high-performance speakers since 1967. Since then, we’ve seen the rise of Japanese-made mass-market A/V receivers, the advent of surround sound for home theater, and lots of new speaker categories from sat/sub sets to soundbars to in-walls. On these tumultuous seas, Mordaunt-Short remains seaworthy by concentrating on the fundamentals of performance and, more recently, value.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 19, 2010 0 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $2,344 At A Glance: Between Studio and Monitor Series • PBK-1 Perfect Bass Kit fine-tunes sub’s low-frequency response • Five stand-mounts plus subwoofer

Seeing Red in a New Way

I first became interested in Paradigm speakers on the recommendation of a working musician. He was a trumpeter, and he owned a pair of Paradigm Titans. This was 20 years ago, but even today, the Titan is one of the best budget speakers in captivity. Like all Paradigm speakers, it’s gone through one generation after another, acquiring better drivers and improved parts along the way. I completed the circle by donating my pair of vintage Titans to another musician, who loved them.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 11, 2010 0 comments
Price: $2,900 At A Glance: Gloss finish and rounded edges enrich rectangular appearance • Custom-designed woofers and tweeter • A polite top end with fully fleshed-out midrange

Between VS and CS

In this brutal economy, it takes more than a good resume to keep you afloat. Boston Acoustics has a legendary audiophile pedigree that dates from its birth in 1979 as an independent brand. In this environment, it probably matters more that Boston is part of the D&M Holdings family, along with Snell Acoustics, McIntosh, Denon, Marantz, and Escient. This positioning has already borne fruit with pairings of Denon A/V receivers and Boston speaker packages, including the distinctive bell-shaped VS Series speakers, which I showered with well-deserved superlatives when I reviewed them last year. You really can’t go wrong with a set of VS speakers and one of Denon’s upper-end A/V receivers.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 22, 2009 0 comments
Price: $5,250 At A Glance: Ingenious wall mount • Extruded aluminum enclosures maximize cabinet volume and extend bass • Sub has convenient top-mount volume control

Heavy Metal Is Good

In 1976, the United States of America celebrated its bicentennial, and Peter Snell founded the loudspeaker company that bears his name.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 21, 2009 0 comments
Price: $500 At A Glance: Cabinet geometry allows front or upward firing • 2.5-inch woofer and 0.5-inch tweeter in plastic enclosure • Sub has 8-inch down-firing woofer and 100 watts

Shape’s Mightier Than Size

Gaze back into the mists of time, and you’ll find that the earliest loudspeakers were boxes with nothing but right angles. This shape lends itself to efficient manufacturing techniques and is still used for most speakers. However, speaker designers have rebelled against the box for some time. Now that they have injection-molded plastic at their disposal, they can make speakers in just about any shape. Of course, plastic speaker enclosures also lend themselves to efficient manufacturing techniques, so some of the most interestingly shaped speakers are also among the most affordable.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 14, 2009 0 comments
Price: $2,599 At A Glance: Unusual shapes and many choices of color • Better build quality than most sat/sub sets • Balanced performance

From People Who Do It Right

Whenever the depravity of the human race plunges me into despair, I think of Paris. Then I feel better.

Pages

X
Enter your Sound & Vision username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.
Loading