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TOWER SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 14, 2008 2 comments

Founded in Worthing, England in 1966 by the late John Bowers, B&W (more formally known as Bowers and Wilkins) is now one of the best-known names in the industry. While the average man in the street might wonder when the car manufacturer started making speakers if you mention B&W, it's one of the first names that comes to an audiophile if asked to make a list of the top speaker companies in the business. And unlike many of its competitors, B&W makes only loudspeakers—unless you count its new iPod speaker system as a major departure.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Feb 04, 2008 Published: Jan 04, 2008 0 comments
Pump it up!

Cinepro's demo at the 2007 Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) show in Denver made a powerful impression on my eardrums. I'm no power-hungry audiophile—far from it—but I immediately understood what Cinepro is all about.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Dec 20, 2007 0 comments
Splendiferous spheres.

Billed as Ron Carter: The Master @ 70, it was a birthday celebration of the legendary jazz bass player's career—and the music at that early summer jazz concert at Carnegie Hall was truly magical. The highlight of the night arrived when Carter played selections from Miles Davis' Kind of Blue album with Herbie Hancock on piano, Wayne Shorter on sax, and Billy Cobham on drums. I could hear the quartet's music reflecting off the stage's rear wall while it simultaneously floated above the audience in the hall. The sound was so masterfully mixed, I couldn't tell for sure how much of what I heard was the actual instruments or Carnegie Hall's discreetly amplified sound system. It stands as one of those "is it live or...." moments. The next day, I played a stack of Ron Carter CDs over Anthony Gallo Acoustics' new Reference AV speakers and TR-2 subwoofer. The sound was so sweet, I experienced that déjà vu feeling all over again.

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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Jan 18, 2008 Published: Dec 18, 2007 0 comments
Three Ones in this five.

There are two questions you could—maybe should—be asking right now. The first, "Didn't y'all just review some PSB speakers a few months ago?" And two: "Aren't you the video editor?" Well, yes. That either question should come to mind should say something about these speakers.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 18, 2008 Published: Dec 18, 2007 0 comments
Dress your home in cherry and amber.

If I didn't know better, I'd suspect some kind of hands-across-the-water design coordination in this month's Spotlight System. When the people at Aperion Audio hit upon the handsome cherry veneer finish that graces the Intimus 533 Cinema HD speaker system, the last thing on their mind was the amber display, a longstanding traditional trait, incidentally, of Yamaha receivers. Nonetheless, a harmony did arise between the two golden hues. Of course, the speakers also come in a high-gloss, piano-black finish, but then, the receiver has a black chassis. This merely proves my point, doesn't it?

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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 10, 2007 0 comments
Back when surround sound meant Dolby Pro-Logic, most informed enthusiasts preferred dipole or bipole surround speakers. Since Pro-Logic was an analog matrix system that derived four channels from two, resulting in a monophonic surround channel, the idea was to create as diffuse a surround sound field as possible to avoid "localizing" the position of the speakers and to prevent the creation of a "phantom" center channel for those sitting midway between the surrounds.
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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 10, 2007 0 comments
Back when surround sound meant Dolby Pro-Logic, most informed enthusiasts preferred dipole or bipole surround speakers. Since Pro-Logic was an analog matrix system that derived four channels from two, resulting in a monophonic surround channel, the idea was to create as diffuse a surround sound field as possible to avoid "localizing" the position of the speakers and to prevent the creation of a "phantom" center channel for those sitting midway between the surrounds.
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Fred Manteghian Posted: Nov 15, 2007 0 comments

So here I sit, my furniture all rearranged like an overcrowded antique store, just so I can be in the sweet spot. It is speaker review time again at the Manteghians.' It takes a long time to break out and set up speakers, and you've lots of boxes to deal with. But the simplicity of a speaker is what is most appealing. No HDMI to DVI handshaking problems, no video cross-coding issues, no 3:2 pulldown. You just sit down and listen to music and watch movies. Of course, it's only enjoyable when the speakers in question sound great – like this Definitive Technology Mythos system does.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Nov 15, 2007 0 comments
Sound design.

A few weeks before I started on this review, I went to a press event in New York City for the premiere of a "re-performance" of Glenn Gould's legendary 1955 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations. No, they didn't play a new CD or even the original master tape; we heard Mr. Gould, who passed away in 1982, virtually playing a Yamaha Disklavier Pro concert grand piano. And it was no scam. Zemph Studios (a music technology company based in Raleigh, North Carolina) converted the original recording to high-resolution MIDI files and played them back over this very special Yamaha piano. The concert thrilled everyone, especially those in attendance who were lucky enough to have heard the flesh-and-blood Gould perform back in the day. The event organizers gave each of us a copy of the new Sony/ BMG Masterworks SACD of the re-performance.

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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.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 21, 2007 0 comments

The Revel Ultima series has survived for an unusually long time in the competitive loudspeaker market. I reviewed a Revel Ultima home theater package built around the stand-mounted <A HREF="http://ultimateavmag.com/speakersystems/44/">Ultima Gem</A> way back in 1998. When a line of speakers can remain a fixture in the audio world for so long, largely unchanged, it's a reflection on its solid performance out of the gate.

Jerry Kindela Posted: Nov 15, 2007 Published: Oct 15, 2007 0 comments
Price-sensitive yet refined, sophisticated sound.

Paul Barton doesn't merely talk about Canada's National Research Council; he preaches about the facility, acting as the Billy Graham for Canadian scientific research. And well he should. The NRC was founded to provide scientific, practical, and developmental support to Canadian companies wishing to compete in a global economy. Barton began using the NRC's facilities and its scientific minds in 1974, just two short years after he launched a modest little speaker company called PSB. Within a year, PSB released the Avante, the first speaker the company designed with the NRC's help. Since then, Barton has continued to design well-received and well-reviewed speakers, each delivered with assistance from the NRC facilities.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 15, 2007 Published: Oct 15, 2007 0 comments
Surround that stretches for miles.

Although they're now owned by Klipsch, Mirage continues to follow their own ears. The Toronto-based company's name derives from a key design goal—to make speakers so immersive that the listener forgets the product is in the room. In addition to a goal, Mirage also has a method: to favor more omnidirectional sound over direct sound using an unusual reflector assembly built into the top of the speaker, creating a spacious feeling that is the company's sonic signature.

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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: Sep 03, 2007 Published: Aug 03, 2007 0 comments
We could be heroes.

What would your life be like if you'd married the first person you ever dated? If you want a great home theater system, sometimes it pays to dig deeper. OK, American Acoustic Development (AAD) stands in the shadow of larger and more prestigious brands, so this may be the first time AAD's M Series speakers have come to your attention. And you're not likely to find the Rotel RSX-1057 receiver in the big chain stores that fill cavernous spaces with little worth hearing. But these two brands have more to offer than many of their market-leading, deep-pocketed rivals.

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