TOWER SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 01, 2007 0 comments

We haven't spent a lot of review time here at <I>Ultimate AV</I> on two major trends in speaker design. One of them is euphemistically referred to in the industry as "architectural speakers." That is, speakers designed to be mounted either in or on a wall. The other, an outgrowth of the on-wall category, is the tall, slender column speaker that takes up little floor space.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Apr 23, 2007 Published: Mar 23, 2007 0 comments
Together again for the first time.

As I unboxed this month's Spotlight System, I flashed on the innovative histories of Marantz and Snell Acoustics. Saul B. Marantz was a bona fide American audio pioneer in the 1950s and 1960s. His company's electronics not only sounded amazing, they were drop-dead gorgeous. Maybe that's why Marantz's early designs regularly sell on eBay for more than their original prices. Peter Snell was one of the brightest speaker designers to emerge in the mid-1970s. Back in the day, I owned a pair of his first speakers, the Type A, and had many conversations with Peter about music. In those simpler times, Saul Marantz and Peter Snell could launch their companies armed with not much more than a driving passion to produce great audio gear—and the inspired engineering to make the dream real. Best of all, both companies still adhere to their founders' perfectionistic traditions.

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Fred Manteghian Posted: Mar 17, 2007 0 comments

I've been reviewing speakers for a long time. I'm not saying my ears are any better than yours, but they're trained. Give me that much credit. I can wax rhapsodic paragraphs ad nauseam on why the latest multi-thousand dollar speaker can bring you closer to your music and movies. If you can afford them, great! But if you can't, it's not the end of the line. A more than decent system can be built around five mid-priced speakers, like the Polk LSi-9 ($500/ea), plus a good sub. But <i>really</i> inexpensive speakers? Well, that's always been a big challenge &ndash; until now that is.

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?

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Steven Stone Posted: Jan 06, 2007 0 comments

When I say, "horn loudspeaker," what do you think of first? Most longtime audiophiles immediately visualize big corner-mounted Klipsch K-Horns or Altec Lansing "Voice of the Theater" speakers. Although horn-mounted technology is not as common today as it was during the golden age of mono in the '40's and '50's, it still exists. The Triad InRoom Platinum speaker system ($29,850 as tested), for example, is very much here and now.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 31, 2006 0 comments
2.1-channel home theater is more than mere reductionism.

Home theater is the union of big-screen television and surround sound. Those are the two bedrock principles on which this magazine was founded. So, it may seem heretical to even consider modifying that second requirement. After all, the whole notion of home theater has matured in tandem with advances in both video and surround technology.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 23, 2006 0 comments

Since veteran Acoustic Research loudspeaker designer Ken Kantor and Chris Byrne founded the company back in 1986, NHT has been tossed around like a corporate football: first to Jensen International in the early 1990's, then to Recoton, and to Rockford Corporation in 2002 following Recoton's failure. Finally, in 2005, Rockford handed it off to Colorado-based Vinci Group.

Adrienne Maxwell Posted: Nov 21, 2006 Published: Nov 22, 2006 0 comments
HDMI: It's not just for video anymore.

HDMI is a wonderful invention filled with promise. When utilized to its fullest, it can offer the best of both worlds: uncompressed audio and video signals and intelligent, two-way communication over a single cable. Manufacturers have long teased us with talk of complete home theater systems that you can set up using just two or three cables, but the reality has fallen far short of the promise. Most designers have used HDMI only as a top-grade video connector, paying little attention to its audio and communication abilities. Armed with the new HDMI 1.2a spec (the products here were designed and released before 1.3 was finalized), Panasonic is aiming for the ultimate in connection and control with their new EZ Sync HDAVI Control products.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 23, 2006 0 comments

Given Pioneer's current prominence in the world of plasma displays, DVD players (plus soon, they trust, Blu-ray Disc), and other home audio and video electronics, it may surprise you to learn that it began as a speaker company. In fact, Pioneer speakers still have a significant market presence in many parts of the world.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 15, 2006 0 comments
Why settle for a sweet spot when you can have a sweet room?

There's nothing unusual about a father who's eager to show off pictures of his kids and rave about how great they are. This is one of those moments, except Ken Hecht, the president of Phase Technology, isn't showing me pictures (I'm getting a real-life look), nor is he exaggerating how good these particular offspring are. In truth, we're not talking about little people at all. What Hecht is so proud to show me is a very special—I know, that's what they all say—home theater speaker system he's been dreaming about and working on for the better part of 15 years. It's a system that, he tells me, "will make any room sound like the best theater in the country." As if that weren't enough, he claims that the system can expand the sweet spot from the typical single-pair-of-ears hot seat to an area large enough for half a dozen or more people to sit comfortably and enjoy a movie. He's christened the system with the name Digital Audio Reference Theater System, or dARTS for short. (Thankfully, his real children have names that roll a little more easily off the tongue.)

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Joel Brinkley Posted: Sep 23, 2006 1 comments

The advertising brochures for Infinity's new Cascade line of speakers tell much of the story. The speakers are pictured nestled snugly up against a plasma TV, the center channel mounted on the wall. The stylized shot is from above, to show that the speakers are barely deeper than that ultra-thin TV. These are speakers designed for acceptance by both the enthusiast and the spouse.

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Shane Buettner Posted: Sep 13, 2006 0 comments
  • Two-Channel System Price: $1,595/pr.
  • Ported two-way with one 5.5" mid/woofer and one 1" "textile" dome tweeter
    HWD: 35" x 6.3" x 9.5"
We know. This is Home Theater magazine for chrissakes! But not everyone we know (or you know) is able or willing to consider a full-on five or seven channel surround system in their space. In addition to that, some people are music lovers first, and to them the tradeoff of owning a single pair of reference quality speakers is trump compared to littering the room with speakers. And hey, you can add a center and surrounds later! Look into our December issue to see if the Totem passes the two-channel challenge!
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Shane Buettner Posted: Sep 13, 2006 0 comments
  • $1,600/ea.
  • "2.5-way" active loudspeaker with built-in 200-Watt IcePower amplifier modules powering four 4" aluminum mid/bass drivers and one 1" aluminum driver
With the CD 3200 Canton is at the forefront of a trend we expect to see major growth in: active speakers carrying small, efficient and powerful 200-Watt digital switching amps onboard. The drivers have been re-engineered for increased excursion for superior deep bass response and a focused soundfield. Canton claims it will outperform anything or near its class.
Steve Guttenberg Posted: Aug 17, 2006 0 comments
The audiophile and the ecstasy.

Bowers & Wilkins offers an impressive range of speakers in nearly every size and price category, but they're best known for models that demonstrate the company's continuing pursuit of the state of the art. Just last year, the diamond-tweeter-equipped Nautilus 800 Series speakers made a big splash in audiophile magazines all over the world. Those one-plus ultra models all come with breathtaking MSRPs, but you'll find traces of the 800 Series' inspired engineering throughout B&W's new, considerably more affordable XT Series designs. The XT4 tower's gleaming extruded-aluminum cabinetry is fresh, but the déjà-vu curves, yellow Kevlar midrange driver, and bulging topside tweeter pod leave no doubt—it's a B&W.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 13, 2006 0 comments

A decade ago Sonus faber introduced the Concert line, a series of loudspeakers designed to deliver Sonus faber performance and industrial design at a more affordable price point. That's what high-end companies do after establishing a strong reputation at the upper echelon of the marketplace. Once your products become the object of lust, you feed the hungry beast. And make no mistake: early Sonus faber products made waves both for their spectacular looks and their intoxicating sound.

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