Tower Speaker Reviews

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 14, 2021  |  2 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $7,999/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Open, detailed sound
Powerful bass
Excellent build quality
Minus
Somewhat pricey
Matching Synchrony center speaker not yet available

THE VERDICT
With Canadian speaker maker PSB's 50th anniversary on the horizon, the company's new flagship Synchrony T600 tower is cause for celebration.

PSB Speakers was founded by Paul Barton in 1972. While the brand has long been part of the Canada- based Lenbrook Group, which also includes NAD and Bluesound, Barton began as and remains PSB's chief designer, cook, bottle washer, and one of the most respected speaker authorities in the industry. His work, including the new Synchrony T600 under review here, has long made use of the Canadian National Research Council's (NRC) audio testing facilities, including its anechoic chamber.

Al Griffin  |  May 05, 2021  |  1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $3,195 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crisp, near full-range performance
R900 module delivers immersive sound
Impressive build quality for price
Excellent value
Minus
Revealing sound can be slightly bright with some sources

THE VERDICT
Packed with tech developed for Polk Audio’s flagship Legend series, this Reserve series speaker package delivers dynamic and immersive sound at a budget-friendly price.

Back in 2019, Polk Audio rolled out its Legend series speakers. For a brand known to maintain a laser-like focus on value, the Legends, with their finely constructed cabinets (featuring real wood veneer) and fully redesigned driver complement, not to mention an enhanced version of the company's SDA (Stereo Dimensional Array) technology in the line's flagship L800 tower, seemed an atypically cost-no- object offering.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 28, 2021  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,296

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crisp detail and open-sounding midrange
Immersive 5.1 performance
Stylish and affordable
Minus
Cl center speaker has limited off-axis response

THE VERDICT
The name Sonus faber conjures up visions of exotic speakers priced at a level that will buy you a reasonably nice house in some places. But a full 5.1 package from the company's new Lumina line will cost you less than a modest patio upgrade.

Loudspeaker manufacturer Sonus faber was founded in the early 1980s by the late Franco Serblin in Vicenza, Italy. It's been known since then for offering superb sound with classic Italian attention to style, with products aimed at buyers for whom price was at most a secondary consideration. But in recent years the company has tested more affordable waters, particularly in its home theater offerings, with the latest addition to its lineup, the Lumina Collection, designed to appeal to a wider range of listeners with real-world budgets.

Al Griffin  |  Feb 03, 2021  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $3,000 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clean, well-balanced sound
Consistent off-axis performance
Subwoofer control app with Auto-EQ
Excellent value
Minus
Basic looks; black-only finish option

THE VERDICT
Despite its low-key exterior, Elac’s 5.1 Uni-Fi 2.0 system delivers the goods for movies/music and represents an excellent value.

Germany's Elac is a brand that has greatly expanded its presence in the hi-fi and home theater worlds over the past five or so years. While the company itself has been around for considerably longer, back in 2015 it brought on former KEF, Infinity, TAD, and Pioneer chief speaker engineer Andrew Jones to develop new product lines. First out of the gate for Jones was the Debut Series, followed by the Uni-Fi series, both affordable lines designed to pull fresh recruits into the audiophile ranks. New speakers arrived in quick succession, including the upscale but still affordable Adante passive and Navis powered models.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 20, 2021  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE (as tested): $4,010

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Affordable price
Detailed overall sound
Good envelopment with Atmos soundtracks
Minus
Towers have limited deep bass
Ordinary cosmetics

THE VERDICT
Monitor Audio's Bronze 6G system is a remarkable testament to how much speaker you can get today for a reasonable price.

Britain-based Monitor Audio offers a wide range of loudspeakers at prices spanning from the bargain basement up to the penthouse that are cleverly named for a variety of metals: Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze. The company must have run out of suitable metallic names when its Monitor series was introduced a few years ago— Steel or Aluminum (or Aluminium!) clearly wouldn't do. But while that budget-priced series represents the entry point to the Monitor Audio's offerings, our saga here covers the next step up: Bronze 6G, the sixth generation of the Bronze line.

Al Griffin  |  Nov 18, 2020  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $3,800

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive looks and build quality
Plays loud effortlessly
Wide imaging capability
Minus
Requires careful amp-matching
Fussy about setup and placement

THE VERDICT
JBL's upscale-looking HDI-3600 tower speaker delivers effortless, fatigue-free sound.

When I first ran across JBL's HDI series loudspeakers at the 2019 CEDIA Expo, I was struck by the line's upscale looks and substantial build quality. The brand's new speakers seemed more akin to the Revel models also being shown in parent-company Harman's sprawling booth than the budget-priced JBL Stage series towers Sound & Vision had reviewed earlier that year.

Al Griffin  |  Oct 28, 2020  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $8,360 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great overall sound with movies and music
Integrated Atmos Elevation speakers
Impressive clarity from center speaker
Minus
Pricey sub with limited features
Boxy design for Focal speakers

THE VERDICT
Focal's 5.1.4 Chora system delivers impressive performance for the price and is equally adept at movies and music.

Some may see France's Focal as a maker of $100,000-plus speakers and $4,000 headphones. But while the company does maintain a high profile in the high-end through products like its Utopia towers, the reality is that Focal makes speakers—and headphones—that cover a wide range of price points. It's been nearly ten years since Sound & Vision reviewed a full-scale Focal home theater speaker system—a $25,000 rig with beryllium tweeters. This time out we're looking at the company's affordable new Chora series, a lineup that notably includes speakers with upfiring drivers to handle Dolby Atmos and other immersive audio formats.

Michael Trei  |  Sep 02, 2020  |  5 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $650/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Extraordinary sonic transparency
Large, well-focused soundstage
Bargain-priced exotica
Minus
Requires adequate amplification
Finicky about placement
No deep bass

THE VERDICT
Magnepan's latest entry level speaker can be demanding, but it delivers compelling performance when set up properly and matched with the right gear.

Imagine that Ferrari introduced a new mid-engine sports car that sold for only $30,000. Sounds like a killer deal, but would you jump at the opportunity? The answer to that question will probably depend on your life situation. For a single person who just wants to head out and have fun, then maybe. But if you have three kids who need rides to school and soccer practice, probably not.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 22, 2020  |  7 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Subwoofer
Performance
Build Quality
Features
Value
PRICE $20,500 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb overall performance
Impeccable fit and finish
Relatively compact
Minus
Pricey

THE VERDICT
It may be pricey, but this PerformaBe system offers sublime performance with both music and movies.

I've reviewed many Revel surround speaker packages over time, but it's been six years since my last Revel review, a system centered on the Performa F208 tower speaker. At around 13 grand, that system could still be considered an affordable option compared with a full surround package built around the company's flagship Ultima range. Now, with its PerformaBe line, Revel has a mid-price speaker offering to help bridge the gap.

Daniel Kumin  |  Jun 03, 2020  |  3 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,056 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Highly accurate sound
Impressive stereo image breadth
Solid center-channel reproduction
Well-controlled and moderately extended low end
Minus
Towers are sensitive to placement

THE VERDICT
A handsome system that sounds very good with just about everything, and with enough bass extension to satisfy most needs.

Tall, slim speakers are certainly in fashion, and it's hard to imagine many slimmer than Definitive Technology's new Demand Series D15 towers. Despite housing three 5.25-inch drivers (two carbon fiber woofers and a polypropylene midrange), a 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter, and not one but two 8-inch side-firing passive radiators, the D15 measures just 6.5 inches wide and thus indeed requires its bolt-on aluminum bottom plinth to achieve stability.

Michael Trei  |  Apr 15, 2020  |  4 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $8,000 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Refined sound
Powerful, feature-rich subwoofer
Minus
Tweeter on 60XTi tower sits high off the ground
60XTi tower requires careful placement

THE VERDICT
Upgrades in style and performance take MartinLogan's Motion series speakers to the next level, while its Dynamo 1600X subwoofer is a feature-packed beast.

Ask a car guy to identify any classic American car from the 1950s or 1960s, and most would be able to pin it down to the exact year of production. Back then, the auto companies would change up styling every year, even if the mechanical stuff under the sheet metal remained essentially unchanged. The problem with that approach is that tooling up to build new models every year gets really expensive, so these days most cars have a life cycle of a few years before an all-new generation is introduced. To keep these longer-lasting designs looking fresh, at some point in the life cycle they'll give the car what's known as a facelift, replacing a few key parts like the grille, taillights, and trim to lend it a new look.

Al Griffin  |  Mar 18, 2020  |  4 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,975 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crisp, detailed sound
High-performance center speaker
Subwoofer with room correction
Minus
Subwoofer pricey compared with competition

THE VERDICT
Monitor Audio's revamped mid-range Silver system brings notable improvements with no notable increase in price.

In 2020 many of us will get to witness the summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan—on TV at least. Why do I mention that in the first line of a speaker review? Because, like the medals handed out to Olympian champs, speaker lines from Monitor Audio tend to come with names

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 12, 2020  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,995

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Natural dialogue Detailed without sounding aggressive Great Value
Minus
Limited deep bass

THE VERDICT
This Aperion Audio Novus system delivers great sound with music and, when combined with a good subwoofer or two, enough visceral thrills to keep up with the most sonically ambitious movie soundtracks.

Aperion Audio had a dilemma. Its flagship speaker line, the Aperion Verus III, costs considerably more than its entry level Intimus range, with the $2,500 flagship Verus III Grand tower selling for nearly three times the price of the $800/pair Intimus 5t tower. Both are bargains in high-end audio's accelerating race to the top, but buyers who might spend more than $800 aren't always keen about making a $2,500 commitment, not to mention the added outlay needed for a full home theater speaker setup. Enter the company's new Novus range, which at $1,400/pair for the Novus towers neatly splits the difference between the two existing ranges.

Al Griffin  |  Oct 23, 2019  |  9 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,998/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Enveloping soundstage from SDA-Pro tech
Dynamic, full-range sound
Flush-mounted elevation module option
Minus
Somewhat bulky cabinet design
Requires SDA-Pro interconnect cable

THE VERDICT
SDA-Pro, the latest refinement of Polk Audio's proprietary tech, elevates the performance of its impressive flagship speaker.

Many years ago (the early 1980s, to be precise), Polk Audio produced the first speakers to feature a technology it had developed called SDA (Stereo Dimensional Array). The idea behind SDA was to eliminate a problem called interaural crosstalk that's a necessary artifact of typical two-channel speaker configurations. Basically put, when listening in stereo, your left/ right ears hear not just sound emanating from the respective left/right speakers, but sound coming from the other speaker as well. According to Polk Audio, this has a constricting effect on the presentation, with the width, height, and depth of the stereo image coming across as a pale representation of what's actually contained on the recording.

Daniel Kumin  |  Jul 10, 2019  |  1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,600/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Accurate and dynamic sound
Excellent imaging depth of field
Impressive bass extension and weight
Minus
Bass balance may be less amenable to some rooms or placements

THE VERDICT
The latest tower from SVS is a top value/performance contender for full-range loudspeakers.

Certain geographies have long-held associations with loudspeaker design. Maidstone, Kent or Steyning, Sussex in Britain (KEF and Bowers & Wilkins, respectively) for example. Or Cambridge, Massachusetts (Acoustic Research/KLH/ Advent) and Los Angeles, California (JBL) here in the United States.

And Youngstown, Ohio?

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