BOOKSHELF SPEAKER REVIEWS

Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Mark Fleischmann  |  May 20, 2013  |  1 comments

V52 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Power FL-10 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $1,880 At A Glance: Innately musical monitors • Bipole/dipole surrounds • Powerful subwoofer

Phase Technology is one of the great American loudspeaker makers. The man behind that achievement was Bill Hecht, a genuine first-generation audio pioneer. This review can’t begin without noting his passing last fall at age 89, the end of a life devoted to bringing movies and music into both the public and private realms.

Hecht began his career as an expert in Cinemascope Stereophonic Sound, installing systems at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and other pleasure palaces. His company United Speaker Systems (USS) launched in 1955 as he hand-built speakers, including drive units, in his garage. USS got a boost when Avery Fisher offered a commission to build the first Fisher loudspeakers. Hecht earned several patents, most notably for developing the soft-dome tweeter. He also patented a self-damping woofer voice coil, a manufacturing process for flat piston drivers, silicon-injected drivers for resonance damping, and a basketless midrange/woofer mounting system.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Oct 05, 2009  |  0 comments
Price: $3,300 At A Glance: Unusually shaped sub with graphic equalizer • Satellite grilles present unique face to listener • Good bass, solid overall performance

Little Speakers, Big Sound

As I’ve said so many times that I’ve lost count, I’m an advocate for well-designed satellite/subwoofer sets. They usually save space, and they often bring surround into places where it previously wasn’t welcome. But to make the sat/sub concept work, you need a great sub, one that not only produces low bass, but produces high bass in the place where the sub crosses over to the sats. That’s where most affordable sat/sub sets are deficient—the sats perform well, but integration with the sub falls down on the job. I’m always on the lookout for a sat/sub set with exemplary bass performance and integration.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 30, 2014  |  0 comments

Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,996

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Sweet dedicated midrange
Solidly musical bass
Multilayer lacquer finish
Minus
Sub is merely average

THE VERDICT
The Pinnacle Black Diamonds are stellar performers with a winning personality, delivering consistently pleasing sound.

Even in our industrial twilight, the USA still has a cornucopia of great loudspeaker brands, and Pinnacle Speakers is one of them. Since the company’s founding in 1976, it has always been a family-owned business—and if there’s one kind of outfit you don’t want to mess with, it’s a family outfit. I haven’t reviewed a Pinnacle product in eight years, but just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

A limousine screeched to a halt outside my building, and two bulky guys in Men’s Wearhouse suits got out. They didn’t leave me much choice: I was blindfolded and driven around for hours and hours until I had no idea where I was. At one point, I thought I smelled Secaucus, New Jersey. Another time, the blindfold slipped, and out of the corner of my eye I saw Satriale’s Pork Store.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Apr 17, 2005  |  0 comments
Small-speaker virtuosity trickles down.

Speakers needn't be big. Smaller speakers are better candidates for wall-mounting, they're less-visually intrusive on stands, and they're more-harmonious mates for flat-panel displays.

Gary Altunian  |  Apr 27, 2009  |  0 comments
Price: $10,197 At A Glance: Great in-wall speaker for flat-panel displays • Excellent sonic coherence • In-wall speakers with an in-room sound quality

Transcend Music Reproduction

If you’re a home theater enthusiast or audio purist who follows the high-end speaker market, you’re probably familiar with Pioneer’s line of TAD loudspeakers and their reputation for exquisite sound reproduction. It all started with the TAD Model-1, which drew rave reviews with its concentrically aligned beryllium midrange and tweeter. Priced at $45,000 per pair, they were obtainable for only the wealthiest audiophiles.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 12, 2015  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Dolby Atmos–enabled monitors
Laser-like focus from coaxial driver array
Minus
Just-average subwoofer performance

THE VERDICT
Andrew Jones’ excellent Atmos-enabled speakers are equally at home in a 5.1-channel footprint as they are transforming surround sound as we know it.

Dolby Atmos bids to change the landscape of surround sound at home. One thing it has already changed is my mind.

I am that 5.1 guy. I’ve spent much of my tech-writing career promoting the standard 5.1-channel speaker configuration and defending it against all comers. This has pitted me against two-channel loyalists who mistakenly believe there is no such thing as a surround audiophile. But I’ve also opposed what I deem to be useless additions to 5.1.

Chris Chiarella  |  Dec 30, 2006  |  First Published: Dec 03, 2006  |  0 comments
Think of it as a cheat code to unlock your 360's hidden sonic levels.

The high-definition video capabilities of the Xbox 360, like those of the imminent Sony PlayStation 3, have put a renewed emphasis on the importance of the video display. And, indeed, consumers young and old continue to bring HDTVs into their homes in record numbers. But no one was more shocked than I was to discover that there are still some gamers out there with current- and next-generation consoles in their living rooms who aren't hooked up to discrete 5.1-channel audio systems. Rather than record a Sally Struthers–style public-service announcement to elicit help for these poor, unfortunate souls, I chose to investigate the options—and I came up with Pioneer's officially licensed Xbox 360 sound solution, the HTS-GS1.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Mar 22, 2007  |  First Published: Feb 22, 2007  |  0 comments
Multinational speakers meet American amps.

On the battlefield of speaker design, I am the triage nurse. I walk into speaker demo rooms at trade shows, my badge sometimes inadvertently turned inward, listen for a moment, and quietly mutter to myself, "This one's a keeper," or, "He's dead, Jim." Or occasionally just, "Hmmm," because good speakers may sound iffy under bad conditions, and I respect the potential buried within an ambiguous first take. But, if my instincts tell me to pursue a review, I whip out a business card and start making arrangements on the spot.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jun 09, 2011  |  12 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $528 At A Glance: Substantial and good-sounding monitors and center • Sub of modest size and power • Jaw-droppingly value packed for the price

Andrew Jones for All

Isn’t it preposterous for the Pioneer Corporation to assert itself as a loudspeaker manufacturer? After all, the company is best known in the home theater sphere as a maker of audio/video receivers. Those with just slightly longer memories recall Pioneer’s world-class KURO plasmas as some of the best HDTVs ever made. There was a time when the Laserdisc format, which Pioneer championed, was the signal source of choice among videophiles. Pioneer was also one of the Japanese audio brands that established the stereo receiver as a staple of dorm rooms (including mine) during the 1970s. But who thinks of Pioneer in connection with speakers?

Mark Fleischmann  |  Nov 15, 2012  |  7 comments

SP-BS22-LR Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
 
SW-8MK2 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $450 At A Glance: Affordable designer speakers • Second gen with improved parts • Clearer, meatier sound

Looking for a great sounding set of home theater speakers but on a tight budget? Read on and find out why Pioneer's newest speakers might be just what the doctor ordered and learn how gifted designer Andrew Jones met the challenge of building a high-performance speaker ensemble that can be had for only $500. Even he can't believe it.

Brent Butterworth  |  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).

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 11, 2006  |  0 comments
Home Theater in a (Very Narrow) Box.

Thanks to plasma TVs, everyone is convinced that skinny and flat are where it's at when it comes to home theater—and those now-out-of-work robotic assembly lines that used to crank out CRTs by the boatload haven't been the only ones affected by the slender-is-better trend. You can't throw a crumbled-up extended-warranty brochure in an electronics store nowadays without hitting some sort of sleek, on-wall, "plasma-friendly" home theater speaker. Some manufacturers, fully embracing the slim trend, have created three-in-one (left front, center, and right front) single-cabinet on-wall speakers designed to be mounted above or below your flat-panel TV—or set on top of a rear-projection TV. Boston Acoustics, Definitive Technology, Atlantic Technology, and Mirage, for example, have all come up with their own variations of three channels coexisting in one narrow box.

Mark Fleischmann  |  May 16, 2011  |  1 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $1,019 At A Glance: Time Lens time-aligns tweeter and woofer • Acoustic Lens controls tweeter response • Wireless sub eliminates interconnect cable

Through a Lens, Blackly

Compact satellite/subwoofer sets were once surround’s entry-level configuration, a smart option for those who wanted to go beyond two-channel in a small room. More recently, they’ve ended up in the middle ranks of the home theater hierarchy—below monitor-class and floorstanding speakers but above the relatively new soundbar category and built-in HDTV speakers.

Mark Fleischmann  |  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.

Shane Buettner  |  Sep 13, 2006  |  0 comments
  • 5.1-Channel System Price: $1,286
  • Alpha B1 L/R/LS/RS: Two-driver, two-way speake r with one 5.25" metalized polypropylene woofer and one .75" aluminum dome tweeter, $279/pr.
    HWD: 4.25" x 9.75" x 6.25"
  • Alpha C1 Center Speaker: Three-driver, two-way center speaker with two 5.25" metalized polypropylene woofers and one .75" aluminum dome tweeter, $229/ea.
    HWD: 7" x 17.8": x 9.25"
  • SubSeries 5i subwoofer: 150-Watt powered, vented sub with one 10" polypropylene woofer, line and speaker level inputs, $499/ea.
    HWD: 16.5" x 12.4" x 14.8"
PSB is a stalwart brand for offering high-end performance at a price. The Alpha B1 is the latest incarnation of PSB's minor classic, the Alpha mini-monitor. The new version offers improved driver materials and a tweaked design. Make sure to check out HT's November issue for the full download on how a 5.1-channel system built around these speakers performed for us.

Pages