BOOKSHELF SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 13, 2015  |  1 comments

Infinity Reference R162 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Infinity Reference SUB R12 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,100

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Detailed high frequencies
Proprietary drivers
Curved enclosure
Minus
Can be too revealing
More finishes needed

THE VERDICT
The new Infinity Reference series has superb top-end transient detail and a commendably subtle sub, turning even familiar material into a fresh experience.

“Attention to detail.” That was my mantra when I hired and trained people to write product descriptions for an e-commerce site. It’s a pretty good rule to live by in general, and I try my imperfect best to practice it myself, both personally and professionally. It came back to me when I pulled the grille off the Infinity R162, part of the big brand’s new Reference series. When I saw a tweeter waveguide unlike any I’d previously seen, I knew I was communing with a kindred spirit, a lover of detail—though one with access to far greater resources than I command as a mere reviewer. Infinity’s parent corporation, Harman International Industries, has the kind of facilities and personnel that many speaker companies can only dream of. Harman pays a whole lot of talented people to attend to detail.

Adrienne Maxwell  |  Feb 01, 2004  |  0 comments
The TSS-750 speaker system adds a new chapter to the entry-level guidebook.

Ah, the life of an audio reviewer is a glamorous one indeed. Lugging around speakers and subwoofers. Continually connecting systems, checking levels, tweaking placement, checking levels again, yada yada yada. Spending hours sitting in a room listening to movie and music tracks that you've watched and listened to so many times, your brain is suffering from burn-in. Yep, with all of this glamour, it might come as a surprise for you to learn that even we audio reviewers fall into the dreaded rut now and then.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 18, 2008  |  First Published: Dec 18, 2007  |  0 comments
Harman conjugates their contours.

Like a master linguist conjugating a verb, Harman International has a way of reusing original ideas to good advantage in different settings. So, it's not exactly a surprise to find a family resemblance between Infinity's high-end Cascade speaker line, circa 2006, and the TSS-800 set, circa 2007. They share a unique extruded-aluminum form that's tapered at both the top and bottom, for starters.

Chris Lewis  |  Aug 30, 2005  |  First Published: Aug 31, 2005  |  0 comments
The international systems tour rolls on.

You may recall that I've usually tried to dip into the historical well when introducing the many international audio systems that we've reviewed lately. This at least spares you from yet another opening paragraph of worn-out exaggerations about paradigm shifts and in-your-face phrases like "in your face." I'm somewhat stumped here, though. The Japanese and English seem to have avoided pairing up, or squaring off (directly, at least), in any high-profile military conflicts. There have really been no economic or cultural wars between them. I can't even find a case where they've faced off in a major sporting event. But one place they have gotten together often is in the listening room—and I suppose that is what we're here for, after all.

Michael Trei  |  Mar 05, 2003  |  First Published: Mar 06, 2003  |  0 comments
Yah mo b there.

Having lived in Denmark for a couple of years as a kid, I guess I've learned a little about the Danish mindset. Many Danes display a self-effacing modesty, to the extent that Carlsberg will only say that theirs is "probably the best beer in the world." Yet, in their typically understated way, this little country (with a population about equal to that of Missouri) has made deeper inroads into the lives of Americans than most people think. Just don't blame them the next time you step on one of your kid's Lego blocks.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jun 16, 2005  |  0 comments
A little Danish for your sonic sweet tooth.

Flat-panel TVs—and the speakers that love to be with them—receive such obsessive attention from the press that you'd think all other forms of video display—and the speakers that love to be with them—had disappeared. Jamo has fed the trend with their remarkable 2F speaker system, which teams perfectly with a plasma display. But rear-projection sets are still around. In fact, with DLP-, LCD-, and CRT-based models to choose from, they're taking on slimmer shapes, waxing in both cool factor and diversity.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jul 23, 2007  |  0 comments
The inverted bottle meets the custom virtuoso.

At some point in the evolution of home theater, someone noticed that the phrase includes the word home. At that point, weird and wonderful things began to happen. Speakers morphed into smaller, more rounded, and occasionally more imaginative shapes. The surround receivers that fed them maintained their black-box identities but moved discreetly into closets. Back panels began to sprout extra jacks, the better to interact with touchscreen interfaces, second zones, and other niceties that have become staples of the connected home.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Mar 17, 2006  |  0 comments
Xtremely good on the desktop.

What you are about to read is partly a review of the JBL speakers known as CONTROL 1Xtreme, partly an essay about how I rediscovered stereo, and partly a tale of audiofool upgrade fever run amuck.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 23, 2009  |  0 comments
Price: $2,144 At A Glance: Doughnut-shaped speakers fit just about anywhere • Withstands tough environments • Wireless sub makes your life one cable less complicated

Cornered and Wireless

Fade up on an open box of doughnuts. Are they Krispy Kremes or Dunkin? Leave that to the product-placement department.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Sep 15, 2008  |  0 comments
Looking like a winner right out of the box.

Producing loudspeakers at mass-market prices is a thankless task. It takes the resources of a big company like Harman International to do it right. I’ve determined in one review after another that JBL has long been a budget-speaker champ. You could even call me a JBL fan. But I was still surprised when I took the ES20 loudspeaker out of its box. Its tapered non-rectangular form announced that this was no low-end junk-in-a-box speaker, even at $399 per pair. And the surprises didn’t end there. This is the first budget speaker I’ve reviewed that boasts a super-tweeter in addition to the usual tweeter and woofer.

Mark Fleischmann  |  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?

Adrienne Maxwell  |  Dec 14, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 15, 2004  |  0 comments
Swing low, sweet subwoofer.

Curse you, JBL, for giving me yet another reason to want to move out of my apartment. As if paper-thin walls, the inability to own a dog, and the desire to dine more than 20 feet away from the toilet weren't enough, I must now contend with colder stares than usual from my neighbors—stares that coincide with the arrival of the SCS300.7 7.1-channel sub/sat system.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Nov 14, 2014  |  4 comments

Studio 230 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Studio SUB 250P Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,630

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Efficient, high output
Vocal clarity and defined soundfield
Affordable price
Minus
Thin, accentuated top end
Best at low-to-moderate volumes

THE VERDICT
Although their bright voicing may not be for everyone, the JBL Studio 2 speakers combine high efficiency with excellent detail retrieval.

What if the solution to room-interaction problems resided in your loudspeakers? Wouldn’t that be a great alternative to the ills of receiver-based room correction systems? Those are some potentially interesting questions posed by JBL’s Studio 2 series.

For starters, who needs room correction anyway? Well, when it’s hard to catch the dialogue, and imaging smears all over the place, the room correction program in your A/V receiver can mitigate those problems (depending on the receiver and the room). But quite often, it also introduces new artifacts and errors. For my own part, in my own room, I find that many room correction systems thin out the overall tonal balance and induce fatigue. That’s why some audiophiles shun room correction and choose to live with the acoustic character of their room, for better or worse—usually both.

Brent Butterworth  |  Mar 26, 2013  |  0 comments

Audio cognoscenti won't recognize the C3 ($350/pr) as a KEF because it doesn't have KEF's trademark concentric tweeter-inside-woofer design. Its 0.75-inch aluminum-dome tweeter sits above its 5.25-inch polypropylene-cone woofer in an 11.4-inch-high front-ported cabinet.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jun 15, 2006  |  0 comments
Go with the intergalactic flow.

Crime in New York gets more and more bizarre. The other day, someone broke into my apartment and redesigned my speakers. I'm not sure if our local burglars are capable of this. No, the KEF KHT 3005 is clearly the product of an extraterrestrial mind. Who else would reimagine a loudspeaker as a glossy-black egg? Indeed, who else would reimagine a subwoofer as a giant, staring eye?

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