TOWER SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Jerry Kindela  |  Feb 14, 2006  |  First Published: Feb 15, 2006  |  0 comments
A combination that hits all the right notes (and sounds).

There's a compelling magic that has kept my butt on the sofa— it's the enthralling And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself. It was for no small reason that this HBO film earned an Emmy for sound editing. The width and depth of the soundscape, the detailed sound bits, the way the dialogue comes through, and the score's ability to underscore the power and poignancy of scene after scene are remarkable. Each of these turns a made-for-TV movie into a film that transcends the limitations of the home venue for which it was created. And the system I've been using—an Epos M Series 5.1 speaker setup powered by the Butler Audio TDB 5150 vacuum-tube power amplifier—reveals such wonderful nuances in Pancho Villa that I have been completely glued to the couch.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jun 02, 2008  |  0 comments
A grand canopy of surround sound.

Speakers come and go in my listening room—as I persist in calling it, although it also includes a front-projection system, an LCD HDTV, and my home office. But there’s one review I relive every day. And that’s my rave review of era’s Design 4 speaker system, which appeared in our April 2006 issue. Why? Because I have only to look at my desk, where of course I’m typing this now, and there they are, the Eras, on either side of my recently and joyously installed 24-inch NEC monitor. When I do YouTube, this trusty pair of the Design 4 does the honors, along with an Onix OA21S integrated amp and a Pinnacle Baby Boomer sub.

Clint Walker  |  Oct 28, 2000  |  First Published: Oct 29, 2000  |  0 comments
Polk vs. Klipsch vs. RBH

Gestalt
Time after time, I find myself asking, "Now what did I go and say that for?" Recently, while sitting in our weekly staff editorial meeting, I once again opened myself up to an idea that would inevitably lead to more work for me. After requesting speaker systems to have on hand for review, I realized that they all shared one common similarity: They were all around $3,500 or less. I don't know of a retailer on this planet where you can audition Polk, Klipsch, and RBH speakers at the same time, yet I'm sure it will cross some reader's mind who's looking to spend that extra change under the mattress.

Brent Butterworth  |  Oct 01, 2013  |  9 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $800

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crazy-affordable prices
Great cosmetics for the money
Minus
Sounds a little unrefined

THE VERDICT
It’s not without flaws, but the $500/pair XL7F tower delivers a surprising value.

I actually did a double-take when I added up the price of Fluance’s XL7 speaker system. Two tower speakers for the price of a good pair of minimonitors. A center speaker for the price of a cheap Blu-ray player. A pair of minimonitors for the price of … well, an inexpensive pair of minimonitors. And the whole shebang for about what most Sound & Vision readers I know would spend for a decent subwoofer. Shipping’s free, too!

Steve Guttenberg  |  Mar 10, 2008  |  2 comments
I'm a big Samuel L. Jackson fan, but I didn't totally buy his performance in Black Snake Moan. Jackson plays a righteous old man who takes in a trashy nymphet (Christina Ricci) to set her straight. I was especially intrigued with the story because Jackson's character was loosely based on R.L. Burnside, who didn't just sing the blues, he lived them. Up to the point where Jackson picked up his guitar, he was perfectly fine. But when he started to sing, his performance didn't ring true. It comes down to authenticity. Acting is one thing; singing with a voice that sounds so rough it bleeds is something else. Come to think of it, I could say the same about great speakers. It's one thing to design a speaker that measures well, but that doesn't necessarily make for a great-sounding speaker.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 24, 2011  |  4 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $23,247 (updated 3/16/15)
At A Glance: Highs to die for, uncolored midrange, tight bass • Cinematic soundstage • Flawless build quality

Going for the Beryllium

Focal first became a household audio name in the 1980s. Located in Saint-Etienne, France, the company furnished driver units for a number of well-known speaker manufacturers, among them Wilson Audio Specialties. Wilson continues to use an exclusive version of a Focal inverted titanium-dome tweeter. With that exception, Focal has long since kept all of its driver production in-house for its own complete lineup of loudspeakers for the consumer, professional, automotive, and multimedia markets.

Fred Manteghian  |  Jul 23, 2006  |  1 comments

Focal, the French speaker and speaker component manufacturer formerly doing business as Focal-JMLabs, has always made a point of getting great sound at shows. While I didn't run into Focal at Primedia's Home Entertainment 2006 show in Los Angeles this June, I did hear some music in the MBL room that morphed into another sale for Amazon. As I work on the final edit of this review I'm listening to the just-delivered Jeff Buckley rendition of "Hallelujah" from his 1994 album <i>Grace</i> (CD, Columbia, CK 57528). The memory of what this song sounded like on the <a href="http://blog.ultimateavmag.com/he2006/060206mbl/" target=new> $47,000/pair MBL 101E speakers</a> is still fresh. At just 1/10th the MBL's price, Focal's Profile 918 speakers get me very, very close to the fire-branded goose bumps I felt in LA last month.

Ultimate AV Staff  |  May 26, 2006  |  0 comments

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Michael Trei  |  Sep 18, 2004  |  First Published: Sep 01, 2004  |  1 comments
Trickle-down economics, audio style.

While those on the left and right sides of the political fence are bound to debate the pros and cons of trickle-down economic theory for the rest of time, it's hard to deny the way in which many high-tech developments that began life in projects bearing stratospheric price tags eventually came to benefit the masses, in products we can use every day. Today, many of us can afford gadgets like GPS navigation systems and laser pointers, whereas a few years ago this type of technology was available only to the largest institutions and military powers. This access to technology has had a major effect on today's audio components; for example, most of the latest surround processors have far more computing power than the in-flight computer used for the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 20, 2005  |  0 comments

Focal-JMlab has been manufacturing speaker drivers and systems from its home base in Saint-Etienne, France, since 1980. They first became known to audiophiles in the US for their range of Focal drive units, particularly their inverted-dome tweeters. The latter were used by a number of makers of speaker systems. One of them, Wilson Audio Specialties, has likely been Focal's most loyal customer over the years, having used various Focal drivers in most of its models since the original Wilson Audio Tiny Tot, aka the WATT, was produced in the mid-1980s.

Steven Stone  |  May 09, 2004  |  0 comments

The history of high-end audio and video is littered with companies who made fine products but failed. Kloss Audio/Video, California Audio Labs, and Dunlavy Audio are but a few of the illustrious firms that did not survive. Genesis almost joined these ranks. Founded in 1991 by Arnie Nudell, Paul McGowan, and Mark Shifter, Genesis quickly made its mark with outstanding speakers and digital electronics. Yet in December 2001, Genesis closed its doors.

Steven Stone  |  Oct 02, 2005  |  2 comments

When I reviewed the Genesis 6.1 speaker system I liked it so much I still use it as my reference in my upstairs home theater system. Now Genesis has a new, smaller speaker called the Genesis 7.1c that shares much of the G6.1's technology&mdash;and a level of performance that can equal its more expensive sibling in most conventional home theater situations, and in some environments even better it.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Apr 14, 2015  |  4 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,998/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Sleek tower design
Huge soundstage!
HVFR planar magnetic folded ribbon tweeter
Minus
Black is the only finish

THE VERDICT
At less than $2,000 per pair, the Triton continues the GoldenEar value tradition with superb sonics at an attainable price.

I’ve known quite a few speaker designers and owners of high-end companies, but GoldenEar Technology’s CEO and co-founder Sandy Gross is the only one who’s an avid art collector. He paints a little, too, but mostly expresses his creative side through the sound of his loudspeakers. Gross has developed a keen ear as a decades-long veteran in the speaker business, co-founding Polk Audio and later Definitive Technology. In 2010, he launched GoldenEar Technology at the CEDIA show in Atlanta, Georgia.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jun 10, 2014  |  41 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $4,998/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Three forward-firing active woofers with four side-firing passive radiators and a 1,600-watt amp
Remarkably open, balanced sound quality
Extremely dynamic
Minus
They’re really, really heavy

THE VERDICT
GoldenEar Technology’s Triton One is Sandy Gross’ magnum opus and provides an astounding performance-versus-price ratio.

It’s not an overstatement to say that Sandy Gross is a legend—a double legend, as a matter of fact, since he’s in two entirely different industries’ Halls of Fame. In high school, Gross was an award-winning racecar designer. With his best friend, Howie Ursaner, the Gold Dust Twins (as they were called) were a professional racing team that competed around the country. (At one point, Ursaner won a Corvette. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to legally drive it—because he was only 14 years old.) That was during the late 1960s and early ’70s, a time generally considered to be the Golden Age of Racing—slot car racing, that is.

Al Griffin  |  Apr 04, 2017  |  5 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $8,498/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful, full-range sound
Great looks
Easily driven by modest-power amps
Minus
Price may seem high to non-audiophile civilians
Large, space-dominating size

THE VERDICT
With the Triton Reference, GoldenEar Technology has delivered their finest loudspeaker yet. It looks great, sounds great, and represents an exceptional value in high-end audio.

When I reviewed GoldenEar Technology’s debut loudspeaker, the Triton Two, shortly after the company launched in 2010, co-founder/president/polymath Sandy Gross indicated that it would be the first of many to come. He wasn’t exaggerating. New entries arrived thereafter in quick succession, including powered towers, passive towers, soundbars, subwoofers, bookshelf models, and in-ceiling speakers. And in 2014, the company introduced the Triton One. Priced at $2,500 each or $5,000 for the pair, it represented the pinnacle of GoldenEar’s mission to combine high performance with high value.

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