Tower Speaker Reviews

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Daniel Kumin  |  Aug 16, 2018  |  1 comments

S 809 HCS Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

S 810 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,497 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Top-grade Atmos imaging and ambience reproduction
Connector-less elevation speaker hookup
Unusually good center-speaker tonal match
Minus
Minor upper-mid constriction
Minimal contribution from subwoofer

THE VERDICT
This Jamo Atmos-ready system provides impressive immersion and solid value, though bass-heads will want to investigate the company’s more capable subwoofer offerings.

Jamo, the Danish speaker firm whose name rhymes with—well, not “ham-oh,” and not “Hey Moe!,” and certainly not orange—but with, more or less, “ma-mo,” has been quietly busy upon our shores for several decades now. That quiet became a bit noisier after the firm's acquisition by Klipsch in 2005 (both now part of the VOXX corporate group founded by car-fi stalwart Audiovox).

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jul 24, 2006  |  0 comments
The well-tempered speakers.

Some speakers start communicating immediately. Ten seconds after I got these JBLs started, I was engrossed. Before I set them up, I'd just gotten halfway through the first disc of Vladimir Feltsman's hard-to-find four-disc set of Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier. Having just rearranged my reference system to better visual and sonic advantage, I was loath to pull it apart again, but duty called. The Cinema Sound speakers simply picked up where my reference speakers left off. They sounded neutral, substantial, and well able to keep up with both the recording's shifting dynamics and its liquid beauty.

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.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Jun 24, 2002  |  0 comments

It's an article of faith among audiophiles that you can "hear" materials. It just stands to reason that, if a loudspeaker cone has a certain sound when tapped with a fingernail, then everything it reproduces will be colored by that sound. This is why an audiophile will tap the exposed cones of an unfamiliar loudspeaker to see what they sound like. But not every material has a characteristic sound; some aren't stiff enough to vibrate. A wet dishrag, for example, has no sonic "signature." Only if you hit something with it does it make any sound at all, and then it just goes splat. But any material stiff enough to push air without wilting is likely to have some kind of resonant mode that we can hear, so you just know that a metal loudspeaker diaphragm is going to sound metallic.

Michael Trei  |  Jun 05, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $500/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clear and dynamic sound
Bargain price
Minus
Plain-Jane appearance
Limited finish options

THE VERDICT
The A170 is a refined, capable speaker that draws the best from recordings, and punches way above its bargain price.

It's funny how old impressions die hard. Remember the loudspeaker wars of the 1960s and 1970s? I certainly do. Back then, people would describe speakers as having either an East Coast or a West Coast sound, with the buttoned-down and refined east represented by brands like Acoustic Research, Bozak, and Dynaco, and the more raucous, wild west dominated by Altec Lansing and JBL.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 05, 2007  |  0 comments

Spending a lazy summer afternoon running wires around the room to hook up a 5.1-channel speaker system is not a favorite family activity. Polls have shown, in fact, that most consumers who buy home-theater-in-a-box systems never even hook up the surrounds. Or if they do, they put them up front, further apart than the left and right speakers! Of course, that doesn't apply to owners of more advanced systems. Or does it?

Mark Fleischmann  |  Mar 22, 2007  |  First 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?

Chris Lewis  |  Dec 12, 2005  |  0 comments
This time, it's all English.

After the parade of international system mates that we've had in every other installment of this column recently, we finally settle into a system whose parts share their nation of origin. Don't be too quick to assume that it is the United States or Japan I speak of—this month's system hails entirely from merry old England. This isn't terribly surprising, but it does give me an opportunity to say a few things to our friends across the pond that I've been meaning to say for a while, such as: Sorry about that whole revolution thing (although I don't really mean that sincerely), and thanks for the Rolling Stones, Lord Stanley (who gave us the Stanley Cup), and Elizabeth Hurley—in no particular order, of course.

Thomas J. Norton  |  May 25, 2011  |  1 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $4,250 (updated 3/10/15)
At A Glance: Superb sound on both music and movies • Wide, deep soundstage • Outstanding value

Cue the Qs

KEF’s Q Series, improved over multiple generations since 1994, has long been the British speaker company’s bread-and-butter line. The new Qs, which began shipping earlier this year, were designed in the U.K. and are manufactured in China.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 13, 2019  |  2 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $10,200 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Sweet, clean highs
Superb dialogue clarity
Detailed but not aggressive sound
Minus
Slightly limited treble diffusion
R3s make for pricey surrounds

THE VERDICT
With a sweet balance on music and potent, but not aggressive, manner with movies, KEF’s R-series system delivers all-around outstanding performance.

KEF'S R Series speakers have long occupied the middle range of the British manufacturer's offerings. While the previous R Series was starting to get a bit long in the tooth, I found the performance of those speakers to be superb, having reviewed the last generation R700 for Sound & Vision's sister publication Stereophile in 2014.

Tom Norton  |  Apr 23, 2013  |  0 comments

KEF R900 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
KEF R400b Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $9,400 At A Glance: Sweet, clean highs • Big, generous soundstage • Flawless fit and finish

If you’ve been passionate about audio for more than a few years, or can name five loudspeaker companies with names that don’t rhyme with rose and begin with a B, you’ve certainly heard of KEF. In the late 1980s, KEF introduced a new concentric driver that placed the tweeter in the throat of the midrange cone. Dubbed Uni-Q, the design has been continually refined for over 20 years and remains the centerpiece of most KEF loudspeakers.

KEF today is part of a Hong Kong conglomerate...

Daniel Kumin  |  Jun 15, 2008  |  0 comments
Klipsch began making high-performance speakers well before the advent of the transistor, so when it unveils an all-new flagship design, the world pays
Steve Guttenberg  |  Oct 22, 2007  |  0 comments
A bigger bang.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit up front that I have a thing for big speakers. Not because they can play louder, reproduce much wider dynamics, and make more bass than smaller speakers—it's that the big ones are just more fun to listen to. Yes, a lot of them come with big price tags, and Klipsch's full-size Reference RF-83 Home Theater definitely sounds pricey. Its formidable transparency and resolution are a big part of that; you hear subtleties that other speakers gloss over. When I turn up the volume, the sound's character doesn't change, and there's no sense of increasing distortion or strain; the sound simply grows louder. No small speaker I've used, and certainly no in-wall speaker I've heard (no matter how advanced or expensive), has matched the big References' ease under pressure. The six-piece Klipsch Reference RF-83 system sells for $6,394, a slam-dunk bargain, at least by high-end standards. Stereophile magazine reviews interconnect cables with a price tag higher than that.

Daniel Kumin  |  Nov 03, 2006  |  0 comments
As much fun as a monster truck and almost as imposing (but with better bass), the Klipsch RF-83 home theater speaker system is big, heavy, and powerful. It's also unusual in a couple of ways.
Chris Lewis  |  Jun 16, 2005  |  0 comments
Klipsch and Yamaha show that not every Spotlight System requires a second mortgage.

So far, we may have given you the false impression that the pages of this new column were going to be dedicated almost exclusively to the rarified air of the high end. After all, there has only been one installment so far that rang in under five figures, and last month's MiCon Audio system seriously blew the curve with a price tag roughly equivalent to that of a decent house in some parts of the country. Little did you know it was all part of an ingenious plan to build momentum for the column with flashy, big-ticket systems before settling in to the meat and potatoes of the A/V world—i.e., the systems the rest of us can afford. This month's Klipsch/ Yamaha combo is just such a system. Sure, it's not something you'll be able to buy with the change you find in your sofa, but it is certainly more attainable to a broader range of people than the MiCon Audios of the world are.

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