Tag Archives: loudspeakers

2021 Editors’ Choice Awards: Loudspeakers $10,000 – $20,000

Audio Solutions Figaro L

$10,000

In most areas of sonic performance this substantial (154 lbs.), three-way, five-driver loudspeaker, manufactured in Vilnius, Lithuania, achieves well above what’s expected at its price point. It plays coherently and authoritatively with music that makes significant dynamic and low-frequency demands, but it is also capable of nuance and detail. With a sensitivity of 92dB and a nominal impedance of 4 ohms, the Figaro L is not a difficult load for most amplifiers. The speaker ships with two pairs of front baffles, one with a grille cloth and one without. A steel outrigger base with large adjustable spikes ($650) should be considered an essential accessory. 

Legacy Focus SE

$10,615

The massive, six-driver, four-way Focus SE is capable of creating a big sound in every sense of the word, while delivering the kind of speed and resolution from the midrange onwards that is customary in better ribbon and electrostatic speakers, as well as a seamless blend between drivers. The upper mids and treble have life and air, along with a slightly forward midrange perspective. A sensitivity of 94.5dB makes the Focus SE easy to drive. A lot of loudspeaker for the money. 

Von Schweikert Audio UniField 2 MkIII 

$11,000

The UniField Two is a two-and-a-half-way design in which a 7″ coaxial driver is augmented below 80Hz by an aluminum-cone woofer. Internal chambers define a mini-labyrinth, which significantly dampens the vent output. The coaxial technology together with a non-resonant enclosure yields exceptional soundstaging and image focus. Expect impressive bass-range performance when the UniField is matched with a high-damping-factor solid-state amplifier, though the bass balance will be shifted toward the midbass. The UniField competes effectively with British stand-mounts from Spendor and Harbeth, offering greater rhythmic precision and bass heft. 

MBL 126 

$11,800 (stands $1190)

Marking MBL’s entry level for omnidirectional speakers, the Corona Line Radialstrahler 126 three-way contains much of the DNA of its bigger, upper-tier siblings, but brings the cost of acquiring MBL magic way down. The Radialstrahler designs are painstakingly handcrafted in Deutschland and feature intricately assembled omnidirectional drivers—in the 126 model, the midrange and tweeter—the latter reproducing the sweetest, smoothest upper octaves imaginable with effortless openness, detail, and delicacy, sans beaminess, edginess, or harshness. With a pair of 5-inch push-push woofers inside and a rear port, the 126s also reach deeper into the lower octaves than expected, and overall coherence is exemplary. Rich in reach-out-and-touch resolution and utterly convincing instrumental tones and textures, the 126s work within the room (with proper setup) to create a holographic and immersive listening experience. What’s not to love? 

Audiovector R3 Arreté 

$11,999

The R3 Arreté is a two-and-a-half-way floorstander with an Air-Motion Transformer (AMT) tweeter and two 6.5″ mid/woof cones with membranes made of cross-woven Aramid fibers in a sandwich structure. High-frequency reproduction is exceptionally open, extended, and non-fatiguing, most certainly thanks to the AMT tweeter. Bass is taut and tuneful; with most recordings the use of a subwoofer isn’t even a consideration. Spatiality and transparency are also first-rate. If detail and neutrality are your things (and you’re willing to forgo some sock and body), the R3 is highly recommended. 

Crystal Cable Arabesque Minissimo/Crystal Cable Arabesque Minissimo Diamond

$13,000 /$20,000

Replace whatever loudspeakers you’ve been using with a pair of two-way CrystalConnect Arabesque Minissimos or Minissimo Diamonds (which look identical but come with a superior diamond tweeter and other perks), and people will notice—before they’ve heard a note of music. The whimsical apostrophe shape, the vibrant color, the assured smallness of the things stop folks in their tracks and make them smile. Sonically, the Minissimos are superb everywhere but the low bass (which is to be expected in a two-way). When it comes to imaging and soundstaging, they disappear, creating a broad, deep, and continuous soundstage. A superior and stylish little transducer. 

 

Sonus faber Olympica Nova III

$13,500

The new (“Nova”) versions of the Sonus faber’s Olympica line of loudspeakers utilize a construction technique in which multiple layers of bended wood are set into an aluminum exoskeleton to create an exceptionally rigid enclosure. Within this largely resonance-free environment, users can experiment with the positioning of the top-to-bottom “Stealth Ultraflex” resistive port—aimed toward the center of the room or facing toward the sidewalls—to optimize bass performance. The Nova III’s 3-way, 4-driver transducer complement is fully up the task of playing loud and low—dance music, pipe organ, Mahler symphonies—as well as scaling down to deal effectively with more nuanced material—solo violin, an after-hours jazz singer, a virtuoso pianist’s blistering technique. 

SteinMusic Highline Bobby M

$14,000 (available without the woofers for $7000/pr.)

The Bobby M and its myriad configurations are uniquely striking-looking and wonderfully musical-sounding transducers that actually make good sense when you break them down—or, rather, when you put them together. Stein’s Bobby speakers are modular: The M (for Medium) designation actually refers to the duo that was reviewed, with one bass extender (with two 6″ woofers) under a two-way, bass-reflex monitor with horn-loaded tweeter and 6″ cone mid/bass. If you use two bass extenders per channel, with one atop the Bobby S monitor and the second beneath it, you’ll have a Bobby L (for Large). Sonically, the High Line Bobby M offered pleasing and smoothly natural musicality and impressive dispersion. 

Magnepan MG20.7

$14,450 

These Maggies’ magical ability to transport listeners to a different space and time, and to there realistically recreate (with lifelike scope and size) the sound of acoustic instruments and the venue they were recorded in is extraordinary. It almost goes without saying (since these are Magnepans), but the 20.7s are also incredibly good values, although you’re going to have to bring a lot of power to this party, and you’re going to need a good deal of room to house two speakers the size and width of a couple of NFL linebackers. 

T + A elektroakoustic Talis S 300 

$14,900

From a manufacturer known best in North America for its electronics, digital sources in particular, comes the Talis S 300—a three-way, four-driver floorstander, with solid aluminum enclosure, that excels in all musical genres. The S 300 manifests a complete absence of tonal coloration that makes it easy to discern among similar vocal and instrumental timbres. High-frequency reproduction is open and airy, and orchestral weight is satisfying. The reproduction of spatial cues is first-rate. The S 300 responds well to bi-wiring; integrating a subwoofer is rarely necessary but possible. 

Larsen Model 9 Loudspeaker

Larsen Model 9 

$14,995

This is the latest and best embodiment of the Larsen concept: using wall placement and woofers near the floor combined with wide dispersion of the higher frequencies to generate a sound with minimal early reflections but impressive uniformity over the room. The sound of your listening room is replaced by the sound of the original recording venue to a surprising extent. The speakers needs minimal fuss about exact placement and little or no room treatment to achieve independence of the listening space. The Model 9 is superbly finished and surprisingly compact, considering its bass power and extension. 

Manger Audio P1

$14,995–$18,995

The uniquely musical properties of the Manger Sound bending-wave transducer are brought to life in this svelte floorstander. Manger’s wide-bandwidth, low-mass, flat-disc-diaphragm transducer creates an intimacy and immediacy that are almost eerie in their authenticity. Tonally, the P1 is neutral to warmish, with saturated overtones and firm acoustic-suspension bass. Temperamentally, the P1 is not geared to knock fillings loose or propel images forward like a studio control monitor. Instead, it offers music naturalism without artifice or hype. Without the normally distracting multi-driver discontinuities to deal with, orchestral timbre remains true and realistic. There’s really nothing quite like the P1. 

Quad 2812

$14,995

The Quad ESL63 and its variants, such as Quad’s 2812 electrostatic floorstander, have been from the start a speaker family that has gone its own way. They have low distortion, among the lowest; they have almost unparalleled coherence and unity of voice; they have an exceptionally uniform radiation pattern and a very low level of resonant coloration. They are also phase-linear, which is known to have subtle but definitely audible positive effects, on transients in particular. In these categories they have always been in the very top echelon and they still are. “Alone at the top” is a phrase that one is tempted to use, though it would be a slight exaggeration since others are in the same realm, though not many. No amount of money will buy a speaker that does definitively better the things that the Quads do well. 

TAD ME1

$14,995 (includes ST3 stands)

The Micro Evolution One (ME1) may be the smallest in TAD’s Evolution lineup, but this three-way reflex design arguably has more heart and soul than its larger Evolution Series siblings. “Micro” in name only, the ME1’s sonics are high energy and potent beyond the speaker’s modest footprint. On tap are admirable symphonic scale, and soundstage immersion well outside the norm for a transducer of this specification. The headliner, however, is the coaxial midrange/beryllium tweeter, which offers uncommonly transparent and precise imaging and goose-pimply musical minutiae. What is unexpected are the bare-knuckled dynamic thrust and power range that will shock even the staunchest large speaker advocate. 

Yamaha NS5000 Speaker Pair with Stands

Yamaha NS-5000 

$14,999

The NS-5000 loudspeaker is the star component of Yamaha’s new 5000 Series, rightly taking its place as an underpriced overachiever in the high-performance loudspeaker marketplace. The large stand-mount 5000 uses a single material for every vibrating surface—Zylon, one of the strongest fibers in existence. The value of this unique material would be nil had Yamaha not also assembled an engineering team with their eyes focused on the musical prize. But it did. As a result, you will be richly rewarded with a nearly not-there transducer. Though Yamaha first used the term “hi-fi” way back in 1954, the NS-5000 is decidedly not (in my use of the term) hi-fi. It’s the kind of product that invites you just to settle into an unfiltered, unforced, truly musical experience. 

maxima_amator

Sonus faber Maxima Amator

$15,000

A drop-dead gorgeous product, even by Sonus faber standards, the Maxima Amator is a floorstanding version of the Italian manufacturer’s popular Minima Amator bookshelf model. This is a two-way design, with a 1.1″ silk dome tweeter and a 7″ mid/woofer joined by Sonus faber’s novel “Interactive Fusion Filtering” crossover. Although those who listen to rock and large-scale orchestral music at enthusiastic levels may find low-frequency power and dynamics insufficient for their needs, with most other musical material the exceptionally seamless integration of the two drivers results in a sonic coherency that makes the speakers truly disappear. 

Marten Django XL

$15,500 in piano black

The Django wowed TAS editors at CES demo, and the review sample lives up to the promise. While the Django breaks no design ground, the canny choice of materials results in a speaker that, on many tracks, proved virtually indistinguishable from AT’s reference. Warm in character (lower piano notes are ravishing), the Django offers needle-sharp transients; details emerge distinctly and naturally. Most importantly, this is an unfailingly engaging speaker. 

Muraudio SP1

$16,400

This elegant if unusual speaker combines two sealed-box cone woofers above and below Muraudio’s unique, doubly curved electrostatic drivers. The curvature of the driver element both horizontally and vertically generates an effect resembling a virtual point source rather than sounding like a typical flat panel. The SP1 is very clean with extremely low distortion. The bass is very well integrated and precise in character, albeit not extended to the lowest lows. The spatial impression is attractively unconstrained, and the balance is overall neutral. Muraudio became famous a few years ago for its omni PX1 model, which used three doubly curved panels to form a 360 degree source. But the SP1, at a much lower and very reasonable price for what is involved, is a truly exceptional speaker in its own right. 

 

Magico S1 Mk II M-Cast

$16,500

There was a time when Magico’s enclosures were made primarily of wood; now they’re all-aluminum or carbon fiber, every model. For both the S Series and Q Series, Alon Wolf has his “platform” established and continues to advance the performance of the drivers and other components he puts into these optimized enclosures. The two-way, sealed-box Magico S1 Mk II floorstander is indeed as much a Magico as the S7 or the Q7, and must be a top consideration for anyone in the market for a loudspeaker up to $20k. As the saying goes, it “comes from good stock.” 

Wilson Audio SabrinaX 

$16,500

Although significantly more affordable than most of Wilson’s other speakers, the SabrinaX unquestionably comes from the same gene pool. Utilizing the Convergent Synergy Mk 5 tweeter from the WAMM Master Chronosonic, the 8″ woofer from the Sasha DAW, the binding posts of the XVX, and Wilson’s new AudioCapX-WA capacitors first implemented in the XVX, the SabrinaX is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The cabinet is constructed entirely from Wilson’s ultra-dense X-material to reduce vibration and noise. The result is a speaker crafted with the same attention to detail as the XVX, and one that conveys a sense of musical truth and beauty remarkable at its price. As expected from a single woofer and smaller cabinet, the SabrinaX lacks the massive low-end authority of Wilson’s more expensive offerings, but literally nothing else. 

Sanders Model 10e

$17,000 (includes one Sanders Magtech amplifier)

The 10e is a hybrid with a flat electrostatic panel mounted above a transmission-line-loaded woofer. The speaker, which must be bi-amped, comes with a DSP crossover with a variety of user adjustments. The lack of midrange coloration puts the Sanders in the top echelon. This is one of the lowest coloration speakers there is. And when you consider that even if you buy two Sanders Magtech amplifiers—one comes along as part of the $17,000 package—the total cost, exclusive of source components, is $22,500, and that you can adjust the speaker to suit your room and your tastes, the Model 10e is not only a wonder but also a bargain. 

Carver Amazing Line Source

$18,495

The Carver Amazing Line Source is one of the most remarkable speaker systems ever. It offers a dynamic capacity that allows realistic SPLs for even big bands and huge orchestras, with room to spare (120dB+ if you dare!), amazingly low levels of distortion, full frequency extension at both extremes, and an almost uncanny ability to reveal recorded space. Indeed, the ALS has few peers in reproducing the sense of hearing a live performance of large-scale music. If your goal is the reproduction of the live auditorium experience, then these speakers will be a revelation and an ongoing pleasure. 

 

Harbeth M40.3 XD 

$19,995

A large three-way that requires stand-mounting, this is one of those rare speaker systems for which the term “monitor” is not in the least pretentious because it is literally accurate as a description of the speaker’s function and as a statement about its own intrinsic accuracy. The 40.3 is the virtual embodiment of tonal neutrality, and with a frequency response from 38Hz–20kHz of ±3dB, (but near ruler-flat across most of that range) it possesses an ease, effortlessness, and lack of strain that translate into a listening experience that draws all the attention to the music. Like the 40.2, the 40.3 represents the designer Alan Shaw’s highest development so far of the BBC school of speaker design, possessing a sheer musical authority almost nonexistent in PS’ previous experience. The 40.3 is now PS’ reference when it comes to reproducing music in all its natural power and glory. 

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Original Resource is Articles – The Absolute Sound

Wilson Audio Alexx V Launches with XVX DNA | Announcements

The Wilson Audio Alexx loudspeaker needs little introduction. I had instant envy the first time I heard it, with its thundering low frequency slam. The original Alexx was lead by Daryl Wilson while his father David finished the Wilson Audio – WAMM Master Chronosonic, a speaker that changed my perspective on music reproduction. Fast forward to 2019, Wilson slipped some WAMM sauce into the slightly smaller Wilson Audio Chronosonic XVX. At Music Matters 2020, the Wilson XVX loudspeaker, paired with Dan D’Agostino Relentless electronics, produced the closest experience to what I heard while listening to the Wilson Audio WAMMs in David Wilson’s home.  Today the new Wilson Audio Alexx V is taking a significant number of advancements of the XVX in a smaller form factor and price point. Visually, the biggest change is the introduction of the open upper gantry similar to its larger siblings the XVX and WAMM. This new frame and associated hardware allows customers to adjust each upper module individually allowing for more precise adjustments. Other key changes includes the utilization of Wilson proprietary V Material at the top of the woofer cabinet and in the upper gantry consistent with the XVX. At the same time, there [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Sonus faber Maxima Amator Loudspeakers | REVIEW

The Sonus faber Maxima Amator loudspeakers (website) have taken me by surprise. I was so zeroed-in and focused on the idea of the perfect two-way bookshelf monitor, a longtime passion of mine, and now I have this feeling that someone with an Italian accent is leaning close to me, whispering in my ear: “Have you thought about a nice two-way tower? Maybe that’s what you’ve been searching for all this time.” It’s an interesting argument—while the floor-standing approach may introduce a couple of problems since it’s less of a point source design and its increased size and mass might create an obstacle when it comes to the “disappearing act,” I’m sure to enjoy a loudspeaker that reaches further into the lowest frequencies than your average shoebox monitor. I’ve also been dialing in one of the largest listening rooms I’ve ever had at home. I’m allowing some big speakers and big amplifiers to crash at my pad over the next few months, so I’m about to get a crash course in perspective. To tell you the truth, I was also getting tired of dealing with stands. I have a pair of 24” stands and a pair of 28” stands, but they [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Christ Fellowship Miami Gets Triple the Systems

Christ Fellowship Miami in Florida updated half its locations with new L-Acoustics Kara systems.
Christ Fellowship Miami in Florida updated half its locations with new L-Acoustics Kara systems.

Miami, FL (March 8, 2021)—Christ Fellowship Miami has a half-dozen South Florida locations and three of those sites—Palmetto Bay, Doral, and downtown Miami—recently updated their audio with L-Acoustics Kara sound systems designed and integrated by Colorado-based Summit Integrated Systems.

Christ Fellowship Miami multisite production director Garrett Siljee oversees all AVL-related matters for the church, including campus technology design planning and tech staffing. “One of my primary responsibilities is crafting the weekend experiences at all of our locations, and sound is a big part of that,” he notes.

Siljee says he was first introduced to L-Acoustics at a product demo staged at South Florida’s Miccosukee Resort & Gaming venue; impressed, he invited Summit Integrated Systems to demo a Kara system for the church’s leadership and staff at its Palmetto Bay location.

Systems for the Palmetto Bay, Doral and downtown Miami campuses were designed by Summit using L-Acoustics Soundvision modeling software. “The church wanted a high-output sound system in all of its locations, to support its music and high-energy worship style, and Kara was the perfect choice for all of these campuses,” says Summit’s director of projects, Deron Yevoli.

The concrete walls at Christ Fellowship Miami’s 500-seat Doral location keep the roar of nearby Miami International Airport at bay, but their reflective surfaces can present an acoustic challenge, so the Kara system’s directivity was applied to keep sound focused on the audience and off of the walls. The Doral campus’ new system comprises 12 Kara(i) enclosures flown across two arrays, with eight floor-mounted SB18 subs, plus eight ultra-compact 5XT and two short-throw X8 deployed as outfills. All are powered by one LA12X and four LA4X amplified controllers.

The nearby Palmetto Bay campus, which features a more traditional Baptist-type church design, also serves as Christ Fellowship’s broadcast center. There, 24 Kara(i) are now divided and flown in four hangs, with 12 SB18 subs on the floor, a dozen 5XT as frontfills, and eight X12 for delay, all powered by a 12 LA4X.

Worshiping Together While Apart

The downtown Miami location, a former cathedral that is now being renovated, is the largest of the three sites Summit has worked on with Christ Fellowship. Scheduled to open by Christmas 2021, the church’s third campus will feature an L-Acoustics system and be comprised of 18 Kara II and eight KS21i subs. In addition, eight 5XT provide frontfill while six X8 serve as underbalcony fills. The subs are powered by one LA12X, while seven LA4X drive the rest of the loudspeakers.

“Multisite churches tend to want to have cookie-cutter buildings so that the looks and the sound are the same everywhere, but that’s not easy to do in the Miami area, where the rents and the costs to own are so high,” Siljee explains. “Having the L-Acoustics systems sound very differently in each location was my biggest initial concern. Even though none of these spaces are at all similar, Kara provides very consistent sound for all of the rooms we’ve heard them in.”

“What everyone, including our membership, has commented on is that the sound no longer hurts. Our old system was very harsh sounding; the new Kara system is anything but. Now, our churches can create the kind of energetic worship experiences we want and it sounds great. Kara turned complaints into compliments.”

Christ Fellowship Miami • www.cfmiami.org

Summit Integrated Systems • www.summitintegrated.com

L-Acoustics • www.l-acoustics.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signature Loudspeaker

I will say this for B&W’s 705 Signature: This loudspeaker sure knows how to make an entrance. This $3999 two-way compact which bears the British firm’s famously eye-catching top-mounted tweeter cuts a striking figure with its crisp seamless lines, mirror-like veneers, six-sided finish, and gleaming appointments. This bass-reflex monitor just looks like money, fresh from London’s Regent Street. At least part of that impression is owed to the fact that the 705 Signature (and its floorstanding cousin, the 702 Signature) have a lot in common with B&W’s bespoke flagship 800 Series. This cross-platform sharing actually originated in the more modestly priced 700 Series, which debuted in 2017. But the Signature edition takes it a step further in refinement. Most prominent is the pricier solid-body assembly of the “tweeter-on-top,” and the distinctive gleam of its Continuum cone driver. Plus various upgrades and refinements to the crossover and heatsinking, including specially treated bypass capacitors sourced from Mundorf. 

The newly devised 25mm carbon dome tweeter is composed of two sections, a thirty-micron aluminum dome front section stiffened by a PVD (physical vapor deposition) coating of carbon. Paraphrasing B&W, “the second section is a 300-micron carbon ring that matches the form of the main dome, then is bonded to the inner face of the structure.” The outcome is stiffness and resistance to distortion without undue mass, and a first breakup point of 47kHz. B&W also substituted aluminum instead of zinc for the bullet-shaped housing of the Signature tweeter. The milled aluminum (over 1kg) makes for a stiffer and less resonant structure than zinc, and benefits from the same decoupling mechanism and acoustically transparent grille design of the 800 Series Diamond. A side benefit is that it also allows the use of the mass of the tweeter body as a heatsink for the dome.

In the 6.5″ Continuum cone mid/bass, B&W enthusiasts will identify another component that originally was exclusive to the 800 Series Diamond. Continuum is a woven composite design, which B&W states avoids the abrupt transition from pure pistonic movement to breakup-mode behavior. Ultimately, every driver will break up, but when distortion can be as highly controlled as it is in the Continuum transducer, there’s greater potential for a more open, transparent, and detailed midrange.

I could say more than a few words about the fit and finish of the 705 Signature, but let me sum it up in one word—sumptuous. My flawless review sample was crafted in Datuk Gloss ebony-colored veneer and bore a striking, exotic, tiger-stripe grain pattern. The wood originates from a sustainably sourced supply, in this case from specialist Italian wood company Alpi. Bowers & Wilkins adds to Alpi’s painstaking workmanship by applying nine coats of finish, including primer, base coat, and lacquer.

705 Signature front

As for the sonics of the 705, my first impressions held true throughout the evaluation; from the start the speaker was high-spirited and balanced. Like a thoroughbred at the Derby, the 705 seemed to burst from the gate, surging with pent-up energy. Its dynamism was evident at pretty much every level across the frequency spectrum. It delivered well-rounded midrange tonality, shaded slightly to the warmer, romantic side of neutral—a sonic signature that seems built into the genetic code of B&W loudspeakers (and into many British monitors, for that matter). Its midbass to lower midrange was well controlled and defined—exceptionally so in light of its modest 13-inch height. The rear port—in B&W’s characteristic, turbulence-reducing dimpled design—was mostly inaudible, though there was, at moments, an excess weightiness in the upper bass that hinted at some port augmentation. 

The overall voice of the 705 Signature was forthright rather than tonally recessive. It was punchy and aggressive when it needed to be and soothing where appropriate. It was a compact that summoned buckets full of colorful timbral details and contrasts, and possessed a full-blooded physicality that sustained and supported musical images. Soundstage information was straightforward, imparting good dimensional information, though this was not its strongest suit. (Any number of competitive two-way compacts will challenge it in that regard.)

A prime example of the 705 Signature’s all-around skillset was Alison Krauss’ country-tinged cover of Lennon-McCartney’s “I Will.” The track, with its guitar and banjo images snapping from the studio mix, exhibited an electric immediacy. In that vein, the closing drum fill during “When You Say Nothing At All” was heroic in its weight and scale. Parenthetically, the scale of this particular cue is curiously out of proportion with the rest of the song, suggesting that someone in the control room was having a little too much fun dialing up the percussion in the final mix. 

The vivacious character of the 705 Sig’s sonics is no accident, in my view. To a large degree it reflects elements of the professional-recording “studio monitor” culture in which B&W is still quite prominent. Thus, there is no wimp factor. The 705 Sig heads in the other direction, muscling in on the recording to bring to light every last detail: an errant baton striking the podium, a gasp from an audience member, the shift of a pianist on the bench, the rustle of pages of a score being turned on a musician’s music stand. And like a true monitor, the 705 Sig isn’t shy about being driven hard. When propelled by top-quality amplification with sufficient headroom, it is capable of a level of sheer unconstrained output that caused me to bail out before it did. 

Bass quality was outstanding, especially for a loudspeaker of this humble size. During Sheryl Crow’s “I Shall Believe,” bassist Dan Schwartz’s cavernous and enveloping artistry was reproduced with impressive pitch and extension. The Police’s “Tea In The Sahara” was also reproduced with the impressive rhythmic interplay of kickdrum and electric bass fully intact. The bass drum sounded grounded in reality, not just a random set of rhythmic pulses. No, the 705 Sig couldn’t uncover the deepest notes on this track, but where it played it was honest and open. Compared with a much larger floorstander or a subwoofer-augmented system, of course, the deepest bass and dynamics were throttled down, but the “essentials” were there and the brain tended to fill in the gaps. I rarely felt short-shrifted by the 705.

Solo piano reproduction, a potential deal-breaker for this reviewer, was some of the best I’ve heard from a compact. As I listened to Constentino Catena’s reading of Debussy’s Clair de Lune, the dynamic touch he teased out of the concert grand conveyed all kinds of keyboard character, mood swings, and temperament, from the gentlest pianissimos to the heavier fortes. The 705 even captured a semblance of soundboard action, air, and weight. It also hung onto the sustain pedal to the end of the track. 

This gentle piano track was also illustrative of the 705 Signature’s resolving power, a trait that cropped up time and again during my evaluation. The speaker had an ability to bring to life the smallest cues, clinging to a decaying note, a waft of ambience. It had a level of resolution that rewarded the astute listener, and caused me to listen ever deeper into the most delicate moments. Ricki Lee Jones’ cover of the Billie Holiday classic “I’ll Be Seeing You” is a terrific track to enjoy this specific brand of transparency. The sonics of this LP ring true. The quirky Jones vocal and classical guitar accompaniment sang with a full array of transient delicacies and intricate voicings, immersing me in the atmosphere of the mix

Most significant to my own listening biases, the B&W proved to be a very good and flexible voice speaker. The 705 Signature reveled in reproducing the signature details that define a singer’s instrument. On a track like CS&N’s “Southern Cross,” for example, the 705 caught the leading edge of Stills’ vocal and nailed his characteristic gravelly throatiness down pat. Then there was the 705’s sensitivity in capturing the breathy vibrato of Jennifer Warnes’ “Song for Bernadette,” or the husky alto of Lauren Daigle’s “Rescue” from the 45rpm Bernie Grundman LP remaster of her 2018 hit Look Up Child. My one minor reservation was a hint of presence dip with these female vocalists that softened and rounded the leading edges of their voices. On the one hand, the effect was coddling to the ear, but on the other, it also subtracted slightly from attack and emotion.

The Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signature is the product of a mature and experienced company that understands the musical imperatives of overall balance and listenability. A compact loudspeaker that can shrug off the bonds of its modest proportions and become something much grander is a rarity, but the B&W most assuredly does these things. In sum, the 705 Signature is what I’d describe as a true musical sophisticate—a natty dresser and a formidable addition to any listening room. Sign me up!

Specs & Pricing

Type: Stand-mount, two-way, vented box
Drivers: 1″ dome tweeter; 6.5″ mid/bass
Frequency response: 58Hz–28kHz
Sensitivity: 88dB
Nominal impedance: 8 ohms (3.7 ohms minimum)
Dimensions: 13.4″ x 7.8″ x 11.9″
Weight: 20.5 lbs.
Price: $3999

BOWERS & WILKINS
54 Concord Street
North Reading, MA 01864
(978) 664-2870
bowerswilkins.com

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Original Resource is Articles – The Absolute Sound

Volti Audio Razz Loudspeakers, Part Two | REVIEW

When PTA Editor-in-Chief Marc Phillips asked me to co-review the Volti Audio Razz loudspeakers, of course I said I was interested. This would be my first official review for Part-Time Audiophile, and I’d be fulfilling an aspect of the hobby I’ve fantasized about since reading Audio and other review magazines while I was in college. Excited, I looked up the Volti Audio website and read up on the Razz. My excitement turned into consternation as I read the description. You see, I’ve had bad experiences with high-efficiency horns in the past. In my experience they are shouty, bright, uneven and can drill right into my ears. I can count on one hand how many horn-based systems I’ve heard that I considered listenable. And I can use just one or two fingers to indicate how many horn systems I’ve actually liked. But I decided to keep a firmly open mind. Marc was very favorable towards the Volti Audio Razz in his review, giving it his Editor’s Choice Award. Besides, I heard the Avantgarde Acoustics room at AXPONA a few years ago and their products were definitely one of those “fingers” I just mentioned. In other words, I knew a horn-based system [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Graham Audio Chartwell LS6 Loudspeaker

We are blessed once again by some fine reflections from our good friend and brother, John Marks, he of The Tannhauser Gate fame. This time around we read his thoughts on the Graham Audio Chartwell LS6 Monitor Loudspeaker. I always fine John's commentary to be excellent reading, a blend of audio experience, music, deep insight, and... Read More »

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Original Resource is Positive Feedback

Marten Oscar Trio Loudspeaker | REVIEW

  At Casa de McAudiophile, the impressive hit parade of floor standing speakers continues. This latest installment of chart-topping performers is the seductive sounding and beautiful Marten Oscar Trio from the Sweden (website). The Oscar Trios are not only the first speaker from Marten I’ve had the pleasure to hear; their ceramic composite drivers are also a first in my listening room. I found the sound of these speakers to have a uniquely classy quality: they are precise, clean and fast, but with a richness and ability to portray tonal complexity in recordings that is something more than just accurate. The Marten Oscar Trios bring an inviting quality to the music played through them. That stately and authoritative something puts them in quite a charming spot on my listenability/accuracy matrix. Brothers I seem to be receiving a preponderance of speaker systems from Scandinavian countries, Sweden in particular. Is it possible there is an informal World Class Nordic Speaker Designers club in Gothenburg? I wonder if the Marten team of Leif, Lars, and Jorgen Olofsson ever hang out in a sauna and talk speaker design with Mats Anderson of Qln? Well, even if the two companies don’t share ideas, the friendly [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

the art of listening: VLOT Loudspeakers – Maybe the Best Stereo Image You’ve Heard

the art of listening… for art's sake – the art of listening to music including hi-res audio, MQA, DSD and 5.1 surround sound A recent product from Starke Sound in Gardena, California is called VLOT. I still don't know what the VLOT acronym is supposed to stand for. So I'll take a stab at it, ummm….Verisimilar Layered Orthogonal Trajectories... Read More »

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Original Resource is Positive Feedback

Festival Returns for Summer Down Under

Adelaide, Australia (February 12, 2021)—It’s summer down under and for some Australian music lovers, that meant honoring the age-old tradition of going to a festival and having a blast. Reinvented to meet pandemic protocols, South Australia’s Summer Sounds Festival was a four-week outdoor concert series of 18 shows that each played to a 2,100-capacity audience situated in separated in “Party Pods.” Headliners for the festival included Bernard Fanning, Mallrat, Spiderbait, Will Sparks and ABBA tribute act, Björn Again.

Adelaide-based audio provider Novatech provided the live sound system for the project, collaborating with promoters Five Four Entertainment, Groove Events and Secret Sounds, and South Australia authorities, including the territory’s health and chief public health office professor Nicola Spurrier, who in turn got the nod of approval by South Australia’s premier, Steven Marshall.

With fans restricted to their pods, providing coverage to the whole audience area was crucial, which the Novatech team took into account with its approach to the festival. The main PA consisted of 12 L-Acoustics K2 line array elements and eight SB28 subs per side, and four Kara for frontfill hidden behind scrims.

For delay, Novatech turned to its Syva colinear line source, cleverly rigged to the rear of the Party Pod, with Syva Sub tucked below. The Syva provided ample coverage for the pods in the back rows while ensuring clear views of the stage. Providing audio for the performers onstage as well, Novatech used 10 L-Acoustics X15 HiQ as foldback wedges, accompanied by two L-Acoustics SB18 subs to shake the bottom end.

Restart-19 COVID Concert Experiment Shares Results

The pods themselves were key to the festival’s success, with different packages available at a variety of price points. Festival goers could choose from VIP, Gold, Silver, or Bronze seating packages. VIP pods occupied the first five rows and boasted an exclusive toilet block, faster drink service, and a choice of premium drinks.

Novatech managing director Leko Novakovic noted, “The VIP and Gold sections are really nice, with their white picket fencing and vines, and everyone has tables and chairs. The Silver and Bronze pods that are further back are on raised decks, so everyone has good sightlines. Audiences need to experience this system for the first time to appreciate how great it is. While some people were apprehensive about being ‘penned in,’ all doubts were removed after the first weekend. About 80% of the feedback we’ve heard is that this is the way all festivals should be staged from now on, COVID or not. Most people want comfort and luxury, and to be able to sit down.”

L-Acoustics • www.l-acoustics.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com