August 2, 2021 § Leave a comment

Switching to the Moor Amps Angel 6, an amplifier that has since become a mainstay of my system, and pairing it with the Allegri Reference preamp took the experience onto another plane, revealing qualities in recordings that had hitherto been very well hidden. The twenty5.26i laps up upgrades in source and amplification, making it clear that its transparency and neutrality are there to be exploited. This amplifier’s dynamic range makes most alternatives sound compressed; it’s not unduly powerful (150W/8 Ohms) yet it finds dynamic contrasts that can be positively shocking, such as the bass that comes out of Bugge Wesseltoft and Henrik Schwarz’s ‘See You Tomorrow’ (Duo, Jazzland), is a track I’ve played many times yet never really heard it seems. It’s remarkable what modern loudspeakers can find hiding on your favourite albums, the state of the art is clearly progressing at a healthy pace.

KEF LS50 Meta Loudspeaker Review

July 31, 2021 § Leave a comment

Beat Of The Brass [A&M AMC146 open-reel tape]. Ordinarily, I listen to Alpert’s superb recordings because the punch of his trumpet is a killer test for transient attack, treble smoothness and other qualities. So explain this one to me… how is the LS50 Meta faster, with crisper transients, smoother in its decay, yet even less likely to show signs of sibilance than the already sweet-sounding LS50?

On to something less cluttered, the luscious-sounding Julie London on Julie Is Her Name [Analogue Productions APP-3006-45], every track sounding ‘in the room’. Gears into reverse for the pounding ‘Glad All Over’ from The Dave Clark Five – All the Hits [BMG BMGCAT408DLP]. No shortage of attack, scale or sheer power. The bottleneck guitar in Keb’ Mo’s Peace… Back By Popular Demand [Pure Pleasure/Epic/Okeh PPAN92687] as fluid and serpentine as it should be. As you might have gathered, I love this speaker.


July 29, 2021 § Leave a comment

The Polk Legend L800s are a stone-cold bargain in the world of high-end loudspeakers. They deliver a true full-range sound from below 20Hz to above 20,000Hz. The soundstage brought forth by SDA Pro technology creates a unique listening experience. They can handle micro-dynamics with the finesse of a small monitor while delivering crescendos from a full-scale orchestra with ease. The L800s do not require an expensive amplifier to deliver a terrific performance, but if you want to power them with a five-figure amplifier, they are more than capable. For $5,998 per pair, I don’t know of any speakers that can deliver everything this Polk L800 system delivers. Highly recommended.

Monitor Audio Bronze 200 Loudspeaker Review

July 26, 2021 § Leave a comment

Mental housekeeping over, I settled back to admire what this loudspeaker could do, and that’s to deliver a wide, detailed, full-range sound from small cabinets, with little strain on partnering amplification. The rockabilly riff on Bryan Adams’ cover of Eddie Cochran’s ‘C’mon Everybody’ [Tracks Of My Tears; 96kHz/24-bit FLAC] enjoyed a solidity and warmth, the vocal had a lovely texture and raspy edge, and the guitar solo sliced through the midrange with ease.

The cabinet height means the Bronze 200 doesn’t lean its soundstage over you, but a wide-flung treble and good pair matching created a well-spaced image that easily expanded beyond the cabinets themselves. With The Police’s raw-sounding 1979 live performance of ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’ [Live!; 88.2kHz/24-bit FLAC], these floorstanders did a decent job of conveying the scale of the recording and the players on the stage.

Better yet was the swirling, fluid and expansive picture they painted with the title track from Carbon Based Lifeforms’ Interloper [Blood Music BLO154]. As this electronic composition ebbed and flowed, the speakers seemed right on song, offering plump bass, crisp percussion and rich synth chords.

PSB Synchrony T600 Loudspeaker $7,999 Review

July 25, 2021 § Leave a comment

The performance of the PSBs higher up the frequency range—untouched by Audyssey EQ— left little to be desired, clearly fleshing out delicate and dynamic percussive elements, from the lightly struck ride cymbal on the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Take Five” (still a reference-quality recording decades after it was first produced) to the overtones of the opening bass riff on Toto’s “I Will Remember.” While my measurements showed the high frequency response tapering off above 3kHz, the sound was never dull. I did occasionally hit +1 on the Denon’s Treble control depending on the source, but both the objective and subjective effects of that tweak were at best subtle.


July 18, 2021 § Leave a comment

Of course, the SabrinaX has its limitations, but they are not a concern in reality. Hear me out… no, the SabrinaX doesn’t have the bass depth or gut-wrenching dynamic range of far larger loudspeakers. Wilson Audio is not trying to break the laws of physics as they apply to acoustics and loudspeaker design. But, where the SabrinaX has its lower bass limits, and its dynamic headroom ceiling are neatly just within the limits of the dynamic constraints of smaller rooms. If you try to put a loudspeaker that delivers a sub-30Hz bass at full level in a smaller room, you’ll spend much of your time trying to control that bass. By way of contrast, the Wilson SabrinaX puts just enough energy into such rooms as to make the sound appear deep and powerful and more dynamic than you would want to stand… without the bass booming away from the corners. No, Wilson isn’t the first company to do this, and the SabrinaX isn’t even the first Wilson speaker to do this kind of presentation, but it just does it so well, it’s as if the speaker had been designed specifically for your room.


July 17, 2021 § Leave a comment

The most immediately impressive aspect of the way the ELACs go about their business is their beautifully even, unified tonality. That most unlikely of early examples of sampling, The Jungle Line from Joni Mitchell’s The Hissing of Summer Lawns [Asylum], sounds as if it’s derived from a single piece of material, despite being a fairly coarse collision between The Royal Drummers of Burundi, Joni’s inimitable vocal and some grainy Moog keyboard. 

System Audio Legend 60.2 Silverback Active Loudspeaker Review

July 16, 2021 § Leave a comment

The drivers remain the same, of course. The 25mm high-frequency unit is a woven silk dome with a DXT (Diffraction eXpansion Technology) lens to fine-tune its off-axis response and better integrate with the 150mm woven-fibre midrange driver mounted below it. There are then four 150mm woven-fibre woofers, running in pairs off separate internal amplifiers.

Although certainly tall at 118cm, the Legend 60.2 Silverback is just 20cm wide and, thanks to its curved sides, easy on the eye. Outriggers with spikes and rubber feet are supplied, as are full-length black fabric grilles. System Audio’s placement recommendations are for a toe-in of 15o, a listening distance between 2.5m and 3m, and rear wall clearance of 20cm-40cm. After experimentation, I found the greater distance gave better results when it came to bass performance, even with the sealed design making near-wall positioning more appealing.

Magico A5 loudspeaker $24,800 Review

July 14, 2021 § Leave a comment

Indeed, the imaging is the first thing I noticed about the A5. These speakers don’t only disappear under optimal conditions; they disappear always, including when the volume of the music is extremely low. Turn it down as far as you like. The image shrinks at very low volumes, but it shrinks toward a point halfway between the two speakers and not toward the speakers themselves: a phantom radio on a phantom shelf, a ghostly sensation.

Off-axis imaging was exceptional, too. I could move my chair to any point between the two speakers and still hear a stable stereo soundstage; when my chair was directly in front of the right speaker, the soundstage stretched all the way to the left speaker (this, for example, on “Smiling Phases” from Blood, Sweat, and Tears’ first album, Qobuz 24/176.4 FLAC, a new version of which is due out in a few days as a MoFi One Step LP). This off-axis imaging performance is great for social listening, with actual friends, something the CDC has now endorsed as long as everyone’s been vaccinated. I’ve heard otherwise excellent speakers that can’t do this off-axis imaging trick, some of them quite expensive.


July 13, 2021 § Leave a comment

Every time I sat for a listening session with this ProAc, I was struck by its clean-edged directness and the neat, compact shape of the music. Suppose you like low-frequency bandwidth and love to feel that initial and compressive impact of a bass drum, then you won’t be disappointed. The sheer weight and punch is dramatic and, most importantly, clean. I ran through a few Billy Cobham albums, and it was good to hear his agility at the bottom of the kit potently expressed. Zero cabinet effects are dragging the tempo down. The interplay between Billy and his numerous bass players over the years was great because that strict sense of taut, bang, bang, bang pistonic drive that comparatively few speakers manage is easy work for the K1.

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