Hi-Fi Systems Reviews

Acoustic research aw-871

Acoustic Research AW-871

WIRELESS STEREO SPEAKERS WITH POTENTIAL

Although the Acoustic Research AW-871 is exceptionally adaptable to various environments it not the easiest set of speakers to arrange. Finding the proper positioning for the strongest signal may take some time, but once established the speakers are highly effective and perform great.

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ADAM Audio A3X Active Closefield Monitors

ADAM Audio A3X Active Closefield Monitors

The reality of many modern home/personal studios is that there’s not a lot of room for large speakers. With that in mind, ADAM Audio introduces the A3X closefield powered monitor ($299 each, street). The A3X is ADAM’s smallest speaker ever and the least expensive of their affordably priced product line, the AX Series. read more…

Revel Ultima Studio2 Loudspeakers

Revel Ultima Studio2 Loudspeakers

Mama said you only get one chance to make a first impression. That is certainly true by Alan Silverman for a loudspeaker, and I expect I’ll never forget the startling experience of hearing Revel’s Ultima Studio2 loudspeakers in my mastering room for the first time. [For the uninitiated, Revel is a Harman-owned company alongside pro audio industry stalwarts AKG, BSS, Crown, dbx, DigiTech, JBL, Lexicon, Soundcraft, Studer, et al. — Ed.]

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Electro-Voice ZXA1-90 Two-Way Loudspeaker

Electro-Voice ZXA1-90 Two-Way Loudspeaker

The E-V ZXA1-90 is a small (17.88 x 11.12 x 10.38 inches), amplified, two-way loudspeaker built for portable sound reinforcement applications, which utilizes the EV8L 8-inch woofer and the DH2005 1-inch exit compression driver, the latter of which is a titanium diaphragm tweeter coupled with a rotatable 90 x 50 degree waveguide. read more…

KRK Systems R6 Reference Monitor Speaker

KRK Systems R6 Reference Monitor Speaker

While almost driven to the brink of extinction by the overwhelming popularity of modern active (powered) nearfield studio monitors, passive (non-powered) models remain very useful mixing tools and the folks at KRK Systems, among other manufacturers, realize that. Thus KRK’s R6 Reference Monitor Speaker offers impressive performance at what I find is an incredible value — $150 each, street. read more…

Genelec 8260A Triamplified Active DSP Loudspeaker

Genelec 8260A Triamplified Active DSP Loudspeaker

Genelec has been gradually adding models and features to its 8000 series of professional powered studio monitor loudspeakers since the line was introduced in 2004. Until now, each of the models was a two-way device.

The desire for yet higher output volumes in an 8000 series device led to consideration of a three-way loudspeaker. Genelec has ample experience with three-way loudspeakers, but the challenge was to optimally deploy three loudspeakers within a portable housing.
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Yamaha STAGEPAS 500 Portable PA System

Yamaha STAGEPAS 500 Portable PA System

Like dynamic microphones, portable PA is a product category that appeals to a wide range of potential hi-fi audio customers, thus the regular coverage of such products. That said, some portable PA systems are far more versatile, and portable, than others. read more…

Blue Sky SAT 8 Compact Midfield Monitor, SUB 212 Subwoofer Monitoring System

Blue Sky SAT 8 Compact Midfield Monitor, SUB 212 Subwoofer Monitoring System

As the owner of a mid-sized project studio, I’ve always used nearfield monitors for mixing and kept oversized consumer speakers (or even small PA speakers) in the rear of my large control room for clients who wish to track without headphones, or to “hype” my clients with loud playback.

However, I’ve always had a yen for some midfield monitors to expand my mixing palette, better fill the room, and further inspire performers.

In my use, I have found the SAT 8 threeway powered midfield monitor with SUB 212 powered subwoofer from Blue Sky was what I was longing for. They have proven to be very useful for my large control room environment — yet the transition was quite difficult or, should I say, educational. read more…

Turbosound Milan M15 Powered Loudspeaker

Turbosound Milan M15 Powered Loudspeaker

West Sussex, U.K.-based Turbosound is not a company I can easily associate with portable PA products.

The first thing I think of when I see Turbosound’s distinctive logo is Iron Maiden’s World Slavery Tour of 1984/1985 — one of the longest tours in rock ’n’ roll history — and its massive, incredible Turbosound rig. And that’s only the iceberg tip of Turbosound’s impression left on the realm of large-scale touring.

What did such trivia mean to me as I unpacked a pair of Milan M15 self-powered portable PA speakers, Turbosound’s most affordable speaker in the company’s long history? Exceedingly high expectations for performance, power, and build quality. What I found in the M15 was consistently a cut above most common portable PA options, thus worth its cost ($1,082 list, under $1k street). read more…

Miniwatt S-1 Integrated Amplifier

Miniwatt S-1 Integrated Amplifier

Specifications:

  • Power Output: 2.5W+2.5W @ 8 ohms
  • Frequency Response: 30-20Khz (+-1db) Sensitivity = 500mV
  • Gain = 18dB
  • Residual Noise < 0.8mVac
  • Output Impedance: 8 ohms (Japan Z11- EI48*24
  • Output Transformers)
  • Input AC Voltage: 85-132Vac or 176-265Vac
  • Dimensions: 130 x 100mm
  • Weight: 1.5kg Input: RCA Jacks Output: Banana Jacks
  • AC: Standard IEC Jack with Fuse protection (2A Fuse)
  • Price: $229

I know I’m more passionate about affordable products then most people. I get both praise and ridicule for my attitude. Obviously as a writer for this magazine I’ve gotten over it from both perspectives. I still never thought I would have a $229 integrated tube amp in my system the big shock though is that I never thought I could enjoy it this much. I honestly thought that all the hype from Audio Circle and other forums was just fluff, I just knew that this little device wouldn’t memorize me as it has all these other audiophiles; well I guess I got fluffed too! It generally isn’t my style to let the cat out of the bag right off the bat, but this is a smoking piece of gear! read more…

EMP Tek E5Ti Mini-Floorstanding Speakers

EMP Tek E5Ti Mini-Floorstanding Speakers

Specifications

  • Dual 6½ ” (165mm) Poly-matrix Woofers
  • 5¼” (133mm) Aluminized Poly-matrix Woofer
  • 1″ (25mm) Fabric Dome Tweeter
  • Recommended Power 50-150 Watts
  • Impedance 6 Ohms
  • Frequency Response 50Hz-20kHz ±3dB
  • Crossover Frequency 120 Hz/ 3,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity 87dB (2.83V@1m)
  • Dimensions 8½” W x 35½” H x 12¼” D (216mm W x 902mm H x 311mm D)
  • Weight 35 lbs. (15.88 kg.)
  • High-gloss Red Burl or High-gloss Black Ash
  • Price: MSRP $730pr. Currently $500pr

Like all other forms of information during the dawn of the 21st century, the best way to get noticed is to go viral on the Internet. It’s no different in audio, once the forums start buzzing it’s like watching a hurricane develop off the west coast of Africa. Each day the buzz grows and develops a life of its own. This past fall EMP Tek, a new company with roots tied to RBH Sound came out with their Impression Series E5Ti mini-tower at the jaw-dropping introductory bargain amount of just $400 a pair. The price alone virtually guaranteed buzz, but add on the beautiful high gloss red burl veneer and the viral activity began. Of course the initial energy could only last a short time, to get to the next level sales and new owner posts needed to happen. It didn’t take long for the positive comments to be listed online. read more…

Emerald Physics CS3 Speakers

Emerald Physics CS3 Speakers

CS3 Specifications:

  • System Type: Passive 2-way Dynamic Dipole -DSP equalized
  • Frequency Range: 32Hz–22kHz -3dB (In room with equali- zation)
  • Frequency Linearity: +/- 0.50 dB from 100Hz-20kHz
  • Impedance: 8 Ohms nominal
  • Max Power input: 150W RMS, 300W program
  • Sensitivity: 95dB 1.83V @ 1M @ 1kHz
  • Drivers: High Freq: 1 inch exit compression driver
  • Low Freq: 12 inch paper cone coaxial
  • Crossover: 3rd order acoustic Butterworth filter at 900Hz
  • Frequency Contour: Digital equalization -Behringer DCX2496
  • Standard Finishes: Black Oak
  • Optional Finishes: Mahogany, Cherry and Maple Veneers
  • Dimensions: 41”H x 16W x 8”D Weight: Net: 44 lbs each
  • Shipping: 120 lbs (Pair in single shipping carton)
  • MSRP: $2995 in Black Oak, $3495 in the other optional finishes

I have a confession to make. For one brief period in my audiophile journey, not so long ago, I stopped reading speaker reviews entirely. I decided that they were boring. After all, most speakers are built quite the same way. You take two or three drivers off the shelf from some major manufacturer in Denmark or China, shove them in a ported wooden box, configure the crossover, and you are in business. Boring. For a speaker review to capture my attention, the design had to be different.

Welcome to the land of different. These Emerald Physics CS3’s are so different, I don’t even know where to start. The collective list of words that describe them don’t apply to any other speaker I know of. Open baffle, dipole, coaxial, DSP room correction…. Sure, individual speakers might exhibit one or even two of these design ideas, but all of them? Combined? Madness! read more…

Audioengine P4 Mini-Monitors

Audioengine P4 Mini-Monitors

Specifications:

  • Type: 2-way passive, front ported design
  • Sensitivity: 88dB (2.83v@1m) Frequency response: 58Hz-22kHz
  • Nominal Impedance: 4-8 Ohms Crossover Frequency: 2.8 kHz
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 10-125W per channel
  • Tweeter: 3/4″ (20mm) silk dome with neodymium magnets
  • Woofer: 4″ (101mm) Kevlar cone
  • Enclosure: 3/4″ MDF
  • Inputs: Gold-plated, 5-way binding posts Magnetically Shielded
  • Weight (each): 2.75 kg (6 lbs)
  • Total shipping weight: 6.5 kg (14 lbs)
  • Dimensions (each): 228 (H) x 140 (W) x 165 mm (D) (9 x 5.5 x 6.5″)
  • Shipping box dims: 330 (H) x 460 (W) x 228 mm (D) (13 x 18 x 9″)
  • Finish Options: Satin Black, Hi-Gloss White, Solid Carbonized Bamboo
  • Price: $249pr.

Not many young audio companies have had the initial success like Audioengine. In just a 5 short years of production they have garnered an impressive 17 Awards from the audio press. It all began with a desire to listen to quality iPod/Airport Express sound. The A5 speaker became an instant hit with the built-in 50wpc amp combined with attention to actual sound performance. Since then, the gang from Audioengine have expanded the speaker line to include the A2 powered computer monitors, subwoofer, and the super-slick AW1 & AW2 wireless iPod transceivers. For 2009, they went back to the drawing board to design a desktop monitor that could work for those who already have a small amp, especially class D and class T units. The result is the P4 passive mini-monitor. read more…

VPI Classic Turntable – Part II

VPI Classic Turntable – Part II

Specifications

  • Wow and flutter: Less than .02% Rumble: Greater than 80db down
  • Speed accuracy: Within .1%
  • Platter runout: +/- .001 inch
  • Dimensions: 20.75″ W x 15.75″ D x 10″ H (Including tonearm wire loop)
  • Tonearm: VPI JMW 10.5 SE (pre-installed on turntable)
  • Weight: 48 pounds (net)
  • Price: $2,500
  • Manufacturer: VPI Industries, Inc., 77 Cliffwood Avenue, #3B, Cliffwood, NJ 07721

Part one of my review of the VPI Classic turntable (November issue) focused on the physical characteristics of this turntable, and on the steps I took to set it up. Over the past couple of months I’ve worked on optimizing the setup of the turntable and have been listening to the thing incessantly. This part of the review will focus on how the Classic sounds.

I installed the turntable on a VTI BL-series audio rack. VTI makes a series of racks at eminently affordable prices, and I’ve been very pleased with the stability and configurability of this rack. The rack is made of steel with MDT shelves, and its spikes couple nicely to the (very bouncy) hardwood floors of my listening room. Acting on the recommendations of others that mass-loading is the way to go with this turntable, I placed the Classic on a 2 1/4 inch thick maple cutting board (a Boos Block, obtained from amazon.com) on the top shelf of the rack. read more…

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