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Speaker Reviews

Aperion Audio Intimus 6T-DB Hybrid XD 5.1 Speaker System

Aperion Audio Intimus 6T-DB Hybrid XDWhen I was just getting started in hi-fi back in college, going to look for a new piece of equipment was both exciting, and annoying. Venturing out with a collection of CD’s to evaluate speakers at different shops would often lead to two results: salespeople that would totally ignore me based on my perceived age and income, or salespeople that would try to steer me away from the speakers I could reasonable afford to something far more expensive. In those rare cases that I found a store with a salesperson that actually respected that I wanted a nice set of speakers but did have limited funds and tried to help, I would return there later as my finanaces allowed.

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MK Sound M-5 5.1 Speaker System

MK-lead-in.jpgFor years, the letters “M” and “K” have been synonymous with high-quality professional and home audio. Miller and Kreisel, or M&K as the company was known pioneered the satellite + subwoofer speaker system concept. M&K speakers were well known in the entertainment industry as the choice among many big-name professional sound mixing studios, including Dolby Labs, DTS, Lucasfilm, THX, and Sony. Those are some serious bragging rights. But about two years ago, the company was struggling, and ended up going under, as they say. Today, the brand has re-emerged under the name MK Sound. MK Sound has brought back some of the stalwart technologies from M&K, as well as some new products too.

 

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Focal Chorus 700 5.1 Speaker System

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While not sold in big box retail stores nor shipping Internet-direct to consumers, Focal has built and maintained a solid reputation in the audiophile community by offering top tier sound quality. Being very familiar with the brand, it was with great anticipation that I agreed to review the Chorus 700 speaker system. The Chorus 700 series is at the lower end of Focal's speaker lineup, and the review system consisted of a pair of 726V three-way tower speakers, a CC700V center channel speaker, a pair of 706V bookshelf speakers for the rear, and a SW700V subwoofer. At roughly $3,600 for the package, I was eager to see how the Chorus system compared to its mass-market competitors. Furthermore, can the 700 series live up to the reputation of its higher priced siblings?

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THIEL CS3.7 Floor-Standing Speakers

THIEL CS3.7 Speakers

THIEL is one of the most well known and long lived high end loudspeaker companies. Jim Thiel founded Thiel Audio in 1976, building his company's reputation on speakers that are time and phase coherent. All of THIEL's full range loudspeakers have followed this recipe, including the new CS3.7. Where the CS3.7 differs is in its level of execution. The CS3.7 is almost double the price of the older CS3.6 model, and approaches or exceeds the price points of the larger CS5 and CS7 speakers of the past. While the speaker follows the same recipe as past THIEL models, it is reinvented in almost every way. For some (at least those who haven't heard it), the increased price was a big disappointment. I call this sour grapes for people who thought they could afford the CS3.7 but then had to realize they couldn't. The CS3.7 is worth every cent, and is a strong contender versus pretty much any full-range loudspeaker in the under-$20k price category.

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Paradigm Reference Signature S8v2, C5v2, ADP3v2 Speakers and Signature Servo Subwoofer

paradigm-reference-signature-speakers-teaser.jpgParadigm's new version 2 of their Reference Signature S8 floor-standers, C5 center channel, ADP3 surrounds, and Servo subwoofer are spectacular looking and will satisfy the most demanding audiophile with their incredible sound.

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Sunfire Cinema Ribbon CRM-2 Bookshelf Speakers

Sunfire Cinema Ribbon CRM-2 Bookshelf Surround Speakers

When I first heard about the Sunfire Cinema Ribbons, I was very intrigued with the product, as I own the 6' tall Carver Amazing Platinum IVs that are the acoustic benchmark the diminutive 8" tall Sunfire Cinema Ribbons are supposed to mimic. I have kept the Amazing Platinum IVs these last 19 years because I have not found a pair of stereo speakers under $10K that will outperform them in the areas of resolution, sound staging, bandwidth, and the ability to play at elevated levels with an extremely low level of distortion. The Cinema Ribbons use the same ribbon length as found in the Carver Amazings, and fold it so that it fits into a bookshelf size. How do they compare? Read Greg Mahoney's review and be enlightened.

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Hsu Research ULS-15 Subwoofer and HB-1/HC-1 MK2 Speakers

Hsu ULS-15 Subwoofer HB-1 HC-1 Speakers

Hsu Research is an A/V company selling only online, and which continually produces superb products at affordable prices. Until recently, Hsu sold nothing but subwoofers. I bought one of the original Hsu Research VTF-2 subs, which had incredible performance for a $500 price tag. I’ve since upgraded to the VTF3-HO with Turbocharger. Like the rest of the Hsu’s line, those subs had a ported design.

Now comes Hsu’s first sealed-box subwoofer, the Hsu Research ULS-15. It's one of the first subs to hit the market with wireless connections (RF), and it has four separate channels, so you can have several discrete wireless subwoofer channels if you like (e.g., front left, right, and LFE).  Along with the ULS-15, Hsu also sent their newly redesigned HB-1 Mk 2 bookshelf speakers and HC-1 center channel speaker, for a complete 5.1 system. I had heard good things about the HB-1’s, but never had a chance to audition them in person. Plus, I was very curious to see how Hsu’s experience with subs would translate into full range speakers.

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Velodyne Optimum-12 Subwoofer

Velodyne Optimum-12 Subwoofer

I remember marveling at the sound being produced by a pair of small bookshelf speakers during a recent visit to a local high-end dealer's shop. I asked the salesman, "The bass extension on these speakers is amazing for their small size. How do they do it?" "Technology" was his reply. I sat there stone faced for a second while the wheels turned. Great bass extension with useable output is still governed by the laws of Newtonian physics. Technology can't violate those laws. The designer must work within the framework of the laws to produce a design that will fulfill their objectives. Velodyne has worked within these laws to produce a compact subwoofer that will surprise you with its amazing bass output. Read more about what Jim Clements has to say.

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JL Audio Fathom f212 Subwoofer

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JL Audio's new Fathom f212 subwoofer is an astonishing product. Their years of building car audio subwoofers that you can hear a block away have paid off in this subwoofer meant for audio and home theater applications. It is expensive, but notwithstanding, even just one of these subs will satisfy the most critical of home theater aficionados. The f212 is one of the finest subwoofers in the world.

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Aperion Audio Intimus 4T Hybrid SD Speakers

aperion-audio-intimus-4t-hybrid-sd-speakers-teaser.jpgThe question I am asked most often regarding stereo systems is “what speaker should I buy”? My answer is usually “the one that sounds best in your room”. If you have a good relationship with your local HiFi dealer, you just may be able to audition in your own home. Not all of the good speakers are sold in stores and sometimes to get the best value you need to purchase online. The problem is, you will have to at least pay shipping one way to get the speakers into your home. This can get pricey. What if you could audition in home, risk free? How about a ten year warranty? While we are at it, toss in a 100% credit trade up program.

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Stereo Dave's Creation 650 Reference Speakers and Genesis Subwoofer

Stereo Dave's Reference 650 SpeakersMany audio designers report that they design their components by listening, making a change, perhaps as small as a resistor, and then listening again. These are the guys you want making your stereo equipment. Even mass market audio equipment can be made to compete with uber-expensive models given the same treatment.

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