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Speaker Reviews

A 'First Look' at the Paradigm Series 7 Mini Monitor Speakers

A 'First Look' at the Paradigm Series 7 Mini Monitor Speakers

CEDIA EXPO 2011 is right around the corner, and among products being highlighted this year by Paradigm is the 7th generation of their legendary Monitor series speakers. A pair of Mini-Monitors from this new iteration was rushed to us for comment. What follows are our first impressions (a full review will be published at a later date).

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Magnepan Magneplanar MG 1.7 Flat Panel Quasi-Ribbon Full Range Speakers

Magnepan Magneplanar MG 1.7 Flat Panel Quasi-Ribbon Full Range Speakers

Probably 99% of the speakers in the world have drivers in a box, aka, an enclosure, either ported or sealed. Flat panel speakers don't have enclosures, other than the frame. The drivers consist of thin metal ribbons, or thin metal conductors attached to thin plastic ribbons (called "quasi-ribbon"), thin plastic sheets (i.e., larger than ribbons) with conductors running in narrow loops up and down, and thin plastic sheets suspended between perforated metal sheets called stators (electrostatic speakers). In the case of ribbons, there are permanent magnets close to the ribbons, and the music signal passes through the ribbons, creating a magnetic field that pulls or pushes the ribbon back and forth to create the music. Magnepan is a manufacturer of flat panel speakers, and in the past, at least one of the drivers was a large surface with the conductors running in loops. Perhaps their most popular model of recent years was the Magneplanar MG 1.6. At $2,000/pair, this was nirvana for flat-panel speaker aficionados. They now have announced the MG 1.6's replacement, the MG 1.7, which is the subject of this review.

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Klipsch Reference II 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System

klipsch-fig1-teaser

At last year's CEDIA Expo in Atlanta, Klipsch set up their demo in a room that was more than just a little bit off the beaten path. Undaunted, I was able to find my way there and boy was I glad that I took the extra time to seek them out! The Klipsch Group, Inc. owns a total of four speaker companies – Klipsch, Jamo, Mirage and Energy. Each company had some new products on display. In this review, we take a look at the Klipsch Reference II 5.1 Speaker System, which includes RF-82 II floor-standers (towers) as the Mains, an RC-62 II Center, RS-52 II Surrounds, and SW-311 Subwoofer.

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Crystal Acoustics TX-B1 Bookshelf Speakers

Crystal Acoustics TX-B1 Bookshelf Speakers

Crystal Acoustics is an on-line company that manufactures speakers, media players, and other accessories. Their top-of-the-line speaker is priced at $33,000/pair, which is very unusual in the on-line speaker business. Fortunately, for the majority of us, they also make very affordable speakers, some of which we have reviewed. The current review examines the TX-B1, which is a bookshelf speaker that has the woofer in the main enclosure, and a completely separate (but attached) enclosure for the tweeter. It has a very high quality sound, is well constructed, and sells for only $349/pair.

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Paradigm Signature S2, Version 3 Bookshelf Speakers and Anthem Integrated 225 Amplifier

 

Paradigm Signature S2, Version 3 Bookshelf Speakers and Anthem Integrated 225 Amplifier for the Home Theater

The CEDIA Expo isn't really a show for audiophiles. Most of the setups are geared towards in-wall speakers, projectors, and other various forms of home automation, but there are always a few vendors there that have some nice demonstrations. This year, one of my favorite demonstrations came from Paradigm, who had a complete home theater built with their Signature S2, Version 3s as the front speakers.

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KEF Q300 Bookshelf Speakers

KEF Q300 Bookshelf speakers

KEF recently introduced an all new Uni-Q driver. The Q300's are the largest bookshelf models in the "All New Q Series" speaker line. Will KEF be able to further their reputation as a high value brand with the all-new Q300's?

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Anthony Gallo Acoustics Reference 3.5 Speakers

Anthony Gallo Acoustics Home Theater Reference 3.5 Loudspeakers

In 2007, I reviewed the Gallo Reference 3.1 speakers along with Gallo's Reference AV center, A'Diva rears and the Reference SA subwoofer amplifier. I liked them so much I bought the entire system. Recently, Gallo has released the new Reference 3.5 speaker, replacing the venerable Reference 3.1.

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B&W CM8 Tower Speakers

B&W CM8 Bookshelf speakers

Bowers and Wilkins (B&W) recently made the bold move to sell their products through Magnolia and Best Buy. Adding big box retailers in addition to specialty retailers is quite a step from a brand surround by "audiophile" credentials. Few speakers have as much universal respect as B&W speakers. One of their new models is the CM8 Floor-stander (tower), which is reviewed here.

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Usher Dancer Mini Two Floor-Standing Speakers and BE-616 Center Channel Speaker

Usher Dancer Mini Two Floor-standing Speakers and BE-616 Center Channel Speaker

Usher Audio is a brand long known around the audiophile community for making speakers of stunningly good build quality and excellent sound for the price. Often mentioned in conversations with speakers costing much more, Usher has remained a more niche company, providing its speakers slightly under the radar. That under-the-radar reputation changed somewhat with their release of the highly regarded BE-718 bookshelf speaker, which we reviewed some time ago. The current review details the Usher Mini Dancer Two Floor-Standing Speaker and the BE-616 Center Channel Speaker.

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LG LHB336 Home Theater System (Blu-ray Player, Receiver, Speakers, and Subwoofer)

LG LHB336 Home Theater System

Last year I reviewed the LG LHB535, a full-featured Home Theater-in-a-Box Blu-ray system. I felt it performed pretty well and offered a lot of features for the price. Wait until you see what the LG LHB336 offers, for $399.

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THIEL SCS4T Floor-Standing Speakers

Thiel SCS4T Speakers

The late Jim Thiel and company have been making speakers in the heartland of Kentucky for over 30 years. THIEL has amassed a staggering 55 accolades from international press, including the high performance audio industry's most prestigious publications. The SCS4T is part of the J.E.T. series and offers the most affordable line of speakers that THIEL currently manufactures.

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