SPEAKERS OF MERIT
There are over 3000 different hifi stereo and home theater loudspeakers on the audio market at any one time in North America and Europe.
Of those 3000, only a very small proportion hold any interest for audiophiles. Once the models designed to hit a low price point are taken out along with units whose aesthetics were more of a consideration than their acoustic design are eliminated, the list gets a great deal shorter.
Drop the cheapies and the throw-together from available parts and you have maybe a few hundred speakers which are well designed and well executed.
Of those few hundred, only a few score are exceptional. Loudspeaker designs have been improving steadily and there are quite a few excellent implementations of classic designs and a handful of novel designs which actually work well.
However, some speaker designers and more likely their marketing departments keep on dredging up well known failed concepts which should have been left behind decades ago. Anything which produces a specific effect or adds character should simply be left in the archives. Loudspeakers whose cabinets resonate like a violin or other instrument should never see the light of day. Ditto speaker diaphragms with cones of some “natural” material which reproduces certain instruments with sympathetic resonances.
Driver alignments on the baffle which create all kinds of interference and comb filtering and a host of other well known speaker design sins keep on being repeated. But not by the designers responsible for the speakers below. There may be better lineups of speaker designs out there but these are the ones we can vouch for in no particular order.
Vandersteen has dealt with minimization of baffle bounce, diffraction and phase alignment for many years. Add quality components, very solid cabinets and well honed design and you have loudspeakers which stand up well in any company over the long term.
Wilson has occupied the upper end of the loudspeaker market for many years. Obviously their design philosophy is far removed from Newform’s but we can’t ignore their dedication to quality. Their pricing may be over the top but they aren’t all hat. Quality of components, construction and finish plus installation service justifies their stratospheric cost. Also, we have to applaud David Wilson’s down to earth endorsement of affordable but superb electronics. Unique openness for a high ender.
One of the few remaining pillars (totems?) of the once great Canadian loudspeaker industry, Totem makes very well designed and quality speakers with fine finishes in the mid-priced audiophile area.
One of our favourite sounding speaker lines and the longest lasting panel speaker manufacturer, Magneplanars offer the transparency and detail that have made the classic panels favourites of audiophiles for decades. Apogees, Quads and Dayton-Wrights round out the first wave of truly great and groundbreaking planar loudspeakers.
Innovation and a deep understanding of acoustics meets clever industrial design.
Basic physics re-defined in a design one would think would be impossible to make work. But it does work and very well. Industrial art and function nouveau.
A large line array design among the first to clearly demonstrated the advantages of the line source in home music systems.
DR. BRUCE EDGAR’S EDGARHORNS
Although horns really should be relegated to the pages of history, Dr. Edgar’s horns manage to offer the advantages of horns - dynamics, efficiency and impact - while minimizing virtually all of the horns’ inherent flaws. Horn loudspeakers a Newform Research owner could live with. There can’t be any higher praise.
Mass market without the hype - sound engineering and attention to detail shine through in a lineup which spans a wide price range. Their staying power is a tribute to their quality and sound for the $. Paradigm also deserves a gold star for their valiant attempts to maintain as much production as possible in North America.
Although Newform feels its dynamic, wide dispersion Ribbons and Coaxial LineSource speaker arrays betters the competition in many areas, the above companies are solid audiophile citizens and deserve full credit for the excellent products they produce.
Loudspeakers Unsurpassed in Soundstage, Transparency, Detail and Dynamics in High End Stereo and Home Theater Systems