Loudspeakers

Loudspeakers are very personal in taste, very diverse in design concepts, and vary greatly in cost.

We have selected a few good sounding speakers at different price levels. These are in the main dynamic speakers with the ability to great large, deep 3–dimensional soundstages similar to those from the best electrostatic designs.

Please click on the loudspeaker images for full image.

A long established US manufacturer that makes speakers that sound amongst the very best we experienced. With a build quality second to none, the sound they produce is very natural in tone with a layered, 3-dimensional soundstage that is hard to beat. A very even reproduction of the musical spectrum right across a wide frequency bandwidth; never exaggerated or forced at any one point. Partnered with the appropriate electronic of commensurate quality, these speakers will give a reproduction of the sound–stage that is faithful to a concert hall experience.

We have listened carefully to the NEW Compás loudspeaker. This is probably the one of the best new Avalon designs and it is at a mid point in their model range.

This speaker is fast – very fast – especially in the bass frequencies. The dynamics are unlike anything we have heard before in any speaker – especially micro-dynamics.

Transparency is just incredible – of the highest order rivalling that of electrostatics. Exceptionally stable and precise imaging within a large soundstage. Admittedly this is an Avalon trademark sound characteristic but the Compás excels in this area compared to their long established and acknowledged excellent models.

With quality natural recordings, for example that of a piano or large scale orchestra, this is the closest we have heard to the real thing – like being at a live event. Voices no longer appear detached – there is palpable awareness of a physical presence to the singer.

We appreciate this loudspeaker has a high price tag but partnered with electronics and cables of commensurate quality, the Compás outperforms many competitive products at several times the price. It shares many attributes with the larger Time, which certainly would have more bass gravitas and extension, but the Compás offers this exceptional sound quality at a realistic price.

We have now put over 300 hours of music through the Diamond version of the Compás. It is very evident that this is one of the best speaker designs that Avalon have ever produced. Possibly one of the best speaker designs - full stop - especially at this price point. Comparable experiences from other Avalon distributors around the world corroborate this view. The addition of the diamond tweeter, unique ceramic/honeycomb bass drivers and  modified cross-over networks has taken an already exceptional speaker to a new level. The research into this Compas Diamond has been the test bed development for the newly launched Tesseract which shares most of the technology but extended to the highest level possible. 

A UK exclusive at the Audio Consultants.

At the time of writing, there are severe delays with Avalon orders being fulfilled. Please phone for details prior to placing an order.

Idea – standard finishes (pictured) £7900
Transcendent – standard finishes (pictured) £16500; premium finishes £19900
Indra Ceramic – standard finishes £24500; premium finishes £27900
Indra Diamond- standard finishes £29000; premium finishes £32400 
Compás – standard finishes (pictured) £33500; premium finishes £37000
Compás Diamond – standard finishes £41500; premium finishes £45000
Time – standard finishes £57600; premium finishes £61200
Isis – standard finishes £77000; premium finishes £81000

Avalon Acoustics website


Avalon Acoustics Transcendent
Transcendent
Avalon Acoustics Transcendent
Compás

ELAC is a German manufacturer of elegant speakers in modern finishes such as gloss black or white, or walnut veneer protected by a lacquered gloss. There have an exceedingly wide range of models with the flagship 500 series and the new 400 series offering slimline floorstanders with a distinctly modern appearance.

All components are made in house including their excellent JET tweeter and their unique AS-XR cones. The AS cones are constructed from aluminium-paper sandwich with the distinctive crystal pattern to impart extra stiffness.

The speakers will deliver their best sound in free space but are comfortable closer to side and rear walls than most other designs. The downward firing port projects onto the plinth arrangement which minimises the effect of differing floor material resulting in a consistent sound room to room. The sound is fast and agile, with a little more presence than others leading to exiting presentation but without being overly bright or forward like many ‘modern’ designs. Transient attack and decay are rapid with no bloom or overhang resulting in clean, clear sound.

Many models exist in the ELAC range. We will be mostly concentrating on the 200 and 400 series floorstanders for now.

There has been recent revisions to the 200 Series. There is the new 260 series with curved sides that is aesthetically more pleasing that regular square boxes with a commensurate improvement in sound. The 240 Series of loudspeakers has become the 240.2 Series and has been upgraded to include a JET 5 tweeter instead of a JET 3 tweeter. 

NEW PRODUCT There is a new range from ELAC called the Debut Series. This is a budget, entry level series of speakers designed by Andy Jones. It consists of several models: the B5 stand mount, the F5 floorstander and a centre channel C5 plus some subs. These feature a textured black vinyl veneer and a unique design set of drivers.The sound is exceptional from these speakers especially when you consider the price point.  

We now have our demonstration samples of the B5 bookshelf speaker and the F5 floorstander. They mark a new level of sound and performance at an extremely reasonable cost - ideal for someone considering a high quality sound for a secondary system either for the kitchen/bedroom, or for a home cinema set up. 

Other models can be made available for audition with due notice so please ring for details.

Examples of prices

Debut B5 black £250
Debut B6 black £299
Debut F5 black£599
Debut C5 centre speaker black £199 

BS 263 black (pictured) or white gloss £1250.00
FS 267 black (pictured) or white gloss £2450.00
BS 312 black or white gloss £1479.00
BS 314 black or white gloss £3850.00
BS 403 black or white gloss £1479.00
FS 407 (pictured) all finishes £3239.00
FS 409 (pictured)all finishes £5599.00

Elac website


Elac FS 407
FS 407 (left) and 409 (right)

I first heard a loudspeaker from this manufacturer of omnidirectional loudspeakers about 5 years ago and was really impressed with their sound. That model at that time was a touch too expensive for my portfolio but the sound remained in my head as being exceptional. More recently, German Physiks have introduced a lower priced, entry model based on an early design and hence it is called the Unlimited MkII.

This employs the same DDD driver as in all their other more expensive models, a carbon fibre cone suspended vertically (upside down) that allows the sound to radiate 360 degrees. This technology is unique to German Physiks and, along with some very clever technology to damp cabinet resonances, is why these loudspeakers sound far better than any other omindirectional design. They also produce a sound stage that not many conventional dynamic speakers can emulate.

Because the main DDD driver operates from 24 kHz all the way down to 220 Hz, absolutely flat, the majority of the sound is generated via one single driver. The DDD driver is not enclosed in the cabinet, hence no colouration from box resonances, resulting in a sound is very pure, transparent and sweet across the frequency range. 

The low crossover point minimises many of the problems associated with forward facing driver designs, the principal one being of phase integration. This phase problem exists where crossovers are in the mid band range, a fairly common occurrence with more conventional speaker designs. Our ears are most sensitive here and can pick up these as distortions fairly easily, along with any poor integration of multiple drivers. Having a crossover point well outside of this sensitive mid band region results in more transparency and far more accurate focus of imaging than might be otherwise expected from any speaker let alone an omnidirectional design. In fact the focus is superb within a very large, deep soundstage.

The lower frequencies are supplemented by a bass driver built into the bottom of the cabinet firing downwards into the plinth exiting via carefully designed ports. The integration between the two drivers is excellent resulting in a seamless sound without any lag of bass behind the super fast DDD driver. Bass extension is deep and powerful for the size of cabinet but fast and detailed too.

All German Physiks loudspeaker cabinets are damped in a unique way using a special material called Hawaphon. Developed for military use to eliminate sound resonating within solid structures. It consists of a single layer of small metal spheres housed in individual "pockets". When attached to a solid surface, in this case the different MDF material used to construct the cabinets, and that surface vibrates, they move very slightly absorbing the unwanted resonance energy. This is done so efficiently that, other than adding a special textured felt over the Hawaphon, no other internal damping of the cabinet is required. No internal bracing is used which can introduce another resonance point, no fibre filling within the internal void is required. Simple and highly effective.

The sound produced from these speakers is a very large and deep sound stage way beyond the boundaries of the speakers. Almost beyond the boundaries of the room. Within this soundstage, the focus of the stereo image is very precise, and the lack of distortion immediately apparent. An exceptionally coherent sound with a natural tone closely mimics that of the live event. 

 

There is no sweet spot in order to obtain the "best" stereo imaging. This focus, the large soundstage and the correct tonal balance can be experienced in almost all positions in the room. More like that experienced in a concert hall.

 

The low level detail resolution is of a very high level resulting from a level of transparency normally only experienced in higher priced speakers. The low mass of the DDD drivers produces very fast dynamics, somewhat akin to that from the best electrostatic designs. And like electrostatics, there is no box colouration as there is no box around the DDD driver.

The sculptural looks and solid coloured cabinets will fit into many contemporary interiors and appear to be a piece of modern art rather than loudspeakers. A wide range of veneers, some of them from exotic woods, are available enabling these unique cabinets to blend within almost any interior design.

The Unlimited Mk II is a 4 sided, slim cabinet and can work well in rooms up to 55 sq m. The HRS-130 and the Borderline have 8 sided cabinets and are bi-wire capable. The HRS-130 can generate high dynamic levels of sound in rooms up to 75 sq m, perhaps as high as 90 sq m.

…what is spectacular is the sheer size of the sound, and the wonderfully accurate way that instruments are placed within the soundstage. There is very little sense that music is coming from the Unlimited at all; it’s just there like a part of the furniture, and suddenly when you put some music on the room comes to life.

David Price HiFiChoice July 2015

…the spatial properties of the sound seem more natural and unforced… once you get it, then it's more like you moved the concert hall into your living room.

Alan Sircom, Review of the HRS-130, HiFi Plus, Issue 123

HRS-130 review by Alan Sircom, HiFi Plus, Issue 123 HRS-130 review by Alan Sircom, HiFi Plus, Issue 123 (205 KB)

Examples of prices

Unlimited MkII
– acoustic vinyl in black, white, grey or brown £9600

Unlimited Ultimate
– high-polish polyester in black, white, red or yellow £11700

HRS-130
– veneer or paint in satin finish £12950
– veneer in high-polish finish £15650
 – high-polish polyester in black or white £15650
– carbon fibre £16200

Borderland Mk IV
– veneer or paint in satin finish £24250
– veneer in high-gloss finish £25850
– high-polish polyester in black or white £25850 

Carbon Mk IV
- carbon fibre £26900  

German Physiks website


Unlimited Mk II
Unlimited Mk II (left) and HRS-130 (right)

These unconventional looking loudspeakers are also unconventional in their sound. They produce a most musical experience with fast dynamic bass, a less sterile, less hi-fi approach to sound than with many conventional box-shaped cabinet designs that are now populating the higher end of the audiophile market.

The company is based in Taiwan and has been established since 1996 but so far are relatively unknown here in the UK.
The various models deliberately emulate the shape of musical string instruments and in doing so have very few parallel surfaces. The narrowing of the shape in the upper parts which house the ribbon tweeters help to increase the dispersion of the upper frequencies giving a very open and large soundstage. The images are very precise and have a lot of air around them and the finest levels of detail are easily perceived.

From first listening, it is easy to hear that these speakers are designed by a musician with it accurate timbre, a musical presentation of rhythm and a most tuneful but fast bass.

The cabinets are very stiff with little resonance to them. The quality of the build, the finish of the veneers is of the highest order. High gloss lacquers only enhance the depth of the veneers used.

The driver compliment is a combination of ribbon tweeters and non woven carbon fibre bass speakers. The tweeters are either of Air Motion design or made from purified aluminium. The large models use several ribbon tweeters and in every model there is a small ribbon tweeter incorporated in the rear cabinet firing backwards and upwards. This adds to the sense of air and space giving great scale to the soundstage.

Crossover components are made from high quality MKP capacitors, high purity OFC inductors and metal oxide film resistors of military grade standard. Teflon insulated OCC cables are used throughout for the internal wiring.

The sound of these loudspeakers is on a par with the best brands in the high-end audiophile market. Their presentation bears a close resemblance to that of Avalon Acoustics, a high accolade from our side, but with a little more warmth to the bass frequencies. There is no loss of speed or detail in the bass but this may appeal to those who consider the bass to the Avalon models a tad on the dry side.

If you are after a high quality sound but with speaker that looks like a high quality piece of furniture, or a work of art, then these should be heard.

Mandolin £5990
Violin SE  including dedicated stands(pictured) £8900
Cello £17900
Double Bass £27900

Standard finishes - Natural Cherry or Rosewood
Premium finish - high gloss piano black POA 

Other models prices to be announced in due course.

Lawrence Audio website


Violin SE
 

After careful evaluation we are pleased to represent ProAc’s latest speaker designs. The level of sound–staging and transparency has improved over earlier models. They are famously known for their precise imaging, which is very much in evidence but now produce believable depth as well as width in their presentation. Cabinet work is of the highest standard with superb quality of veneering. All speakers have bi–wire capability.

Partnered with amplification of commensurate quality, these loudspeakers produce a sound quality above their price point and hence offer superb value for money.

Our demonstration pair of the NEW Response DB-1 compact loudspeakers are now with us and fully run-in. These produce an unexpectedly large soundstage from a stand mount design, one normally associated with a larger enclosure. The newly designed, long throw bass driver produces quality extended bass that is fast and dynamic, A new crossover design give a flatter response at high levels resulting in mid range and high frequencies that are sweet and extended with no hint of harshness. The cabinets are made from different thicknesses of high density fibre board, damped with bituminous polymers. The small cabinets have a low visual impact on any room but deserve to be supported by solid, stiff stands of commensurate quality.

The Response D30R continues to impress with its excellent sound. This compact floorstander features their ribbon tweeter and a new carbon fibre bass driver. The integration between these two drivers is exceptional resulting in a virtually seamless frequency response – a remarkable achievement at this price point. Clean, accurate bass with side-vented bottom porting that ensures good extension with low colouration. A sweet and detailed treble with no hint of harshness or sibilance. The mid range is very transparent revealing every nuance in voices and natural instruments. Clean accurate bass from a medium size enclosure. A dome tweeter option is also available for the same price for those who may prefer this presentation. 

Our demonstration pair of the Response D20R loudspeakers are now with us and fully run-in. This upgraded version of the D18 using the ribbon tweeter from the D30 and D40 has improvements in all areas. The cabinet has been re-designed with upgraded bass loading and new crossover. As with the D30R, the side-vented porting at the bottom of the speaker offers extended bass frequencies with low colouration. 

The reaction from the customers that have heard them so far has been nothing short of amazement. These can be considered a smaller version of the D30R; same ribbon tweeter but coupled with a glass fibre bass cone incorporating an acrylic phase plug. Once again, a high level of sound quality for the money and they are likely to become a new reference for this price point. A dome tweeter option is also available fro the same price for those who may prefer this presentation. 
 

Superb build quality as expected from this manufacturer

Standard Finishes: Cherry, maple, mahogany and black ash.

Products on Demonstration

 

Response DB3 - standard finishes £1475
Ebony/Rosewood £1697

Response DB1 - standard finishes £1900
Ebony/rosewood £2187

Response D2 – standard finishes (pictured) £2100
Ebony/Rosewood £2415

Response D20 (dome or ribbon tweeter) - standard finishes £2800
Ebony/Rosewood - £3222

Response D30 (dome or ribbon tweeter) – standard finishes (pictured) £4750
Ebony/Rosewood £5451

Response D48 (dome or ribbon tweeter) - standard finish £6125
Ebony/Rosewood £7038

 
Other models can be made available for audition with notice. Please ring for details.

ProAc website



Response DB-1

Response D30R (left) and Response D30R (right)
Response D30R (left) and Response D20R (right)