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Speaker Reviews

Sony HT-ST7 Sound Bar

Sony HT-ST7 Sound BarFor all the things we associate Sony with for home theater, speakers are lower down on that list. Many people scoffed when they decided to introduce a $27,000 pair of speakers, the SS-AR1, but response to them has been phenomenal. They've followed that up with a full set of home theater ES speakers meant to compete with the likes of B&W and other high-end brands. They are also a big player in sound bars with their recent models racking up a bevy of awards. What they haven't had is a product to merge those two ambitions in audio until now. With the HT-ST7 sound bar Sony is taking aim at the high-end sound bar market and offering up a few features that we don't usually see at this price point.

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Revel Performa 3 M105 Bookshelf Speakers

Revel Performa 3 M105 Speakers

Revel has just released the third generation of their Performa speaker line. Dubbed the Performa3's, the new lineup offers nine models – two tower speakers, two bookshelf speakers, two center speakers, two subs and one surround. Revel touts the Performa3's as having an "Ultima2 Heritage at attainable prices". The Performa3's are all-new designs with all-new drivers. The M105's reviewed here are the smaller of the two bookshelf speaker models. They have a 5-1/4" ribbed aluminum mid/woofer and a 1" aluminum dome tweeter that was designed by the Untima2 team. These tweeters are mounted in a new waveguide that lends the speakers a sexy silhouette and a very smooth in-room response. Who could argue with that? As if this weren't enough, Revel decided to price the Performa3's on a very competitive level which makes these speakers a major value-for-money opportunity.

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GoldenEar Technology Aon2 Bookshelf Speakers

GoldenEar Technology Aon2 Bookshelf SpeakerAs GoldenEar president Sandy Gross says, his desire is to take the sound he manages to get from far more expensive speakers, and engineer that into his own products at a much lower price. With his Triton line of towers he has certainly succeeded, but how good could he really make a $400 bookshelf speaker? They sure sounded good when I heard them at the CEDIA Expo, but those shows are never an environment in which to make any final declarations. With a pair in hand, I was ready to find out.

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MartinLogan Stage X Electrostatic Hybrid Center Channel Speaker

Stage XMartinLogan is most famous for their electrostatic speakers (ESLs). I remember many years ago hearing their full-range model and was astonished at the transparency. Since that time, they have produced ESLs of varying sizes, and in "hybrid" form, meaning that a cone woofer takes care of the low frequencies, which smaller ELS panels cannot reproduce. When home theater became a prominent market, they released the Stage, which used a dome tweeter, ESL panel for the midrange, and cone woofers. The newest iteration of the Stage line is the Stage X, which has a thin film tweeter (called "Folded Motion" by MartinLogan). This type of tweeter is part of the flat panel family of speakers, which includes ESLs, Ribbons, and Planar Magnetic speakers. So, with the Stage X, the high frequencies and midrange are now handled by flat panel technology.

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SVS SB13-Ultra Subwoofer

SVS SB13-Ultra

The SVS SB13-Ultra powered subwoofer features a 13.5" driver with 50mm peak excursion.  It is driven by a 1,000 watt RMS Class D amplifier (3,600 watts peak).  This amp has a dual band parametric equalizer and a unique limiter circuit that retains dynamic shadings even when pushed hard.  The sub is a sealed box design with tight and clean bass.  In fact, my nearfield (1 foot) THD+N measurements were all under 0.33% from 28 - 100Hz at 100dB!

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Paradigm Soundtrack (Soundbar and Subwoofer) Speaker System

Paradigm Soundtrack SystemThere is no question that soundbars are a "hot item" for home theater enthusiasts. The soundbar category grew a whopping 68% over all of 2012, with a monumental surge in Q4 2012 alone. Unit sales for Q4 versus Q3 were up 158%, even better, the category of soundbars with a companion subwoofer increased 126% in 2012 versus the prior year. This according a new report from Quixel Research. I can't think of any major speaker manufacturer that does not offer at least one soundbar in their line up.

 

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Axiom LFR1100 Omnidirectional Speakers and ADA-1500 Power Amplifier

Axiom LFR1100 Omnidirectional Speakers and ADA-1500 Power Amplifier

About a year ago, Ian Colquhoun, founder of Axiom Audio, contacted me to talk about an exciting new design he was working on. It was the LFR1100 omnidirectional tower speaker and it represented a radical departure from not only their other products, but from traditional speaker construction. Needless to say I jumped at the chance to review them, but tremendous customer demand prevented me from getting a pair right away. When a surprise phone call came recently asking where I’d like the speakers delivered, I couldn’t help but get excited!

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Bryston Mini-T Monitor Speakers

Bryston Mini-T LoudspeakersBryston has a long history of manufacturing high quality amplifiers and digital components. Their products come with an industry leading warranty, reference-level sound quality, and above average build quality. For years their electronics have been paired with high end speakers at various shows, Thiel, Magnepan, PMC and other serious loudspeaker manufactures have chosen Bryston electronics to showcase their sound so I was very interested to hear that they were producing their own speakers.

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Polk LSiM Home Theater Speaker System

Polk LSiM System

Since being introduced about 10 years ago, the Polk LSi series of speakers was one of the first lines I'd recommend to people who cared about sound but didn't want to break the bank. Fast forward to 2012 and we have a new from-the-ground-up version of the LSi: the LSiM.

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Paradigm MilleniaOne CT Modular Speakers with Subwoofer

Paradigm MilleniaOne CT

Most of us here at Secrets have been Home Theater enthusiasts for a very long time, reaching back to the early days of Laserdiscs and Dolby ProLogic. Then the big screen TV market exploded, surround sound became accessible to the mainstream, and now everyone is into home theater….or are they?

 

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GoldenEar Triton Three Floor-Standing Speakers

GoldenEar Triton Three Floor Standing Speakers

After the successful launch of the Triton design, GoldenEar soon introduced the Triton Two, which packed a 1200 watt class-D amplifier powering two 5" x 9" "racetrack" subwoofers, along with a pair of 4.5" midrange drivers and the now popular HVFR folded ribbon tweeter. Triton Three followed on the heels of the larger Triton Two. The Triton Three is a smaller version with one less subwoofer and one less midrange driver.

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