Introduction to Speaker Reviews

Speakers, or Loudspeakers, are a most influential component of an audio system. Regardless of advances in digital signal processing and amplification, speakers will always be an inherently analogue, mechanical component. They have the potential to last not years but decades and as such a purchase decision carries more weight than that of other AV components. There is a tremendous array of speaker designs, including acoustic suspension, ported, band pass, transmission line to name but the most common. There is also diverse transducer technology. The vast majority of speakers will include a high frequency driver, called a tweeter, coupled with one or more low frequency drivers, called woofers. On more advanced models a mid-range driver may also be used. The signal sent to the speakers is divided by the crossover, a collection of electrical components which separates the high, middle, and low frequencies and sends them to the respective transducer.

Active (aka self-powered) speakers are speakers with their own integrated amplification. Active speakers have tremendous potential, when designed and executed properly, to achieve pinnacle performance for a variety of reasons. Superior results can be obtained with relatively lower amplification as compared to passive speakers because the power can be used more efficiently. The crossover will almost always come before amplification, feeding multiple amplifier channels, one for each driver within a single speaker (ie the tweeter and woofer each get their own amplifier). Further, because the speaker driver and amp characteristics are known, each can be optimized for the other (contrast this with conventional speakers where each must be designed to work well, but perhaps not ideally, with a myriad possible variations).

Most audiophiles wrongly assume that the amplification inside an active speaker couldn’t possibly be as good as giant, expensive, external boxes so active speakers don’t enjoy as much popularity in the consumer space as they should (subwoofers being the exception), but are by a wide margin the standard in professional mixing and monitoring setups.

Most active speakers will feature one or more line level inputs and at least an amplifier gain control. Better models will include contour controls and other sound tailoring features

Speakers may be designed for general use, or for more specific implementation such as a particular channel in a multi-channel audio system, or a specific frequency range such as a dedicated bass module, known as a sub-woofer.

Our focus when evaluating speakers is on accuracy, both in terms of frequency response and transient response. We use objective measurements when possible, including quasi-anechoic measurements and impedance sweeps, coupling that with subjective “real world” auditioning.

Review Categories

Speaker Reviews

MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 Soundbar Review

The MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 is a thin, wall mountable speaker to be used under or near a flat screen TV. The Motion SLM X3 is flexible in that it can stand alone on a shelf or mantle. Using high performance drivers and crossover, the MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 is designed to deliver uncompromising performance for the movie and music lover.

MartinLogan Crescendo X Networked Speaker Review

The MartinLogan Crescendo X is a stylish looking and great sounding networked speaker that can bring you your music from a variety of sources, whether they be wired or wireless. It incorperates the latest Blutooth functionality, is AirPlay certified and can be controlled in depth through the DTS: Play-Fi app on either Android or iOS devices.

Power Sound Audio

Power Sound Audio S3601 Subwoofer Review

The Power Sound Audio S3601 Subwoofer sports not one, but two 18-inch drivers on opposite sides of its CNC-milled box. The Digital Signal Processing (DSP) ICE plate amp of the Power Sound Audio S3601 Subwoofer provides a continuous 1700 watts (4300 watts, peak). The 137-pound subwoofer is competition for any residential subwoofer on the market, and is a bargain for the price.

ELAC Uni-Fi Slim 5.1 Speaker System Review

The ELAC Uni-Fi Slim 5.1 Speaker System is a stylish and well-designed speaker line whose components can deliver resounding performance when used either individually or as a complete system. Designed by acclaimed speaker engineer Andrew Jones, ELAC’s Uni-Fi line is available in two versions. We are reviewing the “Slim” versions, which were originally designed for the European market and have narrower front baffles with deeper overall cabinets and two satin paint finishes. The “Standard” versions have wider front baffles, are not quite as deep and have a different brushed vinyl finish. Both versions are said to sound identical although the “Slims” command a higher price due to the aesthetics. Be assured though, the price-to-performance ratio of either version is quite exceptional. Thank you ELAC. It’s good to have options!

Edifier RT1280T

Edifier RT1280T Powered Bookshelf Speaker Review

The Edifier RT1280T is a new brand of speakers that is finding advocates among people looking for inexpensive high-quality audio. The Edifier RT1280T powered bookshelf speakers retails for less than a hundred dollars and packs a punch in a nicely designed device that could be used with a computer, small stereo system or even as a plug in to a phone or media player. It consists of two speakers, one containing a power amp for both speakers, all the connecting cables for output and input, along with a mini remote.

fluance

Fluance Signature Series Hi-Fi Three-Way Floorstanding Speakers Review

Just how much speaker can one get from only $699.00? The Signature Series floorstanding speakers from the Niagara region of Ontario aim to deliver as much as possible from that low price, cramming dual 8” drivers, a custom midrange and tweeter into a 4’ tall 60-Lb box. While this is an internet only speaker company with no showrooms the free one-way shipping makes it easier to demo these speakers in your own listening room. Something that should be done with every speaker which is not always an option with dealer offered products.

Legacy Signature SE

Legacy Audio Signature SE Tower Speakers Review

In an effort to bring the critically-acclaimed sound quality of their Focus SE speakers to a larger audience, Legacy Audio has created the Signature SE Tower Speaker. Sporting very similar drivers in a smaller cabinet, the Legacy Audio Signature SE strives to bring the big Legacy sound to those with smaller rooms or a lower budget.

Bluesound Pulse 2 All-In-One Streaming Music System

Bluesound Pulse 2 All-In-One Streaming Music System Review

Whole-house audio gets easier and better with each new product introduction. Today I’m looking at the Bluesound Pulse 2 All-In-One Streaming Music System. It combines a BluOS streaming player with a DirectDigital tri-amplifier, premium speakers, and support for nearly every music format including MQA. It’s the ultimate in convenience, quality sound, and high-end styling. The lifestyle audio product genre may have to shoot for a newly elevated benchmark.

JWM

JWM Acoustics Alyson AML Loudspeaker Review

The JWM Acoustics Alyson AML is a custom built, studio quality monitor loudspeaker that has beautiful looks and beautiful sound. Originating as a true monitoring speaker for recording engineers the JWM Acoustics Alyson AML is designed to deliver the highest fidelity from the recorded source. Aesthetics and technology are combined in this loudspeaker in a unique way that makes this speaker compelling for the discerning music lover. Will this beautiful looking speaker scale the lofty expectations of a critical, musicians ear?

Yamaha YAS-706 Sound Bar Review

The Yamaha YAS-706 is a high-end powered sound bar designed to provide a com-plete feature set including virtual surround sound, support for 4K video sources and a boatload of connectivity options. The YAS-706 is one of many soundbars offered by Yamaha, from low end to feature rich products that are aimed at people that don’t want a complicated speaker system with wires all over the room. We have reviewed several sounders at a variety of prices. Check out prior reviews so you can compare.

Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System Review

Overall, the Emotiva BasX Home Theater Audio System is a good deal for the price, vastly superior “home-theater-in-a-box” systems and similarly-priced AVRs in sound quality! The system consists of: MC-700 Surround Sound Processor ($599), TA-500 5-Channel Power Amplifier ($499), LCR Loudspeaker ($149/ea.), SAT Loudspeaker ($199/pr.), and S-12 Subwoofer ($399).