Review Types Archives: Speaker Reviews

Reviews of Speakers and Subwoofers

SVS PB16-Ultra Subwoofer Review

Big sub, big sound. Sure the PB16-Ultra is a beast, but given today’s technology, bringing low-end performance sans distortion requires of size and weight. SVS has a pair of subwoofers featuring their new 16” driver, the SB16-Ultra, previously reviewed by us and the PB16-Ultra. The SB is a sealed box design, while the PB is a ported box.

If you are looking to reproduce the lowest subsonic octaves, then the PB16-Ultra is your choice. (more…)

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SVS SB16-Ultra Subwoofer Review

While many AV components, like TVs and Blu-ray players, keep getting smaller, subwoofers keep getting bigger. A decade ago a 12” subwoofer was considered large but in the world of 15” and even dual 18” drivers those now seem quaint in comparison. In 2016 SVS joined the world of larger subwoofers by introducing models with a 16” driver. The SVS SB16-Ultra is a sealed 16” subwoofer that includes room correction features and Bluetooth support. With a powerful 1500 watt amplifier and a beautiful piano black finish, the SB16-Ultra delivers more than enough deep, powerful, tight bass for all but the largest rooms. (more…)

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KEF Custom Install THX Speaker Review

One of the most exciting things about buying a house this past year was the opportunity it presented me for my home theater. After years of having rooms that I had to leave undamaged in rental houses, I could do anything I wanted. One of the first things I did was to decide to go with in-wall speakers to open up more space in the room. Because of my love of their UniQ sound I went with the KEF THX in-wall system and over the past few months it has proven to be fantastic. The KEF system is dynamic and detailed, offering huge performance while becoming almost invisible in the room. (more…)

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KEF Reference Review

My fellow RHT writers have been quite jealous of me over the last few weeks. The reason is that I had the opportunity to review a set of speakers from the KEF Reference series: the Reference 1 bookshelves and Reference 2C center channel. Editor’s Note: Yes, I’m jealous. My system is currently boxed up to move.

Quite simply, the Reference 1’s and 2C are the best speakers I’ve had the pleasure of having in my home. And while, at nearly $15,000 for the set-up that I currently have, they are also the costliest, but offer noticeable improvements over speakers I’ve had experience with at lower price brackets. These are truly refined speakers from every way in which you can approach them – be it build quality, aesthetics or sound. If you are looking for a truly high-end bookshelf speaker then the KEF’s absolutely deserve a look. (more…)

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Raumfeld Wireless Speakers Review

Raumfeld is a recent entrant into the whole home audio arena. They’ve entered into it with a wide array of speakers, from the small models you’d expect on a countertop to a pair of floorstanders more common in a dedicated stereo system. With a nice finish and the best sound of any wireless speakers I’ve heard, Raumfeld impresses both the eyes and the ears. Some small drawbacks make them imperfect for everyone, but the dedicated music lover will come away impressed.

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ELAC B4 Speaker Review

When we looked at the ELAC B6, it offered better performance for its price than any other bookshelf speaker we had heard. They do well with all genres of music, from classic rock to alternative, classical to pop. The ELAC B4 is the newest member of the Debut line, only with a 4” woofer instead of the 6.5” woofer of the B6. Otherwise the speakers seem almost identical: same binding posts, same vinyl wrap, same grill only smaller. The B4 also performs very well, only it isn’t a speaker I’d likely recommend to most people except in specific cases. (more…)

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JL Audio f112v2 Review

The JL Audio Fathom f112 has been highly praised in the audio community and the new version 2 arrives with some solid updates. Chief among them is the updated room calibration system. The Fathom subwoofers have a built-in system called D.A.R.O. or Digital Automatic Room Optimization. The previous models employed an analog system known as A.R.O. which is limited to a single frequency. Moving to the digital domain has allowed the JL Audio engineers the ability to equalize with 18 bands. The new version also employs an updated driver and better amp capable of more output with lower distortion.

These are some of the best subwoofers money can buy. They are compact, especially given the amount of bass they output, and beautifully constructed. Bass output is clean with tons of impact. The new D.A.R.O. is easy to run and does an excellent job at smoothing out bass response. If you are looking to build a reference quality home theater, a pair of JL Audio Fathom f112v2’s should be your foundation. (more…)

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ELAC B6 Speaker Review

Andrew Jones is quite the name in speaker circles. Some know him from his work at TAD, producing some of the best speakers on the market regardless of price. Many more know him from his affordable line of speakers for Pioneer. I got to know him with his line of Dolby Atmos speakers for Pioneer that feature concentric drivers. Now, he is working with ELAC and has produced a brand new line of speakers for them.

The Debut line from ELAC is very affordable, and with the $280 a pair B6 bookshelf it does better than any speaker I’ve heard for the price. The exterior might be a bit plain, but the sound out-performs any bookshelf speaker I’ve heard from the $400 price range and below. Unless you’re willing to spend twice as much money per speaker, you aren’t going to do better than the ELAC B6 today. (more…)

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KEF R300 Speaker Review

This year I had the chance to compare over 20 pairs of bookshelf speakers to each other. Some were good, some were bad, and some stood out. The SVS Ultra Bookshelf offered the best bass of any speaker, bar none. But the speakers that won me over were the KEF models with their Uni-Q driver. The coherence and clarity they offered over the other speakers was huge. The LS50, acclaimed by everyone in the press, offered the most relaxed yet detailed sound of any speaker in my testing.

I wanted to combine that tweeter and midrange clarity with the bass response of the SVS Ultra. I ordered a surround system made up of four of the KEF R300 bookshelves and the matching R600C center channel. Compared to my previous system of Mythos STS speaker, the KEFs are superior. The STS had the lead in bass, but the KEFs blow them away in soundstage, detail, timing and clarity. From the $300 Q100’s to the $1,800 R300s all the way up to the $32,000 Blades, the KEF speakers offered a superior sound that I’m glad I invested in. (more…)

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Sonos PLAY:5 (2015) Review

Despite holding a commanding lead in the whole home audio market, Sonos has not been content to rest on its laurels. This is good for them, as the recent CEDIA Expo showed that everyone is out to try to take over a piece of this market. Everyone from DTS to Yamaha and Denon has their own solution coming out to challenge Sonos. The newly updated Sonos PLAY:5 shows what they are going to do to stay on top of the market.

From the packaging to setup and listening, the Sonos experience is as elegant an experience as you’ll find in home audio. The PLAY:5 is impeccably designed, feeling both incredibly rugged while looking stylish on a shelf. The new Trueplay room correction technology makes it easy to eliminate excessive bass often caused by speaker placement and improves the overall sound. While $500 for a speaker is getting to be expensive for many people, the Sonos PLAY:5 is the best sounding wireless speaker I’ve used to date. (more…)

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