Review Types Archives: Bookshelf Speakers

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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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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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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SVS Ultra Bookshelf Speaker

SVS has been known for their subwoofers but not associated with other speakers. Their Ultra line, released 2012, is a push to handle all the audio duties in a theater and not just the bass. Designed by Mark Mason, formerly of PSB and now head designer for Thiel, the Ultra Bookshelf speaker offers a lot for the money. A very large bookshelf speaker finished in a beautiful piano black, the Ultra Bookshelf has no trouble filling a room. For $1,000 a pair it is a very impressive speaker, even when compared to those costing 50% more. (more…)

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