KEF R11 Loudspeakers

Note: Measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceI first heard KEF’s R Series R11 speakers, however briefly, when reporting on the Montréal Audio Fest for SoundStage! Access. Show demos being inconsistent at best, I wasn’t sure what to make of the R11s, which sounded a bit bright. Then again, the exhibitor was playing them way too loud -- I wondered what they’d sound like in my own listening room.

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Revel PerformaBe M126Be Loudspeakers

Note: Measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceNearly four years ago, I reviewed Revel’s Performa3 M106 minimonitor ($2000 USD per pair). I was impressed by its nicely balanced, well-controlled, squeaky-clean sound -- traits it shared with every other Revel speaker I’ve heard. More recently, someone at Revel had the idea of putting this model and its bigger brother, the floorstanding Performa3 F208, on steroids. Every component part was redesigned, the prices were doubled, and they were made the first and, so far, only members of a new Revel line, PerformaBe. The results began shipping last year: the PerformaBe M126Be minimonitor ($4000/pair) and the PerformaBe F228Be floorstander ($10,000/pair). When Doug Schneider asked if I wanted to review the M126Be, I acceded to his request without hesitation.

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Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ DAC-Preamplifier-Headphone Amplifier

In the late 1980s and early ’90s, Michal Jurewicz worked as a technical engineer at the Hit Factory and at Skyline Recording Studios, which were then two of New York City’s major studios (Skyline closed in 2012). During his time there, Jurewicz, a native of Warsaw, Poland, saw a need for high-quality digital conversion in the recording of music, and in 1992 established Mytek to design and build the required hardware. Early designs of his were used to record albums by David Bowie, Mariah Carey, Lou Reed, and others. Mytek is based in Brooklyn, New York; with Jurewicz as lead designer, it continues to serve the professional recording industry, and since 2011 has also catered to the consumer hi-fi market.

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AudioSolutions Figaro B Loudspeakers

Note: Measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

AudioSolutions, a small Lithuanian speaker maker I’d never heard of, was founded in 2011 by Gediminas Gaidelis, who still owns it. Other than that, their website is short on backstory, long on intrigue. On the homepage, the reader is greeted with this: “Development of these fine speakers is a true challenge. We combine laws of physics with design, manufacturing stability and customers’ needs to make perfect speakers. Every smallest part is hand crafted and inspected for any flaws.” From this, it appears that all design and manufacturing are done in house. Very nice. Then: “Years of hard work and research are hidden behind this revealing short name -- not only in the realm of achieving ideal sonic abilities, but also in practical realization of pioneering ideas. AudioSolutions steps firmly into High-End territory.” Intrigued, I took a peek at the images of AudioSolutions loudspeakers. Beautiful! But would they sound as good as they looked?

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Q Acoustics 3020i Loudspeakers

Note: Measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

A year ago in Munich, when I visited the exhibit room of UK speaker maker Q Acoustics at High End 2018, I knew little about them. However, former SoundStage! Simplifi writer Al Griffin was familiar with their reputation for making high-value, budget-friendly speakers, and wanted to see what they had to offer. They were displaying their Concept 500 floorstander ($5999.99 USD per pair), but what really caught our attention was their new 3000i series, which begins at $249.99/pair for the smallest minimonitor, and ends with a $799.99/pair floorstander that looks a lot like the Concept 500. That speaker was the floorstanding 3050i, which sounded extremely promising, with a captivating, smooth, and coherent sound throughout the audioband. I was so impressed that, when offered a chance to review the 3020i minimonitor ($299.99/pair), I jumped.

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Focal Kanta No1 Loudspeakers

Note: Measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceThrough no fault of the speaker or its manufacturer -- last year, shortly after Focal announced the launch of the Kanta No1, they sent me samples -- I wasn’t able to review it as soon as I’d hoped to. Other things got in the way. Better later than never, you might say, but really, it’s too bad -- when at last I got to seriously listen to the Kanta No1s, I wished I could have gotten out the word on them long before this.

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Paradigm Defiance X12 Subwoofer

Paradigm’s newest line of powered subwoofers, Defiance, comprises six models. The Defiance V subline ranges from $399 to $649 USD, while the Defiance X subseries ranges from $999 to $1499. All but the lowest-priced model, the V8 ($399), include advanced features such as Anthem Room Correction (ARC), a built-in wireless Bluetooth module for Paradigm’s Subwoofer Control app, and an optional wireless connection module ($199). The Defiance subs offer the value-conscious audiophile a wide range of options to extend the bass response of an audio system.

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GoldenEar Technology Triton One.R Loudspeakers

Note: Measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceThe bigger, the better, right? The old adage doesn’t always hold, but so far, it’s been true of my own experiences of reviewing loudspeakers from GoldenEar Technology: the Aon 3 bookshelf ($998.98 USD per pair), the Triton One floorstander ($4999.98/pair), and their flagship, the Triton Reference ($8999.98/pair), each bigger and costlier than the one before. And as the speakers increased in size and price, their sound quality and build quality, too, have improved.

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Dutch & Dutch 8c Active Loudspeakers

Note: Measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceWhen Doug Schneider asked me to review the 8c active loudspeaker from Dutch & Dutch, my first reaction was: “Dutch and what?”

I looked up the 8c on Dutch & Dutch’s website, and the description was intriguing: a speaker with built-in preamp and power amp, subwoofer, DAC, digital volume control, IP control, and advanced digital signal processing, all in a package that fits on a pair of minimonitor stands and costs $12,500 USD per pair. The 8c’s home page states: “Accurate. Adaptive. All-in-one.”

My response to Doug was enthusiastic: “Yes, please -- I’d love to review this product.”

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TEAC Reference NR-7CD Network CD Player and Integrated Amplifier-DAC

The Tokyo Electro Acoustic Company (TEAC), one of the older hi-fi brands around, was founded in 1953 by brothers Katsuma and Tomoma Tani. The company’s subbrands include TASCAM, which manufactures professional audio gear; Esoteric, which makes ultra-high-end products; and TEAC Consumer Electronics, or TEAC for short. In 2013, guitar maker Gibson acquired a majority stake in TEAC, which has over 1000 employees. While TEAC has been well regarded by audiophiles for its analog and digital sources since the 1970s and 1980s, the company's recent offerings, such as its Reference series, have focused on small, integrated electronics.

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