Loudspeakers are potentially the components most resistant to change part of the whole audio world. The ideas of Rice and Kellogg in the 1920s, Olsen in the 1940s, and Villchur and Allison in the 1950s and 1960s effectively created much of what loudspeakers are today. Basic design may have improved over the years, but the modern loudspeaker has remained almost unchanged in decades.
Despite this, there are a lot of variations on that theme, and those variations have created some true wonders. Many of us as reviewers have been listening to loudspeakers in a professional capacity for 20, 30, even 40 years, and in that time we’ve seen a great deal of small, but important, changes to the loudspeaker world, that have edged the technology ever forward.
Such changes include improvements to the materials, and to performance measuring techniques, as well as the idea that good electronics upstream are more or less a 'given'. A designer today has an unprecedented number of tools at their disposal to create a good design, and can be sure in the knowledge that the source and amplifier will not ruin the end result. That still allows for a lot of variation, but it means good loudspeaker engineering and good sound can be had at almost all prices.
In this, our second themed issue of the year, we are concentrating on floorstanding loudspeakers, of all types, configurations, and prices. And that’s no exaggeration: the most expensive floorstanding loudspeaker in this round-up costs almost exactly one hundred times more than the cheapest! But that is a mark of the changes in the audio world at this time, where there seems to be no upper limit to how much people are prepared to spend on their luxury devices.
An interesting question is 'are they worth it?' No-one in their right mind is going to suggest shelling out a six-figure sum for a loudspeaker represents a ‘bargain’, but the two most expensive loudspeakers in this issue (the Magico M-Project and the Marten Coltrane Supreme 2, that book-end this issue) both represent truly game-changing sound quality, pushing what is possible from modern audio in ways we never dreamt possible only a few years ago.
Regardless, we hope you enjoy this round-up of some of the best in floorstanding loudspeakers. Please let us know your thoughts and feelings at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing of Alan Roser, founder and MD of Anthem AV Solutions. He was 53. Our condolences go out to his friends, family, and colleagues.