Large loudspeakers – in the past dubbed "broom cupboards". And that's pretty much what some of them were; I speak from experience, having lived with Leak 2075s and 3090s. Intrusive and even ugly such loudspeakers may be – that's their only drawback. Surprisingly, the bigger a loudspeaker gets the less power it needs to go loud. Just a few Watts of power through a 'broom cupboard' of yore was enough to shake a house. Hundreds of Watts as we're given today are not needed. That makes broom cupboards environmentally friendly! Better still they gave a sound with real muscle behind it, room shaking lows being part of the picture.
Big is good then – but of course it isn't to most people's eyes. It means less available floor space and an eyesore in the lounge. Hardly surprising then that stylists have come up with no end of shapes and finishes to overcome this problem. Focal have brought French flair to their new Kanta No2 loudspeaker that we review on p11 in this issue. It too needs just a few Watts to go very loud, in the tradition of "a good big 'un".
So why do today's hi-fi amplifiers all boast at least 100 Watts output? It's not as if a lot of us are able to play loud without disturbing the local neighbourhood, which in my case provokes a visit by the council's noise squad. That's what reader Aaron Proctor asks too – see Letters p32. He uses just 12.6mW (thousandths of a Watt). Believe it or not, 5 Watts would do for most of us – as he suggests. Much of the size, weight and expense of modern amplifiers is determined solely by a perceived need for high power – most of it unused. Going low power solves everything – smaller electricity bills, cleaner conscience (!), less technological intrusion and potentially better sound quality.
Run silent, run deep. That's what Cambridge Audio's Duo phono stage does. It's silent – no hiss – yet deep in its portrayal of music from LP, subtly mining information others cannot. Find out more on p87.
Loud and silent talk of dynamic range – and real life experience. We look at both extremes in this issue. I hope you enjoy it.