2015 Buyer's Guide: Stand-Mount Loudspeakers $5,000 - $20,000

Equipment report
B&W Group 805 Diamond,
ENIGMAcoustics Mythology M1,
Harbeth Monitor 30.1,
Joseph Audio Pulsar,
Raidho C1.1,
Von Schweikert Audio UniField Two mk2
2015 Buyer's Guide: Stand-Mount Loudspeakers $5,000 - $20,000

B&W 805 Diamond
The smallest model of the new 800 Diamond Series to include B&W’s updated diamond tweeter, perched atop the curved cabinet in its own characteristic “pod,” the 805 Diamond is a coherent, revealing, and musically compelling speaker. Tilting just slightly to the warm and rich side of neutral, it manages to pull off the neat balancing act of digging deeply into recordings without stridency or edginess. “Detail without pain” sums it up. The 805 Diamond’s resolution is not the kind that draws attention to itself in a “hi-fi” demonstration exercise; rather its considerable powers of resolution always serve the music the Diamond is asked to help reproduce. It has only so much dynamic capacity and does not have much output below about 45Hz, but from that level on up, the 805 Diamond is a beautiful and accomplished transducer. bwspeakers.com

Harbeth Monitor 30.1
For PS, the Monitor 30.1 is the best compact two-way speaker system he has heard, regardless of type, cost, or complexity. A studio monitor intended for professional applications where high accuracy in a compact enclosure is required, the 30.1 boasts high neutrality, superb resolution, and a matching of drivers with respect to coherence and sonic character that is equaled by only a small handful of multiple driver dynamic loudspeakers in his experience. Speaking with a single voice in a way reminiscent of Quad ESLs, it is also of similar vanishingly low coloration and distortion, high transparency, and sheer musical authority, with an absolutely ravishing midrange. Despite its size, it does extremely well on demanding largescale material at natural levels, with bass extension to below 50Hz. This is one speaker for which the cliché rings absolutely true: You can listen to it without fatigue for hours on end. harbeth.co.uk

Joseph Audio Pulsar
When asked why he created the Pulsar speaker, Jeff Joseph replied, “I’ve always wanted to make a really excellent mini-monitor speaker. The midrange/woofer I developed for the Pearl II was the missing link. Finally, I had all the parts.” So, in essence, the Pulsar is a mini- Pearl that fits into small spaces where the Pearl can’t. It also costs only one-third the price. What’s special and perhaps even unique about the Pulsars is their ability to combine all the best sonic characteristics of a superb mini-monitor with those of a larger speaker. With a level of midrange purity that equals ribbon and electrostatic designs and the dynamic weight of a bigger dynamic speaker, the Pulsar is the closest thing to the impossible dream of a small speaker which can generate the SPLs and excitement of a much larger transducer without sacrifices in inner detail or harmonic purity. josephaudio.com

Von Schweikert Unifield Two
$7995 (stands included)
A superbly engineered entry in the crowded monitor-loudspeaker field. The main attraction is a 7-inch coaxial driver from SEAS, augmented below about 80Hz by a 7-inch aluminum-coned woofer. Referred to as a 2.5-way design, the Unifield Two is effectively a two-way partnered with a subwoofer. The coaxial technology yields exceptional soundstaging and image focus. But, unusually for a small box speaker, expect impressive bass-range performance when the Unifield is matched with a high-damping-factor solid-state amp. The cabinet is vented, but four internal chambers create a mini-labyrinth, which significantly dampens the vent output. VSA refers to this bass tuning as a hybrid reflex/transmission line. The bass balance, usually an issue for stand-mounted speakers, is shifted toward the midbass resulting in the slight emphasis of upright-bass body tone. The Unifield Two competes effectively with British stand-mounts from Spendor and Harbeth, offering greater rhythmic precision and bass heft. vonschweikertaudio.com

EnigmAcoustics Mythology M1
$14,690 w/stands; $13,690 w/o stands
The M1 is a compact, two-way, stand-mounted speaker specifically designed to partner with the Sopranino self-biased-electret super-tweeter (Issue 235). A critical design factor is the 34mm silkdome tweeter, which is crossed over at a low 1.1kHz. The payoff is a midrange that is exceedingly pure, detailed, and transparent. The treble range sings sweetly and without a trace of harshness. Imaging can only be described as spectacular, the soundstage being totally untethered from the speakers—a remarkable disappearing act. Expect exceptional tonal color fidelity, and against all odds, a believable orchestral power range. In-room bass extension is about 40Hz. Because of its neutral tonal balance, the M1 will reflect the sonic character of what comes before it. Its command over microdynamic nuances generates considerable emotional power, which, when combined with its other virtues, makes the M1 an insanely attractive proposition at any price point. enigmacoustics.com

Raidho C-1.1
Greater “realism” in hi-fi is always a matter of more and less. Where it plays linearly (which is everywhere but below 50Hz or so) Michael Børresen’s elegant Raidho C 1.1 two-way, ribbon/ cone, stand-mount mini-monitor gives you both—more detail and less electromechanical noise—to a truly astounding degree, and without any bleaching of tone color. The result, on select great recordings, is a “realism” that not only raises goosebumps but that can actually extend beyond the momentary to an entire cut. “Trust me,” JV wrote, “I have heard few (actually, no) other speakers in my home reproduce a violin with such unstinting, uninterrupted realism as this Raidho.” An honest-to-goodness great loudspeaker, and one of JV’s current references. raidho.dk