2016 Buyer’s Guide: Floorstanding Loudspeakers Under $2,000

Equipment report
Categories:
Floorstanding
|
Products:
GoldenEar Technology Triton Five,
GoldenEar Technology Triton Seven,
Infinity Primus P363,
Magnepan .7,
Magnepan MMG,
Paradigm Monitor 9, Series 7,
PSB Imagine X2T
2016 Buyer’s Guide: Floorstanding Loudspeakers Under $2,000

Infinity Primus P363
$400  

Don’t be fooled by the low price, says REG. The Primus P363 brings more than a taste of high-end sound to an entry-level price. With this four-driver, three-way floorstander, Infinity has isolated and optimized what really matters in speaker performance. Where Infinity has cut corners—and corner-cutting is necessary at this price—is in areas that are of less sonic significance. The results are startling. Despite a bit of treble brightness, with the speakers positioned so the listener is on the best axis (and incidentally with the listener at least 8 feet from the speakers, which do not integrate correctly very close up)—the P363s sound remarkably good, with a neutral character, a remarkable vanishing act as an apparent source, a lot of detail without exaggerated treble, and enough dynamic capability to deal with large-scale music. infinityspeakers.com

Magnepan MMG
$599  

Magnepan’s smallest planar-magnetic (available factory-direct only), the Product of the Year award-winning MMG, is one of the best buys in the Maggie line, and one of the real bargains in high-end audio. If you have enough space and amplifier, you will be hard-pressed to find a more realistic speaker than this slim, boxless Maggie, where it plays. Though it won’t plumb the depths in the bottom end and is a bit limited in the top treble and in really large-scale dynamics, it is otherwise a model of lifelike presence, tone color, texture, and imaging. magnepan.com


Paradigm Monitor 9 Series 7
$1198  

A benchmark for good, affordable speakers, Paradigm’s Monitor Series is not the last word in any one sonic area but offers tremendous across-the-board performance and value. Though this compact monitor may not reach deep down, recent improvements create a fine sense of bass—fast, tuneful, and reasonably weighty—that’s quite satisfying. The latest aluminum dome tweeter is more open, dynamically free, and less bright than past versions. The midrange is reasonably open and neutral, with respectable depth imaging. A cleverly balanced and involving design that ultimately lets the music do the talking. paradigm.com


PSB X2T
$1295

Simply put, these powerful, fairly compact, four-driver, three-way, quasi-D’Appolito floorstanders live up to Canadian manufacturer PSB’s main marketing message: “Real sound for real people.” Big bang—and plenty of bass—for the buck is what you can expect. The X2Ts deliver unexpectedly robust low end for their category—something audiophiles tend to drop big coin for. In definition and solidity, they may not serve up the kind of bass you can sit on, but their bottom octaves are still unusually full, powerful, and nicely differentiated in pitch. What’s more, the X2Ts also offer a strong power range, as well as excellent midband focus and naturalness. (Indeed, the midrange driver is housed in its own enclosure for ideal dispersion and minimized distortion at higher SPLs.) If you like a more bottom-up sound with a side of denser tone color, these PSBs are bound to please. It’s a rare speaker, says JM, that’s this easy on the wallet, and this easy to love. psbspeakers.com


Magnepan .7
$1395  

Meet Magnepan’s latest “mini” planar dipole, the two-way, floorstanding, all-quasi-ribbon-driver MG .7—a speaker that is capable of a fuller-range and more natural sound than any previous “mini” Maggie. Although JM knows that most TAS readers have already made the acquaintance of Maggies, the .7s are still impressive, offering a practically unbeatable quality-to-cost ratio. During her listening tests, she was delighted to discover that they consistently delivered a beautiful and open presentation graced with a striking measure of air and light. Soundstage reproduction was stunning across a wide range of music. In addition to their tough-to-beat price, the .7s become even more attractive when you consider that Magnepan is offering a 30-day in-home trial and a money-back guarantee. Whether you’re in the market for a starter pair of high-quality speakers, or have the proverbial champagne taste on a beer budget (or both!), why wouldn’t you consider these babies? They’re terrific. magnepan.com


GoldenEar Triton Seven
$1398

One of the best speakers for the price, this D’Appolito floorstander was one of CM’s favorite products. The Triton Sevens offer an incredible performance-to-price ratio, and are equally adept in a two-channel system or a home-theater setup. Capable of handling up to 300W, with bass that dips into the 29Hz range, these three-way, five-driver speakers are perfect for starter systems or home-theater needs. goldenear.com


GoldenEar Triton Five
$1999

Sandy Gross, the proprietor of GoldenEar, may be the Babe Ruth of reasonably priced loudspeaker designs. With the Triton Five, the gregarious Gross has hit yet another one out of the park. Named after the sea god Triton who could calm or rouse the waves by blowing on his conch, the Triton has a similar quality. It’s a remarkably low-distortion design that belts out Led Zeppelin but also has the finesse to reproduce the most finely filigreed musical passages. A high-velocity ribbon driver helps account for the purity of the treble. And four side-mounted sub-bass radiators allow it to plumb the Stygian depths of the sonic spectrum. Not least, it’s also an elegant and unobtrusive-looking design that should appeal to a wide range of listeners. For all his ingenuity, it will be hard for Gross to surpass the Triton Five. goldenear.com


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