TAS 2010 Editors’ Choice Awards: Loudspeakers ($2000 - $3000)

TAS 2010 Editors’ Choice Awards: Loudspeakers ($2000 - $3000)

Editor's Note: The Absolute Sound recently published its 2010 Editors' Choice Award Winners. Following are the selections in the loudspeakers from $2,000 to $3,000 category. Many have links to the full reviews. Enjoy! JH





Hailing from B&W’s recently built Chinese factory, the CM7 is a handsome-looking small-tower design. Behind the grille is the company’s trademarked Nautilus-loaded aluminum dome tweeter, as well as a 5” woven Kevlar midrange cone and a 6.6” paper/Kevlar bass driver. The CM7’s sound is notably big, detailed, and refined, with a wide open soundstage, excellent overall frequency balance, and impressive extension at both frequency extremes. The CM7 delivers a lot of sound, impressive engineering, and musical satisfaction at a moderate price point. WG

To Read The Full Review, Click Here

DALI Ikon 6

If power, substance, and clarity are important qualities to you, the DALI Ikon 6 should be on your very short list. This speaker is easy to drive, effortlessly delivers the goods dynamically, and has a smooth overall balance. The midrange and treble are a touch forward, so match electronics with care. REG

To Read The Full Review, Click Here


Based on KEF’s signature Uni-Q driver array and equipped with a dispersion-controlling “tangerine” waveguide, the XQ20 offers a remarkably open and focused sound, with stunning 3-D imaging that remains convincing even when you sit off-axis. Though not the last word in dynamic clout or deep bass, this speaker delivers sonic refinement out of all proportion to its price. CM (Playback 20)

PSB Imagine T

Tonally neutral and dynamically turbocharged, this short, two-and-a-half-way tower offers a balance of audio virtues that is classic PSB. From the vivid midrange to the powerful and extended midbass, nothing seems out of joint—and that goes for the T’s seamless curvilinear enclosure, the absence of exposed hardware, and the luxe fit ’n’ finish. Not as nuanced as Synchrony but more than good enough to make you feel like a big spender. NG

To Read The Full Review, Click Here

Harbeth P3ESR

(depending on finish)
This latest version of Alan Shaw’s subcompact monitor is so cannily designed it almost transcends the limitations of its genre. Neutrality and natural tonal balance reign supreme, but this one can also play loud and descend to depths in the bass that leave both the original LS3/5a and its other British derivatives at the post. Exceptional driver integration, coherence, and openness also characterize the design. PS’s favorite mini-monitor. PS

To Read The Full Review, Click Here

MartinLogan Source

This modestly sized, attractive, two-way, electrostatic/cone hybrid sounds astonishingly like a “single-driver” speaker, with simply outstanding transient response (particularly in the midband), superior low-level resolution, and superb treble. Though the Sources don’t soundstage as well as certain other speakers and are a little “forward” in imaging (sort of like headphones), they are, nevertheless, one of the most successful electrostatic hybrids ML has yet offered. JV

To Read The Full Review, Click Here

Vandersteen 2Ce Signature II

This classic three-way floorstander delivers excellent top-to-bottom balance and an engaging musicality. Moreover, Vandersteen’s baffle-less, time-and-phase-coherent design can suggest the spatial focus usually heard with planars. It benefits from bi-wiring and should be placed away from walls. SB (TAS #139)

Spendor SA1

Due to its not-insubstantial price of $2395, a pair the Spendor SA1 has a lot of competition. But for a small listening room, the SA1 may well prove to be a far more musically rewarding choice than the vast majority of larger, more physically imposing transducers. If you are assembling a high-end nearfield computer-desktop system, the Spendor SA1 definitely deserves to be among your top-five must-audition options. SS

To Read The Full Review, Click Here

Sonics Anima

Just thirteen inches tall, the Anima reveals all kinds of colors and details in the midbass and gives a very satisfying impression of low-frequency muscle. It also delivers harmonics and speed that are akin to a ribbon driver. Dynamics are slightly pinched with orchestral fireworks and the slight elevation of the lower treble adds a whitish sparkle and detail, but overall this is a very serious speaker. NG

To Read The Full Review, Click Here

Usher Be-718

This stand-mount two-way delivers surprisingly deep bass extension from its 7” woofer, and the beryllium tweeter is clean, sweet, extended, and highly resolving. The Be-718’s treble reproduction is notable for its lack of grain and glare, even when pushed hard. The spatial presentation is spectacular, with a wide deep soundstage. A great speaker and a tremendous value. RH (TAS #176)

DALI Mentor 2

Falling midway between the Ikon and Helicon lines, the stand-mounted Mentor 2 mates a single 6.5” mid/bass driver to DALI’s hybrid dome/ribbon tweeter module. Exceptional quick, clear, and free from overhang, it combines low tonal coloration and agile dynamics in a musically compelling blend. RH (TAS #174)

Emerald Physics CS 2

A pair of dipole woofers in a baffle combined with a forward-radiating wave-guided compression driver (operating above 1kHz) and knit together by an external digital-signal-processing crossover makes for remarkably truthful and musical sound of considerable dynamic capacity, surprising bass extension, ultra-precise stereo imaging from a narrow radiation pattern, and very flat response. Bi-amplification is required. Unusual but fascinating. REG

To Read The Full Review, Click Here

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