2021 Editors’ Choice Awards: Loudspeakers $10,000 – $20,000
Audio Solutions Figaro L
In most areas of sonic performance this substantial (154 lbs.), three-way, five-driver loudspeaker, manufactured in Vilnius, Lithuania, achieves well above what’s expected at its price point. It plays coherently and authoritatively with music that makes significant dynamic and low-frequency demands, but it is also capable of nuance and detail. With a sensitivity of 92dB and a nominal impedance of 4 ohms, the Figaro L is not a difficult load for most amplifiers. The speaker ships with two pairs of front baffles, one with a grille cloth and one without. A steel outrigger base with large adjustable spikes ($650) should be considered an essential accessory.
Legacy Focus SE
The massive, six-driver, four-way Focus SE is capable of creating a big sound in every sense of the word, while delivering the kind of speed and resolution from the midrange onwards that is customary in better ribbon and electrostatic speakers, as well as a seamless blend between drivers. The upper mids and treble have life and air, along with a slightly forward midrange perspective. A sensitivity of 94.5dB makes the Focus SE easy to drive. A lot of loudspeaker for the money.
Von Schweikert Audio UniField 2 MkIII
The UniField Two is a two-and-a-half-way design in which a 7″ coaxial driver is augmented below 80Hz by an aluminum-cone woofer. Internal chambers define a mini-labyrinth, which significantly dampens the vent output. The coaxial technology together with a non-resonant enclosure yields exceptional soundstaging and image focus. Expect impressive bass-range performance when the UniField is matched with a high-damping-factor solid-state amplifier, though the bass balance will be shifted toward the midbass. The UniField competes effectively with British stand-mounts from Spendor and Harbeth, offering greater rhythmic precision and bass heft.
$11,800 (stands $1190)
Marking MBL’s entry level for omnidirectional speakers, the Corona Line Radialstrahler 126 three-way contains much of the DNA of its bigger, upper-tier siblings, but brings the cost of acquiring MBL magic way down. The Radialstrahler designs are painstakingly handcrafted in Deutschland and feature intricately assembled omnidirectional drivers—in the 126 model, the midrange and tweeter—the latter reproducing the sweetest, smoothest upper octaves imaginable with effortless openness, detail, and delicacy, sans beaminess, edginess, or harshness. With a pair of 5-inch push-push woofers inside and a rear port, the 126s also reach deeper into the lower octaves than expected, and overall coherence is exemplary. Rich in reach-out-and-touch resolution and utterly convincing instrumental tones and textures, the 126s work within the room (with proper setup) to create a holographic and immersive listening experience. What’s not to love?
Audiovector R3 Arreté
The R3 Arreté is a two-and-a-half-way floorstander with an Air-Motion Transformer (AMT) tweeter and two 6.5″ mid/woof cones with membranes made of cross-woven Aramid fibers in a sandwich structure. High-frequency reproduction is exceptionally open, extended, and non-fatiguing, most certainly thanks to the AMT tweeter. Bass is taut and tuneful; with most recordings the use of a subwoofer isn’t even a consideration. Spatiality and transparency are also first-rate. If detail and neutrality are your things (and you’re willing to forgo some sock and body), the R3 is highly recommended.