We’re celebrating all issues British hi-fi this week on What Hello-Fi?, so we needed to embrace our newly up to date round-up of our favorite units of audio system to have emerged from these isles.
This checklist contains some large, some small, some heavenly high-end, some rather more inexpensive – however all straight from the highest draw on the subject of performance-per-pound worth.
Our verdict? The hi-fi trade has been, and continues to be, spoilt with British engineering expertise, as you possibly can see for your self from the next checklist of superlative hi-fi audio system…
Wharfedale Diamond I (1982)
The unique Wharfedale Diamonds have been the seeds for what has turn out to be one of the vital profitable speaker ranges of all time.
Whereas audio system today come in additional sizes and shapes than ever earlier than, these pint-sized efforts, standing at simply 24cm excessive, have been designed for individuals who wanted a speaker to suit into a decent house.
They’d a very praiseworthy midrange and bass contemplating their finances worth, although they have been barely fussy by way of partnering equipment, working higher with extra upmarket amplification.
Heybrook HB1 (1983)
Heybrook was a British hi-fi producer that began life in 1978 and was named after Devon’s Heybrook Bay, which was close to the positioning of the corporate’s authentic manufacturing facility.
Heybrook obtained off to a flying begin after its inception, with the Peter Comeau-designed, entry-level HB1s proving a spotlight of What Hello-Fi?‘s early years. It was the primary product to win three What Hello-Fi? Awards in a row, no much less.
With a sealed field design, they labored effectively near a wall, however except for that, because of a high-quality end and dynamic sound, the HB1 have been one other instance of a speaker that might maintain its personal in opposition to rather more costly efforts.
Acoustic Vitality AE1 (1988)
Acoustic Vitality’s AE1 have been additionally smaller audio system whose efficiency belied their dimension. They have been able to spectacular punch and dynamic attain – partly because of their metallic drivers, which have been uncommon at the moment.
Additionally they weren’t restricted to 1 decade, evolving over a number of years and a number of other variations to encourage what’s at this time one among our favorite lively audio system, the suitably-named AE1 Active.
Epos ES11 (1991)
We enter the ’90s with Epos’ ES11, which have been comparable in sonic character to the legendary ES14 however out there for a fraction of the value. A win-win, then.
As was common for the model, the crossover was minimal – it employed a single capacitor for the tweeter – serving to them produce surprisingly sturdy bass and wonderful decision, along with excellent rhythmic drive and dynamic expression.
A modest-looking however actually musical pair of audio system, they might ship simply the correct amount of aggression, delicacy and restraint as a music demanded.
Monitor Audio Studio 20 (1992)
The Studio 20 have been, again in 1992, one of the vital detailed-sounding audio system we would encountered.
They wanted some fine-tuning and a good bit of running-in because of these metallic drivers however, these points apart, they have been extremely effectively completed and sounded terrific.
It was no shock that their successors, the new-and-improved Studio 20 SE, arrived a number of years later and occupied our take a look at rooms as our reference mannequin for a few years.
Mission 753 (1992)
The 753 have been an necessary speaker in Mission’s historical past, ushering in a brand new slim floorstander design no wider than an, erm, ice skate (see above).
Each trying and sounding the enterprise, that they had a smörgåsboard of drive items with 4 13cm drivers – two mid/bass drivers, two low bass items – and a single 25cm dome tweeter, by means of which a quick and punchy sound ensured no matter they have been enjoying was enjoyably involving.
Tannoy Mercury M2 (1997)
The Mercury M2 made a right away impression after they burst onto the scene within the late ’90s. Again then, we stated they have been the closest anybody had come to creating the right mass-market standmounter.
Fairly frankly, our ears hadn’t heard a extra satisfyingly musical all-rounder at their worth (£150), so it is hardly shocking that we referred to as them “an especially secure wager [that] will go well with all kinds of programs”.
Wilson Benesch A.C.T. One (1999)
5 years after launching its first product, the Wilson Benesch Turntable, the British firm launched a second: the A.C.T. One speaker.
Unveiled on the 1994 Frankfurt Excessive Finish present, the floorstanders, have been made largely out of carbon fibre (like many Wilson Benesch audio system after them), introducing the world’s first curved carbon fibre composite panel in a speaker design.
These superbly-engineered and elegant-looking towers have been essentially the most analytical and musical audio system we would heard earlier than the flip of the century.
Learn the total Wilson Benesch A.C.T One review
Quad ELS 2805 (2008)
This aspect of the millennium we have now the Quad ELS 2805. In spite of everything, it could be sacrilege to not embrace one of many British firm’s legendary electrostatic audio system on this checklist. So right here it’s.
“Fifty years after its electrostatic audio system first wowed the hi-fi world, Quad breaks new floor,” we stated of the 2805 in 2008.
These one-way audio system (which means there was no crossover within the sign path) fired equal quantities of sound backwards and forwards, so care was wanted establishing. Any hassle was effectively price it, although. The dearth of punch and barely lumpy bass have been drawbacks, however in each different approach they have been really distinctive performers.
Learn the total Quad ESL-2805 review
B&W 800 Diamond (2012)
Persevering with the high-end development, these £18,500 audio system represented the top of B&W’s cutting-edge know-how again in 2012. “The last word expression of all the corporate’s trademark applied sciences.” This has since manifested itself within the newest Diamond range.
From tweeter domes made out of diamond, to cleverly braced and formed cupboards, to cones made out of Kevlar, they have been progressive audio system that on the time showcased unrivalled readability, dynamic attain and quantity. The bass was gorgeous, as was element, and all of this sound was delivered with velocity and punch.
Learn the total B&W 800 Diamond review
KEF LS50 (2012)
The KEF LS50 have been, and stay, blindingly good audio system. They’ve gained a number of What Hello-Fi? Awards over time and have lately shaped the premise of lively variations within the form of the LS50 Wireless II and LSX, in addition to the passive LS50 Meta – all three What Hello-Fi? Award winners themselves.
After all, a hat tip deserves to be directed to KEF’s trademark Uni-Q array (an aluminium dome tweeter within the centre of a magnesium/aluminium–coned mid/bass), which was largely behind the LS50’s insightful and musical, bassy but balanced sound.
Learn the total KEF LS50 review
Neat Iota (2012)
He who dares wins, proper? With a sideways orientation that makes them look extra like an AV centre channel speaker than a pair of stereo audio system, the 13cm-tall Neat Iotas have been definitely completely different, however brilliantly so.
The Teesside-based speaker firm’s uncommon design allowed us to experiment utilizing them with the tweeters positioned on the within or outdoors, the latter of which we most well-liked. The Iotas sounded outstanding – large and daring, with loads of element, weight and scale on supply. And their tiny-boxed design solely added to their attraction.
Learn the total Neat Iota review
Q Acoustics Idea 20 (2013)
The power of the competitors at this worth is all the time fierce, nevertheless it speaks to the abilities of Q Acoustics’ Idea 20 that they continue to be agency favourites.
They utilise what remains to be a few of the firm’s top-tier applied sciences, such because the advanced cupboard design that sees two layers of MDF separated by a lossy Gelcore materials in an effort to dampen resonances. And as a consequence of such progressive engineering, they produce a multi-talented, all-round sound that delivers the whole lot from punch and assault, to subtlety and precision.
The very fact they’re out there at practically half their original price today is staggering.
Learn the total Q Acoustic Concept 20 review
PMC Twenty 26 (2014)
Audio system from PMC’s Twenty vary haven’t solely been profitable awards lately but additionally occupying our take a look at rooms.
Few rival floorstanders are as musical or as balanced because the Twenty 26, whose sturdy dynamics, spectacular element, even tonality and seamless integration is tough to search out fault with. These might not be the newest fashions within the Twenty vary, however they’re amongst our favourites.
Learn the total PMC Twenty 26 review
Spendor SP2/3R2 (2016)
It would be straightforward to dismiss Spendor’s SP2/3R2 as a retro throwback, however that will be to overlook out on a stellar speaker that very a lot deserves the eye of anybody with this finances. “Regardless of a design ancestry that dates again to the 1970s, there’s a lot this dinosaur may educate its trendy competitors,” we famous in our 2016 evaluation.
Sonically, they’re enormous, with a scale and authority that is made for epic blockbuster soundtracks. However there’s completely no scarcity of dynamics or element both, and whereas they do not ship the final phrase in punch or drive, rhythms are delightfully measured.
Learn the total Spendor SP2/3R2 review
ATC SCM 50 (2019)
We’ve been utilizing ATC’s SCM50 as our reference audio system for effectively over a decade, and in that point they’ve been related to only about every bit of electronics that has handed by means of our take a look at rooms. And guess what? They’ve by no means allow us to down.
From time to time we come throughout rival audio system – normally of upper value – that higher these ATCs in some respect, whether or not it’s outright decision, openness, stereo imaging or rhythmic precision.
But we haven’t managed to search out one thing that’s as satisfying an all-rounder or as sensible to make use of as a day-to-day evaluation device. Contemplating the SCM50 was initially launched within the mid-80s, that’s fairly some achievement. It appears nice engineering doesn’t date.
Learn the total ATC SCM 50 review
ProAc Response D2R (2019)
Do not let the shortage of curved cupboards or fancy cone supplies idiot you. The ProAc Response D2R are among the many best audio system we have ever heard and are greater than price of their spot on this checklist.
You will want appropriate stands, appropriate electronics and to spend a good period of time tinkering with positioning, however as soon as sorted, these distinctive standmounters ship an intoxicating mixture of element and leisure that’s robust to beat at this worth.
Learn the total ProAc Response D2R review