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2012 SoundStage! Network Equipment Buying Guide

GoldenEar Technology Triton ThreePrice: $2000 per pair

Website: www.goldenear.com

Hans said: With a peach of a folded-ribbon tweeter and a powered bass section that should obviate the need of a subwoofer for all but the most depraved bass junkies, the Triton Three is as forgiving of low-powered amps as of harsh recordings. It won’t move heaven and earth in quite the manner that some other reviewers have claimed, but for $2000/pair, I’m not sure you can buy a more complete loudspeaker.

Great Buy

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Solid-value speakers for two grand.

Paradigm Millenia CTPrice: $699.99

Website: www.paradigm.com

Hans said: For one who abhors hyperbole, I’m left with only one conclusion: Paradigm’s Millenia CT is exceptional. This conveniently sized and carefully conceived system doesn’t merely hint at high-end sound -- it actually provides it. If what I’ve written thus far isn’t convincing enough, then perhaps my actions will speak more clearly: I’m buying my review sample.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Compact yet powerful 2.1 system that’s priced right.

Dynaudio Xeo 3Price: $2300 per pair

Website: www.dynaudio.com

Jeff said: The Xeo 3 system is about functionality. It’s also an impressive technology whose time seems to have come. Dynaudio has combined excellent sound quality, good build quality, good looks, and versatility with the technical demands of the day. Listeners now have a viable option for ridding themselves of all those components and tangles of cable cluttering their entertainment centers. The Xeo 3 is a standard-setting system.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Powered, wireless, and really good.

Definitive Technology SM45Price: $398 per pair

Website: www.definitivetech.com

Roger said: The Definitive Technology StudioMonitor 45 is an excellent combination of performance and value in an entry-level loudspeaker. It offers a clean midrange, and smooth high frequencies that provide a high level of performance and musicality. It also has enough bass and power-handling capability to play loud enough when my listening sessions get a bit rowdy. All of this is packaged in an attractive bookshelf design at the ridiculously low price of $199 each.

Great Buy

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Ridiculous value for money.

Fluance XL7FPrice: $469 per pair

Website: www.fluance.com

Thom said: The Fluance XL7F is an incredible value that’s worth every cent of $469.99/pair -- and far more. In fact, Fluance could easily raise the speaker’s price by quite a bit and still be offering the deal of the year.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Just a stupid-good-value Internet-direct speaker.

MartinLogan Motion 40Price: $1900 per pair

Website: www.martinlogan.com

Philip said: The Motion 40 is an exciting speaker, due in no small part to its upfront sound, meaty bass, and clear highs. While some listeners might not appreciate that kind of character, others will enjoy the fact that it holds nothing back, and has an amazing ability to grab the attention with its more in-your-face sound. Combine that with its wonderful fit and finish and nice attention to detail, and I expect MartinLogan’s new Motion 40 will generate considerable interest in the under-$2000 market.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Gateway-into-MartinLogan-sound-type product.

Polk Audio LSiM703Price: $1499.90 per pair

Website: www.polkaudio.com

Roger said: With the LSiM703, Polk has rediscovered their audiophile roots. Not only does it sound very good; it’s also well built, its curved cabinet is attractive in its real-wood veneer, and it’s available at a reasonable price for all that it offers. If you’re in the market for a high-quality, full-size bookshelf loudspeaker, the Polk LSiM703 deserves your consideration.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: New-generation Polk line is their best yet.

MartinLogan ElectroMotion ESLPrice: $2195 per pair

Website: www.martinlogan.com

Hans said: The ElectroMotion ESL is the gateway product to MartinLogan’s more expensive electrostatic designs, and it’s easy to hear why they’ve stubbornly stood by the design, much in the way Mazda stood by its idiosyncratic rotary engine. Like the Wankel, the ElectroMotion isn’t perfect, but its qualities are manifest to my ears. There is no other product like it at or near its $2195/pair price. I suspect that many listeners who hear it will then find more traditional speaker designs to be irrelevant.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: If you can’t afford a larger ‘Logan.

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