2013 SoundStage! Network Equipment Buying Guide

GoldenEar Technology Triton SevenPrice: $1399.98 per pair

Website: www.goldenear.com

Roger said: Let’s face it -- not everyone wants or needs a big full-range speaker. If your needs are a tad more modest, the Triton Seven will still provide the big, impressive sound that I’ve come to expect from GoldenEar’s larger floorstanding speakers, but from a smaller, less expensive package.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

Reviewers' Choice

The gist: Big sound for relatively little money.

Contrast Audio Model One As3-RefPrice: $2000 per pair

Website: www.contrast.com.ua

Sid said: Contrast Audio’s ad copy states that their loudspeakers sound very natural, dynamic, and realistic. At least in regard to the Model One As3-Ref, I would tend to agree, and especially in terms of this speaker’s reproduction of voices. The As3-Refs imbued singers with a sense of poise and authenticity in which nuances and emotions were conveyed with a truthfulness uncommon in speakers costing $2000/pair.

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

The gist: Quaint little speaker from the Ukraine with some unique charms.

Axiom LFR1100Price: $3760 per pair in standard finishes

Website: www.axiomaudio.com

Roger said: Axiom Audio’s innovative engineering and first-rate implementation in the LFR1100, including the use of 11 biamped drivers and DSP, have taken bipolar loudspeakers to the next level. Considering the quality of the cabinet and finish, and the fact that it includes a solidly built, outboard digital signal processor, the LFR1100 seems a bargain at its base price of $3760/pair.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Innovative bipolar design out of the House of Axiom.

Dynaudio Focus 260Price: $4900 per pair

Website: www.dynaudio.com

Thom said: As befits Dynaudio’s reputation for producing excellent speakers, their Focus 260 is among the best I’ve heard. This is a speaker that brings out scads of detail, and so needs associated equipment that’s up to the task. Their modest size, perfect for many listening rooms, belies the quality of their output. With their neutral voicing and adequate but not prodigious bass, I would favor them for classical and acoustic music and small-combo jazz. If you’re into speed metal or something equally raucous, look elsewhere. But if your tastes match their impressive capabilities, the Dynaudio Focus 260s belong on your shopping list.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Dynaudio’s specialty: a solid mid-priced floorstander.

KEF X300APrice: $799.99 per pair

Website: www.kef.com

Hans said: That a product designed from the ground up by one of the most reputable speaker companies on the planet costs so little is an achievement. It just works so well and with such ease. Call it a gourmet computer speaker, a desktop hi-fi, or whatever you like -- just understand that this is the small beginning of something significant: the future of high-end audio.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Perhaps the shape and sound of things to come.

Logitech Z600Price: $149.99 per pair

Website: www.logitech.com

Rad said: Logitech’s Z600 wireless Bluetooth speakers have striking looks that you’ll probably either love or hate, and play loudly enough to satisfy anyone using happy with the limitations of desktop speakers. Offering transparent sound in a stylish package, they’re simple to hook up, and the price is on the moderate side.

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Cool little lifestyle stereo computer speakers.

Amphion Ion+Price: $1395 per pair

Website: www.amphion.fi

Hans said: Amphion’s Ion+ is a precision instrument. Its hallmark of accuracy makes it a compelling proposition, and its size and Northern European style make it an attractive one as well.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Finnish minimonitor with a distinctive style and neutral sound.

Canton Chrono SLS 780 DCPrice: $3798 per pair

Website: www.canton.de

Doug said: When people ask me to recommend a top-class, midpriced, floorstanding speaker, what almost always pop to mind are various models from such stalwart brands as KEF, Paradigm, and PSB. What I heard from the Chrono SLS 780 DC means that the next time I’m asked for such a recommendation,Canton, too, will be on the tip of my tongue.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Overachieving small floorstander from Germany.

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