November 19, 2020
Speakers are arguably the most important part of any system, it’s the piece of the puzzle that you’ll directly be hearing your music come out of. It’s also one of the pieces you can upgrade first, to make an immediate and direct improvement to the sound quality you’re getting. That said, while this is indeed the case, if you want to bring out the best from your speakers you will still need a detailed system – turntable, amplifier, wires, etc – to compliment it all the way through.
When moving up in speaker price-brackets you can expect to experience a higher-quality listening experience, with nuanced sounds and instruments becoming more noticeable. Better designed components and higher quality components overall ensure lower resonance, distortion, and interference that can affect your sound negatively. All of this helps you achieve crisper, clearer, and more accurate sound profiles that make it seem like listening inside the recording studio.
Bookshelf, stand-mount, or floor-standing are the three types of high-end speakers you’ll find yourself browsing. Bookshelf speakers are small in size, and best suited for smaller to medium-sized rooms. Stand-mount speakers are larger than bookshelf, and typically are placed on floor-mounts. Floor-standing speakers are designed to sit directly on your floor and stand tall, best for larger-sized rooms.
The choice between active (wall-powered, typically have wireless features), and passive speakers (need an amplifier to power them) still holds true here. When choosing the right pair of high-end speakers for you, it is always best to listen to speakers in person, if you can.
We know it’s easy to fall into a rabbit hole while comparing speakers, we’ve been there! So we’ve done some of the hard work, and hopefully can help you narrow your search in finding your perfect pair of high-end speakers.
NB: Speakers in this feature range from £999-£5600
KEF LS50 META
Pros: Metamaterial Absorption Technology, Uni-Q drivers, compact, futuristic design, low distortion
Cons: Needs a good amplifier to bring the best sound out of the speakers
Verdict: Stellar attention to detail, innovative sound technology, and design all come together at a price point that is absolutely worth it.
The LS50 META’s by KEF look and sound like they dropped straight out of the future. Its Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT) not seen in any other speaker, is a highly complex, maze-like structure that absorbs 99% of undesired sound. (Sounds pretty out of this world if you ask us.) This results in a remarkably pure, natural sound profile, free of distortion. The speaker’s 12th Gen Uni-Q drivers also ensure a 3D sound image across any space they’re placed in, meaning the ‘sweet spot’ to enjoy your tunes is anywhere you stand in that room.
Pro-Ject Speaker Box 10 DS2
Pros: Real wood throughout, airy low end
Verdict: Classic looking, straightforward pair of passive speakers that have a tight sound all around.
Pro-Ject’s Speaker Box 10 DS2 are a pair of real wood finished, floor-standing speakers that gives the listener a highly resolving and accurate reproduction of sound. Features such as ultra stiff non-resonating MDF cabinets, PCB direct-wired crossover, and an audiophile, 2-way design come together to deliver an airy, controlled low end and mids that make you feel like your favourite artist is playing right in front of you.
Wharfedale Evo 4.4
Pros: Air Motion Transformer twitter, precise sound
Cons: Size and weight can be an issue for those looking for a smaller option
Verdict: Wharfedale brings its flagship sound technology to an less expensive model – great for those who want top of line sound without an astronomical price point.
A large amount of science and research went into developing Wharfedale’s £6500 flagship model, the Elysian 4. Luckily for the consumer, Wharfedale took all of that research and development, compacted most of that technology and put it into its Evo 4.4. 200W, 3-way design floor standing speakers, and Elysian borrowed cabinet technology allows the Evo 4.4 Air Motion Transformer(AMT) tweeters to really shine. This AMT tech presents high frequencies to the listener in a precise and accurate manner that not a lot of speakers at this price point can match.
B&W 705 S2
Pros: A lot of bass, wonderfully bright treble
Cons: Extruding top tweeter might limit placement options
Verdict: Unique speaker design, with a soundscape that brings life and excitement to the music you’re listening to.
B&W 705 S2 look like they could have come straight out of a ’70s sci-fi flick. Inside of this package B&W delivers “precision sound for sophisticated listening” in these stand mount speakers. Carbon dome tweeters designed by B&W raise the speakers’ double-dome tweeter breakup threshold to 47khz; extremely accurate detail and imagery is achieved because of this. The speakers’ top sitting aluminum-bodied tweeter also gives the unit a unique look while also adding needed resistance to resonance.
Amphion Argon 3S
Pros: Minimal design, titanium-designed tweeter
Cons: Sound might be too flat for some
Verdict: The Amphion Argon 3s are bookshelf speakers made for those who want a compact, and stylish minimal design without compromising sound quality.
These bookshelf speakers leave a lasting impression both sonically and visually. Their minimalist design brings tech typically found in professional studio recording and monitoring to the home, perfect for those who want an accurate studio-like home listening experience. Natural and true sound is at the forefront of the Agron ethos. Smooth highs, a clear transparent mid-range, and an accurate low end bring out new nuances from your recordings.
Dali Rubicon 2C
Pros: Active speakers, wireless, loud, easy-to-use
Cons: No built-in pre-amplifier, uses its own proprietary wireless network
Verdict: The Dali Rubicon 2C’s are perfect for the enthusiast who is looking for a great sounding pair of speakers that are active, and have wireless functionality, but stay true to delivering the best possible sound for their vinyl system.
A hi-fi speaker for the modern age, Dali’s Rubicon 2C are a pair of active speakers that delivers a refreshing experience, all while keeping the company’s signature hi-fi integrity intact. Sitting at the brains of these speakers is Dali’s packaged “sound hub”. This hub allows you to connect your turntable, other audio units, and Bluetooth devices to be sent out in a zero-loss wireless streaming system that is connected to the Rubicon 2Cs. Dali makes this an extremely easy to use experience with a sound profile that’s surprisingly loud and accurate.
Dynaudio Contour 20i
Pros: Dynamic, versatile sound profile
Cons: Good amp is needed to get best of low end
Verdict: Great speaker made for those who listen to music that may have more emphasis on the low end.
These 180W stand mount speakers pack a punch with their compact size. Whether you have your volume almost maxed-out, or less than halfway, you’re going to find clear, consistent, distortion-free sound throughout. A refined driver from the previous Dynaudio Contour model gives the speaker a straightforward crossover, and a newly designed tweeter aids in lowering unwanted resonance. Where this speaker really shines, however, is in its low-end frequencies: its bass will have you questioning how it’s really coming from such a compact size.
Splendor Classic 1/2
Pros: Vintage look, 200-Watts
Cons: Needs a good amplifier for the speakers to really shine.
Verdict: For those who want a dynamic and vibrant listening experience housed in a retro-looking design, these are tops.
Splendor’s new speakers are a symbiosis of modern technology with a vintage aesthetic. Its exterior has an old-school feel, but these speakers are anything but dated – equipped with brand new, state-of-the-art, specifically-designed drivers built by Splendor. The loudspeakers have it all: the low, the mid-range, and the highs all deliver exceptionally, and give you a listening experience that will surely put a smile on your face with every listen.