Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

Bowers & Wilkins’s 50th Anniversary: The 800 D3

There’s no question about it: it’s kind of lame to call the presser for a new loudspeaker an “event.” A plywood box with some extruded-aluminum and fancy drivers doesn’t get the blood flowing quite like the introduction of automotive stalwarts, such as Ferrari’s V8-powered sports car models, Porsche’s iconic 911, or BMW’s benchmark-setting M3. But in the case of the Bowers & Wilkins 800 D3, the newest flagship of the company’s legendary 800-series, the “event” moniker strikes me as warranted.

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One Day at Magico

I often find that a company’s products are a reflection of their creator, and in the case of Magico’s loudspeakers, the resemblance to Alon Wolf is unmistakable. The founder of the Hayward, California, manufacturer is a serious man, one who talks with an unwavering sense of purpose. As I sat across from him in his office, his fanatical attention to quality became quickly apparent. Behind him was part of a medium-format camera on a gorgeous wooden tripod that he used to take the stunning photographs that adorn the walls of his office. On his wrist was a Japanese watch with a movement that makes a Patek Philippe’s look amateurish by comparison. And on his desk were a couple of drivers from a competing loudspeaker maker that he eagerly compared to his own designs, explaining in detail how the materials and methodologies that Magico employ offer superior performance. For Wolf, appearance comes a distant second to technical excellence. “We build loudspeakers, not furniture,” he told me matter-of-factly.

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Sonus Faber's Chameleon Press Introduction

Being cool isn't really a matter of choice. It's one of those things that one either has or doesn't. Clothing, style, surrounding company -- each of these can certainly add a little luster to the patina, but they merely serve to adorn one's intrinsic character with a bit more flair. Sooner or later, true nature will reveal itself. This thought crossed my mind on April 29 as I made my way south from New York City's Penn Station to the meatpacking district, en route to Sonus Faber's intimate press event for its new Chameleon line of loudspeakers.

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MartinLogan's Ambitious Neolith

On November 7 and 8, 2014, MartinLogan demonstrated its new Neolith loudspeaker ($80,000 USD per pair), the finest electrostatic loudspeaker (ESL) the Kansas-based firm has ever produced. I arrived at Overture Audio, located in Wilmington, DE, with high expectations, and was not disappointed. The Neolith, it should be noted, is pretty massive, standing 74.8" tall, and weighing in at 385 pounds. Finished in a beautiful Rosso Fuoco finish that looked automotive-grade, the phenolic resin enclosure was impressive, with a rakish, angular design that smacked of the Lockheed Martin F-117 Stealth Fighter, or possibly something from Automobili Lamborghini.

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