Value-Priced Loudspeaker of the Year
KEF had a long and fruitful connection with the BBC LS3/5a loudspeaker because it built the drive units for every original variant. So, when it came to celebrating KEF’s 50th year in style, what better way to show what the company was capable of than to make an homage to that quintessential standmount monitor. The result: the £800 per pair LS50. Featuring a custom Uni-Q two-way concentric drive unit derived from the top-end Blade, this loudspeaker sounds as striking and as exciting now as it did when first launched in 2012. The LS50 faces and still sees off many hot challenges, almost irrespective of price. We tested the LS50 in the context of a basic system featuring Arcam’s A19 amplifier and irDAC converter, and we think you’ll struggle to find a better-balanced system unless you spend thousands more. If that doesn’t represent good value, what does? (Reviewed in Issue 116).
Standmount Loudspeaker of the Year
We’ve long been fans of Raidho’s ported two-way standmount concept. Starting with the C-1, and then the C-1.1, Raidho’s earlier standmount designs featured a stepped baffle with a sophisticated ribbon tweeter, and distinctive aluminium oxide-coated ceramic cone driver. But a couple of years ago, the company replaced that aluminium oxide coating with one and a half carats of industrial diamond, turning the bass driver black and making the Raidho D-1 as far above the C-1.1 as the C-1.1 is above most standmounts. It makes a clean, bright – yet not forward – sound with outstanding imaging properties and surprisingly deep bass. Paradoxically for a small loudspeaker it works best in free space in a big room, and when placed properly makes you wonder if you need anything bigger. Starting at £15,000 per pair with stands, the D1 is not the cheapest standmount option around, but when has the best ever been the cheapest! (Reviewed in Issue 105).