I rarely encounter a new product that stops me dead in my tracks. But that's what happened when, while reviewing new speakers, I stumbled on some that are so outstanding and priced so aggressively that I knew I had to tell my readers about them right away.
The Emotiva Airmotiv T-Zero speakers are 38-inch-tall towers with a small footprint. Each tower uses two 5¼-inch woofers made of woven carbon fiber (each woofer handling a different part of the sonic spectrum) and an Airmotiv AMT (air motion transformer) tweeter. This technology is orders of magnitude better than that found in comparably priced speakers.
The T-Zero listening experience is sublime, and they fill the room with beautiful, spacious sound of remarkable clarity and definition. They are perfectly balanced from bass to treble, have just the right amount of warmth and richness, and bass impact is far better than the published specifications would lead you to anticipate. Stereo imaging is outstanding. The best compliment any audiophile can pay speakers is, "They sound like music, not speakers." That perfectly describes the T-Zero towers. They sweep you away as you listen.
Granted, at times I notice that they are less refined and full-sounding than the very best speakers I own, especially when playing complex musical passages at high volume. But this barely qualifies as nitpicking, given the thousands of dollars price difference between the respective speakers. They also require an amplifier or receiver compatible with 4-ohm impedances. Onkyo's TX-8020 ($199) or Emotiva's TA-100 ($399) will fit that bill, and the speakers will benefit from more power if you can budget for it.
And speaking of the budget: The first time I heard the T-Zeros, the price was $499. My immediate reaction was, "There is no other speaker under $500 that can touch these." But then Emotiva (emotiva.com) lowered the price to $399 a pair, making this one of the best bargains in audio. My favorite products to recommend are those that give consumers a chance to experience a taste of the very best, but at a price they can afford. The T-Zeros fall into this category.
Q: I need a new stereo receiver to use with Acculab 340 speakers and Koss Electrostatic headphones. The headphones are powered by an energizer box that connects to the receiver's speaker terminals with spade connectors. I am considering the Outlaw Audio RR2160. Is it compatible with spades, and would it be a good choice?
A: Compatibility depends on the size of the spade. It is easier to just use banana plugs because space can be tight on the back panel of a stereo receiver, especially when using both sets of speaker terminals. So, you put banana plugs on the receiver end of the wire, and spades at the speaker end. There are spade-to-banana adapters available if your spades do not fit.
The RR2160 is a great choice for most any system, but it is $799. I don't think your Acculab speakers warrant a receiver that expensive. If you plan on upgrading the speakers someday, I would say go for it.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.