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Sound Advice: A standout option for tower speaker upgrade

Don Lindich, Tribune News Service on

Published in Tech Advice

Q. I have a pair of entry-level GoldenEar tower speakers and while I liked them initially, over time I have become dissatisfied. The tweeter has a lovely high end and great imaging, but despite a lot of experimenting with speaker placement something is lacking in the lower midrange that leaves me cold to the point I am not listening much. I think it is time to look into something different, and I am going to take my sweet time finding them so I do not end up buying a third time.

Some of my fondest audio memories are from my college years when I worked in a stereo shop. Of all the speakers there I was most smitten with the KEF 104.2 towers. No matter what I played over them, I was in love. They just sounded so good! I can look for a used pair of those, but do you have any new speaker recommendations for me for $1,500 or less?

—L.R., Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

A. GoldenEar makes good speakers but apparently they are not your cup of tea. Given your affinity for KEF it seems you are a fan of the British sound, which is characteristically warm, engaging and agreeable to the ear, while also being detailed, precise and engineered to a high level of technical excellence. With your tastes I strongly suggest you look at the Q Acoustic 3050i speakers, which at $999 are well under your $1,500 limit. I just finished reviewing them, and while I can’t compare them directly to the KEF 104.2, I can say they deliver all those satisfying qualities of good British sound that keeps you coming back for more.

When you look at the Q Acoustics 3050i speakers for the first time you will see they even resemble the KEF 104.2, with the tweeter mounted between two equally sized drivers facing the listener. Look a little closer and you will see that the high-frequency driver combines a dome tweeter with a concentric ring radiator tweeter. This combination provides beautifully open, detailed and rich sound found in only the very best speakers. The long list of awards won by the 3050i shows I am far from the only fan, and attests to their excellence.

 

The Q Acoustics website goes into a lot of detail about the 3050i’s innovative engineering, and I suggest you start there. Those looking for a bookshelf speaker should check out the $449 3020i, another perennial award winner. qacoustics.com

Hanasco toothbrush deal is back: Whenever Hanasco has run their special offer with a sonic toothbrush including eight brushheads, they tend to sell out quickly. This leads to emails from readers asking me to let them know when they are available again. Well, the deal is back for $32.99 on Amazon. It’s a bit more than January’s $29.99 price, but given inflation since then it is understandable and still a great deal.

Sonic toothbrushes use a vibrating brushhead to do a very thorough job cleaning your teeth, making them feel like you just had them cleaned at the dentist. They have traditionally been quite expensive, but smaller companies like Hanasco are putting out products that offer features and performance comparable to high-end toothbrushes, but at a fifth to a tenth of the price. I’ve tested a few others since I first tried the Hanasco and it is the one I keep coming back to. I think the substantial handle is a good fit for my hand and brushing style, and it helps isolate feedback from the vibrating brushhead. After all, you want the vibrations cleaning your teeth, not buzzing in your hand!

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