“Glorious reflections”: Hi-Fi Choice reviews the ‘real-world approach’ of the Larsen 8 loudspeaker

“Most speakers are tuned for ideal acoustic conditions,” notes Chris Ward in the April Issue of Hi-Fi Choice. But in reality very few of us live in a home that offers such conditions – which is why Swedish brand Larsen takes a decidedly different approach to loudspeaker design. Ward puts the top-of-range Larsen 8 though its paces. 

Traditionally, loudspeakers are designed and calibrated to perform optimally in an anechoic chamber, a room with absorbent material on all surfaces hence without sound reflections. But in the real world we neither live nor listen in such a room, so to get optimal sound from our speakers requires precise placement well away from walls – leaving us with a lot less ‘room’ for living and listening.

In contrast, Larsen speakers are cleverly designed to resolve this dilemma by working with, rather than fighting against, sound reflections. Constructed to thrive and perform phenomenally in a normal room, they use surface sound reflections to their advantage to enrich the listening experience rather than degrading it. Designed to stand flush against the rear wall of the listening room, they use the wall to create a deep and full bass from a relatively compact cabinet. This placement, combined with the unique positioning and angle of the drivers, which are flanked by absorption material, virtually eliminates the wall as a source of colouration.

Sounds like a no-brainer in theory. But how does it sound in practice?

Larsen 8 loudspeaker

Opening with Ben Harper’s Gold To Me, Ward is immediately struck by the true-to-life percussion and the smooth clarity of the top-end. “Some speakers struggle to reproduce cymbals without harshness or fatigue, but the Larsen 8 creates a very realistic metallic tone that somehow has real airiness alongside plenty of body and richness. There is something about the way it propagates high frequencies that is extended, sweet and clean, yet very solid and rich at the same time.”

And what of the aforementioned bass: can this fairly compact cabinet really pull it off?

“The bass line kicks in with properly deep extension and surprising agility, yet absolutely no sense of fluster or strain from such a modest box. If you think you need a dedicated subwoofer or monster speakers to create quality bass, think again. As this funky, soulful song fills out with drums, hand chimes, guitars and tambourine, one appreciates that this is one extraordinary speaker.”

Ward continues his test with The Grid from Philip Glass’ Koyaanisqatsi. “This is a highly complex and challenging piece of music for speakers to convey and the Larsen 8 does an incredible job for such a compact design… Mighty impressive.”

“This is a masterpiece of design, rooted in understanding empirical sound qualities and refined from detailed listening in real-world rooms,” Ward concludes. “Placed against a wall with sympathetic furniture it does an amazing job of disappearing, until it produces such sweet music that heads turn.”

Read the full review, which also includes a Q&A with designer John Larsen, in the April 2017 issue of Hi-Fi Choice

Discover the complete Larsen range at www.larsenhifi.com

To find your local Larsen dealer, contact the brand’s UK distributor Sound Fowndations