back to article Waterfall Niagara speakers

The UK is slowly trudging its way through an economic crisis and belts are being tightened across the country, so what better time to announce a new set of speakers with a price tag of £25,000? Waterfall Niagara Waterfall's Niagaras: cascade of sound? Yes, that’s right, for a smidgen less than what many people earn in a …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Ah but... they pass the "Toddler test"

    Take 2yr old at full speed + Speaker.

    What comes off worst?

    If it's the speakers, then they are no good to me!

    1. Steven Knox


      If it's the two-year-old coming off worst, that's okay with you?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        that's okay with you?

        Well, obviously.

    2. Matt 13

      at 60kg....

      the small child will either explode on impact, of be crushed beyond recognition as the thing topples over onto it....

    3. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Wrong construction

      With a bit more work on the bottom part you could keep the 2 year old *inside* the thing.

      Plus, if it really, really isn't working anymore, you can fill it up with water and use it as a fishtank. That's clever, recycling already planned..

      As for sound, I'd spend that money on a couple of electro static speakers. That's the thing you ought to compare it with: electrostats plus base driver, and these speakers, and some good classical music with plenty of violins and percussion. Just my opinion :-)

      1. Player_16

        And any true audiophile would tell you...

        ...they're best appreciated when listening to vinyl records - direct-to-disc vinyl: NOT digital!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    1) Where's the obligatory competition to win a set?

    2) Where's the iPod dock?

    3) Will it do justice to my classic collection of S-Club 7?

    Paris? Because they don't come more transparent.

  3. Rob Kendrick

    25 grand, and no amplifcation? Pah.

    You want a pair of Meridian DSP8000 loud speakers. Commonly considered to be the best on earth, they're around 30k per pair, but that includes DACs and amplification (they take digital in). All the magic's done in the digital domain for no loss. And they're made from cabinets that don't look like they'll vibrate, like glass.

  4. Paul Westerman


    "How does 25 grand's worth of sound?" doesn't make sense. Thank you.</pedant>

  5. Stuart Archer


    "Your speakers are ready now, Mr Rooney"

    All the better to hear your booing fans with...

    Seriously though, you check out a £25k pair of speakers without subjecting them to the rigors of a full orchestral or operatic score?

    1. Adam Foxton


      What's one of the most obvious things you think of when thinking of opera singers? Their glass-shattering vocals. You'd be mad to use these to play opera!

      1. Ted Treen

        I'm sure they're wonderful, BUT... I suffer from tinnitus in both ears, I don't suppose I'd hear £25k's worth of difference twixt these and something set at a rather more rational price.

  6. Michael 82
    Thumb Up

    Someone please hold me back!

    I've started dribbling like a baby.. But please please stick Altern8's Infiltr8 202 on and stand well back! Given that theres a few Aphex Twin tracks come to mind instantly that will prove a test for these speakers.... Then you might want to hook up a Technics and put some 'Orca' from Luckyspin Records, etc etc. I feel like a teenager again and I havent even bought a pair yet!

    1. Cameron Colley

      Bucephalus Bouncing Ball?

      I'd love to know if it resonates on these.

      Michael 82: If you haven't already got it I recommend Alarm Will Sound's Aphex covers album.

  7. jonathan keith

    Yes, but...

    What do they sound like when you play a downloaded mp3 through an ipod, yeah?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All around the world?

    That was on Californiacation wasn't it?

    Were you interested to see how an album that was slated for its overuse of compression and apparent digital clipping sounds when you throw £25k at it?

    1. Peter Hewitt-Dutton

      Here! Here!

      I was going to say something similar.

      If you are going to listen to Chilli's on speakers like that, try Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik. That sound simply brilliant on good cones. Albums after that sound awful!

  9. Owen Sweeney

    Passive sub?


    Doing it on the cheap.

  10. stucs201

    Natural Frequency?

    Anyone else reminded of that trick where the appropriate note will cause glass to resonate and shatter?

    Grenade - another shrapnel producer

  11. stuartrc


    £25K of speakers being driven by a bargain basement amp!! just think how nice they would have been with a decent set up

  12. Harry

    I wonder what the salesmen call their potential customers ?

    If a customer and their money are soon parted, I'd guess ... Niagara Fools.

    1. Adam Foxton

      how about


  13. Mike Brown


    you mentioned that your not audiophile. your right. im not either but red hot chilli peppers? dear god..... what a waste of good speakers.

    like some one mentioned not taking some decent classical is scandelous. Or some good old S+M from metalica would have given these £2500 bad boys a run in to remeber.

  14. adrianww

    You must be joking!

    For that kind of money you can probably get a very good set of nearfield or midfield studio monitors and do a decent bit of acoustic treatment on the listening space. I'd bet that the net result would sound far better for the same money (or possibly for quite a bit less). It's like buying B&O stuff - very pretty, but you can get much better results for the same outlay by buying something else.

  15. thefutureboy


    Where are the mp3 samples to go with that review so we can hear how great they sound?

  16. Lottie

    Nice, but

    They won't fit on the desk next to my monitor, so how can I listen to Youtube clips of Anal Cunt on them?

    1. LuMan


      OK, Lottie. The bill for the new keyboard's on its way...

  17. jake Silver badge

    But how do they stack up to my ...

    ... mid-1980s Boston Acoustics studio monitors?

    (Wired with 8AWG lamp flex, of course ... nothing but the best for me!)

  18. gerryg
    Thumb Down

    An alternative

    £25,000 = roughly 2000 concert tickets of a mixture of half decent jazz venues, chamber music in churches/church halls/ some half decent geezers down the pub, and one ticket somewhere near Dartford to see <name your choice of supergroup> at the O2.

    And you still haven't bought any amplifiers, CD players or CDs.

    Of course, the upside is that you will have spent a lot of time listening to..., what's it called again? ah yes, "live music".

    Then, when you do listen to some recorded music, you'll work out that it wasn't created by the musicians but by the recording engineer: a couple of bars from this take, the phrase from that take, fake ambience and some autotuning for the hottie who can't actually, err, sing.

  19. David Haworth

    @Rob Kendrick

    ha yes, I'd prefer a pair of DSP 8000's too, and no worries about the bass there either, what with 6x8" woofers driven by 3 dedicated amps. in fact the bass probably needs taming via room correction rather than enhancing. that said, I've really not got the room for them. I'd be happy with 3 DSP33's if I could find them at a good price :)

    as for these niagara's. I guess they're pretty enough but for that kinda outlay, would you expect them to leave the dumpy box design behind and try to go for something curvy and smooth? Even wooder speakers are typically shaped these days to avoid standing waves and the like.

  20. hi_robb

    They look nice but...

    Don't really sound all that great. I've heard previous incarnations of these speakers when hifi shopping and wasn't all that impressed by them. Fairly plodding, slow one note bass, and screatchy treble. That could have been down to the room, setup etc but I don't think it was.

    The new ones look very similar so probably sound similar.

    Far better getting a pair of these for 5k which sound fecking fantastic. They really do disappear once the music starts playing, leaving you just a pin point soundstage both height and depth wise. Johnny Cash smoking a fag while playing? You'll hear the spiralling waft the smoke takes as he blows it out never mind him smoking it. As for bass, my kids are genuinely frightened when I turn the volume up.

    You'll still need the source, pre and power amps though :-)


  21. Hud Dunlap

    but you are still listening to CD's

    I have pretty much a tin ear but I can still hear the difference between CD's and vinyl. I don't see the point.

    Wasn't someone trying to come up with Blue ray based music for better sound?

    1. Cameron Colley

      Originally recorded on what?

      In the days of simply taking an old Jazz recording and shifting it onto CD I can understand how you could -- but seeing as most modern recordings will be digital form the get-go there won't be any ultra-high or ultra-low frequencies which vinyl may or may not produce better. Or do you think that the CD remastered to sound better on vinyl somehow has a better ambiance?

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. J 3

    what 25 grand’s worth of speaker actually sounded like

    I reckon they probably sound exactly like the 10-20x cheaper ones, once you do a proper double blind evaluation of both with a good sample of listeners. Knowing the price of something makes it look/taste/sound/feel/etc. better, it's a well known psychological fact.

    I can't believe nobody has used this icon yet, on a story about pathetically expensive speakers.

    1. Tom 7


      Double blind tests have effectively been banned by the 'HiFi' audio industry for years - they make the journalists look like fools and shows the manufacturers up as somewhat economical with the truth. No magazine dares run them as no manufacturer will lend to anyone who does.

      1. Jim 59
        Thumb Up

        Double blind

        I suspect the thought of a double bind test between these speakers vs. a bog standard pair of big £2000 floor standers would have Waterfall sweating.

  23. Adam Williamson 1

    hud dunlap:

    You can hear the difference, sure. Everyone can hear the difference. The question is which one's better. That's more controversial. =)

    Blu-Ray audio already exists, as does SACD. They're both very slightly popular amongst rich twats who should have their excess money surgically removed, I'm sorry, I mean 'audiophiles'. And not amongst anyone else. If you go to a big enough record store they'll have a small section dedicated to these high-resolution discs, with a small selection of typical audiophile shit music (and, to be fair, a couple of R.E.M. and good U2 discs, if memory serves).

  24. John Smith 19 Gold badge


    But are they a patch on the Dominator XL?

  25. I didn't do IT.

    Diamond crystal glass?

    OK, which is it:

    a) Zirconia (artificial diamond - compressed, superheated carbon) crystal cut into shape

    b) Swarovski crystal or similar glass panels? Perhaps under a "Diamond(tm)" brand name?

    c) Diamond cut, high quality (but stil regular) glass?

    If these things are really artificial diamond (a), I can see the cost is reflecting the true quality of materials. If it truly just (lead) crystal glass(b), I see a great mass of expense for expense's sake. If this is just regular glass (c), I find it hard to see the value here over similar quality equipment for considerably less.

    Of course, if they can fabricate artificial diamond in panels that size, THAT's the real tech story here!

  26. Robert E A Harvey
    Paris Hilton


    Sorry, I thought you said 'waterfall Viagra'

    Paris understands.

  27. James Pickett


    "I can still hear the difference between CD's and vinyl"

    So can I - the vinyl ones have the clicky, scratchy background noise and need constant cleaning to stop them getting worse.

    Bear in mind that virtually all recordings are now made digitally, even when they are later transferred to vinyl. I'm not really sure why transferring the code to CD should spoil it...

  28. Craig Vaughton

    May the source be with you...*

    £25k for some interestingly designed speakers, but if the relatively cheap £500 Japanese amp that drove them is anything to go by, its no wonder they didn't sound that impressive and no mention of what was providing the input, CD, SACD, turntable?

    There again, if the accompanying photos show the only set of speaker connections, then your £25K is simply buying a pair of expensive glass boxes that happen to double as speakers; what no option to bi-amp or tri-amp? I'll pass.

    *Old hi-fi lovers will know where that comes from.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Thanks, but no thanks

    I'll just stick with the old NS1000's, thank you.

  30. Chris Miller
    Thumb Up

    Quad ESLs

    The only hifi speaker worth the name, and a comparative snip at £7,000. Don't listen to them unless you've got the money, because nothing else will ever do - and don't bother if you just want a thumping bass - but for listening to piano or voice these are the :-

    Owning Quads is like owning a Roller, if anything ever goes wrong (I broke a connector during a house move) you can take them back to Huntingdon and they will fix them for a very reasonable price.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      I didn't have the space for ESLs on the desk... a pair of Mission 747s had to suffice:

      The rest was QUAD 44/FM4/404-2.

      Excuse the crappy pic from pre-history.

  31. SlabMan

    Glass isn't a good material for speaker cabs

    There are two sets of parallel walls in these cabinets, and glass is a very good reflector. So there will be some nice standing waves creating peaks and troughs in the audio. And coz they don't want anything ugly in their nice glass box, there's no way you can put some absorptive material in there to damp them. Glass itself is also quite resonant, so the cabinets will probably ring and add some colouration. You know, in the old days, before everyone decided they had golden ears, hi-fi kit used to be tested. Let's see a frequency plot.

    1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Dampening is there

      I've thought about building speakers like these for my home even before I saw these pics. You'll see from the photos that there are large dampeners around the woofers, holes in the passive resonator, and there's room for more dampening under the passive. My cost estimates were far lower and I still couldn't justify it, not even when it's a speaker, a sculpture, and a hobby project all at once. I was also going to use polycarbonate because it won't crack.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Been done

        If I recall correctly, Magnat did them once. Looked cute, but the material is a fantastic dust magnet. I have no idea how they sounded, just noticed them somewhere..

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Nice photos.

    Congratulations on concentrating on the essential features of these speakers - they look stunning and they cost more than we can afford.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Crowd Surfing

    I like to see a guitar player jump off those on the stage! Hope he doesn't get hurt.

    Man with the money for those I could have a nice JBL/or Yorkville setup, a 36 ch mixer and even buy a nice safe portable stage! (with the pipes/bolts, and 1/2 turn hex key latch system) Although, I'll need some sand bags for the speaker tripods..if there's wind, which might cost extra.. I'm thinking 8-10KW , turn the volume up and watch the lights dim. (what do you mean we need three phase power?)

    Seriously to stay on topic, Who will buy glass speakers? Martha Stewart? Chef Ramsey?

  34. The Mighty Spang

    Who's Black Magic Woman?

    I think you'll find it was Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac who did that. not some crappy knockoff by hippy acoustic guitar players.

    1. jake Silver badge

      @The Mighty Spang

      "I think you'll find it was Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac who did that. not some crappy knockoff by hippy acoustic guitar players."

      I think you'll find that Fleetwood Mac's original (live) version was "hippy acoustic guitar", whilest Santana's version was electric from the git-go.

      On the other hand, the Author was clearly referencing the Santana version (for reasons that are evident in the article), making your comment moot.

      On the gripping hand, your subject line "Who's Black Magic Woman?" boggles the mind and gratifies the senses[1] ... Can you imagine how Keith Moon would have handled the rhythm as set down by Santana? I sure as hell can't ... but I wish I could hear it, just once!

      [1] STR, and I'll buy you a beer next time we're in the same town :-)

  35. Robert Hill

    EPIC test fail...

    As others have commented:

    1) No operatic or classical evaluation music - fail

    2) No frequency or response plots - fail

    3) A bargain-basement £500 Marantz amplifier tied to £25k speakers - fail

    But perhaps the biggest fail of all is going to a shop that has not a SINGLE amplifier in stock that could EVER do justice to speakers in that price range. Which means, to me, that they probably don't sell a whole lot of Niagaras to start with, or have any idea how to really show them off - sonically that is. You complain about a lack of bass - but with only "70 watts" of power from that Marantz, what did you expect? Speakers with a large passive radiator like that need some OOOMPH to drive them, and to provide proper control - I would start at 200 watts at a minimum, and then go upwards from there. In point of fact, 80 watts from a fairly good Creek power amp is what I use for my Epos bookshelf speakers, which are a lot more efficient and less demanding than those NIagaras - and well under an order of magnitude less expensive.

    At £25k for the speakers, you are talking about Conrad Johnson, McCormack, Mark Levinson, etc. amplifiers...they should cost at least half of what the speakers cost.

  36. Bill Karwin

    Waterfall 2006

    Reading the headline, I thought this story would be about people who present technical seminars at the Waterfall Conference 2006 at Niagara Falls, New York.

  37. Lloyd
    Thumb Down

    they'd better sound good

    Cos they look fugly. Glass? How very 80's Miami vice.

  38. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
    Thumb Down


    I don't read The Register for breathless and unquantifiable advertorials about reassuringly expensive audio products that may, or may just as likely not, be any better than something worth 1% as much.

  39. Jim 59

    Pure Affectation

    Glass walls? Great. Can I get that with a bamboo pickup arm, some "Oxygen free" cables, a pack of green marker pens, a valve based amp and some gold plugs.

    1. Robert Hill
      Thumb Up

      Nice article, thanks for posting!

      Reminds me of when Audiophile magazine did a speaker cable test, appropriately blind for once, and one of the highest rated cables was 18 gauge power what connects a lamp to a socket. They fell all over themselves trying to explain it away and be apologetic to their large advertisers, i.e., the hifi wiring companies...kind of "no, but REALLY the other cables just had this extra aura of spaciousness to them that we didn't quite feel with the power cable, but we rated it higher anyway..." LOL.

      I don't totally agree with all the author's points (but most) - my Creek amp has no tone controls, but IMHO if you want to equalise your room get a true graphic or parametric equaliser, not a set of BASS/TREBLE knobs. If you don't want to equalise your room, then having the controls are just more STUFF in the signal path, which can only be neutral at best, bad for the sound at the worst.

      I tune my system by moving my subwoofer and adjusting it's cutoff frequency, nothing more...

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Speaker placement is everything

    In this case - don't put them near a window or your house might catch fire.

  41. Eduard Coli
    Gates Horns

    How rich

    The recession is more of something for the lower classes.

    Sales of luxury goods actually increased during the worst of it and there was a report recently that said there were 16% more in the privileged classes and those privileged few were also 19% more wealthy.

    Where do you suppose all of that money came from?

  42. SlabMan

    Interesting experiment

    Find the resonant frequency of the boxes, then pump a high power sinewave through them. Have a dustpan and brush handy...

  43. P.Nutt

    Title goes here.

    But I have a 3 year old and 1 year old in the house who are experts in finding the weak spots in ANY modern technology and destroying it so these things would be down to nothing more than expensive paper weights in no time.

  44. Jim 59

    glass walls = affectation

    I am not saying these are bad speakers, but I'm guessing Waterfall would avoid a double blind test against some £2000 floor-standers, a second hand CD player and a bog standard Jap amplifier.

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