Pioneer's S1-EX: Upstairs Downstairs
"Larry, I've just come from the Alexis Park." Tom Norton, editor of Ultimate AV" button-holed me. "I think the Pioneer speaker is worth a visit. It's one of the only new things I've found over there." Tom's words rung in my ears. Had to see it!
Pioneer's room was downstairs from the very hot $45,000/pair TAD Model-2 loudspeaker. Both speakers were designed by Andrew Jones—Pioneer is TAD's parent company—and under Andrew's leadership, a multi-national team reconfigured the TAD beryllium technology into the 145 lb, three-way, $9000/pair Pioneer S1-EX. Both speakers use the same coincident tweeter-midrange array, except that the S1-EX's midrange unit has a more economical magnesium cone. Pioneer's curved baffle for time-aligning the coaxial driver with the two 7" woofers caught my eye.
Raoul Bauer, leader of the French team responsible for the S1-EX's 4"-thick wood cabinet design, came downstairs from the TAD exhibit to explain the S1-EX's final tuning at London's Air Studio. The recording engineers had rejected the previous S1-EX design because it failed to reproduce correctly the high-level sound of a kick-drum skin damped with gaffer tape. "Hundreds of design hours rejected because of some stupid Scotch tape," lamented Raoul. But there's a happy ending—the current Pioneer apparently made all the Air London engineers smile.
Praise the Lord and pass the Scotch tape! The Pioneer floorstander sounded as fast, dynamic, detailed, transparent, and open as the big TAD upstairs. Did I mention that its curved cabinet design is real purty? Thanks, Tom, you can send me downstairs anytime!