King's Audio Prince II
One of the many delights of CES was running into Neil Sinclair, former owner of Theta Digital, in the hallways of the Venetian. In answer to my question, "What would you recommend I check out?" Neil led me to the King's Audio suite.
At one end of the room stood the Prince IIs ($6000/pair). These are full-range electrostatics that extend from 38Hz up to 26kHz, and are 84dB-sensitive. They're also driven by a 12V, 250 milliamp power supply that won't shock you, your children, or your pets if one of you happens to stumble into them.
The height of the images was wonderful, but what the distributor himself characterized as junky interconnects resulted in a distinct lack of transparency and color. Nonetheless, the timbre of the piano and cello on Schubert's "Arpeggione" Sonata gave indications of being so true that I hope to have another opportunity to audition the Prince II in the future.
Brian Damkroger comments: The King Sound speaker, previously unknown to me, was automatically intriguing simply because it was a floor-standing, full-range electrostatic set to retail at $6000/pair. I don't know about anyone else, but I find it really refreshing to see a $6k speaker that's more than just two or three conventional drivers in a simple ported box enclosure.
King Sound is relatively new to the US, this being their second CES. They are a Chinese Company that's been around much longer in other product lines but have only recently targeted the high-end speaker market.
According to US Distributer Roger Dunaier, King's electrostatics are the result of a collaboration between an electronics and materials engineers and incorporates a number of innovations that solve some four of the more vexing issues with full-range electrostaticslimited dynamic range, poor performance at the frequency extremes, durability, and something else that I don't remember. Being a materials scientist, I naturally asked Roger to explain the materials breakthrough. "Nano-technology" was the answer, and more detail would be proprietary. As an aside, I heard "nano-technology" given as the answer for performance improvements in everything from electrostatic speaker panels to RCA plugs over the course of the day. With the electrostatics, it's at least plausible.
The crowd noise was nearly deafening in the King Sound room and the setup was (by design, according to Roger) poor, but the speakers were full-range, played loud, and seemed to have some of the ultra-low-distortion flavor that classic designs like Quads, or the original MartinLogan CLSes did. More than anything else, their sound reminded me of the better Acoustat models, back in their heyday. Worth a listen, for sure, and I think I'll at least lobby to do a review of these. It will be interesting to hear them in my room, but I'd have to hire about a dozen people to stand in the back of the room and yell to remind myself of how they sounded here.