The Lotus Group Granada
I've now heard The Lotus Group Granada UB II Loudspeaker with an Active Crossover ($125,000/pair) twice. The first time was in Northern CA, where I joined Joseph Cohen of The Lotus Group and designer/engineer Manny La Carrubba for an extended listening session devoid of all the usual CES attractions. The second time was in the less-hospitable environment of the Venetian. (You have not lived until you try to focus on Fritz Wunderlich singing a transporting Mozart aria while the sounds of Maria Callas suffering through Verdi blast from the other room, and the person sitting behind you decides to discuss the stock market with his companion).
But I digress. The Granada is built around the ultra-expensive, hand-constructed Feastrex driver, whose stand-alone cost is approximately $27,000/pair. Add to that the cost of four handmade 12" dual voice-coil woofers designed specifically for dipole use, and the cost of the cabinet and active crossover housing, and you begin to understand the six-figure price.
Joe Cohen came up with the basic concept, including drivers, dimensions, and shape of the enclosure. Then Manny La Carrubba, who designed the equally unique Beolab 5 loudspeaker, added a rear-firing tweeter to balance the speaker's power response, and an active DSP digital crossover that adjusts the Granada UB II to its surroundings. The speaker price includes the cost of Manny traveling to the speaker's final destination to adjust its room response.
When I first heard the speaker, I was most impressed by its tremendous control and detail in the midrange in the bass, notable low extension, and seamless integration between the woofers and Feastrex driver. The air around images and the size of the soundstage were also quite wonderful. Frankly, I love it. That was when it was paired with a Lamm Industries LL2.1 preamp. At CES, in a much smaller space, the bass was intentionally turned down, and the preamp was the BAT VK-3ix, a good preamp but not up there with the Lamm.
Nonetheless, the beauty of this speaker is something special. I continue to have some questions about the treble response, which on some recordings lent a hardness to strings that I have not heard previously from Feastrex drivers. (In all fairness, I encountered hard, edgy treble at thiis CES on far more loudspeakers than I wish to recall). Once the treble is smoothed out, this speaker will definitely be a head-turning, ear-opening contender.
Associated components included wiring from PranaWire and Acoustic Revive, Hanns Acoustics T-60 turntable ($6200) equipped with an Ortofon Windfeld cartridge ($3700) and Graham Phantom II arm (almost $5000); Hanns Acoustics CD-20 CD player ($2200), and Acoustic Revive power distribution boxes ($1750 up).