"Axial Triphonic Speakers" from Lys Audio
One of the more controversial products at this year's SSI was the demo of "Axial Triphonic Speakers" by Lys Audio. According to company president Jacques Gérin-Lajois (given a running translation from French by one of his associates), this is based on a patent that was obtained 65 years ago, but has not been put into practice until now. As I understand it, it involves starting with a monophonic source, obtained by summing the stereo channels (or multiple channels), and then splitting the mono signal into bass, midrange, and treble, sending these to the appropriate speakers. Depending on the impedances, you can use just one amp to drive all three speakers, or (as was the case with the SSI demo), one amp for the midrange and treble, and another for the bass.
The demo was conducted with the speakers behind a curtain, and consisted of a recording that included nature sounds as well as music. The sound was certainly dynamic, the bass particularly powerful, and the imaging waswell, strange. According to Gérin-Lajois, that's because we're used to the artificial "stereo" imaging of conventional sound systems, and once you listen to his system for a while it will seem natural and conventional stereo will sound wrong. Although I was not allowed to take pictures of the speakers behind the curtain, but Gérin-Lajois did show them to me; they consisted of a ribbon tweeter, horn midrange, and a large box woofer, side by side. The price of the system is expected to be about $30k, and the placement of speaker components can be flexible to suit the environment. Time will tell whether audiophiles will come to accept this radical departure from two-channel and multichannel sound reproduction.