Everywhere I go I hear about Andrew Jones the speaker design wizard, and how suddenly, this "trending" new combination of established manufacturing smarts (ELAC America) and engineering magic is making high-value speakers at astonishingly low prices. (I had just submitted a review of the ELAC Debut B6 for the May issue of Stereophile before boarding the plane for Vegas.)
Sometimes, even in audio, numbers do speak for themselves. I reviewed the Rogue Sphinx ($1395) almost two years agoand still, everyday I like it more. The Sphinx continues to deliver more quality sonics (into a wider variety of speaker loads) per dollar than any amp I ever knew. Now they appear to have accomplished the same thing againthis time it is a beautiful little $1695 preamplifier called the RP-1.
Taking a photo of a single speaker for a show report presents a challenge, especially if the speaker is narrow and tall. In the case of the new MartinLogan EM-ESL X, the flagship of the ElectroMotion series (at $3995/pair, I make it close enough to $4000 be part of my territory), I solved the problem by enlisting the help of the uncommonly photogenic Erin Phillips, Communications Manager for MartinLogan and Paradigm.
With two years in research and development, Monitor Audio's Platinum Series II involvesaccording to Dean Hartley, Monitor Audio's Technical Director"advances in every area of design: electrical, mechanical, magnetic, acoustic and aesthetic."
The Monitor Audio Platinum II involves some major improvements in driver technology. Dean Hartley told me that they had moved a good way towards completion of these changes when the original Platinum Series speakers were introduced, but they felt that further improvements were possible, and they wanted to be absolutely sure they got it right, so they played it safe by going with the existing technology.
Getting near the top of the $4k$18k range, at $16,500/pair is the Magico S1 (Mk.II)which is actually the lowest-priced speaker from Magico. Although it looks similar to the original S1, the Mk II has a newly designed 1" diamond-coated Beryllium diaphragm tweeter and a new 7" mid/bass driver incorporating Magico's Nano-Tec cone material. As was the case for the Mk.I, the enclosure of the Mk.I is formed from a single piece of extruded aluminum, but with a new massive top plate machined to a 3D convex shape, and a thicker base plate.
At $15,995/pair, the Tempus III is the top-of-the-line from Ryan Speakers. Their speakers have impressed me before as offering high quality for the price, but perhaps not world-beaters. The Tempus III is different. It uses proprietary drivers, including a new beryllium-dome tweeter, two side-firing woofers, and a midbass that covers the range from 100Hz to 350Hz.
Moderately Priced Speakers. That's my assignment for this year's CES show reportas well as moderately priced turntables and other phono equipmentModerate being defined this time as priced from $4000/pair to $18,000/pair. Right at the top of this range is the $18,000/pair Raidho XT-2, an extremely slim floorstander that uses the same tweeter as the rest of the Raidho range and two 4" cone drivers.
Constellation Audio’s impressive systemCygnus Media Server/DAC ($38,000), Altair 2 preamplifier ($78,000), and Hercules 2 monoblock amplifiers ($180,000/pair), as well as MIT cabling and Shunyata power treatmentfed the MartinLogan Neolith beauties ($80,000/pair) with enough power to make deep percussion sound real in the next room.