The 2010 CEDIA Show: Day 1
First off, Sandy Gross's new company Golden Ear Technology offered a tidy line of clean-sounding overachievers. Even the top of the line Triton Two Tower is only $2500/pair for a full 3-way system with powered dual woofers and a ribbon tweeter reminiscent of the Heil ribbon design. The accompanying picture fails to convey the sleekness of the tower and, of course, you will have to take my word that it sounded balanced and decidedly full-range. The rest of the line includes the smaller SuperSat 3 ($250 each), a larger SuperSat 50 ($500 each), both passive 2-ways in both horizontal and vertical configurations as well as a pair of complementary powered subs; all get their good looks from the design for the towers. Sandy knows what he is doing.
The big news from MartinLogan will appeal to those of us who remember the Aerius, an early-1990s $2000 product that opened up the world of high-transparency, electrostatic speakers for the less than wealthy among us. The new 2-way ElectroMotion The new 2-way ElectroMotion ELS, with its slightly smaller radiator, is being offered for only $2000/pair in today's imperiled currency. This looks like an overachiever.
Although the announcement was leaked a week ago, I was thrilled to see KEF's new and broad Q series that is based ideas from the English company's striking Concept Blade that made its debut at the 2010 CES. Innovations in the new Q include a revised Uni-Q driver incorporating larger and more powerful tweeters with vented structures and Z-flex surround for the cone element. Aluminum cones with central damping are used in the woofers. The series ranges from the small 2-way Q100 bookshelf ($499.99/pair)to the fairly imposing (but graceful) Q900 floorstander (only $799.99 each) and includes centers, surrounds and a sub.
The biggest surprise for me, however, was the really robust-sounding small 2-way from Pioneer Electronics, the BS-41, with a 5" polypropylene woofer and a 1" soft-dome tweeter linked by a 6-element network. Andrew Jones was proud to demo this (the shipping cartons label these as "Audio Artistry by Andrew") as a representative of a new line that includes a smaller bookshelf design, a floorstander and a subwoofer. It sounded remarkably clean and spacious as a stereo pair and outlandishly better than its surprising price would suggest. All the others in the line are available at Best Buy but the BS41 can be bought only from Pioneer's website. Oh, did I tell you the price is $199 and that's for a pair? WhooHah.
Finally, I am very happy to report that the forward-looking Summit Wireless designs are now in a real-world product. The Aperion Intimus 4T Summit Wireless System is a full 5.1 system consisting of a very small Home Theater One processor (with HDMI and HD processing), two 4T 2-way powered towers, a 5C 3-way powered center, two 4B powered satellites and an 8A powered subwoofer: All wireless! The processor is so small because it doesn't need power amps nor even output jacks! Automatic setup takes only seconds, allowing the system to be reconfigured and recalibrated whenever needed. At $2499 for the whole enchilada, this is indeed a very enticing and sweet-sounding system.