Bang & Olufsen celebrated its 90 years of existence by releasing a $75,000/pair loudspeaker that had been 12 years in design. Geoff Martin, Bang and Olufsen's Tonmeister and Technology Specialist in Sound Design, played an instrumental role in bringing the Beolab 90 from its origin as a blue-sky project...
Made in Slovenia, the Ubiq One ($13,750/pair) is a striking-looking speaker, whose sound (in a system with the Absolare Passion integrated amplifier and Memory Player 64) had a horn-like quickness. I looked up Ubiq Audio on the internet, and was interested to note that Igor Kante, Ubiq's CEO and project leader, is a big fan of Avantgarde horns, as am I.
The French speaker company, Cabasse, is probably best known for their huge spherical speaker (La Sphèrereviewed by Michael Fremer in September 2008) but they make a wide range of speakers, most of them more conventional-looking. Making its US debut at CES 2016 was the Murano, a 3-way bookshelf type with a coaxial tweeter.
Coming from the pro market, where active loudspeakers have been the norm, ATC is a major advocate of the active approach. According to ATC, the advantages include more accurate crossovers, lower intermodulation distortion, improved frequency response and stereo matching, and better low-frequency control. The active speaker from ATC being demoed at CES was the SCM40A, ($12,999/pair; $6999/pair in the passive version).
"Clear sound from the north" is how the speakers from Penaudio are identified in the product literature, and my immediate thought was that this is a speaker from The Great White North, ie, Canada. Actually, the speakers are designed in Finland, with the factory in Latvia. The speaker in the photo is the Serenade Signature ($10,999/pair), a slim floorstander that uses custom SEAS drivers. Good sound with Conrad-Johnson electronics.
Not having been actively involved in the turntable scene until recently, I found out for the first time about European Audio Team (EAT) at this year's CES. I was intrigued by the look of the various EAT turntables and arms, especially the E-Flat turntable with its flat arm ($4475). My guess was that the turntable was direct-drive, but the charming Jozefina Lichtenegger, the company's CEO (above), told me that the turntable was belt-driven, with a 35 lb platter.
Now distributed in the US by MoFi distribution, the venerable Quad Electroacoustics has a new non-electrostatic line, the Z series, which uses woven glass-fiber cones for the midrange and bass units, allied to a "true ribbon" tweeter. The tweeter is said to have descended from the original Corner Ribbon, which preceded the electrostatic Quad ESL-57. On static display at CES 2016 were the Z-3 ($4199/pair, left side of the ESL-2812 in the center of the photo) and the Z-4 ($4000/pair, on the right).
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.
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.
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."