For this year's CES show blog, in addition to reporting on new/interesting products, our plan was to ask manufacturers for tips on the installation and optimization of their products, echoing the how-to theme of the articles in Stereophile's 2015 Special "Recommended Components" issue, the cover of which is pictured above with John Atkinson. (This special issue will be available on newsstands and in bookstores next week.)
My assignment at CES 2015 was to report on speakers costing less than $10,000/pair, so when I went into each room my first task was to see if they had any new (or at least new-to-me) speakers that met this criterion. I found one in the KEF room that appeared to fit the bill: the sign on the speaker identified it as the Reference 1, priced at $7500/pair. Johan Coorg of KEF explained to the assembled visitors how the design of this speaker utilized knowledge gained in designing the Blade.
What a difference a tweeter makes! Elac makes a small bookshelf speaker, the BS 73, which costs $850/pair. They make another, even smaller, bookshelf speaker, the BS 312, which costs $2800/pair. The BS 312 is shown in the center of the photo, with the BS 73 flanking it (I'm not sure which one). There are some obvious differences in construction (the BS 312 has a metal cabinet), but the greatest difference is probably the tweeter: the BS 73 uses a dome tweeter, whereas the BS 312 uses what they call a JET tweeter.
Wharfedalewhich now bills itself "Britain's Most Famous Loudspeaker. . .Since 1932"introduced the Diamond 200 series at CES 2015. The series includes the model 210 and 220 bookshelf monitors, model 230, 240 and 250 floorstanders, model 220C center-channel speaker, and model WH-D8 and WH-D10 subwoofer.
An enterprise founded by brothers Trevor and Todd Ryan (left to right), Ryan Speakers proudly proclaims that their loudspeakers are "handcrafted in California." Looking at the Ryan 630 ($5000/pair), I remarked on the presence of felt around the tweeter, a technique pioneered by the late John Dunlavy. "Oh, yes," said Todd Ryan, "felt around the tweeter, offset mounting drivers; we use all the old tricks."
Epos and Creek have long been associatedEpos loudspeakers seemed to work particularly well with Creek electronicsbut the connection became more solidified in 2014, when Mike Creek acquired total control of Epos and appointed his son, Luke, to be the Epos brand director. The first result of this change of ownership is the new Epos K-Series, which importer Roy Hall describes as being more "lifestyle-oriented."
Monitor Audio's Dean Hartley told me that he's been busy, revising the Gold Series (ranging in price from $2000/pair for the Gold 100 to $3500/pair for the Gold 300). He described the changes a "facelift rather than a complete revolution."
Like many (most?) audiophiles, I've tended to turn up my nose at in-wall and on-wall loudspeakers. I normally assume that there must be major sonic compromises in designing speakers that fade into the background. I was then most pleasantly surprised by the sound of the Totem Tribe V ($6000/pair) at CES 2015. This is an on-wall speaker, but that sort of mounting is not possible in a hotel environment, so the speakers were stand-mounted, as close to the wall as possible. The sound was clean, open, and dynamic, with a firm bass foundation.
I have long admired the sound of the Danish-made Raidho speakers, but have found it difficult to relate to their pricesexcept for a small two-way, all well north of $10k/pair. I was then pleased to find out that there's a new Raidho-affiliated brand name: Scansonic HD.
I first heard the King Audio Limited (also known as KingSound) Prince electrostatic loudspeaker several years ago at the Montreal show, and was impressed by the transparency of its sound, which reminded me of the KLH Nines that I used to own.