ESP Loudspeakers Returns

Back in the 1990s, I lusted mightily for the large ESP speakers with their tall, slim shapes and their angled driver panels. A large-room demo of the Concert Grands with Sonic Frontiers electronics still reverberates in my memory. Unfortunately, just as I evolved to the point where I could consider buying a pair of Concert Grands, the company folded its tents. Recently, I heard a rumor that ESP might be returning, and an email exchange with founder and designer Sean McCaughan has confirmed the good news.

The vehicle of ESP's return will be a redesign of the Concert Grand and of the company's smaller floorstander, the Bodhran, with other systems coming later. Like its earlier offerings, ESP's new models will be extremely high-end, artisan-built devices for the serious music lover but, Sean assures me, at uninflated prices. (In 1996, the Concert Grand cost $15,000/pair and the Bodhran was $6000/pair.) Opportunity will be taken in the redesign to incorporate new developments in drivers and components and to provide greater modularity and accessibility for repairs and further updates. Remarkably, owners of the earlier versions of these models will be able to have their units upgraded in the field.

In order to minimize the expense of shipping and distribution, especially of the larger models, the new ESP speakers will be built by small teams, under the designer's supervision and subject to his testing, at two locations, one in the US and another in Europe. As a result, Sean says, he hopes to offer roughly parity pricing between the US and Europe. Exact pricing and distribution are still undefined, but ESP expects to have all that in order by the time of the speakers' January 2004 renaissance at THE Show at the San Tropez in Las Vegas.