2002 CES Day Four

Exhibitors reported that traffic was improving Thursday, as the halls became more crowded and the music grew a bit louder. Plenty of new products are on hand and we're starting to realize that even four or five days may not be enough to see and hear everything the high-end has to offer.

Loudspeaker manufacturer Thiel announced its long-awaited CS1.6, a two-way, floor-standing design that the company says is shipping to dealers this week. The CS1.6 sells for $2390/pair in any of the company's luxurious wood finishes, but it's also available in standard black for the relative bargain of $1990/pair. Thiel credits the development of new tweeter and woofer drivers for the speaker's exceptional performance.

William Eggleston III was also on hand to show off his new company, WEGG3, and its emerging line of products. Stereophile Guide to Home Theater magazine has put the company's new surround system on its cover this month, but WEGG3 had even newer and bigger surprises in store for the two-channel crowd. On hand in the back room were the Lunare 1, promised for delivery sometime in February for $111,000/pair in a burled wood finish. The SGHT report goes into great detail about the WEGG3's unique approach to diffraction problems, and a quick listen confirmed that the designer is on to something. The company's Lunare 3—at a more modest $24,000/pair—is also expected in February.

The unique and beautifully built Opera Sauvage is the newest addition to the Gershman Acoustics family and features a power-handling capacity of up to 600 watts. Each speaker weighs in at 210 lbs. They're available now for $16,000/pair. Another unique, but very different, design was being shown by Piega of Switzerland. The company's C-40 features a coaxial ribbon driver and five stacked woofers for $29,995/pair.

Best music of the show (after hours of polite jazz and female vocals) easily goes to England's Living Voice who had Tosca's Chocolate Elvis pumping away as we entered the room. We proceeded to listen to track after track of what the designer Kevin Scott enthusiastically termed "chewy bass" and imaginative composition on the company's Auditorium Avatar OBX-R system at around $6900/pair. The OBX-R features a D'appolito design and external crossover.

Maat Audio Group introduced the new Maat loudspeaker sporting a custom designed Supravox 215 woofer and HiVi Research "isodynamic" ribbon tweeter. According to the company's Jacques Riendeau, the Maat is shipping now for $7500/pair. Carfrae Loudspeakers of England was demonstrating the very unusual looking Little Big Horn, whose design, the company says, is based on a complex mathematical formula which results in a cabinet resembling a Nautilus shell—or the inside of the human ear.

Alan Yun's Silverline Audio Technology had two new designs wired up and sounding wonderful. We first heard the large and very smooth sounding four-way Sinfonia, which retails for $19,999/pair. Next we were shocked at the amount of sound Silverline was able to get from the new SR11 two-way design that was pumping out a prodigious amount of bass. The SR11 retails for $1499/pair and comes in several interesting finishes, including "Metallic Racing Green."

EgglestonWorks, was also showing off new wares in the form of an updated Andra II. Available sometime in March in a shiny black finish for $18,900, the Andra II will also be available in one of four "eggshell" finishes in June. EgglestonWorks says it completely re-engineered the new version, borrowing design and technical tips from the Ivy Reference and Savoy Reference speakers systems.

Dunlavy Audio Labs has acquired new owners recently while keeping company founder John Dunlavy in the fold. Two new speakers emerged at the show, and a company spokesperson assures us that John D. is hard at work back at the factory working up even more models. In the room was the company's new SC-lll, a three-way design which has just started shipping at $5500/pair. Also on display were the company's new subwoofers which are slated for release next month, pricing to be determined.