Companies featured in gallery below: KEF, Devialet, ASW, Naim Audio, Gryphon Audio Designs, Orpheus, Focal, Nordost, T+A
All prices in euros or US dollars unless otherwise indicated
More Blades! KEF's Blade Two is very much like the original Blade, just physically smaller and with smaller-sized bass drivers -- the Two has four side-mounted 6.5" woofers versus the four 8" units in the original Blade. The Blade Two is also 5" shorter, 1" shallower, and 36 pounds lighter. The cost of the Blade Two is £15,000/pr., and availability will be fall of 2014, according to KEF's representatives.
More Blade news! New Blade and Blade Two matte-type cabinet finishes will include Frosted Blue (shown) and Frosted Black, which come with Uni-Q drivers of Frosted Blue and Gold, respectively. We found these new matte finishes quite striking in a Euro-sports-car sort of way. Also available will be glossy finishes of Light Metallic Silver, Racing Red, and Warm Metallic Grey.
KEF's representatives said that it took 25,000 man-hours, over three years in R&D, and £1,000,000 in total investment for their new Reference series range to come to fruition. The new Reference 5 (shown, £10,500/pr.), Reference 3 (£7500/pr.) . . .
Reference 1 (shown, £4500/pr.), and Reference Centre (£4500/each) all debuted in Munich. All models feature a 5" Uni-Q driver that incorporates a 1" aluminum tweeter nested within a 5" aluminum midrange. The primary differences between models are the cabinet sizes and number of woofers. The stand-mounted 1 has a single 6.5" aluminum woofer, whereas the 3 has a pair of bass units, and the flagship 5 has four woofers, as does the . . .
. . . Centre, the latter of which appears very much like a Reference 5 in a horizontal configuration. Finish options on all models include Deep Piano Black, Satin American Walnut, Luxury Gloss Rosewood, Copper Black Aluminum, and Blue Ice White (the last two are for the 3 and 5 only). The Reference 5 will be first to market.
Devialet has updated its range of do-it-all integrated amplifiers. As with previous models, the 120 (shown, €4990), 200 (€6990), and 250 (€12,900) model names indicate the amp's power-output ratings into 6-ohm loads. For owners of last year's models, fear not . . .
. . . those units can be fully upgraded via a software update in the field. Once the update is done, the previous 110 becomes a 120, the 170 becomes a 200 (shown), and the 240 becomes a 250. What's more . . .
. . . two 200s can each be bridged and turned into 400 monoblocks (shown, €12,900). The previous top-of-the-line 500s are now superseded by the four-chassis 800 monos (€45,800), a completely new design.
German manufacturer ASW introduced a new range of entry-level loudspeakers named Centris. Shown is the 140, priced at €799/pr. There is also a . . .
. . . Centris 40, a stand-mounted model that will sell for €399/pr. These models are available in white or black finishes and appear to offer very high value.
Naim's new all-in-one music machine is the Muso, which will cost €1075. There are a host of input options -- digital and analog, as well as AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Internet Radio -- that allow the user complete flexibility with regards to source material. Total internal amplification is 450W, which is spread across six front-firing drivers: two tweeters, two midranges, and two woofers (all set in a stereo configuration). The cabinet is . . .
. . . wood-based and wrapped in aluminum. We found this unit to be very attractive and, obviously, quite forward-thinking.
The new Gryphon Audio Designs Antileon Evo is an update of the longest-running amplification product in the company's line. The new model employs technology taken from the Mephisto, as well as what the company learned since it introduced the original Antileon so many years ago. The Antileon Evo's power-supply capacitance has been increased to 670,000 microfarads, the input stage has been redesigned, and the cosmetics have been updated. The price is €29,000 for the stereo version, and twice that for the monoblock version (per pair).
Gryphon's new speaker is the Pantheon. This three-way, five-driver model uses Dueland crossover components and styling reminiscent of the company's larger Trident II. The driver complement per cabinet comprises an AMT tweeter made by Mundorf, two 5" midrange drivers, and two 8" woofers. Seen from the side, the overall baffle profile is curved, although each driver is actually mounted on its own sub-baffle that combines with an underlying baffle for a total 2"-thick driver-mounting surface. The price for the Pantheon is €35,000/pr.
The Orpheus Heritage power amplifier is rated to produce 250Wpc in its stereo or biamp modes, or 1000W in mono mode. The price for the Heritage is €32,000. Orpheus also showed the . . .
. . . matching Heritage preamplifier (€29,000), which comes with an external power supply (shown on the bottom shelf).
Focal, based in France, introduced the Spirit One S headphones, which will be priced at €150 when available. The folks at Focal claim that these 'phones sound great due to the lightness of the 40mm diaphragms. They also come in a cool Anthracite Grey finish.
The Nordost Heimdall 2 headphone cable comes standard with two adaptors to accommodate 3.5mm stereo mini, 2x push-pull, 2x two-pin, 2x mini XLR, and 1x mini XLR connections on the headphone end, and is terminated with a four-pin balanced XLR on the source end. The price is $799.99 in the United States for a 2m cord.
German manufacturer T+A has rounded out its recent HV range with the debut of the impressive PDP 3000 HV CD/SACD player. The transport mechanism . . .
. . . is one of the most robust we've seen. T+A builds the super-sturdy mechanism (only the laser is said to be supplied by Sanyo), and the unit will play all commercially available PCM and DSD resolutions through its host of digital inputs. Uniquely, the PDP 3000 HV features separate analog outputs . . .
. . . for PCM and DSD, with the analog reconstruction filters being optimized for each format. No firm pricing for the PDP 3000 HV was available.