Companies featured in gallery below: MartinLogan, Jeff Rowland, EAM Lab, Ambitious Audio Design, Ayre Acoustics, Audia Flight, Hegel Music Systems, JMC Lutherie, Estelon, Vitus Audio, Verity Audio, Ascendo
All prices in euros or US dollars unless otherwise indicated
The MartinLogan Neolith is the company's new flagship loudspeaker, and is expected to be priced under €70,000/$100,000/pr. Expected delivery is by the end of 2014, and the new model will be available in seven finishes. The electrostatic panel is 22" x 48", which is said to be 35 percent larger than the Statement E2's, which was the flagship several years ago. The two dynamic drivers include . . .
. . . a ported 15" aluminum-cone low-bass driver (shown) and a sealed 12" front-firing carbon-fiber midbass coupler. The cabinet material is a new composite that ML claims has very low inherent resonance. The crossover is . . .
. . . user adjustable in several parameters, allowing the user to account for bass loading in the room and listening distance.
Jeff Rowland displayed the Model 125 class-D stereo power amplifier, which is rated to deliver -- surprise! -- 125Wpc into 8 ohms. It is also bridgeable to mono for a claimed output of 500W into 8 ohms. Note the . . .
. . . very sturdy Cardas binding posts on the rear panel. The price for the Model 125 is $2950 in the United States.
EAM Lab, which is based in Italy, introduced the Reference 352 stereo power amplifier, which is rated to produce 350Wpc into 8 ohms or 700Wpc into 4 ohms. The first 45Wpc is said to be in pure class A in order to produce the finest sound quality. The . . .
. . . power transformer is actually encased in an aluminum-and-resin canister to damp vibrations. The Reference 352 is priced at €15,000.
The company name says it all! Ambitious Audio Design has created an all-aluminum stand-mounted monitor that uses an Accuton diamond tweeter nestled within a waveguide. The woofer is a different proprietary design and, as you can see in the next photo . . .
. . . the surround is hidden behind the front baffle for as little diffraction as possible. It also helps the speaker to look very nice. The price for this speaker is said to be approximately €50,000 per pair.
Ayre Acoustics, which is based in the USA, has completely updated its entire R-series line-up now that the VX-R stereo power amplifier has been updated to Twenty status. The new VX-R Twenty joins the KX-R Twenty preamplifier and MX-R Twenty mono amplifier in having all the latest thinking from designer Charles Hansen. Availability is slated for August of 2014. Price is TBA.
Audia Flight, which is based in Italy, has announced the FLS1 preamplifier, which also has a built-in headphone amplifier and a DAC that is capable of 24-bit/384kHz resolution through its USB input. The build quality looked exceptional, and its appearance we thought to be striking -- the all-anodized chassis and the blue OLED display look very nice. The price will be approximately €4500 when it's released this summer.
Hegel Music Systems' new DAC is the HD12, which supports DSD playback and is equipped with a headphone amplifier and preamp functionality. According to Hegel's founder and chief designer, Bent Holter, the power supply has been improved over the previous HD11 (which it replaces), thus improving the sound as well. The price for the HD12 is estimated to be €1000 when it's released.
The JMC Lutherie Soundboard was a big, big surprise. The "board" is built out of spruce wood and is said to be constructed much like a musical instrument. Attached to the board are the driver motor systems, which behave like a pair of two-way speakers, so the sound comes out in very-spacious stereo. Much to our surprise, the sound quality was, overall, very good for such a unique device. Suffice it to say that we were more than impressed. The price for the JMC Lutherie Soundboard is €9000.
The Estelon Extreme is extreme. It looks like a sculpted, one-piece loudspeaker, but the front baffle section (seen in the photo as the matte-black, three-driver portion) is height adjustable via a motor system to optimize the speaker for the listening position. There is no clunky adjustment method, however, but instead a smooth-operating system that does all the work for you through a remote control. The Extreme's driver complement . . .
. . . includes a 10" midwoofer, a 7" ceramic-cone midrange, a 1.5" diamond tweeter, and, in the bass, a pair of 10" woofers. The midwoofer and woofers have flat aluminum diaphragms, which, along with the cabinet shape, make the speaker striking-looking and unique. The price of the Estelon Extreme is €170,000 per pair.
The Vitus Masterpiece MP-S201 (€85,000) stereo amplifier is quite the beast -- it weighs 120kg! The insides are just as beastly with 1,200,000 microfarads of power-supply capacitance and 4.5kVA UI-core transformers. The power output is said to be capable of delivering 700Wpc into 8 ohms or 1400Wpc into 4 ohms. Multiple . . .
. . . colors are available.
Verity's new Parsifal Anniversary loudspeaker features a sleeker, rounded cabinet that improves upon the boxier look of the older model. It also includes a new floor-isolation system. The driver complement . . .
. . . now includes a 1" double-ring-radiator tweeter within a waveguide and a 5" midrange driver, both with mounting screws that are completely hidden. Around back is an 8" woofer for low-bass support. The Parsifal Anniversary will retail for $24,995 per pair in the United States in standard Piano Black finish.
The Ascendo D9 is a German-made four-way loudspeaker with a coaxial driver for the mids and highs, along with a low-bass section comprising two 6" internally mounted woofers whose output exits through the front-mounted port. Rounding out the driver complement are a pair of rear-firing tweeters. The price for the D9 is €9350/pr.