Companies featured in gallery below: Wilson-Benesch, Audiolab, EAR, Vitus Audio, Raidho Acoustics, Crystal Cable, ELAC, Esoteric, Argento Audio, Tidal Audio, Audia Flight, PMC, Constellation Audio, Magico, MartinLogan
All prices in euros or US dollars unless otherwise indicated
The Wilson-Benesch Discovery II is a stand-mounted (integral and included), four-driver, three-way design that features a 1" Semisphere tweeter, a 7" Tactic midrange, and a pair of isobaric-loaded 7" Tactic woofers. The Discovery II's price is €22,000/pr. in standard finishes.
The Audiolab M-One is almost a whole audio system in a box. It incorporates a preamp with two analog inputs, a DAC that accommodates PCM up to 32/384 and DSD up to 11.2MHz (quad-rate), Bluetooth wireless, a class-AB amplifier rated at 36Wpc into 8 ohms, and a headphone jack. Just add speakers and a laptop. Expect a price around £1000.
Tim de Paravicini designed the EAR 825Q equalizer in 1998 for use in professional studios, and is now offering it to consumers for home use, so they can tune their systems to suit any recording along the same lines as the famed Cello Palette equalizer of the 1990s. The . . .
. . . top and bottom bands shelve the bass and treble up or down, and feature four selectable filter frequencies. The middle three bands control the midrange; each one offers five selectable frequencies. Depending on the settings, the three bands in the middle can overlap, just as they did on the Cello Palette. This tube-based, €10,000 equalizer has separate controls for left and right channels.
The Vitus Audio SS-103 stereo amplifier is rated to deliver 50Wpc in class A or 150Wpc in class A/B. The SS-103 is said to be derived from the €85,000 MP-S201. The SS-103 can be switched between two sound modes that reconfigure the output stage: Classic and Rock; the former is said to optimize detail retrieval (Classic), the latter power delivery (Rock). The price is €34,000.
The €100,000-per-pair D-4.1 is only second in Raidho Acoustics’ D-series line -- above it is the D-5.1. The cones of the D-4.1's dual 4" midranges and quad 5" woofers are made using a five-layer material with a 150-micron aluminum core, surrounded by 100-micron layers of aluminum oxide ceramic and topped front and back with 10-micron layers of industrial diamond. The cones are backed with flow vents that allow the drivers to vent partially into the main enclosure, which, according to Raidho, eliminates the impedance bump caused by the resonance of a driver’s enclosure. A ribbon tweeter supplies the highs.
The Crystal Cable Scala (€999/pr.) is machined from a solid block of aluminum and is intended to optimize the high-frequency radiation pattern of a loudspeaker. In the case of the Scala that Crystal Cable's Gabi Rijnveld is shown holding, it's designed specifically for the company's Arabesque Minissimo and Arabesque Minissimo Diamond speakers. A version that will be applicable to a wider range of speakers from other manufacturers is in the works and will be available soon.
Crystal Cable has created a line of headphone cables called Next, which is distributed by Astell&Kern, makers of a line of high-end portable music players. Each conductor is made from 0.11mm strands of gold and silver alloy surrounding an aramid fiber core, with extreme flexibility being the goal; indeed, they felt more like string than like audio cables. They’re available in numerous configurations; the company was . . .
. . . showcasing its $899 MMCX-tipped cables for the Astell&Kern/Beyerdynamic AK T8iE universal-fit earphones.
Many North Americans are starting to think of ELAC as a budget speaker brand because of the new products Andrew Jones has designed, such as those in the new Uni-Fi series; however, the Concentro may have them rethinking that idea. The Concentro is expected to sell for €60,000 to €70,000 per pair. The cabinet is made from a sandwich of machined MDF layers glued together. Each one features four side-firing 10" woofers, a 7" front-firing woofer, and an AMT tweeter mounted concentrically inside a 5" midrange. The ELAC Concentro . . .
. . . also includes a unique control on the back labeled “Focused/Spacious.” Twisting this knob moves the entire concentric driver out for a more spacious sound, or back into the speaker for a more focused sound. The range of motion is plus/minus 6mm.
ELAC’s Miracord 90th Anniversary turntable commemorates the company’s founding in 1926 and also brings it back into the record player business. The core structure is an MDF plinth and a 30mm, 6.2kg aluminum platter that floats on an 8mm ruby ball bearing. To damp the motor’s vibration, ELAC suspended it on a spider, much like the ones used to keep woofer voice coils centered. The turntable includes a tonearm and a custom-built Audio-Technica moving-magnet cartridge, and will retail for €2000.
Esoteric displayed two new integrated amplifiers at High End 2016: the F-03A (right, €14,000) and the F-05 (€10,000). The F-03A is the class-A version of this new platform, producing 30Wpc into 8 ohms or 60Wpc into 4 ohms. The class-A/B F-05 is said to deliver 120Wpc/240Wpc into 8/4 ohms. Both products are said to feature circuit topologies derived from Esoteric's flagship Grandioso products. Optional DAC boards for each model are available.
Argento Audio, from Denmark, displayed its new top-of-the line wires: the Extreme Edition speaker cables ($56,000/pr. for 2m lengths) and XLR interconnects ($25,000/pr. for 1m lengths). These extremely expensive cables are said to be shielded with carbon fiber and have six-nines pure silver conductors.
Tidal Audio's new Piano Diacera G2 loudspeaker features the company's proprietary Tiradur cabinet material and new drivers that are said to have greater excursion than their predecessors. The company said the weight has increased from 50kg to 79kg per speaker due to parts improvements throughout the product. Although the Piano Diacera's original shape has been retained, the G2 version is said to be an all-new design, which is available in some striking finishes. The price is €28,000/pr.
Audia Flight introduced two new products at High End 2016: the FLS 4 stereo power amplifier, which is rated to deliver 200Wpc into 8 ohms (right, €7500); and the FLS 1 preamplifier (€5500). We were told that these models are updated versions of Audia's Classic series. The FLS 4 and FLS 1 will begin shipping in June.
PMC introduced a new series of Twenty-series loudspeaker models, called Twenty5. These products are placed above the current Twenty series in PMC hierarchy, but below the company's Fact range. The Twenty5 line consists of five models: the 21 (bottom middle, €2493.33/pr.), a two-way bookshelf design; 22 (upper middle €3960/pr.), which has a larger cabinet and midrange-woofer than the 21 (upper middle, €3266.67/pr.); 23, which is a two-way floorstander; the 24 (not shown, €5666.67/pr.), a two-way floorstander with a larger midrange-woofer and cabinet than the 24; and 26 (right, €9326.67/pr.), a three-way floorstander that incorporates a proprietary dome midrange driver. A new transmission-line termination technology called Laminair is deployed to optimize airflow from the transmission line into the room.
The Constellation Audio Inspiration Integrated 1.0 integrated amplifier debuted at High End 2016. This newest 1.0-series product retails for $13,500, is purported to deliver 100Wpc into 8 ohms, and includes the basic features and specifications seen on the Preamp 1.0 and Amplifier 1.0 models, which are the separates in the series. There are . . .
. . . two XLR inputs, two RCA inputs, and an RS-232 port. There is also a set of preamplifier outputs to use with an external power amplifier.
The Magico S5 Mk.II ($38,000/pr.) was introduced at CES 2016, but there it was on static display. It was playing in a large room in Munich. This newest Magico S-series speaker features a diamond-coated beryllium tweeter and a graphene-based midrange, along with more powerful 10" bass drivers than what was in the original S5. The cabinet now includes a massive plinth for greater stability and bass weight, as well as a convex top plate for the reduction of internal standing waves. Looming large in the background is the first photography of the company's new M3 ($75,000/pr.). Magico's Alon Wolf summed up the M3 thusly: it occupies about the same real estate as the current Q3, but technologically -- and performance-wise -- it is more closely aligned with the M Project.
MartinLogan has added two new loudspeakers to its Masterpiece series: the Expression ESL 13A (behind) and the Impression ESL 11A. The two speakers differ primarily in the size of the electrostatic panels, which are denoted in the model names (widths of 13" vs. 11"). The ESL 13A also has a pair of 10" woofers powered by two 300W amplifiers, whereas the 11A has twin 8" units driven by two 275W amps. The prices of these models have not been set.