KEF launched the newest versions of its Q-series loudspeakers -- ground-up designs with brand-new cabinets and drivers. The range includes two bookshelf models, the Q150 ($549.99/pr.) and Q350 ($649.99/pr.); the Q650c center-channel $649.99/each); and three floorstanders, which include the Q550 ($549.99/each), the Q750 ($749.99/each), and the Q950 ($899.99/each). The Qs slot in below the R series in KEF's ever-expanding loudspeaker lineup.
KEF also showed new Foundry Edition finishes for its Reference 1 loudspeaker (including the matching stands) -- Blue Ice White and Copper Black Aluminum. Previously, these finishes were available only on the floorstanding Reference 3 and 5 models.
Paradigm demonstrated the new Persona Sub (€7500), which was designed to complement the Persona line. It features six 8" drivers in a vibration-canceling configuration powered by a 1700W amplifier. Usable bass response is rated down to 12Hz, with the -2dB specification pegged at 19Hz. The Persona Sub is made entirely in Canada at Paradigm's manufacturing facility.
The Q Acoustics Concept 50 is a two-way, three-driver speaker with . . .
. . . a distinctive design element that makes the cabinet finish more interesting than the norm (€4500/pr.) -- we love the way the wood-finished rear joins with the glossy white-painted portion that extends all the way to the front. Beauty is more than skin deep, however: the company rep showed us a cutaway of the cabinet walls and pointed out the three-layer design, which he said decreases resonances. The midrange-bass drivers are 35mm in diameter, and the tweeter, which is 25mm across, is decoupled from the cabinet to reduce vibrations that would otherwise be transferred to it from the mid-bass drivers.
Elac has added a model to its new Adante line: the ASW-121 subwoofer. This sub features opposing woofers, to reduce vibrations, powered by a 1200W amplifier. The ASW-121's operating parameters can be controlled via an app for smartphone or tablet, which allows adjustment from the listening position. The price for the ASW-121 is €2400.
Audio Physic's lowest-priced loudspeaker series is the Classic range. Shown in the photo are the two newest Classic models, the 5 (far right and middle in two finishes, €1600/pr.) and 15 (left, €2400/pr.). These speakers bookend the middle model, the 10 (€2300/pr.), which was not shown. The dual-basket drivers in the Classics use aluminum for the faceplate and plastic for the interior parts, a combination of materials intended to reduce resonances within the driver itself.
The Verity Audio Otello loudspeaker resides in the company's line below the Parsifal and replaces the now-discontinued Leonore. This new three-way design features two 6.5" woofers . . .
. . . on the rear baffle. On the front are two drivers: a 1" ring tweeter and a 5" midrange sourced from Audiotechnology. The sensitivity is claimed to be 93dB/1W/1m, so the speakers are said to be compatible with a wide array of amplification options. The Otello is priced at $16,995/pr.
Tidal launched two new products to fill out its electronics line. First, the Ferios mono amplifier (€50,000/pr.) is rated to deliver 350W into 8 ohms or 690W into 4 ohms. The other new component is the . . .
. . . Camira digital-to-analog converter (€24,000), which is a discrete-ladder DAC designed completely in-house by Tidal and its engineering team. Furthermore, the Camira does not upsample, oversample, or reclock the signal. The Field Programmable Gate Array is used for the "most precise timing information for and between the left and right channel including timing correction and remediation processing of 44.1kHz signals."
Constellation Audio, which is known primarily for amps, preamps, phono stages and media servers, surprised everyone by showing a prototype of its new Leo smart music system. This is the first model of the company's new Dominion series, and it's an all-in-one streaming (Bluetooth, Chromecast, AirPlay) stereo system that also includes digital and analog inputs including phono. The driver complement includes two 6.5" woofers, two 2.5" midranges, and two 0.75" tweeters, all powered by 560W of class-D power. The retail price is expected to be under $5000 when it officially launches later in the year.
The MIT ACC 268 speaker cables may be the most shockingly high-priced product seen at High End. One set of ACC 268s costs a mind-boggling €90,000, which, thankfully, does include two Articulation Control Consoles about the size of mono power amplifiers. We also learned that MIT doesn't specify the length of cables included at the list price -- you can order what you want. Although we do believe they would balk if you needed a set of 200' cables. As it stands, the price to us seemed a touch silly, if only because you can buy a BMW car, made right here in Munich, for about half that price.
Focal unveiled the update to the flagship Utopia III line that debuted all the way back in 2008. It's called Utopia III Evo, and Focal announced only two initial models in a range that's sure to grow in the future. The €55,000/pr. Maestro Utopia Evo (left) features a 1" beryllium inverted-dome tweeter, 6.5" Power Flower midrange, and dual 11" woofers, one of which benefits from Focal's Magnetic Damping System (MDS). The smaller, €32,000/pr. Scala Utopia Evo (right) also has a 1" beryllium tweeter and 6.5" midrange, but it makes do with a single 11" woofer. Both models benefit from innovations Focal introduced in its popular Sopra line, including a Tuned Mass Damping suspension and the company's proprietary Neutral Inductance Circuit. It's also worth noting that the Evos' finish can be customized on request.
Soulution, from Switzerland, has fleshed out its entry-level-for-Soulution 3-series line (its products tend to have staggeringly high prices). The new series comprises (top to bottom) the 330 integrated amplifier (€17,500), the 325 preamplifier (€9500), and the 311 stereo amplifier (€14,000). The 311 and 330 both output 100Wpc into 8 ohms or 200Wpc into 4 ohms. The 325 preamp has two sets of RCA and two sets of XLR inputs, and can be purchased with optional DAC and phono modules (these options can also be purchased for the 330 integrated).
Lansche Audio introduced two new plasma-tweetered loudspeakers at High End. On the left is the No.5.2 (€33,000/pr.), a three-way passive speaker with a 0.3" Corona plasma tweeter. On the right is the much larger No.7.2 (€60,000), which is also a three-way passive, but has two 10" aluminum woofers and two 6" mids versus the single 6" and 10" drivers in the No.5.2. Although the speakers are rather boxy and conventional looking . . .
. . . the plasma tweeter is what's special. How to describe it? The company says "All there is, in fact, is light and air." Unique.
Nordost's new ground boxes, the Qkore, come in three versions: the Qkore1 ($2500), the Qkore3 ($3500), and the Qkore6 ($5000). These components are designed for grounding your power-distribution block . . .
. . . with the larger models capable of also grounding additional components in your system (the number in each name indicates the number of connectors on the backside). A 2m Qkore ground wire is included with the Qkore1 and Qkore3, while two cables are included with the most expensive one, the Qkore6.
AudioSolutions displayed new loudspeakers to celebrate its fifth anniversary -- the Vantage series. The largest Vantage model is the M (left, €54,000/pr.), a slightly smaller floorstander is the S (center, €45,000/pr.), and the stand-mounted model is the B (right, €42,000/pr. with stands). All three models feature a downward-firing woofer, waveguide-loaded tweeter, and adjustable midrange and tweeter levels (-2dB/+.5dB). The three-and-a-half-way Vantage M has a 10" woofer, while the three-and-a-half-way Vantage S has an 8" woofer, and the three-way Vantage B also has an 8" woofer. The finish is scratch-resistant and is made from lacquer and crushed stone. Also available is a Vantage C center-channel (€27,000). All models are shipping now.