For this year’s CES event I focused my reporting efforts on two product categories, one of the most popular of which is Loudspeakers under $15,000 per pair. What drives this popularity, of course, is the fact that the overwhelming majority of audiophiles (and audio journalists) own and enjoy loudspeakers that fall within this price window.
No matter how much we may appreciate or covet more expensive fare, we all tend to focus our attention—for obvious reasons—on those transducers we can afford to make part of our day-to-day lives. What follows is a broad but not completely comprehensive summary of new models seen and heard at CES 2014 in the sub-$15,000 per pair price bracket, where we discovered some breathtakingly good products indeed.
Of necessity, this will be more of a brief photo essay than an in-depth report. As always, let me extend apologies in advance to manufacturers whose worthy offerings I was not able to cover here.
This is Part 2 of a four-part report. Enjoy.
The Danish manufacturer offered one of the most impressive speakers in its price class in the form of the three-way Riva “floorstander” ($6,000/per pair). We put “floorstander” within quotation marks because the slender, curvaceous Riva is the size and general shape of many mid-priced floorstanders, but actually rests upon a short, four-legged stand that creates the illusion that the speaker is “floating” about half a foot above the floor. Actually, that’s not the only thing about the Riva that floats, since the speaker lofts beautifully three-dimensional images and soundstages, exhibits admirably neutral tonal response, and can—as the situation warrants—deliver unexpectedly explosive dynamics on demand.
We have often admired loudspeaker designs from John DeVore in the past, but with his new Gibbon X floorstanders ($12,000/pair) it appears that DeVore has taken a quantum leap up into the upper echelon of high-end loudspeaker manufacturers. The Gibbon X, which like all DeVore models is named for a particular family of primates, at once shows the influence of several of DeVore’s high-sensitivity speaker designs (collectively known as Orangutan-series models), but is also intended as a thoroughly contemporary, full-range floorstanding loudspeaker. As an upshot, the Gibbon X delivered an exceptionally detailed and articulate sound, exhibited more or less full-range sound with exceptional treble extension and deep, solid bass, plus extraordinarily expressive dynamics (again, showing the influence of the Orangutan models). Imaging was eerily three-dimensional as well, making the Gibbon X a viable candidate for best sound of the show.