CES 2014: Loudspeakers under $15,000 - Part 3

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CES 2014: Loudspeakers under $15,000 - Part 3

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 3 of a four-part report. Enjoy.

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King Sound

King Sound is an electrostatic speaker specialist and for CES 2014 the firm rolled out an updated and improved version of its middle model speaker called the Prince III full-range electrostatic loudspeaker ($9,995/pair). The Prince III sports improved drivers, an uprated power supply, and less resonance-prone grill assemblies for a meaningful performance increase without a big jump in price vis-à-vis the Prince II.

Klangwerk

One of the most fascinating speakers we encountered at CES (or actually at T.H.E. Show) was the Swiss Klangwerk Ella active loudspeaker ($14,990/pair). The simple looking for deceptively complex and sophisticated Ella is a two-way, three-driver, self-powered speaker featuring an Audax tweeter (fitted with an acoustic lens and waveguide) plus two Audax Aerogel woofers (on front-firing, the other side firing). The front baffle of the Ella is machined from durable and resonance resistant Corian, but the real sophistication involves the Ella’s unusual phase-compensating electronic crossover, which so precisely time-aligns the speakers’ drivers that the Klangwerk can—get this—reproduce square waves with a fairly high degree of accuracy (something most other high-end loudspeaker simply cannot do). The result is a beautifully balanced and unusually clear and focused sounding speaker said to be ideal for mastering monitor applications.

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