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



Following a “something old; something new” motif, the Israeli speaker manufacturer introduced its new Octave 6 Limited Edition floorstander ($6,995). From the outside, the enclosure of the Octave 6 Limited Edition looks just like any other Octave 6 model, but on the inside everything is different: new drivers and a new crossover network make the Limited Edition an essentially all-new speaker from a performance standpoint. It is said the Octave 6 Limited Edition benefits in part from technology trickle-down from the firm’s much more costly Sopran loudspeaker.


Just in the nick of time for CES, the Italian loudspeaker maker Opera released its new Quinta SE floorstander ($7,000), which paired beautifully with an also new Italian-made Unison tube amplifier being used in the demo room. Evidently, the Quinta SE is fairly sensitive and does not require a great deal of power, in an absolute sense, in order to give of its best. We were impressed by the synergy between the Unison amp and the Quinta SE.


Raidho made waves with its upscale C1.1 monitor, D-1 monitor, and the oh-so-capable C4.1 tower, but surprised us at CES with a new compact speaker called the X-1 or “X Monitor”, priced at $7,100/pair, including stands. If you thought the C1.1 was small, then the X-1 is positively pint-sized, but that doesn’t mean it sounds small. On the contrary, the X-1 sounds big, expressive, and articulate.   

Designer Michael Borresen concedes that the X-1s don’t produce much low or even mid-bass, but frankly the very convincing illusion is that they do. Borresen says the reason for this is that the X-1 gets the upper bass partials so right that the ear is, psycho-acoustically speaking, convinced lower frequencies must surely be present. I’ve heard designers make this claim before, but this might be the first time I’ve heard a compact monitor actually deliver the promised sonic goods. Honestly, the X-1 sounds like a much more full-range speaker that it actually is, coming across as a junior versions of the award-winning C1.1, but for less than half the price!

Find Parts 1, 2, and 4 of this four-part report at www.hifiplus.com.

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