One of my assigned product coverage categories for CES is a traditional favourite of mine and of many Hi-Fi+ readers; namely, sensibly priced loudspeakers priced at $25,000/pair and below. As you will see below, there are many sonic gems in this category, spanning a wide range of price points.
What of even higher-priced loudspeakers? Well, Editor Alan Sircom (the lucky fellow) gets to cover those, proving once again that it is indeed good to be ‘King’.
Rather than offer the proverbial ‘laundry list’ of all the speakers I saw and heard at CES, I’ve tried to single out just ten new models that caught my eyes and ears, and that I believe many of you will find rewarding to learn about and—eventually—to audition for yourselves. I offer my apologies in advance to the many worthy manufacturers whose loudspeaker I have left out of this blog. Please know, then, that this is purely an attempt to capture some (but not all) noteworthy highlights from CES and to share insights about some speakers that put a big smile on my face at the show.
Crystal Minissimo Diamond monitor €16,000, & Subissimo subwoofer, $10,000
Hi-Fi+ Editor Alan Sircom has favourably reviewed the original Crystal Minissimo monitors and now Crystal has gone and improved the breed with an updated and performance enhanced Minissimo Diamond model. The new version, which on cursory inspection appears similar to the old, differs in that it uses a diamond tweeter fitted with a voice coil whose coil windings and run-out leads both use silver conductors, with 6dB/octave crossover slopes, and internal cabinet volume pushed up form 4.5 to 5 litres. As before, stands are included for the Minissimo Diamonds. The result is a good thing made even better—a highly capable and truly lovely looking standmount monitor.
However, to really hear the Minissimo Diamond be all that it can, the monitors should be heard in conjunction with Crystal’s elegant new Subissimo subwoofer. The Minissimo Diamond/Subissimo sub combination is one of those sonic matches ‘made in heaven’, where the whole is greater than the sum of the already excellent parts. Oh, and did we mention the Subissimo makes a perfect ‘stand’ for Crystal’s CSI integrated amplifier, should you choose to use one? It does, as shown in the photo here.
ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 monitors, $500/pair
ELAC designer Andrew Jones has been on a roll of late, where the name of the game is to create well and truly affordable loudspeaker products that offer what ELAC competitors are sure to regard as embarrassingly high levels of performance. A perfect case in point would be Jones’ new ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 bookshelf monitors, which feature a concentric tweeter/midrange array (1-inch tweeter at the centre of a 4-inch midrange driver), plus a 5.25-inch bass driver. The three-way monitors are, to put it bluntly, ridiculously affordable given the sheer levels of technology and performance on offer. Show-goers left the ELAC demonstration room shaking their heads in disbelief because the little UB5’s sounded so good that, in all honesty, ELAC could probably have tacked an extra zero on the end of the speaker’s price tag and no one would have batted and eyelash. Value—and plenty of it—spoken here.
GoldenEar Technology Triton Two+ and Three+, respectively $2,500/pair and $3,500/pair
When I reviewed GoldenEar’s to-of-the-range Triton One floorstanding loudspeaker for Hi-Fi+, my sense was that the speaker represented a ‘sea change’ of sorts—a dramatic step up in overall performance relative to the firm’s already very good product range as released up to that point. Apparently, GoldenEar felt much the same way, so that for CES it introduced revised version of two of its top-tier Triton models, with an eye toward bringing their overall performance and sound much more in line with the critically acclaimed Triton One.
As result, we now have the Triton Three+ ($2,500/pair) and Triton Two+ ($3,500), both of which have received massive infusions of Triton One-inspired design know-how and voicing. So, in a nutshell, what make the ‘+’ models a plus for consumer is that they can now stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their bigger brother, offering levels of refinement and overall resolution that are now comparable to their illustrious sibling. To accomplish these goals, the Triton Three and Two were treated new mid-bass drivers, new crossovers (balanced types, as in the Triton One), new polypropylene capacitors, new bass tuning, and—most importantly—Triton One voicing. If you’ve yearned for Triton Ones, but couldn’t quite swing the price, GoldenEar has now given you a big taste of Triton One-like performance in its new Triton “+” series models.