Cost-No-Object Loudspeaker of the Year
Joint winner: Marten Coltrane Supreme 2
Perhaps the most ambitious loudspeaker project ever undertaken by a small manufacturer, the Marten Coltrane Supreme 2 is a loudspeaker of extremes. Each speaker stands two metres tall, weighs 300kg, requires 30m of top Jorma cable internally, and the whole €390,000/pr system arrives in five large flight cases. Marten has a very close working relationship with drive unit maker Accuton – it needs to, because this loudspeaker has 16 of the company’s drivers per side! Of course, the Coltrane Supreme 2 needs exceptional upstream equipment and a very big room, but suitably partnered and installed, we were exceptionally impressed by the effortless and uninhibited dynamic range, the lack of distortion, the absence of a noise floor, and the remarkable sense of stereo imaging these loudspeakers produce. They also ‘scale’ and these big speakers can sound remarkably ‘small’ when the music demands – a sign of something truly exceptional. (Reviewed in Issue 123).
Joint winner: Estelon Extreme
Unlike many loudspeaker designs, where their often imposing height is fixed, the first and most obvious ‘thing’ about the Estelon Extreme is the remote controlled front baffle. This can rise or fall to fine-tune listener positioning, or can be effectively ‘stowed’ for more room friendly appeal. The curved, elegant £140,000/pr Extreme uses two separate enclosures per loudspeaker. The first is the fixed bass unit with its two side-forward firing bass units, while the floating front baffle contains mid-bass, midrange, and tweeter units, all from Accuton. Unlike many statement loudspeakers, Alfred Vassilkov’s best eschews drama and power, and goes for the ultimate in refinement and precision, portraying both the sophistication of the recording techniques and the mastery of the musicians. These are loudspeakers that can impress, but impress because of the way they portray musical intent and emotion, as well as sheer scale and energy. (Reviewed in Issue 117).