RMAF Day Two: Speakers Under $20K

RMAF Day Two: Speakers Under $20K

 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2009, Day Two—Speakers up to $20K


I’m somewhat pressed for time this morning, so I’ll provide a rather cursory scan of some of the more impressive speakers I sampled on day two of the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.


Speakers under-$20k: Higher-Priced Models


Genesis  7.1F, $8000/pair

Now in full production release, the Genesis 7.1F is a very well-balanced floorstander featuring both front and rear-firing Genesis ring-ribbon tweeters, dual 5.5-inch titanium cores midrange drivers, and an 8-inch aluminum cone self-powered, servo-controlled woofer.


Joseph Audio Pulsar, $6999/pair

For those of you who have dreamed of owning relatively compact stand mount monitors that really do convey the sense of reproducing (near) full-range bass, your loudspeaker has arrived. This two-way design is indirectly based on the almost four times as expensive, critically acclaimed Joseph Audio Pearl.


King Sound Full-Range Electrostats, $8000/pair

These large, flat-panel full-range electrostats impressed me with their highly revealing, smoothly balanced sound, and with their thoroughly decent bass extension. Frankly, some King Sound models I’ve heard in the past struck me as sounding overly thin, and bright, but these are much different and much better—potentially a dynamite value, if this sound (or even better) can carry over to home environments.


Marten Miles III, $12,500/pair

Though not, strictly speaking, a brand new model for RMAF, the Miles III, which sports two 7-inch ceramic mid-bass drivers and a 1-inch ceramic tweeter, offered up a richly detailed, highly refined, and pleasingly full-range sound. And did I mention that the industrial design is flat-out beautiful and very well-executed. In terms both of price and overall sound, I think the Miles III is one of the most accessible Marten offerings to date.


Nola Micro Grand Reference, $14,000/pair

Perhaps the easiest way to grasp what the Micro Grand represents is to picture is as miniaturized, stand mount version of Nola’s much larger and more costly Baby Grand Reference floorstander. Where it counts most, some of the very same driver technologies are used: a custom Raven ribbon tweeter, an Alnico-magnet-equipped open-baffle midrange driver, and a pair of magnesium woofers. The sound in two words: expansive and expressive.


PMC Fact 8, $10,999/pair

A sleek new transmission line-equipped floorstander from the famous monitor maker PMC. Drivers include two 5 ½-inch PMC mid-bass drivers plus a not quite 1-inch Sonomex soft dome tweeter. The sound: very pure and well-defined, with—for all intents and purposes—full range bass extension.


Sanders Model 10 Hybrid Electrostats, $13,000/pair

Having improved on his former Innersound designs, Roger Sanders’ Model 10 hybrid electrostats—which use flat panel ‘stat drivers rather than the curved panel Sanders helped develop for MartinLogan—served up an impressively detailed sound with powerful full-range bass and amazingly robust dynamics. The Model 10s offer buyers their choice of two possible woofer crossovers and two different bass amplifiers.


Speakers under-$20k: Higher-Priced Models


Focal 30th Anniversary 826W, $3495/pair

The Focal 826W, which debuted at CEDIA Expo 2009 about two week ago, was on demonstration at RMAF and sounded fabulous. Featuring drivers made of Focal’s famous “W-material”, normally reserved for use in the firm’s more expensive model, the 826W wind up sounding refined that you might think the “per pair” price is actually the price for just one speaker. Value spoken here.


Salk Signature Sound Songtower QWT, $1800-$2400/pair

Sporting a ¾-inch Hiquphon OW2 tweeter and a pair of SEAS CA15RLY 5-inch mid-bass drivers loaded in a quarter wave transmission-line (hence QWT) cabinet, the Songtowers offer a smooth, refined sound with lovely 3D imaging. In short, they sound as if they should cost more than they do, and are beautifully finished to boot.

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