Big ‘o Loudspeakers Part 2 – T.H.E. Show Newport 2014

I saw this Acapeella Atlas Horn Loudspeaker ($99k) years ago at one of the first Newport shows. I thought it had a bit of a direct sound to it then, but the reggae tune I heard playing through it on Saturday at the show was pretty darn spectacular. The dealer was barely able to squeeze the 6 foot unit into the general-sized listening room.

The shiny red eye of doom that faces you inside that chromed out indentation is an Ionic Plasma Tweeter. From Acapella’s website:

“High voltage within the unit produces a constant arc. This arc is modulated with the musical signal (flame oscillates with the time of the music). This is the reason why the number of electrons within the arc varies. A larger or smaller amount of electrons requires similar space. Due to this variable need of space the surrounding air molecules have to dodge the more or less quickly. This evasive action or bumping of the air molecules generates over-, resp. underpressure and, therefore, sound. In this way, the Acapella ion tweeter is able to reproduce sound without membrane and without mass.”

 The good news is that it doesn’t shoot out at you. As an added bonus it does sound pretty smooth and natural in execution as well. The tweeter is also available as a standalone unit.

Perhaps one of the most interesting propositions of the show was this new design for an electrostatic speaker by Muraudio. The Domain Omni Px-1 ($58k) pictured here looked as if it was attempting to tap into some of that omni-directional mojo that MBL and others have utilized. The loudspeaker is a 2 way design with a electrostatic panel wrapped around the top half and 3 low frequency drivers pushing out, one in front and two angled in the back. Founder and CEO Murray Harman has been developing the unit for the past 10 years and just recently released the product into the wild last November. The Px-1 is a passive design and Muraudio also offers a powered version called the DA1 (350W Class D, $67k).  As with MLB, the soundstage from these omnis are unique from your typical dynamic drivers.

KEF is always well represented at nearly every audio show across the US. This time around we were gifted with a few mid sized floor standers, but what really struck my fancy was the demo I heard from the X300AW ($1k) all in one bookshelf units. These desktop speakers incorporate wireless streaming into their “all-in-oneness” and sounded quite exceptional, especially for their positioning sitting in the corner on a table all nonchalant like. The low end response from the two small cabinets was extremely impressive, as was the clarity and staging I could grasp from the odd position I was sitting relative to the drivers. The Uni-Q driver in these units isn’t exactly the same as the ones found in the well received LS50 passive speakers, but from what I heard it would seem that the X300AW outperforms those mass market wireless systems that populate Best Buy’s shelves by a country mile.

Philip O’Hanion has produced some of the best audio demos I’ve seen at shows. On a Higher Note distribution includes the sea creature/alien/abyss inspired Vivid Loudspeaker line. The B1 ($15k/pair) in the background here has really impressed me from a sonic standpoint. Excellent definition and focused imaging are just a few of their solid performance factors. All though it might be a cliche’ they really do sound much bigger than they physically appear. While I’m not a huge fan of the external design, I can’t deny that Philip may be on to something with the way he chooses to put together his rigs. Pushing the B1 was a Mola Mola Makua preamp ($13.5k) and Kaluga monoblocks ($18k/pair) from a Luxman PD-171 table ($6,400) and D-08tu SACD/DAC ($18k).

Part 1 is [Here].

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