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Economy Or Not, New High-End Products Arrive At Retail

7/18/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK — A challenging economy and challenging
high-end market haven’t dampened the enthusiasm of
enthusiast-run audio companies that continue to bring
new products to market.

Monoblock tube amps, speakers with ribbon tweeters
and ribbon midranges, and tower speakers with
dipole operation throughout the frequency range are
among the new high-end products that audiophile-led
companies want consumers to hear. All use a variety of
different technologies and design techniques with the
goal of delivering high-impact low-distortion sound.

For budget-minded audiophiles, Martin Logan
launched a center-channel and
surround speaker. For audiophiles
who’ve invested in gold,
newcomer Audio Power Labs of
Columbus, Ohio, has begun shipping
the 833TNT, a monoblock
tube amp at $175,000/pair. Joseph
Audio of Melville, N.Y., plans
fall availability of the $9,200/pair
Legacy Focus SE tower speaker
with ribbon tweeter and ribbon
midrange.

For its part, direct-to-consumer
speaker supplier Linkwitz Lab of
Corte Madera, Calif., is offering the
$14,750/pair Orion 4 floorstanding speakers, said to operate
in dipole mode throughout the frequency spectrum.
And Miami-based Mark Neumann Audio Collection is offering
the Coliseum XLS “open-baffle” tower speakers, which start at $40,000/pair and are
promoted as delivering 360-degree
vertical and horizontal dispersion to
emulate real-life performances.

Here’s what these and other highend
companies have developed:

Audio Power Labs: The twoyear-
old company has just begun
shipping the $175,000/pair 833TNT
art-deco-style monoblock tube amp,
which is available direct to consumers.
The company, however, is looking
for distributors and dealers, said
VP Peeya Iwagoshi.

The push-pull 200-watt RMS
amp uses tubes and transformers
but lacks capacitors to eliminate
phase shifts caused when capacitors
age, he said. The amp’s two
tubes are large 833C tubes develop
in the 1940s specifically for
audio use and were often used in
AM radio transmitters. A microprocessor-
controlled liquid cooling
system cools the tubes, which
are visible through two transparent
cylindrical towers. The tubes
glow orange when powered on.
The chassis is made of hand-polished aluminum.


Joseph Audio:
The $9,200/pair Legacy Focus SE
tower speakers feature ribbon tweeter, ribbon midrange,
and proprietary AURA woofer technology. AURA
focuses all of the magnetic energy of a woofer’s magnetic
motor into the voice coil, whereas other magnet
motor designs deliver only up to 25 percent of their energy
to the voice coil, the company said.

Previously all three technologies combined were available
only in a single Joseph speaker at $22,000/pair.

Besides the ribbon tweeter and ribbon midrange, the
speaker features two midwoofers with push-pull motor
system and two woofers.

Linkwitz Lab: The $14,750/pair Orion 4 three-way
floorstanding speaker configures its drivers in an openbaffle
design to radiate sound to the front and back but
not to the sides or top. The figure-8 dispersion pattern
throughout the frequency range minimizes distortioncreating
side reflections, the company said.

The result is a wide, deep and tall soundstage with realistic
localization, clarity, and speed, the company said.

To achieve its intended goal, the Orion 4 features
front- and rear-firing tweeters, an open-back midrange
driver, and two woofers in a special configuration. It
comes with active analog signal processor/crossover to
which consumers can pair a multichannel amp.

Mark Neumann: The Coliseum XLS floorstanding
speakers start at $40,000/pair, all versions with
360-degree vertical and horizontal dispersion said to
be inspired by the dispersion characteristics of a concert
grand piano.

The XLS features two 7-inch woofers and two highfrequency
tweeters per channel, but for what the company
called a 35 percent improvement in clarity, speed
and refinement over the standard drivers, a version with
step-up drivers is available at $12,000 more.

Ordered as a three-way system for an additional
$20,000, the Coliseum XLS adds dual mid-bass drivers
in front and dual 12-inch woofers per channel.

MartinLogan: The $799-each EM-C2 center channel
and $649-each EM-FX2 surround speakers use
proprietary thin-film Folded Motion XT tweeter technology for voice matching
and price-matching with
the recently launched $1,995/pair ElectroMotion-ESL
34-inch-tall electrostatic speaker.

The ElectroMotion-ESL is the Lawrence, Kan., company’s
most affordable electrostatic speaker to date,
targeted to budget-conscious audiophiles.

The ElectroMotion C2 center channel and FX2 surround
speaker bring Folded Motion XT tweeter technology
to MartinLogan center and surround channels for
the first time.

Using the next generation of Folded Motion technology,
the speakers boast a radiating surface that’s 40
percent larger than the surfaces found in the company’s
Motion Series products.

The EM-C2 center channel is similar in size to a traditional
audio/video receiver and features dual 5.25-inch
high-excursion, doped fiber-cone woofers flanking a
Folded Motion XT tweeter. Sensitivity is 94dB.

The EM-FX2 surround speakers feature dual Folded
Motion XT tweeters in a wide-dispersion array and a
single 6.5-inch doped fiber-cone woofer. Available in
black or white, the EM-FX2 can be corner-mounted,
wall mounted or angle-wall mounted.