1970 - ELIPSON
Elipson is 100% responsible for my involvement with speaker design, period. Many of my contemporaries designers were all in awe with these speakers and we all tried to emulate their design and the magical sound they were capable of. It was a labor of love by artisan Joseph Leon and his team. I had the chance to compare these oldies with the new 4260s, but no match!
The 4260s are hifi speakers, the 4050s are musical instruments. Often imitated, never equalled!
1980 - THE GOLDEN DECADE - AW AUDIO
AW Audio started at the same time as Microphase and lasted a lot longer, up until 1995 with the introduction of the TRANSPARENCE, which unfortunately was not a commercial success.
Alain Wacquet, the designer for these amazing looking open baffle speakers, was, and still is, a great amateur of jazz and a great musician himself, still composing and up until recently involved in radio programs promoting the most modern of music genres. Alain is a perfectionist and his demos were some of the most spectacular I had a chance to listen to. He had a keen ear and a good understanding of getting the most amazing result out of the speakers. His demos of percussion instruments were legendary, specially considering the lack of real bottom end to these panels. We became friends - and still are - because we shared the same design objectives, time alignment, impulse response and respect of timbres, a must to reproduce music, not hifi...
1990 - SONUS FABER Guarneri Homage
This was and still is one of my favourite speakers. Still relatively compact, beautifully crafted, Italian with all its elegance and flamboyance, it is more a musical instrument than a hifi speaker.
Again here, phase, time alignement, dynamics and low cabinet resonances give precedence to the music, well deserving their name as an homage to the violin makers of Cremona.
2000 - MARTIN LOGAN - Summit X
I could have chosen a number of models fromMartin Logan, but I think the Summit X was the first one to be the best at matching the electrostatic panel and the integral subwoofer. I could happily live with a pair of these if I had a larger living room. Their speed, imaging, transparence - both visual and auditive - as well as going low enough without becoming boomy are the reason why I would have chosen them as my favourite speakers at the time and some of the best irrespective of time. They are also spouse friendly enough to be enjoyed with your partner.
2010 - KYRON AUDIO - Kronos
This was a revelation at the first HiFi Show in Melbourne after 16 years of absence. I was not going to miss that show, although I had just returned from the Paris HiFi Show, I managed to go
So glad to meet Leon Suter and Lee Gray and listen to their hifi journey. The Gaia was their first commercial attempt at open baffle speakers, but they employed the heavy artillery, using the best drivers, the best class D amplifiers and the best DSP in the form of the locally designed DEXQ. There are NOT spouse friendly at all, but the sound, even in such bad sounding room was amazing. I was the first to write ecstatically about these marvels of design, engineering and musical performance. I still remember the look of amazement on visitors' faces, circling the beasts as if it had just landed from Mars. And maybe they had...
A couple of years later, Leon and Lee were at it again, with what I believe are even better speakers at half the price and much more aesthetically pleasing. The DEXQ software had improved, Hypex had released new class D amplifiers with an almost non-existent level of distortion and a much better slew rate. The drivers are more or less the same, but this time the mayonnaise has gelled and those are the best speakers I have ever listened to, in over five decades of addiction! I was vindicated at the recent Melbourne Show, when Michael Fremer, a vinyl and analog aficionado, who has his own blog - Analog Planet - and has been writing for Stereophile for decades visited the Kyron Audio stand, he was mesmerised and I will quote only one sentence from his article:
"There was nothing 'digital' about the presentation. Nothing." Exactly my point...
A Swiss company, relatively new, but that has become quite famous quite quickly for its "money is no object" audio solutions with "soul" obviously!
6moons, Hifi News and other experts rave about these electronics, including the recently released 540, a combination of SACD player and HiRes DAC, that will set you back around 35K$
I didn't get a chance to listen to these digital jewels, so I would be quite happy with a 1k$ OPPO player and/or a Metrum DAC in the same price range.
Sooloos by Meridian
I have always had a sweet spot for Meridian products, and their CD players in particular. Their intrusion into "virtual music" by the acquisition of Sooloos add another dimension to their commitment to reproducing digital files.
Martial Hernandez, DJ extraordinaire, was keeping the audience riveted - to their seats - by his intimate knowledge of any of the 4000 CDs ripped on his 2To Sooloos system. He was helped in this exercise by the beautiful Vienna Acoustics speakers. Certainly one of the most knowledgeable and entertaining demos at the Show!
Sonus Faber has a long tradition of good speaker design in fabulously finished cabinets.
Here, the new Guarneri Memento are driven by the PrimaLuna 35W tube amps, a fine combination indeed, which retained a lot of visitors for more than the average time - I certainly was one of them!
It is always difficult to assess the performance of a speaker at a trade show, but some of them - and the Guarneri Memento is one of them - just make you stop and notice the difference.
What does it for me is the sheer balance, dynamic range and accuracy of this splendidly designed and manufactured pair of speakers, and the pleasure it gives me listening to most music you throw at it - even if they cost 15k$!
I would recommend you reading a proper review by Michael Stremer in Stereophile: http://www.stereophile.com/standloudspeakers/807sonus
An innovative music server, and multiroom system, the Maestro proposed by Soledge, one of these new breed of French manufacturers who embrace new technologies, but still respect the main "raison d'etre" of hifi equipment, which is reproducing music.
They had "borrowed' a pair of KEF speakers for their demos, which were driven by their Tenor "remote" amplifiers, the signal being transported via the power lines in a 200 Mhz PLC "envelope", quite an impressive feat!
We are far away from the X-10 PLC systems, used in early home automation systems!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.