But from a design standpoint, everything flows from the “fountainhead” that is the Triton Two tower. In a nutshell, the Triton Two is one of those oh-so-rare $2500/pair loudspeakers that, if heard from behind an opaque scrim, could easily (and I mean really easily) fool you into thinking you were hearing a boutique high-end loudspeaker that carried a five-figure price tag. Part of why this is so is that the Triton Two offers terrific clarity, transient speed, and definition, yet is remarkably smooth sounding in its overall presentation—a tough combination of virtues to pull off. Frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard any speaker do a better job of blending the output of a lightning fast Heil-type tweeter with conventional piston-type mid-bass drivers. That is, in my view, is the sonic “special sauce” that really sets the Triton Two apart. Happily the same technologies used in the midrange/treble section of the tower carry over directly into the GoldenEar satellites.
In short: the Triton Two and its stable mates are a virtual lock to enhance Sandy Gross’ deserved reputation for building speakers that offer killer performance/price ratios. What’s more, they just might make more than a few designers of boutique high-end products nervous in the process.
For many years Q-series loudspeakers have been the “bread-and-butter” models within the KEF lineup, serving to introduce listeners to many of the technologies used in the firm’s higher-end speakers at comparatively affordable prices. At CEDIA KEF launched its eighth-generation Q-series models, which are said to be the first KEF products to leverage new insights gleaned through the radical, one-of-a-kind KEF Concept Blade loudspeaker (a not-for-sale technology test bed or "concept" speaker).
While the new Q models look quite traditional from the outside, they actually embody a quite ambitious array of technical changes. Highlights include an all-new version of KEF’s signature Uni-Q (coincident tweeter/midrange) driver array that features a new, double-layer dome tweeter (one layer provides the optimal shape while the other adds stiffness), a completely revised version of KEF’s “tangerine” waveguide, a new aluminum midrange driver with a much larger voice coil/motor structure, and a new “Z-surround.” An exhaustive list of all the revisions that have gone into the new Q models would overflow the space allotted, but suffice it to say the changes are quite sweeping and show KEF’s ability to take ideas from the cost-no-object Concept Blade and to transfer them to speakers that will sell at sensible, real-world prices.
The flaghip model of the new Q range is the Q900 tower, a 2.5-way floorstanding speaker based on a 6.5-inch Uni-Q array with a 1-inch tweeter, a 6.5-inch woofer, and two 6.5-inch passive radiators (or as KEF calls them, “auxiliary bass radiators”). The Q900 will sell for $1599/pair, with prices stepping downward for smaller models.
The Q-series speakers were on static display only in the KEF booth, but we’re eager to hear them soon.
Apart from Klipsch’s limited production classic models (e.g., the Klipschorn, LaScala, etc.) and Palladium-series speakers, the Reference series has for most practical purposes represented the top of the Klipsch lineup—until now. Shortly before CEDIA Klipsch announced that it had reworked the Reference line to create the new Reference II series.
It would be easy, at least at first glance, to interpret the Reference II models as a minor “refresh” of a well-established and well-loved product family, but a closer look (and especially a careful listen) shows that the changes are much more significant than that. Klipsch had a traditional booth on the CEDIA exhibit floor, but in a separate, off-the-show-floor demo room Klipsch VP of Product Development Mark Cassavant gave me a one-on-one presentation of the new line, along with the chance to hear (in a relatively quiet room) a side-by-side comparison of the previous generation Reference RF-82 and new generation Reference II RF-82II ($1200/pair) speaker models (the RF-82 II is one model down from top-of-the line).