I had a chance to catch up with designer Kevin Voecks and to ask him about the Performa3 range. Voecks explained that, by design, many core elements of the Performa3 sound come quite close to the performance of Revel’s more costly, top-tier Ultima2-series speakers, though he conceded that the Ultima2s are superior in two important areas: lower diffraction and superior treble response (the Ultima2’s feature an exotic Beryllium tweeter that Voecks considers the finest he has yet heard or tested). Even so, the Performa3’s are no performance slouches; in fact, the opposite may be true. Voecks mentioned that in blind listening tests (which Voecks favors as a relatively unbiased means of evaluating sonic performance), a large majority of listeners had picked the F208 over a very famous and exclusive high-end floorstander that sells in the mid-$20k/pair range. If nothing else, Voecks has set Revel’s performance sights extremely high for the Performa3 range.
Steinway Lyngdorf chose CEDIA as its venue of choice for rolling out its very exotic new LS Concert speaker system (total stereo system price: ~$228,000/pair). Actually, calling the LS Concert package a “speaker” is somewhat misleading, since what Steinway Lyngdorf really offers could more accurately be called end-to-end music (and movie) playback systems, where Steinway Lyngdorf offers each of the building blocks from which the systems are comprised. Typical building blocks include: speaker modules, stereo and/or multichannel processor modules, all-digital stereo amplifier modules, and the firm’s signature RoomPerfect room EQ system.
The LS Concert, though, is a very special speaker module and one on which company founder Peter Lyngdorf has been working for a long time. It is a large, tall, slender, floorstanding dipole line source (hence the name “LS”) array comprised of 8 Heil-type AMT tweeter drivers and 15 5.25-inch mid-bass drivers. In typical systems, the LS Concert would be combined with available Steinway Lyngdorf bass modules to complete a full-range system.
For CEDIA, Steinway Lyngdorf showed the new LS Concert as part of a full-on Lyndorf surround sound system whose total price came in at (gulp!) a cool $480,000! Ah, but what a sound it produced. The LS Concert system sounded remarkably clean, precise, and well controlled, with pinpoint-precise imaging and downright shocking dynamics (actually, the most impressive I’ve yet heard from any speaker system, horn-loaded systems included). The LS Concert system was great fun to hear on action film movie clips, but really came into its own on a well-recorded high-res classical music demo, where it became easier to hear and appreciate the system’s terrific delicacy and finesse.
T + A
The German firm T + A Elektroakustik GmbH demonstrated a beautiful compact “multi source audio system” based one the firm’s new Cala stereo receiver (which will be covered separately under the Audio Electronic section of my CEDIA report), plus a pair of the firm’s elegant little CS Mini mini-monitors.
The CS Mini sports a bass reflex enclosure whose thin but stiff walls are made of solid aluminum. The driver complement includes a 25mm woven dome tweeter and a 100mm mid/bass driver for claimed frequency response of 50Hz – 30kHz.
Up to this point, the speakers we have seen and heard from TAD have been cost-no-object Reference series models, but earlier this year the firm announced a new range of slightly cost-reduced Evolution-series components, including the TAD-E1 series speaker, which served as the centerpiece of TAD’s CEDIA display.
The TAD-E1 is a relatively large, high performance floorstander that takes most of its design cues directly from TAD’s Reference models and that will be priced at $29,800/pair. The E1, like most TAD speakers, features a 2-way, concentric “coherent source transducer” array, but one where the tweeter is made of beryllium (as in the Reference model) while midrange driver is made of magnesium (the Reference models get a beryllium midrange driver that is staggeringly expensive to manufacture). In turn, the E1 uses a pair of woofers that feature “one-piece dustcap/cone construction” said to eliminate “the loss of strength frequently found in conventional woofer construction.” The speaker’s enclosure features TAD’s familiar “teardrop” cross-sectional shape and so-called “Silent Enclosure” construction techniques where the cabinet is made of a combination of “high-rigidity Baltic birch plywood combined with medium density fiberboard.” Finally, the E1 uses a so-called “Iso-mount Network filter,” meaning that the crossover network is placed in a separate chamber that is mechanically and acoustically isolated from the main speaker enclosure. The upshot is that the E1 offers many of the most important elements of TAD Reference designs, but at a lower price point.