And now, for one of the hottest speakers at the show -- the Pioneer EX speakers. Huh? Pioneer? A mass electronics company! So pedestrian! Ah, but appearances are deceiving. Pioneer made a very wise purchase a few years ago, bringing TAD into its big, happy family. TAD happens to be one of the largest makers of custom pro drivers, using diamond, beryllium and magnesium ages ago when the rest of the industry was making drivers like paper pinatas.
In TAD's case, it's good to be part of the family. With Pioneer's bank account and free reign to design away, TAD unleashed the $40,000 Model 1 and Model 2 speakers that blew up shows past, shocking the industry with its sudden presence. TAD? Pioneer? The biz is still adjusting to these guys taking their place among the vaunted legends.
Of course, why settle with a $40k speaker when you can make one for $9k and get 90% of the performance? These Pioneer S-1EX speakers are TADs to the core. TAD's chief Andrew Jones is one of the greatest guys in hi-fi. Making the rounds at other top speaker houses before settling down at TAD, Andrew Jones brings a lot of the Brit craft to these new American titans.
That driver up top is the concentric (tweet inside midrange) driver from the TADs. Where the TADs use beryllium exclusively, the Pioneers use a combination of beryllium and magnesium. The bass drivers are 7" carbon beasts with enough output to scare old ladies. Seriously, the bass was huge in a huge room. Many a show goer left with serious amounts of drool.
The Pioneer EX also includes the $6000 S-2EX monitors as well as the S-7 center channel and S-W1 subwoofer. Don't expect to find these at your local Best Buy either, Pioneer is expected to tackle the traditional brick and mortar monster.
The only downside I see is Pioneer's after-thought marketing. Check out the Pioneer EX website. About as exciting as tooth paste. Alas, they have the same image problem Sony had when they tried to crack the high-end nut a few years ago and were promptly sent packing. Pioneer has some good tech talk, but unless they can get past the image of "big corporation with overpriced speakers," they'll have problems in the hi-fi arena. Even keeping the TAD name for the EX series would help the image, in my opinion. The good news is there's a lot of buzz about these guys so expect to see some killer reviews soon.
In the pic below, Andrew Jones on the right watching the masses get their sonic worlds rocked. Next page, the TAD Model 2 at CES.