Most Outrageous Loudspeakers of 2005

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by Josh Ray on January 05 '06

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2005 was a big year for audio and what better way to sum up the craziness than a roundup of the most outrageous new speakers of the year. Ranging from $1,299 to $250,000, these speakers are on the cutting edge of technology and audible design. Keep reading for all the audiophile madness...

Shown above, the $229,000 Magico Ultimates take the cake for the most outrageous speakers of the year. Magico's Alon Wolf is a master of computer CAD rendering, having consulted on CG films Shrek, Antz and many others. As such, the Ultimate's design is only possible through extensive computer modeling. Of course, with a name "The Ultimate," one expects the speakers to be a full-out assault on perfect sonic reproduction. How does 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide at the top grab you? Oh, and that tiny woofer on the bottom is 15" so, yeah, the Ultimates are freakin' huge. But, as I tell myself constantly, size isn't the only thing that matters. Going the finesse route, Magico shuns regular drivers for the critical mid and high frequencies and uses instead hyper expensive and hyper detailed horn compression drivers which many consider the best in the world. And that's only the beginning, these speakers have more cutting-edge technology than the Bugatti. Check out the article for more goods and expect to hear some wild reviews coming out of CES and T.H.E. shows. Magico Ultimate

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PERFECT8 is surely the only company on the planet making speakers entirely out of glass. And not just any glass but "Super Silent Glass" which is claimed to be the perfect loudspeaker enclosure. If glass wasn't enough, the drivers are encased in gold or silver for, you know, impressing your groupies. To give you an idea of price, the bizarre bookshelf speaker shown runs over $18k a pair. They also have speakers with stacks of drivers and huge ribbons for much, much more. PERFECT8 Loudspeakers

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Marten Design's $250k Coltrane Supreme is probably the most expensive loudspeaker introduced this year, but don't hold me on that. What makes these babies so expensive are their 1" diamond tweeters and 2" diamond midrange drivers. While not exclusive to Marten, they are currently the only company in the world to use diamond midranges. The rest of the drivers are super thin slabs of ceramic and the big tower uses six 9" drivers for the lows. Also shown in the picture is an arsenal of equipment called "The Swedish Statement" with a package price of a cool $400k. Marten Design Coltrane Supreme

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Not technically a loudspeaker, the Eminent Technology TRW 17 subwoofer exploded in the internet after our article revealing it to the world. With claimed frequency down to 1Hz, everyone who has heard this thing says the bass is so deep it's terrifying. The TRW 17 modulates the pitch of the fan blades to create the different tones. And where a normal subwoofer has its own enclosure, the TRW 17 needs an entire room to compress the air and achieve the bass. Price is listed at $13k though the manufacturer says the price is coming down. Oh, and expect to see a car version of this beast showing up in rap music videos in the near future. Definitely revolutionary technology, keep reading if you don't believe this is real. Eminent Tech TRW 17 Subwoofer

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Not terribly revolutionary on the technology front, the design of the Sonics Passion-S speaker is something worthy of MOMA. As you can tell, each driver is given its own cabinet fashioned out of super trendy plywood layers with big acrylic cheeks holding the whole deal together. Height is 64" and no price yet. Sonics Passion-S

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Nothing unique, you say? Well, Omega is the first high-end company to employ 100% hemp drivers for their loudspeakers. Hemp is said to be better suited for audio drivers than plain jane tree pulp. The 8" Hemptone driver covers 50-18k Hz and, no, you can't smoke it. Price is $1299. Omega Hemptone 8 Speakers


What you can't tell from the picture is the Jamo R909 speakers don't have a cabinet. Yeah, they're just big yellow boogie boards with drivers slapped in. The acoustic logic of not having a box is to allow the speakers to disappear sonically, if not visually. While not a new idea, it's a first (as far as I know) to see it in a major manufacturer's flagship model. Bottom woofers are dual 15 inchers and price is around $14k. Jamo R909

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Vivid audio is, as far as I know, the only loudspeaker company out of South Africa. Vivid has a pretty high pedigree, coming from the man who designed B&W's flagship Nautilus speakers. Loaded with all kinds of skunk works and black ops technology, Vivid's goal is to take a bite out of the ultra high-end by providing a killer speaker at a fraction of the price. The B1 shown goes for 6990 British Pounds. Vivid Audio

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DK Design blew into the scene with their killer integrated amps and proceeded to get Jim Olson of Positive Feedback to proclaim their X-Dream F-7 speaker (now the LSA 10, after DK's sale to LSA) the best speaker ever. He says, at $25k, it's a relative bargain compared to speakers like Wilson's $125k Alexandrias and a couple dozen other speakers over $25k. Strangely, after all this praise, nary another mention of the F-7 has appeared in the press. For the best speaker ever, one would think more people would check it out...DK Design X-Dream F-7/LSA 10

No, Zu Cable hasn't sold its soul to the devil...yet. On the left is the Fender Hello Kitty guitar available at your local sell-out superstore for $229. On the right is the $2800 Zu Druid photoshopped to look like a quick and easy retirement for the Zu guys. Lord help us if a high-end Hello Kitty branded ever makes it to market. It would either destroy our industry or be the shining salvation. You decide. Hello Kitty Pain

Well, that concludes our wrap up of the most outrageous speakers of '05. If anyone was wondering where all that useless NASA technology was going, look no further than ultra high-end audio.

Of course, for those new here, remember that these products are on the upper extremes. If you want to get involved, a killer system is to had for under $1000. And, yes, it will murder your Bose radio or Best Buy boom box. Check out our archives for cheap systems and stick around as we set our sights on exposing all kinds of great iPod and computer hifi gear in the big '06.

And if you think there are speakers missing from this list that should be here, let us know and we'll stick them up.


Magico Ultimates "(---) these speakers have more cutting edge technology then the Bugatti" Art thou serious?
Not completely serious but, in relative terms, the Ultimates don't sport just engine, steering and other upgrades. Instead, the Ultimates are an entirely new type of beast. Consider they use a total of 20 DACs (2 per channel) combined with a 5 channel digital crossover for a total of 10 channels of amplification. No other speaker is rocking such a digital-intensive package or with as much emphasis on room correction and customizable driver integration, let alone on a horn speaker which is the most difficult kind of speaker to design. Hell, most speakers don't even include DACs or consider room correction in the first place. Additionally, the whole package is machined out of aluminum with tolerances worthy of NASA and a single Ultimate pair takes 4 months to build. The third pair is currently being made and will arrive at its Los Angeles home in a month or so. Remember, Alon Wolf cut his teeth on CAD before Hollywood even knew what CAD was. His work is seen in the likes of Shrek, Antz and other CG flicks. Naturally, his speakers undergo more CG modeling than anything else out there because, simply, insane computer modeling is where he comes from. It should come as no surprise that the picture of the Ultimates above is actually a CG model.
"Vivid audio is, as far as I know, the only loudspeaker company out of South Africa ."

There are two more that I'm aware of, Sonor Audio use the best best Danish drivers and are lovingly crafted, look at this bracing.

As well as the less well known Ribbon Speakers using Newform Research ribbon drivers.

Hey Deon, thanks for the info. Yeah, Sonor's bracing is pretty wild and it looks like they know what they're doing. The Ribbon Speaker site looks like they're simply importing the Newform speakers out of Canada. Ah well. Amazing, isn't it, how many speaker companies there are in the world? At least 2 or 3 new ones at Vegas every year. This industry has to be worse than the restaurant biz.
PERFECT8 is surely the only company on the planet making speakers entirely out of glass. And not just any glass but "Super Silent Glass" which is claimed to be the perfect loudspeaker enclosure. Not entirely: the French have Waterfall...they use Triangle-units. Looks beautifull, sounds okay: al little veiled and warm. Greetings, Jaap Veenstra
what about that crazy mcintosh system- 90k for the speakers, 60k for the matching amps cabable of 8kilowatt peaks per channel.