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SonicFlare Top Speakers of 2007

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by Josh Ray on December 22 '07

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Sf3Awardhifi1-1Sports cars have nothing on hi-fi. Each year, hi-fi manufacturers create new speakers and components with more space-age tech and bling than Bugatti. To show you what hi-fi is all about, we decided to present our Top Speakers of 2007 with their corresponding super car identities. After all, racy looks and extreme performance is what hi-fi is all about.

We chose these loudspeakers based on the buzz they received over the course of 2007. While there were many new and exciting prototype products this year, the loudspeakers on our list are all commercially available and showing up in rock star and hi-fi fan's living rooms everywhere.

Hi-fi, like sports cars, is made up of numerous fantastic speakers, each with their own unique strengths. So if you’re new to the glorious world of hi-fi, forget plastic speakers and find out what “sports cars for your living room” is all about.

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Bugatti: Marten Coltrane Supreme
If you’re shopping for a sports car with, say, over a 1000 horse power and a price tag, say, over a million bucks, there’s only one car for you: The Bugatti Veyron, chariot of rappers and oil sheiks everywhere. Likewise, there’s only one loudspeaker with over 12 carats of pure diamond drivers and a price tag of a quarter million dollars: The Marten Coltrane Supreme.

The Marten Coltrane Supreme, like Bugatti, didn’t so much explode onto the scene as make people scratch their heads and ask, “They’re not serious, are they?” And yet, Bugatti is sold out for years to come and the Marten Coltrane Supremes are some of the most coveted speakers around. With their 1” synthetic diamond tweeters, 2” diamond midranges and an army of custom ceramic woofers, the Coltrane Supremes are the most expensive and outrageous speakers in commercial production…for now.

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Lamborghini: Wilson Audio
Lamborghini and Wilson were truly separated at birth. With their sharp angles, wild paint finishes and exotic styling that just screams big money, both Lamborghini and Wilson are some of the most unique and desired pieces of engineering in the world.

Wilson recently updated their top Alexandria speakers ($125k) to Series 2 status while the WATT/Puppy 8 speakers ($28k) are winning awards across the globe. Sonically, Wilson is not unlike Lamborghini’s fervent fans and vocal naysayers. Regardless of the sound, Wilson’s constant improvements and fanatical devotion to perfection guarantees their status as one of the hottest brands in the biz.

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Mercedes SLR: Sonicweld
Sonicweld is more than a loudspeaker, it’s a complete hi-fi super system. And like the Mercedes SLR, Sonicweld is a showcase of the most advanced tech currently available. Machined out of solid blocks of aluminum, the $99,000 Pulserod speakers feature a phalanx of titanium midrange drivers and aluminum woofers, all powered by integrated ICEpower amplifiers.

Additionally, the system is controlled by the DEQX active crossover/room correction wonderbox. For you motor heads, the DEQX’s 300dB crossover slopes are like 0-60 times under 4 seconds, while its quad-amped, digi-EQ is like 1G on the skid pad. Yeah, I’m all hot and bothered too. Read our Rocky Mountain Show coverage for more.

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Aston Martin/Jaguar: TAD/Pioneer
This was a big year for TAD and the Pioneer EX brands. Unlike failed attempts by Sony and JBL to crack the high-end American market, Pioneer found the magic formula and that formula’s name is Andrew Jones. Following Ford MoCo’s example of throwing big bucks at Ian Cullum to relaunch the Aston Martin brand, Pioneer gave fellow Brit Andrew Jones the resources to work his magic and, viola, the TAD Reference One and Pioneer EX speakers were born.

The Reference One, at $45k, is 100% Aston Martin Vanquish with its sexy curves, fine woods and break-neck performance. The baby brother Pioneer EX is to TAD what Jaguar is to Aston Martin: 90% of the performance for half the price. The EX speakers feature trickle-down tech such as coaxial magnesium/beryllium drivers along with Andrew’s revolutionary short coil, triple layer bass woofers.

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Koenigsegg: YG Acoustics
If you’ve never heard of Koenigsegg, well, you probably have better things to do during your daylight hours than cruise esoteric Euro car sites. Konigsegg is a small company out of Sweden that mates freakish engines with barebones bodies for ridiculous performance.

YG Acoustics has taken a similar approach with their entire line of solid aluminum speakers and premium drivers. The $70k Anat Reference II isn’t your daily-driver loudspeaker, but one that champions all-out performance and purpose-built aesthetics. YG came out of nowhere with its claim to be “The Best Speaker in the Universe.” Of course, hi-fi, like sports cars, is made up of numerous excellent speakers, none of which is the very best. YG is finding fans across the globe and quickly expanding its line of super speakers from the Kipod to the hulking Voyager. Read our show coverage for more about YG Acoustics.

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Ferrari: Verity Audio
Verity Audio continues to gain fans and release new speakers, in no small part due to its incredibly beautiful finishes. Like Ferrari, Verity Audio isn't the biggest or baddest on the block, but it has crafted a niche appealing to the hi-fi fans who want gorgeous pieces of acoustic engineering and are willing to pay. It’s not uncommon to find people stroking the paint and wood finishes on the Verity speakers at audio shows.

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Bentley: Magico
Magico, like Bentley, did the seemingly impossible. The Bentley Continental GT was called too pedestrian to succeed. Likewise, Magico was derided for daring to offer The Mini, a $22k stand-mounted, 2-way speaker. And yet, both Magico and Bentley defied the critics and became the darlings of high performance fans world-over. Bentley is now offering a wide range of models while Magico is expanding with their new V3, Model 6 and Ultimate speakers to solidify their spot as one of the hottest super brands in the biz.

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Audi R8: Luxman/Vivid
Audi is kicking ass and taking names. The R8 is one of the hottest cars in the world and the latest generations of 4, 5, 6 and 8 models are giving Mercedes and BMW a serious run for their money.

Likewise, Vivid/Luxman is gunning for top-of-class with their amazing new products and signature sounds. The Vivid speakers, like Audi’s R8, features bodies crafted out of carbon fiber with custom drivers and unique technologies. Luxman equipment isn’t about monster watts, but watts-done-right. The Vivid/Luxman system has been getting rave reports from across the hi-fi universe and will, without a doubt, become one of the hottest systems this coming year. Read our show coverage for more.

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Lexus: Devore Fidelity
Devore Fidelity, like Lexus, isn’t about 0-60 times and racy looks, but a smooth, refined, emotional sonic experience. The new $6500 Devore Nine speakers and their glowing reviews are a testament to the amount of pure sonic bliss that can be achieved from a reasonably-sized, understated-yet-classy enclosure. With their pleasant looks and fine finishes, the Devore Nines are, like Lexus, made for experiencing top-notch performance every single day of the week.

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Subaru WRX: Guru
The Guru speakers don’t look like much, but once you push these black boxes against your room’s front wall, be prepared for a wild experience. Where the WRX has insane performance, grip and acceleration, the $2595 Gurus put out bass, attack and soundstage that rivals speakers three times their size. The Gurus are quite a marvel of engineering and nearly everyone who has heard these black beasts asks, "Where's the sub?" Check out our coverage for more.

Comments

You're a real piece of change, Josh (and I mean that in a good way).
Nice list. Some I've heard and would like to add are: 1) Rockport: Arrakis or Altair. 2) Avalon: Isis (might be a 2006 vintage.Whoopee!) 3) MBL: 101 Super-Duper thingy's (ugly monstrosities, but they sound fab). Look forward to the new Harbeth 40.1's and Acoustic Zen's latest...
Great list. But no such list is complete without the Escalante Design.
Hey, you forgot the world class ATC top of the range EL150 (check them out)...