The Newport Show

Robert Harley on Loudspeakers Above $12,000

Show report
The Newport Show

T.H.E. Show Newport just keeps getting bigger and better. This year the show expanded to include many more exhibit rooms in the adjacent Atrium hotel, a geographical increase that helped to make it easier to get around and find a seat in the various demos.

Most of the products in my category—loudspeakers above $12,000 per pair—have already been written about, so I’m going to focus on just products that are entirely new, making their US debut, and those that haven’t previously been demonstrated at US shows.

Perhaps the most important new product launch at Newport was the full line of loudspeakers from Gauder Akustik. The name may be new to US audiophiles, but the company has been making loudspeakers under the Isophon name for nearly 30 years. The company founder, Dr. Roland Gauder, has a Ph.D. in physics, an education he applies to the field of loudspeaker design. According to Gauder, just about every aspect of his speaker designs have been mathematically modeled and optimized, a process that requires six months with a Cray supercomputer. The Gauder Akustik enclosures are built from stacked ribs that alternate between stiffness and damping. Drivers are from Accuton, including their ceramic bass drivers and diamond midrange and tweeter. The crossover slopes are extremely steep—60dB per octave. The line is extensive, ranging from an under $2k minimonitor to the approximately $150k Berliner RC11. This is definitely not another “cones-in-a-box” me-too loudspeaker company.

I heard Gauder’s third-from-the-top Berliner RC7 ($35,000 per pair) driven by AVM sources and amplification, with a United Home Audio open-reel tape machine performing analog duties. The system easily filled the large room, was extremely dynamic and effortless, exhibited a very natural tonal balance, and threw a huge and well-defined soundstage. Gauder Akustik now has a reliable US distributor and is poised to make inroads in North America. Watch for a review of one of their mid-line models.

EnigmAcoustics, the company that made a splash with their Sopranino, a self-biasing electrostatic super-tweeter that can be added to any loudspeaker (see Dick Olsher’s review in the next issue), has introduced a complete stand-mounted loudspeaker system. The Mythology M1 is a stand-mounted two-way augmented with the Sopranino on top of the enclosure. The all-custom drivers are hand-made in Taiwan and the enclosure is created from laminated birch ply, tempered glass, and machined aluminum baffles. The price of $14,690 includes integral stands. The sound was outstanding; the Mythology played far bigger that its size would suggest, timbres were realistic, and the spatial precision was remarkable.