The World’s Most Expensive Loudspeakers
There’s been much debate in the pages of The Absolute Sound lately about the high-cost of certain audio components. For some reason, Wilson Audio seems to be a lightning rod for those who think some high-end products are overpriced. They point to the $158,000 Wilson X-2 as “Exhibit A.”
But is the X-2 the most expensive speaker in the world? Or even among the top ten?
Not by a long shot. In fact, by my count there are 35 speakers more expensive than the X-2. Here’s a brief and informal survey of the world’s most expensive loudspeakers.
At the top of the list is the Transmission Audio Ultimate, a $2,000,000 system custom-built to order. The Ultimate uses a custom 2”-wide ribbon that is 21” tall, coupled with cone woofers.
At just half the price (one million dollars), Kharma offers the Grand Enigma, only one of which has been sold.
The next step down takes us to the $700,000 Wisdom Audio Infinite Grand, a four-piece package that mates a 3” by 75” planar-magnetic midrange-tweeter to woofer cabinets housing 24 12” woofers that reportedly extend to 5Hz. Total system weight: Two tons.
The sub-$500k category begins with the powered California Audio Technology (CAT) MBX system that looks like a conventional loudspeaker on steroids. The MBX, which I’ve seen on passive display at CES, is without a doubt the largest non-sound-reinforcement loudspeaker I’ve seen. The MBX is about the same size and shape as the pillars that hold up freeway overpasses.
$380,700 will get you the Acapella Audio Arts Sphaeron Excalibur. This speaker combines two enormous woofer columns (each housing four 15” woofers) with large horn-loaded midrange and tweeter units. Sensitivity is a whopping 100dB 1W/1m.
Sixth on our list is the Magico Ultimate at $354,000, another horn-loaded system. The Ultimate features true horn-loading down to 120Hz, which requires the massive aluminum horn that dominates the Ultimate.
Adam Audio of Germany offers the Olympus Sound System (OSS) at $340,000 a pair. The four module (per side) system includes an array of the company’s proprietary ribbon tweeters flanking an array of ribbon midranges in separate enclosures that are then attached to the woofer columns. The stand-alone subwoofer column houses two 18” drivers driven by an integral 1000W amplifier. The OSS uses DSP crossovers with time and amplitude correction.
At $322,000 we have the Tidal T-1, a four-piece system that claims to use pure silver crossovers. The main tower is built from three separate modules that can be time-aligned. The T-1 can be driven passively or actively with the included line-level crossover. Weight: 1.2 tons per side.
In the next installment of this blog, I’ll continue down the list of the world’s most expensive loudspeakers. Warning: We’ve got a long way to go before we get to the Wilson X-2.
By Robert Harley
My older brother Stephen introduced me to music when I was about 12 years old. Stephen was a prodigious musical talent (he went on to get a degree in Composition) who generously shared his records and passion for music with his little brother.More articles from this editor
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