Focal launched two new Utopia models at High End 2018, the largest being the Grande Utopia EM Evo (€180,000/pr.). The new flagship includes a revised suspension system on the drivers, as well as reinforcement rings made from aluminum at the point where the drivers mount to the cabinet. The five-driver, four-way configuration of the Grande is evident . . .
. . . in the five cabinet sections seen from the rear. If the price for the Grande is too high . . .
. . . you can get much of the same performance in the slightly smaller Stella Utopia EM Evo (€100,000/pr.). The 375-pound Stella has a 13" bass driver (instead of the 16" one in the Grande), and lacks the midbass driver of the flagship, but is otherwise similar.
Diapason introduced the Karis Wave loudspeaker, which is based on the original Karis from 1997. The price including the stands is €10,000/pr. The two-way Wave features a woodworking design by wood sculptor Antonio Comini. The front baffle . . .
. . . takes ten hours to create by hand. The Wave will be a limited-run product with only 299 pairs being produced.
The Stenheim Alumine Five Signature is an updated version of a previous model, and it includes a new damping material inside, a baffle covered with leather that’s said to aid in reducing diffraction, and a large external crossover. The price is “around €75,000/pr.,” according to the company representative we spoke with.
The versatile new Moon 390 ($5300) from Simaudio is a preamplifier with a built-in DAC and network streaming. It also includes an MM/MC phono preamp and headphone amplifier, making for a complete music system when combined with a power amplifier and speakers. Based on the company’s 380D standalone DAC, the Moon 390’s built-in DAC supports up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM, DSD256, and MQA. Streaming features include Roon-readiness, Tidal, Qobuz Sublime+, and Deezer HiFi. An OLED display and HDMI 2.0 connectivity round out the preamp’s feature set.
Slotting in just below Gryphon Audio Designs’ top-of-the-line Pandora preamplifier, the company’s new Zena preamplifier (€12,800) is a true dual-mono design that employs a discrete DC-coupled, class-A circuit topology. By eschewing features like a balance control, polarity switch, and headphone output, the Zena maintains a minimal signal path to reduce coloration. An optional MM/MC phono stage (€1800) or DAC (€4800) module can be installed at purchase or added at a later date. Gryphon’s new preamp also features a fixed-level home-theater bypass function to integrate with surround-sound systems.
The Hegel Music Systems H590 is the largest in the company’s impressive stable of integrated amplifier-DACs. The H590 is specced to output 301Wpc into 8 ohms and includes a DAC that comes with a full suite of digital inputs, including BNC, coaxial, optical, USB, and Ethernet. The new DAC section is said to be better than that in the company’s top-of-the-line HD30 standalone DAC. Analog inputs include balanced XLR and single-ended RCA. The H590 is compatible with Spotify Connect, AirPlay, and UPNP streaming. The H590 is priced at €10,000.
The Elac Concentro M is the scaled-down version of the company’s flagship, the Concentro (shown left). The M features four 220mm bass drivers, two mounted on each side, and a concentric drive unit composed of a 70mm ribbon and a 140mm midrange on the front. The three-way Concentro M is priced at €32,000/pr.
The Vimberg loudspeakers are new to the market, though you may notice that they resemble speakers you’ve seen from Germany’s Tidal. That’s no coincidence, as Tidal’s chief designer, Jorn Janczak, is again the designer here. Seen in the photo is the Tonda, the largest in the range. The Tonda is a five-driver, three-way model that features one 30mm ceramic tweeter, a 168mm ceramic midrange, and three 190mm ceramic woofers -- all Cell models from German driver manufacturer Accuton. The price is a surprisingly reasonable €28,000/pr. in black or white piano finish. A diamond-tweeter version of the Tonda is available for €7000 more. If you want a smaller speaker . . .
. . . you can get the Vimberg Mino, which features more compact 168mm ceramic woofers. Both models come equipped with Mogami internal wiring and Argento binding posts, as well as Mundorf and Duelund crossover components.
PMC had a huge launch at High End 2018 -- the 176-pound Fact Fenestria (€54,000/pr.) is a three-way passive loudspeaker with four 6.5" woofers, a 75mm soft-dome midrange, and a 19.5mm Sonomex soft-dome tweeter. The Fenestria features a transmission line with an effective length of 7.9', which yields bass extension to 23Hz.
Audio Physic’s new flagship speaker is the Structure (€50,000/pr.). The new model is made from a cabinet composed of . . .
. . . carbon fiber, glass, wood, and open-cell ceramic foam. The 47kg, four-driver Structure is rated to play from 25Hz to 40kHz, and it replaces the larger Cardeas 30 at the top of the AP range of speakers.
Nordost has released two USB-C cables: the Red Dawn (€325 for a 0.5m run) and the Frey 2 (€600/0.5m). These cables are fully manufactured in the USA, with the Red Dawn being constructed of silver-plated, 99.9999% oxygen-free copper, while the pricier Frey 2 uses silver-plated solid-core copper and adds one digit to the purity of the copper: 99.99999%. Both cables are said to be USB 3.0 compatible.
The Göbel Divin Majestic was probably the largest and heaviest loudspeaker at High End 2018: 226cm high, 79cm wide, 114cm deep, and 530kg. This monster is a three-way design that uses a Mundorf AMT tweeter mounted in a waveguide, a pair of 8" midrange drivers, and two 18" bass drivers per cabinet. With claimed 98dB/1W/1m sensitivity, the Divin Majestic will certainly be able to play loudly in any room. The cost? Only €449,000/pr. The finish . . .
. . . was unlike those of several monster speakers we saw at the show -- it was completely mirror-like and without apparent flaw. That level of quality for a speaker that big is impressive!
The Eminence, from Wilson Benesch, tops the UK company’s range of carbon-fiber-clad loudspeakers. The 2.5-way, ten-driver Eminence is priced at €165,000/pr. and weighs 320 pounds. Drivers include the Fibonacci tweeter, a silk-carbon hybrid design, along with Tactic 3.0 bass drivers. The monocoque enclosure is said to be the most advanced WB has ever designed.
Germany’s Brinkmann Audio has upgraded several components in its line to Mk.II status: Shown here is the Marconi Mk.II preamplifier, which has a new circuit design, something that necessitated all-new printed circuit boards. Also upgraded were the Edison Mk.II phono stage and Nyquist Mk.II DAC. Each product is estimated to cost €10,000 each when released shortly.