Price: $28,000 per pair
Vade said: Although the LSA8+8 couldn’t reproduce the bottommost octave of the audioband (20-40Hz) in my room, they reproduced everything -- and I mean everything -- above that better than I’ve heard it done by almost any other speaker at any price.
The gist: In this case, a lot of drivers equals lots of performance.
Price: $22,500 per pair
Albert said: They won’t re-create the domination of a symphony in full voice or a rock band in full scream. What they will do is convincingly and passionately re-create the inner world of music as a coherent statement of the musicians’ intentions and performance.
The gist: Within their limits, very convincing.
Price: $41,700 per pair
Albert said: The outstanding achievement of CAE is that, in the Conspiracy, they have found a way to get the engineering and the music right.
The gist: The consensus? A conspiracy of quality.
Price: $65,000 per pair
Jason said: But I can imagine a music lover who values great sound, who has more money than God, watching his wife go gaga over the Arabesques as she visualizes these two massive Swarovski crystals perched in the middle of her living room making wonderful music.
The gist: A genuine jewel of a loudspeaker.
Price: $11,750 per pair
Ken said: It will provide a complete and highly communicative sound in which audiophile pyrotechnics take a back seat to musical involvement. It is also beautiful to look at.
The gist: A gem from Gemme.
Price: $14,000 per pair
Jason said: The Lafleuraudio X1 is a great loudspeaker that can deliver large amounts of musical satisfaction. However, it’s still a two-way monitor that retails for $14,000/pair.
The gist: A good speaker, but at this price it needs to be exceptional.
Price: $18,000 per pair
Doug said: It may carry a five-digit price tag, but the V2 is more than a mere status trophy -- it’s a true audiophile-grade performer with an overall sound quality that makes it the best passive loudspeaker I’ve ever reviewed.
The gist: Magico’s entry level is no entry-level speaker.
Price: $13,995 per pair
Howard said: The Summit X is the latest step in MartinLogan’s ongoing quest for electrostatic perfection. They’ve improved on the technology’s stunning strengths -- transparency, speed, immediacy, midrange presence, soundstaging -- while minimizing its shortcomings, particularly in the integration of the outputs of the woofers and upper-range panels.
The gist: X marks the sweet spot.
Price: $21,998 per pair
Doug said: If you have the space, the money, and the desire to own a "statement" loudspeaker that can take its place among the greats, Revel’s Ultima Salon2 is the one to look at. I’m sure someday I’ll review an even better speaker -- progress is defined by the continuing search for perfection -- but for now, at least, the Ultima Salon2 is the best passive loudspeaker I’ve ever reviewed.
The gist: Plain and simply, the benchmark for under $25k.
Price: $27,500 per pair
Randall said: It’s easily the best speaker I’ve had in my home, and one of the best I’ve heard anywhere -- and it’s the best I’ve heard for anywhere near its price.
The gist: Stargazing on a clear night in Maine.
Price: $165,000 per pair
Jeff said: I experienced the best sound I’ve ever heard from my Music Vault listening seat. I took a deep breath as a sense of contentment welled up inside me.
The gist: Otherworldly.
Price: $15,000 per pair
Garrett said: Albert Von Schweikert has made a genuine contribution with his UniField 3, creating not only a full-range speaker that will be viable in small rooms, but one that I suspect can handle larger rooms with ease.
The gist: Competitive in the busy $10-$20k field of compact floorstanders.
Price: $68,500 per pair
Marc said: There is a humanness to the MAXX 3’s performance; it doesn’t seem to be the product of acoustic engineering as much as the astute, careful observation of people who are intimately familiar with the sound of live music and will settle for nothing short of it.
The gist: The best MAXX yet.