After one full day at CES I have to say that with rare exceptions the sounds emanating from every “super speaker” I’ve heard was majorly underwhelming. With the exception of the Magico (yes, Jon Valin, you got it totally right about Magico) and the Sony SS AR-1, every big new speaker I heard at the show sounded more like loud, bad hi-fi than music.
The problem isn’t the speakers themselves, it’s the combination of too large a speaker in too small a room. Just like a giraffe in an eight-foot high room, the sound bounced off the walls, floors, and ceilings looking for a way out. But there was no way out, only back into the room, overloading it with excess energy.
But exhibitors say, “I want to show my flagship speaker.” I say, “Show it, but don’t play it.” It’s Ok to have a passive display. Play the speaker that fits the room. Yes, I know folks will howl, “I came to the show just to hear X and it’s not playing.” To which I say, if you are seriously contemplating buying or, if you are a dealer, carrying, a $50K+ super speaker you and the speaker deserve to hear it in a venue that is appropriate. That sure as heck ain’t CES.
To those manufacturers who insist on trying to jam 300 lbs of speaker into a 15 by 12 room I can only remind them that you only have one chance to make a good first impression. Please, play speakers that fit the room.