Dotting the CEDIA exhibit halls — amid the bleeding-edge audio and video technology, mounting brackets and hydraulic projector lifts — are bizarre-looking and head-shakingly expensive speakers. I can't snarkily scoff about the people with too much money (who haven't already had it stolen by Bernie Madoff) who could buy and sell me and still have plenty of dough left over for a mansion and a yacht who buy this wacky-looking stuff at these insane prices, because that would make me sound jealous (which I am). So I direct my envious sarcasm at the speakers themselves.
Hit the jump for pictures of the most outrageous speakers seen in the halls of CEDIA this past weekend.
6. Vienna Acoustics Kiss
Part of the company's Klimt series, that bottom bit that looks like the beer mug from the Miller Genuine Draft 64 commercial is actually a three-way stand holding up this two-piece speaker, with cabinets made from Sapele (a mahogany-like wood from Africa — I had to look it up) veneer. The bottom speaker is the subwoofer; the tweeter up top is in its own tilt/swivel compartment. So why is the stand shaped like that? So it wouldn't look so bulky. Makes sense to me. Price: a surprisingly affordable (comparatively speaking) $15,000 a pair.
5. Procella Audio P815
Perching Procella's wedgy P8 mid/high frequency loudspeaker atop its boxy 15-inch woofer on a swivel makes for a tall (nearly 44 inches) and an odd-looking combo reminiscent of Max Fleischer's animated robots from the 1940s. But Procella knows from sound — the Swedish company created the reference theater for DTS's London headquarters, necessitating a system charged with reproducing demanding 96/24 source material for platinum-eared engineers and execs. This is the company's 700-watt flagship speaker for the roomy home and a neo-Cubist sensibility. Price: $18,000 a pair.
4. Harman International Everest II
I would have thought Ayers Rock (or Uluru or Inselberg Monolith, if you prefer) would have been a more appropriate moniker for these nearly 44-inch wide/38-inch tall THX-certified boulders. Everest II's have got a 15-inch woofer and can handle up to 500 watts of power. The system they belong to is designed to emulate the sound characteristics of the Sydney Opera House, if they could only fit them in. Price: $70,000 a pair for cabinets made from maple, ebony or cherry. You can save $10k if you opt for rosewood.
3. American Audio & Video Fatboy II
Okay, these aren't really expensive — just $800 a pair — but they're definitely odd-looking. Okay, not odd-looking, but, really, bright yellow? Designed for, I don't know, cab drivers? They were designed in Bulgaria (I don't know what difference that makes, I just thought it was interesting). If you don't like their color, you can get them in lacquered piano black.
2. Thiel CS3.7s
These aren't so funny or funny-looking. These beautiful Thiel 3.7 speakers were pimped out by Gibson in its guitar Heritage Dark Burst finish, then hand-signed by Les Paul on the rear jack pack. They are heart-breakingly beautiful but only 13 pairs were made. One of them was signed by a bunch of celebrities at the Sundance Film Festival; the rest available for sale. The standard CS3.7 run $13,000 a pair. How much are these Les Paul-signed versions worth? The plan is to put up them for charity auction, so I guess we'll find out.
1. California Audio Technology (CAT) MBX 10.9 S44
That's six-foot-tall CAT sound engineer Joerg Weber being dwarfed by his creation. I really don't have a lot to say about these Frankenstein monster-sized towers of power — I mean they must sound great — but just look at the size of these things! Two even more fun facts: One, they're designed to sit on top of (!) a 22-inch subwoofer. Really, one of those drives couldn't have provided some bass? The second fun fact is the price: $288,000 a pair. You read that right. Two hundred eighty-eight THOUSAND dollars a pair.