NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Major audio firms like Sony (SNE) and Pioneer Electronics have spent the recession trying not to hemorrhage cash, opening the door for smaller sound companies to bring better technology and equipment to the market.
Here are three gadgets featured at the recent Consumer Electronics Show that audiophiles should consider adding to their sound systems:
(SNE) Price: 5,000 euros (about $7,500). Not yet available in the U.S.
Jose Tua showed his new line of forged aluminum speakers, made with material normally found in jet engine parts, like an awestruck priest might show off his cathedral. And that's no coincidence: The technical director for Barcelona, Spain-based ADN Acoustics dreamed up the company's Innova speakers while wiling away hot afternoons in La Sagrada Familia church, designed by famed Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi, who's known for his sand-like structures.
Tua loved hearing music in the church. And he reasoned that the audio lusciousness there came from the solid, rounded walls. So he set out to make his own Sagrada of sound: the most stable, rounded speakers possible. He ended up with concentric die-cast aluminum molds stacked to support speaker components and then filled with, what else? Sand.
"So all the sound energy comes out into the listener," Tua says through a translator.
Hearing the Eagles through the Innovas was like hearing Don Henley play in front of a swinging chrome sheet. Startling. Bright. Too bright, at least to start. But with the right amps and room tinkering, the ADNs could be dialed in to be just the way I wanted them.
Meet Signal Path International's Nova, a digital amp and signal processor that targets that nightmare of equipment in your office. Just run your digital devices into the Nova and match it to decent speakers to improve the sound of your PC, iPod or other gadget. Dollar for dollar, this is one of the best audio values on the market.
We audio nerds lie. We say the sound is the important thing, not looks. But no piece passes the test of living-room time if it looks dopey.
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