Home audio speakers are designed to sound great, but many designers take it to the next level and create something so sexy that people can't help but stare in awe at these works of art. The price of many of these sexy speakers exceeds that of high-end luxury cars and even homes in some cases. The fifteen loudspeakers below from all over the world are what we consider to be the sexiest speakers of all time. Enjoy the pictures and try not to drool on your keyboard.
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Price: $60,000 per pair
This list begins with what many consider to be the benchmark for beautiful speakers, the Nautilus. The Bowers and Wilkins flagship speaker is very highly regarded with music lovers all over the world, and with good reason. The Nautilus (sometimes referred to as the Nautilus "Prestige") is the culmination of a five year research and development project by former B&W engineer Laurence Dickie. The Nautilus enclosure houses drivers loaded by reverse-tapered horns to absorb the rear radiation and prevent any enclosure colouration.
Brand: Studio Electric
Model: Type Two
Price: $15,750 per pair
The Studio Electric Type Two (T2) aluminum towers were inspired by two of the signature buildings in the 1939 New York World's Fair. There are three drivers mounted in various places on the Type Two, a 6.5" mid-woofer and tweeter on the column and an 8" woofer hidden inside the column. The hand crafted T2 is produced in limited numbers and gets its roots from the American Art Deco movement.
Brand: AvanteGarde Acoustic
Model: Trio Classico with Bass Horns
Price: $189,000 for the pair (with 2 module bass horn)
The AvanteGarde Acoustic Trio Classico uses trademark high efficiency spherical horns to announce its presence as well as the included monster active subwoofer system. The 3-way Trio Classico is a circular version of the standard Trio and uses steel tubes for the frame while standing about 3 ft. tall. The spherical horns are manufactured with injection molded ABS plastic and finished with a metallic paint. The speakers have a staggering 109dB efficiency rating and a nominal impedance of 19 ohms. The included active bass horns can have up to 6 modules and weigh in at nearly 1,300lbs.
Price: $277,000 per pair
Just to give you an idea of the amount of work involved in making a pair of the Perfect8 Force loudspeakers, a Bentley Continental GT automobile has an assembly time of 250 hours. The Perfect8 Force loudspeakers take nearly that long with an assembly time of over 200 hours. The loudspeakers are made with a proprietary type of glass that deadens as well as preventing any of the negative characteristics that normal glass would exhibit. The use of this extra thick glass adds on the pounds though, each speaker weighs over 350lbs and stands 6'7" tall. The loudspeakers use a single 63" true ribbon with FEM-optimized neodymium magnet system for the upper frequency range, and eight 7" proprietary drivers for the midrange/bass. The Force speakers have a 6-12 month wait time for delivery from when they are ordered because of the complexity involved in their assembly. The proprietary glass used in the loudspeakers can be tinted to an assortment of colors at the buyer's request and four matching glass encased subwoofers are included in the price.
Model: Dimension TD12
Price: $8,350 per pair
The Tannoy TD12's have a very unique look that comes from a mix of different materials used in their construction. The cherry veneer and polished alloy trim already look beautiful together, but when you add in the black velvet used around the tweeter and woofer they are just stunning in appearance. The TD12's use a 12" Tannoy Dual Concentric drive unit mounted into a multi-faceted trapezoidal cabinet made completely of birch ply. The tweeter housing is machined from a solid block of alloy and it actually uses the acoustically inert velvet to prevent re-radiating of the high frequencies off of the top of the enclosure.
Price: $17,000 per pair
It is not an accident that the Oheocha D2-XCT loudspeakers appear to be some sort of alien spacecraft. The engineer behind the design, Aonghus O'hEocha is a former BMW and Land Rover drive train engineer who has quite a fascination with aerospace designs. The D2-XCT enclosures are made from an aluminum composite with a multitude of internal bracing and an interior lining of DuPont's ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) for sound deadening. The "head" of the loudspeaker that houses the mid-range driver and tweeter is mechanically decoupled from the rest of the enclosure as part of the resonance control system. The D2-XCT's have also achieved a bit of a celebrity status as they were featured in the 2002 blockbuster movie Men in Black II. The crossover design is aerospace inspired as well, and if you look closely you can see the turbine blades that appear ready to spool up. The D2-XCT's also offer a $4,275 option to make them active and wireless using O'hEocha's proprietary O-Link HD Amplifier and HD Wireless System that was designed to be free from the interference that commonly plagues other wireless systems. The D2-XCT's take about 4 weeks to build and are hand made on the West Coast of Ireland.
Price: $59,000 per pair
The ClaraVox Dogma loudspeakers come from a company whose name means "Crystal Voice" in Latin. The bright Ferrari red speakers were created as an "object of art," and at 64" tall the Dogmas are quite large pieces of artwork. The enclosures are hand-made with layers of fiberglass and carbon fiber, and the four-way loudspeakers are made to order with a three-month wait once the order is placed. The Dogma's are also a very limited edition with only 99 pairs being produced.
Price: $25,995 per pair
I've had the pleasure of seeing and hearing the Proclaim DMT-100's in person twice now. The outside-of-the-box design and implementation of these loudspeakers always puts a smile on my face. The engineers behind the design of the DMT-100's knew that traditional speakers were limited in some ways and took it upon themselves to create a solution. The solution lies in the positioning and time alignment of the drivers that Proclaim addressed with their very unique stands that allow the drivers to be physically moved to the best position. Each driver has its own spherical enclosure that is created with a mix of fiberglass and sand to limit resonance. A hand-crafted external crossover system allows the drivers to be independently attenuated for a users listening environment and personal preference.
Price: $140,000 per pair
The four-way Muon loudspeakers were designed by Ross Lovegrove for KEF and are limited to only 100 pairs worldwide. Each enclosure is made from a 6ft long block of solid aluminum that is machined in a week long process to reach the final form. The speakers use KEF's Acoustic Compliance Enhancement technology to effectively double the available volume through the absorption of air molecules by activated carbon. The 6mm thick enclosures are also heavily damped to minimize any vibrations. Each speaker weighs in at 253lbs.
Model: Model 3.2
Price: $44,000 per pair
The Scaena Model 3.2's utilize Iso-linear Array Technology and advanced enclosure manufacturing methods to create one of the most incredible looking loudspeakers ever made. The individual mini enclosures for each driver are created using a quartz/stone/glass/elastomer hybrid material that is fused together by a computer controlled laser and formed into a 3D object (think hand scene in The Fifth Element
). The independent enclosures are used to greatly reduce resonance levels and by coupling them together, Scaena claims that the speakers create a large effective mass that erases nearly all back wave coloration. The Scaena loudspeaker is also scalable and up to 6 additional drivers can be added per side.
Brand: German Physiks
Model: Loreley MK II
Price: $199,995 per pair
The Loreley MK II loudspeakers are quite the expensive pieces of eye candy that German Physiks is known for. Radiating a full 360 degrees, the Loreley's are a scaled-down version of the $250,000 Gaudi and even use four of the same proprietary DDD "Bending wave" drivers in a line source array. An adjoined woofer section houses four 10" passive radiators and two 12" inverted dome subwoofers, with a massive 3" of maximum excursion per driver. At 925lbs. each the Loreley's are not small or lightweight, but knowing German Physiks they will deliver what you would expect from a speaker in this price range and more.
Brand: Urban Fidelity
Model: Duevel Planets
Price: $1,295 per pair
The Urban Fidelity Duevel Planets were designed by Markus Duevel as affordable loudspeakers that are "designed for hip music lovers, not tweaky audiophiles." The omni-directional Duevel Planets use their eye-catching chrome spheres to disperse music in a 360 degree pattern throughout the entire room. The loudspeakers also utilize a specialty short horn tweeter, a high efficiency 5.9" woofer and dual down-firing ports on the bottom of the enclosure.
Brand: Bang & Olufsen
Price: $16,000 per pair
The Bang & Olufsen BeoLab5 loudspeakers are sort of an oddity as most people who see them for the first time probably don't even realize they are speakers. The BeoLab5's use aluminum for the enclosures and have the technology on the inside to back up their advanced look. The speakers use B&O's Acoustic Lens technology based on the shape of an ellipse to disperse the sound in a 180 degree pattern, allowing the listener to move around or sit in different places. The BeoLab5's also use B&O's Adaptive Bass Control to effectively tune themselves to the listening environment they are placed in. The loudspeakers are active and have B&O's very own ICEpower amplifier modules mounted inside the enclosures.
Brand: Acapella Audio Arts
Model: Spharon Excalibur
Price: $380,700 per pair
The Acapella Audio Arts Spharon Excalibur loudspeakers are quite a sight. I recently had the pleasure of hearing their little brothers (Triolon Excaliburs) in person at the 2007 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver. The Spharon Excalibur's stand just under 8ft. tall and weigh 1,364lbs each. Aside from the beautiful horns, one of the most unique features of the Spharon Excalibur's are the horn loaded Plasma Ion Tweeters that allow the speakers to reproduce frequencies up to 50kHz. Because there is no mass to the flame (or "arc") that plasma tweeters use to reproduce the sound, they theoretically should outperform conventional tweeters with metal or fabric domes and even low mass ribbons. All that can be seen of the plasma tweeters is a pinkish/purple glow coming from inside the golden horn surrounding the housing. The Spharon Excalibur's are the most expensive speakers on this list, and what other speakers have tweeters that can double as night lights?
Model: La Sphere
Price: $150,000 per pair
Cabasse has been perfecting co-axial speaker systems for over 40 years now, so it should be no surprise that their newest creation is a show stopping 4-way co-axial loudspeaker. For the La Sphere, Cabasse brought together four drivers: a 1.1" dome tweeter, a 5" mid-range, an 8" mid-woofer and a 22" monster subwoofer to form a "pulsating sphere." By placing all four drivers on the same axis, Cabasse is able to achieve 96dB of efficiency and a linear response down to 20Hz in anechoic room conditions. One of the benefits of using a spherical enclosure is no standing waves, which means very little dampening material is needed. The Cabasse digital processing system behind the loudspeakers took a team of 8 people 3 years to develop. This same system is utilized in the La Sphere's and finely tuned for use with the B&O ICEpower amplifiers to create a fully active loudspeaker with 2,600 watts of power on tap per side.