The products I’ll be describing below—with one exception—do not yet exist. And honestly, there’s every chance that some of them never will. With others, I think you’ll find sound reasoning that a new design just might exist, if not on a drawing board somewhere, then at least as a gleam in a CEO or engineer’s mind. Either way, these fantasy products are the high-end audio offerings I’d love to see announced in 2023. I’m not only convinced good commercial reasons exist for each of them to come into existence, I’m also being a little selfish. These are all products I want to hear and write about. If I could will them into reality, I surely would.
Paradigm Persona v2
The Paradigm Concept 4F in Munich, Germany, at High End 2015.
At Munich’s High End 2015, Paradigm Electronics, the Canadian heavyweight speaker manufacturer, unveiled the Concept 4F. Sporting both a beryllium tweeter and a midrange, together with an active bass section, the Paradigm prototype was a tour de force the likes of which we’d never seen from this relatively conservative company. The ideas that went into the Concept 4F would catapult us in the direction of the Paradigm Persona Series in 2016, culminating in the flagship 9H—a partially powered floorstander in which the bass section is active, while the mids and highs are powered by your choice of amplifier. At its current retail price of $36,999.98 per pair (all prices USD), the 9H is easily the company’s most ambitiously priced product to date. A full series of Persona speakers exists below it.
Paradigm Persona 7F loudspeakers in SoundStage! Ultra reviewer Aron Garrecht’s listening room.
Munich’s High End 2023 will mark eight years since the Concept 4F’s launch. Since the model’s debut, Paradigm has had a series of wins, the latest being the Founder Series. Doug Schneider wrote about the second-from-the-top Founder 100F ($5598/pr.) back in July 2021 on SoundStage! Hi-Fi. According to his article and others I’ve read, the folks at Paradigm threw lots of fancy tech at the Founder models, including the huge waveguide you see surrounding the tweeter. I know the crew in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, hasn’t been sleeping in terms of its research and development, and I imagine that owners Scott and John Bagby would just love to put their personal stamps on some new Personas, which would surely be regarded as their best speakers ever.
The 7″ midrange found in the Persona 7F.
JL Audio Gotham g213 v3
The original JL Audio Gotham was introduced back in 2004. This 305-pound fiberglass-based subwoofer was initially announced with a list price of $7500. I recall seeing the insides of a Gotham at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, and whoa, was it a sight to behold—gleaming drivers and exotic construction everywhere. I wrote several articles about the Gotham, one of which was published right here on SoundStage! Ultra in April 2008. I combined a pair of Gothams with a set of Rockport Technologies Altair loudspeakers, producing some of the best sound I ever attained in my home. At the time of writing in 2008, the price had risen to $11,000, which was a steal for the hardware and bass quality on offer.
The control panel of the JL Audio Gotham g213 v2 subwoofer.
Currently, JL Audio makes the Gotham g213 v2, which retails for $20,000—probably where most companies would have priced it 15 years ago. The v2 has received some updates to the original design, most importantly to the company’s Automatic Room Optimization feature, which now sports 18 bands of equalization (the original had just three). The Gotham still features a pair of JL’s flagship 13W7 subwoofer drivers—the 13W7 is perhaps the most renowned sub driver in the history of the world. Although I couldn’t locate the exact date the v2 was launched—it was more of a soft launch, it seems—I’m quite sure it’s going on almost a decade since the Gotham has seen new tech. Isn’t it time for a brand-new flagship Gotham from JL? For a company of JL’s stature, their flagship sub should be up to date.
The JL Audio 13W7 driver is a mainstay of the company’s home and car audio divisions.
Vivid Audio Giya Zero
A pair of Vivid Audio Giya G1 Spirit speakers in Jeff Fritz’s listening room.
The Vivid Audio Giya was originally launched in May 2009 at Munich’s High End. Laurence Dickie, famed ex-Bowers & Wilkins speaker designer, would go out on a limb with one of the most ambitious loudspeaker designs the world had yet seen. Nothing else sounded like the Giya, and certainly nothing else looked like the Giya. Fast forward to today and we have the Giya G1 Spirit heading up the Vivid line, which you can read about in my reference system article on SoundStage! Ultra. At its current retail price of $95,000 per pair, the Spirit sits atop a range of Giyas, all with similar aesthetics.
Laurence Dickie testing crossover topologies at his workstation in the Vivid R&D department.
The Giya G1 has evolved over the years, but the Giya G1 Spirit is in most ways the same loudspeaker Vivid launched almost 14 years ago. Yes, there have been some improvements, which I wrote about in June 2017. I spilled more virtual ink on the Giyas in May 2022 when I wrote about their incredible transparency while auditioning a number of solid-state amplifiers in my home. If you buy a Giya G1 Spirit today, you’re no doubt getting a state-of-the-art transducer.
Laurence Dickie and Thandeka Khanyile busy working on crossovers at Vivid’s factory in South Africa.
Still, it’s time for a new flagship from Vivid Audio. Time marches on, and I’m certain—as anyone who knows this speaker designer would be—that the mind of Laurence Dickie has not been idle for even a moment. Since the existing models are the Giya G1, G2, G3, and G4, I like the idea of a G Zero model. But whatever it’s called, we need a larger Giya.
EgglestonWorks Andra 27
Two freshly minted pairs of EgglestonWorks Viginti loudspeakers at the EW factory in Memphis, Tennessee.
The original EgglestonWorks Andra was reviewed for Stereophile back in October 1997 by Wes Phillips (who would go on to write for SoundStage! years later, before his passing in 2016). But I actually heard the speaker in 1996 at high-end retailer Sound by Singer in New York City. It was $15,000/pr. at the time. Andrew Singer pitted the Andra against the Wilson WATT/Puppy in his main listening room, and my wife and I got to hear the results. Singer, like Wes Phillips, was high on the Andra, and no one could deny that the aesthetics were super cool: the Italian granite side panels gave the Andra a more, um, rock-solid feel than the competition. The Andra would see another iteration in the early 2000s, but this time around, EW would bring in a hired gun for the design: Albert Von Schweikert, a legendary speaker designer, who passed away in 2020. The Andra II eventually became the Andra III SE, and that design is now fairly long in the tooth.
On the far left is a pair of bright-red Viginti speakers; on the far right is a pair of Andra III SE speakers.
The Andra’s 20-year anniversary was in 2016, and EgglestonWorks recognized this in 2017 with a new speaker model. However, the speaker they released was not a new Andra, but a special model introduced to honor the occasion. The Viginti—Latin for 20—was launched in celebration of the Andra’s anniversary, and it’s been a smashing success for the company. Problem: we’re still left with an old Andra. The time has definitely come for a new Andra, guys. It’s the iconic EgglestonWorks loudspeaker—the one that started it all—and it deserves an update of epic proportions. If my dates are correct, 2023 marks the 27th anniversary of the Andra, so let’s call it Andra 27 and set the audiophile world on fire again. Oh, and there has to be a little granite on it somewhere.
Jeff Fritz (left) and EgglestonWorks president Jim Thompson at the EW factory examining a raw Andra II cabinet under construction (ca. 2009).
New Magico S3!
Note: I wrote most of this article at the end of November, and there have been some interesting developments since then.
The Magico S5 MkII was launched in 2016, and the M3 was announced in the same year. I took 2016 into account as I waffled over whether I wanted to see a new M speaker or a new S. They could both use an update to my way of thinking.
The S3’s svelte lines reportedly result in a much cleaner wave launch for each driver.
But then, lo and behold, on December 12, Magico announces the brand-new S3 ($45,500/pr. in M-Cast finish; $52,500/pr. in M-Coat finish). Okay, then. Lots of things have changed for Magico since we last saw a new speaker without an A in its name. The company’s research and development capabilities have grown considerably, and the tech that goes into their drivers and cabinets—including the way they measure and design both—has improved by leaps and bounds. In fact, the A5—Magico’s A-series flagship—is one of the company’s best loudspeakers ever, at any price (I reviewed a pair in July 2021).
Four new drivers populate a brand-new design that’s said to produce sound well beyond what earlier S-series speakers could deliver.
Based on the A5 and what Magico learned in designing the groundbreaking M9, a new Magico S3 should be a phenom. For the S3 to come to exist above the A5, it would stand to reason that it’s a step up from that speaker. But the amazing amount of resources Magico has thrown into this new model suggests that a single step up might be understating what we have here. From the press release, it sounds like this could be something special. I’ll find out shortly, as a pair is slated for review on SoundStage! Ultra very soon.
That’s a wrap on 2022. Let’s hope for an exciting 2023 in high-end audio!
. . . Jeff Fritz