Aural for Visual

Aural Acoustics is a speaker company with roots and attitude from the old days of hi-fi before anyone ever thought of pairing speakers with a TV - but the new company has a decidely modern, music-and-home-theater sensibility. They debuted their first speaker (the Model B) at the 2005 Home Electronic Show in New York City to great reviews. This year, the company used a hotel room in the Alexis Park during the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to unveil the new Model P50. Although the low-key venue was less well attended than either of the two main convention centers, almost everyone who braved the long shuttle bus lines and made the trek to the Aural Acoustics room were extremely impressed with what they heard.

The company says the new speaker is "the world's first really high-end loudspeaker designed to provide the highest fidelity to video while aesthetically complementing your plasma TV." Similar in concept to other "plasma friendly" three-in-one speaker systems on the market, the Model P50 incorporates dedicated left, center, and right speakers in a single, horizontally oriented unit designed to be mounted on the wall above or below a flat-panel TV.

Engineered to match the width of most 50-inch plasma TVs, the P50 extends approximately five inches from the wall on the included wall-mount bracket. The system will be available in high-gloss black or gloss silver finishes.

The Model P50 uses angled drivers, said to produce a wide, spacious sound stage, along with a wide-angle flange for each one-inch soft-dome tweeter plus a custom designed, four-inch carbon-fiber midrange driver. The unique driver was engineered to produce high output with low resonance in order to extend the bass performance and blend better with a subwoofer. In addition, the speaker system incorporates Aural Acoustics' AccuRange technology which is used to dampen the output from the rear of each midrange driver over a very wide range of frequencies. The company claims the technology is the first to effectively dampen internal rear-wave frequencies below 500 Hz.

The Model P50 is expected to be available around the middle of this year. MSRP is $1,599.