CES Day 4: Bolzano Villetri

The line of speakers from the Italian company Bolzano Villetri may not have been the best sounding at the show (though they may have had the must unique sound) but they were certainly the most unusual (obvious from the photos), and possibly the most gorgeous as well. Briefly, they consist of drivers firing upward and downward, in most cases two woofer-midranges and two small tweeters. The resulting sound fires out on all sides, for a (nearly) omnidirectional sound. The largest floorstander shown, the Great Torre, is priced at $9000. The slightly smaller Piazetta (love those names—sounds like a small pizza) goes for $6000 (its 6.5-inch woofers would likely be a good match for a subwoofer), and the short Cantora center is $3000. Also shown was a smaller line of speakers using similar technology in less complex enclosures (no prices available yet). But even those were beautiful.

Italians just don't know how to build ugly speakers. One of the best sounding, and best looking, speakers I heard at the show was the Callas Tebaldi from Opera. It's expensive at $18,000/pair, and if you ask about a matching center channel they'll likely whack you on your cabeza, but it did sound sublime. From the front you only see a pair of small metal cone drivers and a tweeter. But there are four woofers on the side and four tweeters on the back of its elegant veneered and lacquered cabinet. Unfortunately, the batteries on my camera gave out before I could get a picture that does them justice. —TJN