Trenner & Friedl Duke Speaker

As always, there was no shortage of ultra-high-end speakers at CES this year. Among the most impressive was the magnificent Duke from Austrian speaker maker Trenner & Friedl.

The speaker is topped by a 0.8-inch diamond-diaphragm supertweeter firing upward into a Swarovski-crystal "disperser" that creates a 360-degree radiation pattern. This supertweeter sits on a vibration-isolated mid/high module with an 8-inch papyrus-cone midrange and 1.75-inch nitride-titanium, inverted-dome, high-efficiency compression tweeter in a tractrix horn. At the bottom—literally and figuratively—are two 12-inch, fiberglass-reinforced paper-cone woofers, each housed in its own enclosure said to be "a hybrid form of horn resonator and bass-reflex design." The cabinet's dimensions conform to the golden ratio, as does the shape of the crystal disperser, and the damping material is hand-felted sheep wool.

Standing nearly five feet tall and weighing 284 pounds, the Duke's specified frequency range extends from 22Hz to 80kHz (-3dB) with a sensitivity of 92dB/W/m. In John Atkinson's post about the Duke for Stereophile's CES report, he acknowledged that the sound of the speaker—driven by a dCS Puccini disc transport, Jeff Rowland Design Group Aeris DAC, JRDG Criterion preamp, and two JRDG 625 stereo power amps—was superb, but even he gulped at its price of $175,000/pair. I guess it takes a lot of work to hand felt all that wool!