Speakers: Anything really new under the sun?

After a 20-year hiatus (kids, braces, college, a couple of new roofs, etc.) I'm slowly getting back into hi-fi.  My question: is there really anything significantly new in speakers design/development/materials? I'm a bit surprised that the majority of what I see continues to be some variation of a 2- or 3-way design -- many using off-the-shelf drivers -- in a box (usually MDF at it core) with a crossover consisting of a handful of very common, relatively inexpensive components. I'm asking in all sincerity so please don't bash me. I'm not trying to provoke or prove anything, I'm just genuinely curious. What, if anything, has really changed? Would love to hear from some speaker companies/builders here. Also, before one of you kindly tells me I shouldn't worry about new technologies or processes and just go listen for myself -- I get it -- I'll always let my ear be my guide. However, after 20 years, I'm hoping there's been some progress I may be missing. Also, I unfortunately live in a hifi-challenged part of the country -- the closest decent hifi dealer is nearly 3 hours away -- so I can't just run out and listen to a bunch of new speakers. Would appreciate your insights. 


Jaybird, We are located in Charlotte and welcome everyone to stop by for a listen. You don't have to be in the market for new speakers to stop by. We enjoy meeting people and making new acquaintances.

Capital Audiofest outside of DC   capitalaudiofest.com

Florida Audio Expo     floridaaudioexpo.com

are the closest to you.

Yes, for some to many. Crossovers, caps, parts, Drivers, materials, cone materials, surround materials, internal wiring, binding posts, and even cabinet designs have improved compared to 20yrs ago.


VA: Helped a friend to upgrade his Vienna Acoustic Grand Mozarts. Replaced boards, caps, woofer surrounds, in the same cabinets on the first try. A marketed improvement just using better materials. 2nd try a better X-over design with modern measurement tools, software. Raised to another level again. It’s possible.

Hersey: Ask any Klipsch Hersey owner if their Version 1 speakers sound as good as versions 2,3, or the new Hersey 4s. Same basic speaker, better drivers, materials. Compare the old vs new versions and then ask if there is no change or improvement.

Quad57s: Dave at Marihart Audio completely redid his Quad57s, every single bit replacing what he could or simply using updates parts with the same basic speaker design and reports are in, he’s absolutely thrilled with the results. Super cool upgrade!

Mine: AMTs, better crossover parts and drivers with Nomex cones with better materials, new material diaphragms, decent solder, connectors, binding posts sound notably better than 20yrs ago.

I worked on a speaker assembly line early 1980s, and most of the internals were marginal compared to what we are in decent quality speakers today.

Yes, sure, in many cases with new speakers or upgrade kits too for old speakers as another option. 

I'll second the Tekton innovations. My 4 1/2 foot Pendragons with the 7 speaker array and upgraded wiring and caps Delivered to me for $2550.  Nothing I've heard under 5K comes close to the Music these make. Tekton Design.

Line arrays have appeared several times over the years and most have been very interesting and very good. Pipedreams come to mind.

But the latest and most interesting are Arions. I have a Mundorf AMT in my Tetra 606s. Dipole, they produce open and clear trebles. In the YouTube from the Florida Audio Show, the sound I heard from the Arion/Audio Research room was beyond any of the others from this show. This was especially evident in a drum solo on a LP. The presence and impact was unlike any I have heard. This lead me to exchange several emails with Arion and brought me to the point of almost going to Charlotte. If I ever wanted to change speakers, Arion would be on the top of my list.

Even only hearing a MP4 YouTube!

Very true. Nothing really new at any price point tho I still like a standard Brit Box as much as anything. All else is window dressing.