Acoustic Zen

CES 2015

CES 2009

CES 2015 Stereophile - Larry Greenhill

The huge $43,000/pair Acoustic Zen Maestro loudspeaker is an imposing 225 lb, 67"-tall, 4-way, floorstanding transmission-line speaker system that physically dominated its seemingly tiny-by-comparison exhibit room. Driven by a pair of similarly oversized 100Wpc single-ended triode Junone Monoblock tube amplifiers, the Maestro loudspeakers excelled in resolving subtle instrumental timbral details that lead to a stunning sense of realism.

Patricia Barber's "Too Rich for My Blood," from her Café Blue album abounded in subtle aspects of plucked string bass, hi-hat cymbals, and the characteristic nuances of tight tom-tom heads I found missing on many other loudspeakers at the show. This made it among the handful of best-sounding speaker systems I heard at CES 2015


Hi Larry -

I also feel the Acoustic Zen room was one of the best sounding at the CES show. In fact, I stopped by Thursday morning for another serious listen. After listening to three songs, I had tears running down my checks. This emotional response has only happened a couple times at the CES during the past 20 years.

Quite simply, If I could afford this wonderfully balanced system, I would end the search for my dream system.

I would encourage all serious music lovers to bring their favorite music to the Acoustic Zen room during future shows and experience what a well executed audio system can do for your soul.



CES 2006 Stereo Times - Dave Thomas

Acoustic Zen/Red Dragon. Acoustic Zen/Red Dragon. Easily the biggest surprise of the Show for me came from the Acoustic Zen room.

I had heard all the whispers in the industry about a new Acoustic Zen loudspeaker called the Adagio but immediately blew it off by believing that Acoustic Zen chief Robert Lee was just taking a brief step away from making cables and trying his hand at building a loudspeaker.

So when Acoustic Zen’s Director of Marketing and Distribution, Frank Kraus dragged me into their showroom at the end of the first day, I was ready for his sales pitch. But coyly Frank sat quiet as he played the disc that I had been using in most of my listening, the soundtrack to the movie Space Cowboys [Malpaso/Warner Brothers]. This splendid disc features the classic Sinatra hit, “Fly Me to the Moon,” and was reproduced with a tremendous amount of detail and jaw-dropping dynamics. Frank knew how good this system sounded and wanted an honest reaction from me without any guiding from him.

Now about the system: the Acoustic Zen speakers are gorgeous looking and a flat out steal at $3,700/pr. The digital front end was a Great Northern Sound Company - Resolution Audio Opus 21 CD player ($3,500.00 GNSC modification $1,500.00 extra) and the excellent Acoustic Zen cables were used throughout. Also in the system was the ModWright SWL 9.0 SE linestage ($2,200.00) and the attractively styled, ICE Power module-based Red Dragon Audio Leviathan monoblock amps ($5,995/pr) which I have to say are a “must hear.”

Another must hear is the story behind how Red Dragon Audio got its name. Ryan Tew, the company’s owner and chief designer may take some persuading to tell you. Here’s a hint: Ryan’s not Chinese.

By the way, Frank, through his own company FLK Marketing & Distribution, is also the distributor for Red Dragon Audio and Escalante Design. He is also a working consultant for deHavilland and in his spare time he is a new father. The boy gets around.

CES 2015 The Absolute Sound - Cris Martens

Many readers know of Acoustic Zen’s famous Adagio and Crescendo floorstanding speakers, yet may not be aware that there is a third, even larger Acoustic Zen model called the Maestro ($43,000/pair). As you can see from our photo, the Maestro literally towers over its designer, Robert Lee. The very tall loudspeaker features a centrally positioned, horn-loaded ribbon tweeter, two 5-inch ‘high midrange’ driver, one 8-inch ‘low midrange’ driver, and two 10-inch transmission line-loaded woofers.

Driven by stunningly beautiful Triode Corporation monoblock amps, the Maestro produced a gloriously sumptuous sound that was beautiful but not ‘lush’ in the pejorative sense of the term—a sound that epitomised what the late, great jazz saxophonist Paul Desmond used to call a ‘dry martini’ sound. This big speaker floored me with its ability to sound highly engaging and seductive, yet highly relaxing, all at the same time.

CES 2013 Audiophilia - Martin Appel

It was great to see Robert Lee of Acoustic Zen and Santos Oropel of Triode again. Lee’s Crescendo speakers were sounding wonderful and his cables and power cords were doing the job — carrying all that information and power accurately from those amazing Triode amplifiers. Here was a room where the symbiosis of equipment produced some of the best sounds of the show. Bravo.

CES 2013 Positive Feedback - Steve Lefkowicz

Acoustic Zen was once again showing their Crescendo speakers ($16,000) with Triode Corporation electronics. As usual, the sound was big, luscious, and ever so musical. Good stuff!

CES 2015 The Audio Beat - Paul Bolin

The subject of massive power triodes leads naturally to the Triode Company of Japan (TRI)/Acoustic Zen room, where the mighty 845 also made an appearance, but as a driver tube. TRI's CEO and designer Junichiro Yamazaki brought with him his latest and most striking audio toys, the Junone Reference One line stage ($20,000) and Reference M212 power amplifiers ($42,000/pair, 100 watts each), which Yamazaki-san describes as having a "parallel single-ended" circuit.

The Reference One is a true dual-mono design, with each channel inhabiting its own discrete half of both the power supply and control chassis. One must even select sources using two knobs. It features specially selected, mostly vintage tubes: four Raytheon 6KZ8 tubes, two Electro-Harmonix 6DJ8s and a pair of RCA 22DE4s, an ALPS volume pot and Mundorf capacitors throughout. The Reference M212 is a massive beast, using 310 triodes to drive a pair of 845s, which themselves drive the gargantuan 212 power tubes, which make the 845s look like 300Bs. It is also a very clean and attractive piece of industrial design, particularly if one has a serious tube fetish, to which I plead guilty.

The rest of the system began with a Triangle Art Reference SE turntable ($24,999) fitted with Triangle Art's own Osiris 12" tonearm ($5800) and Apollo MC cartridge ($8000) with a ZYX Artisan phono stage ($5000). Digital was provided by TRI's always good-sounding TRV-CD5SE CD player ($3200) as a transport and TRV-DAC1.0 ($2499, and this tandem is a steal), both of which sport 24-bit/192kHz resolution, digital inputs including USB and tube output stages. Speakers and Absolute-series cabling were by Acoustic Zen; while in the past AZ's always energetic Robert Lee has showed his excellent Crescendo speakers, this year he brought the top-of-the-line Maestros ($41,999/pair). The Maestros are big boys, 5 1/2-foot-tall, four-way transmission lines with a pair of 10" woofers. They weigh in at 225 pounds each.

The sound was somewhat overwhelming, as the Maestros are considerably larger than the Crescendos and may have been too much speaker for the room, but there was no mistaking the dynamic power, resolution and sheer force the system brought to bear on "O Fortuna" from the Alsop/Baltimore Symphony recording of Orff's Carmina Burana.99