CES 2005: Lipinski Sounds Audiophile Speaker Debut Features SACD Demo

CES 2005: Lipinski Sound and their new Speakers highlighted one of the more interesting sound rooms at last weekend’s Consumer Electronics Show. Lipinski Sound is the brainchild of Andrew Lipinski, a classical recording engineer for over 20 years. Lipinski is a perfectionist who has been modifying his gear for years and is now bringing products including Speakers, Subwoofers, Amps and Microphone Preamps to market. Initially his products were aimed at the Recording and Mastering Engineer market. But at CES, he chose to make his debut with the audiophile market with a sound room at the Alexis Park.

Looking at the Lipinski Speakers
The Lipinski Speakers are made from 1″ thick MDF and come in an attractive cherry wood color. They come in two models – the L-505 which has one 1″ Ring Radiator Tweeter and two 5″ Glass Fiber Mid Woofers and the L-707 which has the same tweeter but two 7″ Glass Fiber Mid Woofers. The response of the speakers is very flat: the L-505s are +/- 1dB from 71Hz to 20kHz and +/- 3dB from 46Hz to 40kHz while the L-707s are +/- 1dB from 56Hz to 20kHz and +/- 3dB from 31Hz to 40 kHz. The speakers have an interesting look in that the tweeter, which is placed in the middle of the speaker cabinet, is exposed and surrounded by foam giving it a “cut out” look which is said to improve the high end response of each speaker.

Lipinski Sound also sells a 36″ high speaker stand that is said to bring the tweeter to ear level in a typical recording studio setting and two subwoofers. Time will tell whether this height is the correct one for typical audiophile setups. In recognition of their studio heritage, the speakers come not in a cardboard box but rather in a nylon, foam padded carrying case for remote recording studio use and shipment.

While the Lipinski Speakers aren’t cheap (the 505 goes for $1,495 each while the 707 goes for $2,295 each), some folks might find their price somewhat reasonable at the Alexis Park venue where some sound rooms are using speakers that sell for 10 times as much ($25,000 and up) for each speaker! I guess the price is relative in the world of recording studio use and the world of the high end audiophile.

Fan Mail From Recording and Mastering Engineers
Over the last few months, word has spread about these speakers throughout the recording community. Well known names like Graemme Brown, Bob Katz, Alan Silverman and others have sung the praises of these speakers. In fact, in a recent review of the L-707s in Pro Audio Review, Bob Katz, the engineer behind many of the well engineered Chesky Records recordings said “The 707’s sound is in the same league as that of the best loudspeakers I’ve ever heard, including Egglestons, Wilson Watt Puppys and and Dunlavy SC-5s.” Some very high praise there, indeed.

To bring the point home, the firm’s CEO Lukas Lipinski brought along an owner and fan of the L-707 speakers, a mastering engineer from Warner Music to demonstrate the speakers at CES. The demonstration system featured a Lipinski designed 6 channel amp (based on the firm’s soon to be released monoblock and 2 channel amps) and a modified and upgraded Sony 555ES 5 Disc SACD Changer. (I think Lipinski is missing an obvious product for the audiophile and high end home theater markets by not productizing his 6 channel amp in a box we heard at CES.)

The mastering engineer from Warner Music led us through a series of well recorded SACD material including “Line ‘Em Up” from James Taylor’s Hourglass Surround Sound SACD (Columbia CS 67912) and “Light My Fire” from Patricia Barber’s Stereo SACD (Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 2003). The sound from the speakers was very detailed and precise. I can see why recording engineers love these speakers – they really do reveal a lot of detail and they are very neutral in their sound.

An Interesting Challenge
For fun, I asked the engineer from Warner Music to play “Honky Cat” and “Rocket Man” from Elton John’s Honky Chateau Surround Sound SACD (Island/Rocket Records B003609-36). Lukas Lipinski had picked up a copy of this SACD at CES but had yet to open it. Some of our readers know that the new Elton John Surround Sound SACDs have some very adventurous 5.1 mixes but some listeners find that the SACD sounds on the bright side on their speakers.

Listening on the Lipinskis once again showed the ability of these speakers to deliver very detailed sound. Interestingly, they also showed the SACD to be more balanced and almost flat in its sound on the Lipinskis but not in the same league sonically as the selections from the James Taylor and Patricia Barber SACDs played earlier. I’m guessing that the monitor speakers that the producer of the Elton John SACD series used is probably closer in its frequency response to the Lipinski 707 than other speakers used to demonstrate this disc in the past. Very interesting.

A Quandary for Lipinski
As I noted earlier, the Lipinski speakers do have a unique design and look with their exposed Tweeter. After the demo, I asked if that design and look would be retained for the audiophile market, or whether the tweeter might be covered for appearance sake.

Lukas Lipinski confirmed that the question had come up throughout the show from prospective dealers worried about how the unconventional look might affect sales and the “spouse acceptance factor”. Lukas mentioned it to his dad, speaker designer Andrew Lipinski who apparently said that if you cover the tweeter with the grill cloth “there goes the high end response”.

We’ll have to wait and see whether there’s a separate audiophile edition of the speakers with the tweeter covered. For me, if they need to keep it uncovered to maintain the wonderfully detailed and neutral sound of these speakers, that’s certainly the way I’d go.

Very Detailed Playback
If you haven’t heard the Lipinski speakers yet, but you want a very neutral sounding and accurate speaker for your audiophile setup, I’d certainly give these speakers a listen. They may not dazzle you with a certain “sound” but they will provide some very detailed playback of your music. And that’s what a speaker should be all about.