Pioneer Corporation introduced a new audiophile car audio speaker line in Japan that may be heading to the US.
The new speakers use a phase coherence system that is very difficult to manufacture, and are licensed from Pioneer by KEF. It has been available for over 40 years in the pro and home audio markets but never in the car audio aftermarket [from Pioneer] until now. The new speakers can reproduce sound up to 90kHz, way above the 40kHz of most other Hi-Res Audio speakers.
The speakers were launched in Japan in September under the name Carrozzeria PRS at $1,200 for a 3-way system and $750 for a 2-way. They use CST (Coherent Source Transducer), technology, which physically mounts the tweeter within the midrange voice coil. “This design combined with the contoured shape of the midrange cone allows the CST driver to maintain accurate phase and directional characteristics over the entire frequency range,” said Pioneer VP Marketing, Car Electronics Ted Cardenas.
As a result, Pioneer Corporation claims the speakers reproduce audio that is “open,” where the sound field feels wider than the speaker spacing,” and “smooth” where “the woofer and tweeter sounds are smoothly connected.”
Most companies don’t offer the technology because it’s very hard to manufacture and mass produce, said Cardenas. Pioneer speakers are designed and engineered at a Pioneer factory that also makes machine robots and tooling so it has the necessary expertise. Cardenas said of Pioneer’s Tohoku Pioneer Corp headquarters in Japan, it “not only specializes in speaker design but is also a leader in advanced manufacturing solutions such as the creation of tooling, mechanisms and robotics to support manufacturing. As a result, Tohoku Pioneer has the unique ability to not only design and engineer advanced speakers, but also create the various machines, molds and jigs required to mass produce them.”
In addition to being available in professional and high end home audio systems, Pioneer launched the system a few years ago in a $90K Lexus LC model. But the new release in Japan is the first aftermarket Pioneer CST speaker.
“Now that we’ve released them in Japan, as we tend to do with these higher end products, we’ll do the groundwork and measure the success and tweak it based on dealer and consumer feedback. Probably, in the next year or so we’ll do a second viability study of distributing it globally …[including the US],” Cardenas said.
Some US Pioneer dealers were shown early prototypes of these automotive aftermarket CST drivers at a meeting held at SXSW in 2019. “The reaction to the sound quality of the Pioneer CST speakers from those in attendance was extremely positive, however many expressed concerns about the challenge and costs associated with properly installing them into a consumer’s vehicle,” Cardenas said of the earlier prototypes.
CST was offered first in the 1970s for professional recording studios and then for consumers under a Pioneer subsidiary called Technical Audio Devices, TAD. In 2003, a home audio version was offered to consumers for $70k/pair using beryllium cones. It developed into a line of six home audio speakers that range from $12k/pair to $82k. In 2016 the first OEM version went into a Lexus using reinforced carbon and laminate cones and aluminum tweeters.
The PRS speakers in Japan have the following specifications:
|Speaker configuration||17 cm 2-layer carbon fiber cone woofer
7.3 cm CST driver
|7.3 cm CST driver|
|Instant maximum input||180 W||180 W|
|Rated input||50 W||50 W|
|Playback frequency band||30 Hz to 90,000 Hz||173 Hz to 90,000 Hz|
|Output sound pressure level||84 dB||84 dB|
|Impedance||4 Ω||4 Ω|
|Mass (1 piece)|| 0.56 kg (woofer)
0.30 kg (midrange + tweeter)
|0.30 kg (midrange + tweeter)|
Note: Thank you Todd Ramsey of Ramsey Consulting Group for your technical expertise.