They sounded very nice at CES but I wouldn't say they eliminate the competition. You gotta go with the styling, though.
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I am familiar with the Ars Audes "Sol" model. I like the sound of this speaker. But, I don't consider it the ultimate in speed, clarity, and dynamics. It's just that so many other speaker lines, like those you mention, which put damping of resonance above all other consideration, seem to me to be a bit bland and constipated sounding. The Ars Audes Sol appears to be in that camp, but they do have a bit of life to them.
However,they are a bit creepy looking to me -- a big black monolith that stares down at the listener (like Darth Vader hovering over you). The dealer that has them also pokes fun at their expense by shortening the name to Ars Sol.
I just experienced these this past weekend at HE 2005 (Home Entertainment Expo in NYC). I heard the ARS Aures MINI Sensorial and MIDI Sensorial. They more than caught my attention, the back wall disappeared. They were neutral, dynamic, transparent, placed instuments and distances, large soundstage (not huge though in my limited time). The timing might not have been quite as fast as I'd like but then speed can easily lead to listening fatigue. At around $9k the Mini's are not cheap but these are speakers that you can listen to for hours, probably even sleep to (but find a hard time reading to as they may suck you into listening).
The Acapella Audio Arts FIDELIO 2 were another speaker that had the same first-order presentation. These were not quite as "right" as the ARS Aures MINI but are about $4k cheaper. I'd be happy with these. When these FIDELIO 2 played I thought they were the bigger 4+ times more expensive Acapella LaCampanella model. I experienced two other people thinking this also.
Of course the $300k 6 speaker Piega / Meridian / Audience setup on the 3rd floor was the most amazing at the show. The MBL room was tantalizing. But both these are fantasies.
This first-order approach has really sparked my interest, been surfing the web and reading tid bits for 3 nights now. I think I'll have to check out Green Mountain Audio and REFERENCE 3A as these are also first-order and may offer lower cost options.
I too have heard the speakers you name Zevbear. One other speaker that sounded right was the Talon speakers -- but these are very expensive. I might add that the Merlin VSM MM also stuck out but they are not first-order -- amazingly dynamic, big soundstage that is there but never overwhelmed me.