Exactly one hour before the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show officially began, I found myself as the lone journalist in a private suite at the Bellagio, receiving a presentation from Rayman Cheng, CEO of Nakamichi USA, of their 21-Channel Wireless Surround Soundbar System.
According to Cheng, the company is driven by a three-pronged goal to deliver: An authentic three-dimensional home cinema experience that offers seamless integration in any room environment and can be set up in less than 15 minutes. While I can’t attest to the installation aspect, I can confirm that the suite was an untreated and acoustically challenging room, with high ceilings, lots of glass, and other hard surfaces for sound to bounce. And yet the immersion was amazing.
First, let’s look at the soundbar. At 58.1 inches wide, 4.4 inches tall and 7.6 inches deep, its physical girth made it seem more like a soundbase. In fact, the chassis was so big that Nakamichi had to outsource an automotive manufacturer to bend the single stainless steel sheet to properly meet their specifications. Housed within that stocky steel shell are ten 3-inch drivers. It also features three 1.5-inch Air Motion Tweeters (AMTs), amazing high-performance electroacoustic transducers that replicate refined crispness and clarity in music and movies. To cap it off, four of the system’s six up-firing 3-inch speakers are individually angled at either 10 or 20 degrees on either side of the bar.
Complementing those up-firing speakers, Nakamichi’s proprietary Adaptive Height Dispersion processing technology offers listeners the ability to customize height effects to their personal preference with the press of the remote button. The upshot is that sound objects are not only rendered overhead but effectively done so with a sense of vertical depth.
On the low end, the system’s four 8-inch subwoofers (the “point four” in 11.4.6) are configured in isobaric pairs within two beefy cabinets that each weigh over 32 pounds. And thankfully, you can independently activate (or disable) each subwoofer channel.
The Dragon’s two surround speakers are equally impressive. Each unit boasts a bipolar configuration of two 3-inch speaker drivers, two AMTs and an up-firing speaker that can be manually swiveled up to 180 degrees so that the surround height channels can be conveniently adjusted to accommodate the size, shape and seating position of the room.
To match all that brawn, the Dragon’s brains put it in a league all its own. For spatial audio, it’s the first plug-and-play home cinema system to feature DTS:X Pro technology. And similarly, it’s also the first soundbar to incorporate the professional version of Dolby Atmos usually reserved for high-end AV receivers (that cost thousands of dollars) and commercial movie theaters capable of supporting channel numbers greater than 7.1.4.
Summing up, Nakamichi’s 2023 CES Innovations Award-winning Dragon soundbar system sports 21 channels, each separated into its own dedicated chamber. Its 31 total speaker drivers includes seven AMTs. And a stunning 15 digital amplifiers produce a face-melting 125 decibels with 3,000 watts of peak power.
So in the end, Nakamichi’s Dragon home theater audio system presents not only as intimidatingly big and booming, but also surprisingly clear and precise. I’ve heard plenty of Dolby Atmos soundbars, from Creative’s SXFI Carrier to JBL’s Bar 1300X to Sennheiser’s Ambeo Max. They all sound terrific in their own way. But this one obliterates them all for total strength, flexibility and raw power (not to mention price).
Nakamichi said they will be taking preorders for their Dragon 11.4.6 Home Surround Sound System at some point in the second quarter of this year. If you’re interested in being kept apprised, visit dragon.nakamichi-usa.com. Admittedly, I was a bit shell-shocked when I first heard that they’re planning to charge a $3,499 MSRP. But now that I better understand all the special technology packed into this system, I can better see and admire its inherent value. It is quite simply the most powerful, immersive, adaptable, and surprisingly simple state-of-the-art soundbar system out there.