Pioneer’s premier speaker designer, Andrew Jones, showed off a prototype soundbar that bears the Elite name. It’s design is strictly based on providing a high-fidelity 3.1 experience; it makes no pretense of doubling as a 5.1 system. The purpose of this Elite soundbar is to serve as top-tier upgrade for a TV’s built-in speakers, as opposed to a substitute for a proper AVR-based surround-sound system—Andrew said that is a deliberate decision.

The new Elite soundbar does not yet make any sound, earning it the status of prototype. The most interesting feature was the use of the concentric drivers employed in Pioneer’s new Atmos-enabled Elite bookshelf and floor standing speakers. It’ll be interesting to hear how they perform when used as the primary drivers on a soundbar .

I asked Andrew about the possibility of a super-wide version of the new Elite. He said that a 53” width is the sweet spot; I sensed that he’d rather you buy a proper surround-sound system than try to push a soundbar to do too much. Finally, I asked him about the recently introduced world’s first curved soundbar. Andrew offered this quote, on the record: "Really?"

The new Pioneer Elite SP-ESB53W soundbar will be out of the prototype phase and making sound by CES 2015, if not sooner.