Re-enter the Dragon? Nakamichi created the gold standard with its Dragon series of components including the highly coveted Dragon Cassette Deck that still fetches thousands of dollars in 2023 on the vintage audio market. The company went through a series of bankruptcy proceedings and was never the same after the departure of its founder, Niro Nakamichi, who left in 1998.
Grande Holdings, a Chinese company based in Hong Kong, purchased the brand and also currently owns electronics companies Akai and Sansui. Many have raised their eyebrows at the “Dragon” branding, but the reality is that Grande have moved Nakamichi away from the lifestyle products that it was manufacturing for over two decades and back into the high-end category. Have they succeeded or are they just trading off on the past?
Building the on the foundation of both its Shockwafe product line and its past Dragon legacy, Nakamichi made a big splash at the 2023 CES in Las Vegas with a 21-channel (11.4.6) Home Surround Sound system that has been designated with the Dragon label.
Tip: 11 represents the number of horizontal channels, 4 represents the number of subwoofers, and 6 represents the number of height channels. However, some channels include more than one speaker driver as the total number of speaker drivers is 31.
As part of its unveiling, Nakamichi demonstrated the new Dragon to select press on an invitation-only basis and I was fortunate to be afforded the opportunity to see and hear this product in person.
Going into the demo it was stated that Nakamichi’s philosophy for the Dragon is built on the following pillars:
- Deliver an authentic three-dimensional home cinema experience.
- Seamless integration with any room environment.
- Setup time of less than 15 minutes.
Using a Dolby Atmos test disc, cuts from two films were played: the opening scene from Max Max Fury: Road and the bomb-run scene from the Angelina Jolie-directed film, Unbroken – both are great Dolby Atmos demo scenes. My impression was that the Dragon was unleashed! I didn’t detect any amplifier strain, distortion, or speaker clipping, and the system filled the room with an immersive soundstage with precise sound object location.
One of the weaknesses of most soundbar-based systems is the inability to reproduce a quality music-listening experience. Playing several musical selections ranging from pop to classical, and from stereo to surround sound, just as with movie content, the Nakamichi passed the test rather convincingly. Stereo separation was excellent and there was a rather clean sounding presentation that did not lose its focus or resolution as the volume level inched higher.
Coming away from the Demo, I felt that Nakamichi really thought out of the box on the Dragon and it raises the bar on what can be done with a soundbar-centric system when you let an engineering team push the limits. Although Nakamichi’s Shockwafe soundbar system line already provides a solid listening experience, they take it to the next level with the new Dragon. It was definitely the best soundbar-based system I heard at the 2023 CES and would be able to hold its own with many AVR-based systems. The question is, “How will it be received by retailers and consumers?”
As they say, “The devil is in the details” – so let’s take a look at how Nakamichi was able to bring this system to life.
The Nakamichi Dragon is an 11.4.6-channel system that consists of five components:
- One (1) 58-inch wide/30-pound soundbar with a stainless steel chassis.
- Two (2) wireless Omni Motion Surround speakers that include an angle-adjustable upfiring speaker.
- Two (2) wireless Quad Subwoofers. Each subwoofer incorporates two outward firing drivers supported by an additional port.
The system is compatible with most surround sound formats including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Pro. The system also provides lots of connection options, including HDMI-eARC, plus three additional HDMI inputs that provide video pass-through.
This is combined with more than enough power and other features that you would normally associate with a system consisting of an AVR and separate speakers.
Speakers & Amps
Here are the feature and specification details provided by Nakamichi so far. There are a total of 31 speaker drivers and 15 separate amplifiers in the system, distributed as follows:
Amplification 15 individual amplifiers
1500 watts/3000 watts peak (entire system)
Main Unit/Soundbar 3″ Horizontal Midrange Drivers (10)
1.5″ Horizontal Air Motion Transformer (AMT) Tweeters (3)
3″ Dual-angled Up-firing Drivers (4 in total; 2 angled at 20 degrees and 2 angled at 10 degrees)
Two Quad Wireless Subwoofers 2 x 8″ Isobaric Drivers (each) Two Omni-Motion Surround Speakers 1.5″ Air Motion Transformer (AMT) Side and Rear Surround – 2 each
3.5″ Drivers (Side and Rear Surround) – 2 each
3″ Adjustable Angle Up-firing driver – 1 each
Surround Format Support Dolby Atmos
Dolby Digital Plus
DTS-HD Master Audio
DTS-HD High-Resolution Audio
DTS Digital Surround
HDMI 2.1 Features Video Pass-Through: Resolution and frame rates up to 4K@120Hz/8K@60Hz
Video Upscaling: 4K/2K
HDR Pass-Through: HDR/HDR10+/Dolby Vision
Gaming Support: VRR (Variable Refresh Rate)/ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) /FRL (Fixed Rate Link)
Connectivity 3 x HDMI 2.1 In
1 HDMI (eARC)
1 Digital Optical In
1 Digital Optical Out
1 Aux In
1 Aux Out
1 USB Type-A (firmware Update Only)
Bluetooth: Version 5.0 with aptX™ HD
Remote Control: Bluetooth and IR compatible
Size & Weight
(L x W x H)
Main Unit: 58.1 x 7.6 x 4.4 inches / 31.5lbs
Omni-Motion Surround Speakers: 9.0 x 8.4 x 10 inches / 8.8lbs (each)
Subwoofer: 8.6 x 12.5 x 20.5 inches / 32.6 lbs (each)
Tip: No measure reference point (RMS, IHF, etc…) was provided for power output ratings.
Tip: Since the demo provided was of a pre-release system, it is possible some of the features and specifications could change.
Availability and Pricing
The 11.4.6 Channel Nakamichi Dragon home surround sound system will be available for pre-order in Q2 of 2023 with a tentative price of $3,499.