The folks from Accell make great HDMI switchers and splitters, but they also do cables, and while I visited there they handed me a sample of their new locking HDMI cables, a relatively new category and one long overdue.
As the biggest entry in its premier line of DLP rear projection HDTVs, not to mention that Mitsubishi is the last holdout in this product category, this set has to grab attention. When I was there, however, there were more passers-by than onlookers. A shame; it offers a lot for the money if you want a really big screen and space is not an issue.
LCD televisions with LED backlighting were all over the show (but c'mon Toshiba and others, they are LCD TVs with a new form of backlighting, NOT LED TVs), and Toshiba's 670 series with local dimming are among the best. We know, because you'll see a review of one in our November 2009 issue.
Yup, they're actually calling it the SCS, and yup, that does stand for "suitcase sub." Companies like this are like manna to journalists. The narrow vertical sub hugs the wall and packs in dual 5x7.5-inch drivers, which yield an active cone area of 12 inches, powered by 300 watts. Probable price $4000, shipping in 30 days. We didn't let it distract us from the excellence of Wisdom's Sage Series line source planar speakers, the L100i and C150i, which speak like oracles through a woven screen.
A notable speaker brand makes common cause with a distinguished acoustics consultant to create home theater systems worthy of the description high end. The CinemaPlus systems will combine design, engineering, and support from PMI -- Anthony Grimani's company -- with acoustic treatments from MSR and speakers from Triad. The curved baffle wall shown in the picture is part of the package. It is modular and scalable. Systems will start at $46,550 for a small room (2000-2999 cubic feet), rising to $88,650 for a medium-sized room ($3000-5999 cubic feet), and topping off at $105,350 for a large room (6000-12,000 cubic feet). Are you reading this, Mega Millions winners?
Proficient is a new brand name in receivers and we look forward trying one of its two surround models. The M60 has 80 watts times seven, four HDMI ins, and SmartEQ for $600. Step up to the M80 and you get all that plus 130 watts times seven, Faroudja DCDi video processing, and XM satellite radio compatibility for $1250. Proficient also showed an eight-channel power amp, the M8, with 35 watts per channel, for $1100.
Two years ago, PSB introduced the top-line Synchrony line. A year ago an almost equally high-end line was added, the Imagine. With the revised version of the Image, PSB's number three falls into place. There are two towers and three monitors and -- tower-averse as we are -- we think matched sets of any of the latter would make a fine basis for a system. These two-way stand-mounts include the B6 (6.5-inch woofer, $499/pair), B5 (5.25-inch, $399/pair), and B4 (four-inch, $299/pair). We've heard the B6 and B4 and they're superb, with more bass than you'd expect. This is one of the few speaker brands whose founder, Paul Barton, spends significant amounts of time in China QC-ing the product.
Why does the cable connecting the Audio Design Associates MPS-502 amp to its external power supply resemble a thick piece of plumbing -- like the pipe under your bathroom sink? Well, it has to carry 100 amps of current, so it can provide five channels with 450 watts each. Introduced in 1992, this was the amplifier on which THX based its amp spec. Throw in the PF-2502 to bring the system up to seven channels. In the present day, ADA is shipping two pre-pros, the Suite 7.1 ($5500) and Cinema Rhapsody Mach IV. You can buy the latter for $4100 but you'd be better off paying $7500 for the version with Trinnov auto setup and room correction. Trinnov will also be built into a separate equalizer product, the TEQ-1. (We are looking forward to trying Trinnov in the long-awaited Sherwood R-972 receiver.)
This skinny subwoofer, dubbed the Suitcase Subwoofer (SCS) because of its shape, hardly looks like it can go deep, but it does. Even more surprising is the driver compliment, which consists of two 5x7-inch "woofers" at the mouth of what Wisdom calls a complimentary folded horn. Only the horn's port is visible, and it can be configured to exit the cabinet on the front or either side, making placement very flexible. This serves the company's goal of a sub that can be placed where traditional subs can't, such as behind or under furniture. Power is supplied by a 500W amp, and the list price will be around $4000 when it ships in October.
After blogging about these in-wall speakers before the show, I was eager to hear them for myself. The demo consisted of some CD selections in 2.1 (using the new SCS subwoofer, about which more in the next post), multichannel audio from DVD concert videos, and a clip from Monsters, Inc. shown on a Screen Research ClearPix2 woven, acoustically transparent screen. The system controller provides Audyssey MultEQ XT and several memories for different setupsmusic, movies, speakers behind a screen or not, etc.and the result sounded great, with deep, clean bass and excellent imaging.
I hadn't heard of the Quantum before the show. This is Projectiondesign's "entry level" projector, which should be shipping next month for roughly $11,750, depending on the selected lens. It's small but mighty with a 220W UHP lamp and high-quality optics.
The demo of Projectiondesign's 3-chip DLP Helios was mighty impressive on a 2.35:1, 11-foot-wide Da-Lite Affinity screen. The clip was from 10,000 B.C., an eminently forgettable movie that was chosen because it was color-graded on a Projectiondesign projector. The dual-lamp Helios was at its minimum lamp and iris settings to accommodate the screen, which means it can easily fill a screen up to 16 feet wide. Like the Kroma, the Helios produced very natural skin tones and razor-sharp detail.
I blogged about this LED-illuminated DLP projector before the show, but now I've seen a demo, which looked great on a Da-Lite Affinity screen (0.95 gain), even with some ambient light. The LEDs are claimed to have a 100,000-hour lifespan, which corresponds to 12 or 13 years of normal use. Colors looked quite natural thanks to the advanced calibration process that assures an accurate color gamut and grayscale.