Canadian audio manufacturer Bryston Ltd. was showing off its soon to be released SP3 surround processor at CEDIA 2011. Taking a purist approach, there's no video processing to potentially muck up the audio signal, but the unit provides convenient HDMI v1.4 video pass through from each of seven HDMI inputs, and should a higher HDMI version ever be required, modular construction insures that a factory upgrade can do the trick. The prototype on display was a 7.1-channel model that decodes all the latest Blu-ray codecs and steers the audio to either balanced or RCA outputs. There's also a pair of AES/EBU inputs and a USB input along with the usual mix of analog and digital stereo inputs. Bryston sales VP James Tanner said the SP3 uses all discreet Class A circuitry in its analog stages for optimal sound quality, and great care was taken in the circuit topology to keep incoming video signals away from the audio, including dedicated power supplies for the video and audio circuits with no shared common grounds. Price is expected to be $9,500 when the SP3 ships at the end of September.
SIM2 wasn't the only company with a native 2.35:1 DLP projector at the show. Digital Projection showed its dVision Scope 1080p single-chip model with a native resolution of 2560x1080 and a native (non-dynamic) contrast ratio of 7500:1. A modified Gennum processor expands 2.35:1 images to occupy the entire imager when black bars are detected. Pricing is around $50,000. Another new dVision model is the 35-1080p 3D, which uses active glasses and two lamps for 3D content. The price tag here is $35,000.
Digital Projection's entry-level 3D model is the M-Vision Cine 3D single-chip DLP, which outputs 3000 lumens without BrilliantColor (5500 lumens with BC, but you sacrifice some color fidelity in this case). Pricing is around $18,000.
As we all know, 3D needs as much brightness as it can get, and you get plenty with Digital Projection's Titan Quad 1080p 3D. This monster includes four lamps to blast up to 16,000 lumens at the screen with a native contrast ratio of 2000:1. You can up the contrast to 5000:1 by closing down the aperture, but then you get "only" 8000 lumens. The price for all that light? Just shy of $90,000.
Also in the SpectraCal booth was an LCD TV using quantum-dot technology from a company called Nanosys. A liquid with suspended nanoparticles is sprayed on a film that is added to an LCD TV, and blue LEDs stimulate the particles to glow red and green. Combined with the blue light from the LEDs, this forms full-color images. The image on the prototype display wasn't the best I've ever seen, but it's a new technology that could well improve in the future.
Video-calibration stalwart SpectraCal now offers the eeColor TruVue color processor under its own name. This processor is based on 35 years of research into color perception in various environments, analyzing the color coordinates of each pixel 20 times per second and using three-dimensional lookup tables to compensate for different amounts of ambient lighting and other perceptual factors. It also supports all forms of 3D except frame-packed Blu-ray, and it can expand the color gamut while retaining the D65 white point and flesh tones, which is a pretty cool trick. I look forward to checking it out more closely.
As I was cruising through the Screen Innovations booth, I discovered a projector I had never heard of before, though I learned that it wasn't new at the show. The TruVue Vango from Entertainment Experience is a single-chip DLP model with LED illumination and a claimed contrast ratio of 100,000:1. It comes with an eeColor TruVue color processor, which is also sold by SpectraCal (see next blog entry for more on that).
THX has been talking about its Media Director technology for some time, but it's finally being introduced to the marketplace. Media Director embeds metadata in the content itself, describing how the content was created and how it should be rendered in order to preserve the creator's artistic intent and assure optimal presentation. To do so, the so-called content descriptors are created along with the content and remain associated with it all the way to the end user's display and audio system, which automatically adjust their settings for optimal playback, offsetting the calibrated settings as needed for that content only.
The first Blu-rays to include Media Director metadata are the new Star Wars discs, but other studios are ramping up to include it in their new releases. On the hardware side, the first player to have Media Director capabilities is the Dune HD Blu-ray/media streamer from HDI Dune (yeah, I had never heard of them, either). As you can see in the photo above, it was implemented in a Sharp Elite TV at the THX booth, and it will be part of the 2012 Sharp Elites. In fact, starting in 2012, products that hope to be THX-certified must include Media Director functionality.
DVDO was demonstrating a prototype technology from parent company Silicon Image in the form of a 6-in/2-out HDMI matrix switcher. The important features include InstaPort, which allows switching inputs in less than a second because all ports are active all the time, and InstaPrevue, which displays PIP insets from all inputs as seen in this photo, letting you select the input you want based on the content. No pricing or availability was revealed.
The popular Edge video switcher/processor from DVDO is now greener thanks to lower power consumption than the previous generation. It provides five HDMI inputs and four analog-video inputs with five audio inputs and two HDMI outputsone A/V and the other audio-only for an AVR or pre/pro. As before, it upscales all inputs to 1080p and cleans up all sorts of video problems. It's shipping now for $499.
Wireless HDMI was a common theme at CEDIA. DVDO's offering in this regard is AirHD, which uses the 60GHz WirelessHD system. It can convey up to 1080p/60 and 3D up to 30 meters within a room, but not from one room to another. A package with one transmitter (seen here on the right) and one receiver will go for $129 when it ships in November. The booth demo included an Epson projector with a built-in receiver.
Panasonic was demonstrating its new PT-AE7000 3D projector ($3500) on a 100-inch (diagonal) Joe Kane Affinity screen (gain 1.1) from Da-Lite. Granted that the 3D program material was all animated, which is almost always impressive on a video display, it nevertheless looked superb. The trailers from Toy Story 3, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast all had me salivating for the full releases (scheduled for October--at least for the latter two). It was interesting to see that the 3D re-processing of the older hand drawn animation on Lion KIng and Beastlooked very good, with a minimum of the layered cardboard cutout effect. Kudos here to both Disney and Panasonic.
The new Martin Logan Montis ($10,000/pair) was producing compelling music in one of the shows isolated (sort of) sound rooms, ably assisted by a pair of humongous McIntosh amps (for newbies, that's a "tosh" without the "a" and without the iPod).
Robert Deutsch very favorably reviewed the Focal Chorus 826W Anniversary Editiion late last year in Stereophile. Now there's an entire new Chorus W lineup (the W stands for the incorporation of Focal's sandwich cone material into the line--the standard Chorus models do not have this). The 826W ($3495/pr) is the second from the left in the photo. New are the bigger 836W ($4195/pr), the 807W bookshelves ($1495/pr), the CC800W center ($795) and the SW800W subwoofer ($1595).
Sound control company Auralex brought examples of the company’s HD Cinema Series of absorption panels that not only seriously improve the sound quality of your home theater room – they can seriously improve the looks of your room, too. The panels come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors; so you can mix and match panels to come up with your own unique look. Panels start at $255/each.