Of the four soundbars in Polk Audio's line, two are new, and one is quite remarkable. We're talking about the SurroundBar 9000 IHT ($799). This 5.1-channel bar has three tweeters for the front channels and dedicated woofers for each of the five channels, with each driver powered by 45 watts, plus external eight-inch sub. What fascinates us is that bass frequencies from 80-200Hz are routed to all woofers in the bar. In other words, if there's significant bass content in any one of the five channels, it's routed to the other channels as well. This allows better bass handling than you'd expect in a bar. It also allows a lower crossover to the sub, an audiophile-approved 80Hz, which keeps voices from booming out of the sub. Connectivity is optical and analog, both times two, with Dolby Digital and DTS decoding. Guess what? The 9000 worked wonders with a James Taylor concert track, with realistic acoustic guitar harmonics and a vocal presentation that was crisp but not fatiguing. The other new guy is SurroundBar 5000 IHT ($399), a 2.1-channel Bluetooth bar with a pair of full-range drivers backed up by a 6.5-inch sub. Both shipping this month.
The wiggling-needle volume meters that are synonymous with McIntosh are now equally pleasing-to-look-at LEDs. The MC8207 seven-channel amp ($6000) on which they blink boasts 200 watts per channel into both eight and four ohms. McIntosh also showed two pre-pros, one of which was making its debut at CEDIA. That was the MX121 and it brings AirPlay and music streaming from Pandora and the like. Price is $6500. Both shipping now.
See that USB port on the back of the Marantz SA-11S3 disc player? The advent of computer-worthy USB ports on audio products is a development whose importance can't be overstated. True, there are a lot of great outboard DACs on the market, with more to come—but what if you don't want that extra box and power cable in your rack? One option is to build the DAC into another product such as the Pioneer SC-68 surround receiver, or this Marantz SACD/CD player. Incidentally, it does not do Blu-ray or DVD. The Burr-Brown DAC has resolution of 192/24. Build quality is typically superb, with copper substituting for aluminum in the back panel and some internal parts. Price is $4000.
What you see is Meridian's Media Source 200. This little fella makes adding additional zones easy. Plug an ethernet cable into it and it'll output to Meridian DSP speakers via wireless Cat5 SpeakerLink. There's also a mini-jack that serves as a combo optical or analog connection for your signal source of choice. Product ships end of this month for $1000. Meridian also announced two new in-walls, the DSP520, a 5.25-inch two-way design, and the DSP 630, similar but with extra woofer. They've got RS-232 and IR ports, both bidirectional, and are shipping in November at prices to be announced.
Runco is in Indianapolis with several new DLP front projectors across a range of price points, including three models in its new XtremeProjection Series targeted at high-end installations, the X-200i ($14,995), the X-400d ($34,995), and the X-450d ($39,995). The X-200i features integrated processing, while the two top models ship with the DC-300 Dimension Digital Controller, an outboard processor said to be optimized to enhance 3D performance. The X-200i, shown here and demonstrated for press on Thursday, is a single-chip DLP projector rated for 1430 ANSI lumens and up to 50 foot-lamberts of light output. It threw some impressive images of Kung Fu Panda on a 120-in Stewart Studiotek 130 screen.
Stewart Filmscreen has long been known for top quality projection screens, available in a blistering variety of screen materials. But they aren't exactly Blue Light specials. To attract more consumers to the benefits of a projection setup, Stewart has introduced a line of screens more affordable than its other offerings. Called the CIMA line, these screens will all be 16 x 9, fixed frame, and available in a range of standard sizes. Two materials will be available: grey with a gain of 0.9 and White with a gain of 1.1.
For those who have the spare cash, Stewart also demonstrated the latest version of its Director's Choice screen, offering an almost infinite variety of aspect ratios, settable and selectable by motorized masking at the touch of a button. The 15-foot wide model shown retails at just short of $60,000.
No price was announced for it today, but SIM2's Multimedia's Cinemaquattro must be that company's most pricey offering. Offering a full 4K resolution and a 3-chip DLP engine, it claims a brightness of up to 10,000 ANSI lumens from its 2kW Xenon lamp. As with all pro-derived projectors, its chassis is sold separately from its long list of available lenses. SIM2's PR maven, Lucette Nicoll, stands by to give you an idea of its size. It weighs 251 lbs.
Epson's long delayed LCOS (reflective LCD) projector caused quite a ruckus when it was demonstrated at the 2010 CEDIA. But it was never released and has now gone back to the drawing board. So don't look for it any time soon.
But there is a new Epson LCD in town, the PowerLite Pro Cinema 6020. The claim of 2400 lumens and a peak contrast ratio of 320,000:1 would, if realized, be industry highs. The refresh rate of 480Hz is said to increase the 3D brightness. At under $4000 when available in November, the projector will come with 2 pair of active 3D glasses, a spare lamp, and a guarantee of an exchange if, on delivery, there is even one dead pixel.
It seems that every screen maker these days is offering a 2.35:1, curved screen. The advantage to such a screen is its cinematic look. The disadvantages are possible geometry issues, cost, the fact that it can't be retracted, and possible audio concerns (a concave surface near your speakers isn't a plus). Elite joins the parade with its Lunette curved screens, available with several different screen materials, including a new woven acoustically transparent design (with an effective gain of under 0.9) and the company's 1.1 gain non-perf white.
The surprise here is the price structure. In a world where some curved screens command five-figure price tags, a 103-inch diagonal Lunette will set you back about $1500. Other sizes are available. Unfortunately, the woven, acoustically transparent screen will almost double that price. That's because while Elite screens are made in China, the woven material is available only in the U.S.
VEFXi is a new company (to us at least) with a plan to convert 2D to 3D on your 3D HDTV set. You say your set can already to this. as most can? But not quite like this, as VEFXi clearly demonstrated with its 3D-Bee Diamond ($699); It was the most convincing conversion I've yet seen, producing a a convincing illusion of 3D popping out of the set rather than existing mostly behind the screen's frame.
The company is also working on a glasses-free 3D solution, the 3D-Bee Ultimate, but the demo showed that this still needs work to produce an acceptable, artifact-free picture.
Though not exhibiting at the 2012 CEDIA Expo, LG Electronics took space in a local restaurant in Indianapolis on Thursday night to announce pending availability of its new 84-inch 4K-resolution flat-panel HDTV. According to Jay Vandenbree, senior VP of Home Electronics, the 3840 x 2160-pixel display will be sold by a limited selection of U.S. retailers starting in October. Manufacturer’s suggested retail pricing has been set at $19,999, about $5,000 less than Sony plans to charge for it’s own 84-inch 4K panel announced for the U.S market on Wednesday. That HDTV should be available in November. Of course, there’s no real 4K content available to view on these televisions, nor any medium to deliver it, so buyers will be viewing upscaled 1080i from their cable boxes or 1080p from their Blu-ray players for the foreseeable future. Both sets are said to accept a 4K signal, though, so viewers will not only be future-proofed but should also be able to use other 3rd party scalers to achieve the best image quality with existing 2K content.
First impressions on the first day included the absence of some major players (Samsung, Panasonic, and apart from a small off-site event to launch its 4K, 84-inch HDTV, LG) leaving Sony the only heavy hitter in the flat panel business present. Many booths were smaller. Bowers&Wilkins/Classe/Rotel were hardly the only ones to downscale their square footage on the show floor-though in their case they have also set up shop at an off-site hotel.
JVC announced nine new LCOS projectors at its Thursday CEDIA press conference. As before, these fall into two lines, Procision (consumer) and Reference (pro), each of which have models that differ only in model number (with one exception, the Reference DLA-RS4810 at $5095, which does not have a Procision equivalent).
All but the base model in each line employ JVC’s e-shift2 technology, which upconverts 2D HD content to 4K, i.e. 3840 x 2160 (as last year, the projectors cannot accept a native 4K source). Further video processing then manipulates this upconverted signal to operate with the projectors’ 2K (1920 x 1080) LCOS imaging chips.
E-shift2 is an upgrade from last years e-shift. Compared to e-shift, e-shift2 is said to sample 12 times as many pixels in its processing. It also simplifies the light path for higher brightness. The new projectors are said to produce higher native contrast ratios than last year’s models, with the top of the line designs said to achieve 130,000:1. The lamps in the new lineup are also specified to 4000 hours, with more stable brightness levels with increasing hours. You can also operate the projectors from your smart phone or tablet with a downloadable application.
The top two models in each line carry ISF and (pending) THX 3D certification. E-shift2 now extends down to a new $5000 price point with the DLA-X55R (Procision) and DLA-RS48 (Reference). The top models are the DLA-X95R and DLA-RS66, each at $11,999. The popularly priced DLA-X35 and DLA-RS46, which do not have e-shift, will retail for $3500. 3D glasses and a 3D transmitter are optional. Delivery of these new models is expected before the end of the year.
We always regret having to resort to torture, but with bamboo under the fingernails and a threat of the iron maiden we finally convinced Revel to start shipping its long-awaited Performa3 speakers starting in two weeks (and if it doesn't happen, we've got thumbscrews). The line features two of everything: towers, monitors, centers, sub, and a single bipole surround. Gloss walnut and black finishes are supervised by Italian craftsmen and the speakers are produced at an Indonesian facility that has air conditioning—it's nice to run across a star designer (Kevin Voecks) who refuses to accept the torturing of workers. All drivers are proprietary aluminum cones or domes. Priced per speaker, the towers go for $2500 and $1750, the monitors for $1000 and $750, the centers for $2000 and $1000, the subs for $3000 and $2000, and the bipole is $900. The top-of-the-line F208 tower and C208 center have both tweeter and boundary level controls for extra flexibility in acoustically difficult spaces. Revel also introduced the 2-Series of four in-ceiling and three in-wall speakers including the home theater worthy W253L LCR with 1-inch tweeter and dual 5-1/4-inch woofers.