As much sculptures as speakers, the new Strada Series from Gallo Acoustics comes in a cast aluminum enclosure with innards similar to those in the Reference 3.1 towers. Price $899/each. The TR-3 sub, which will replace the TR-2, features a long-throw aluminum cone woofer and will sell for $895. Both available in the second quarter of 2008.
The 9L Active speaker from Quad couples 50 watts of digital amplification with a wireless link, the exact nature of which is to be determined. There's a volume knob on the front, as opposed to the inconvenient rear-mounted control on similar products, and really, don't those little things matter when you use something on a daily basis? Shipping in May for $750/pair.
Phil Jones of American Acoustic Development told us about some of his new speaker lines. The 3000 Series, including the 3003 floorstander ($3900/pair), uses a silver tweeter and ring (as opposed to cone) woofer. Why is the baffle so wide? More forward energy, said Phil. The more modestly priced Vi Series including the Vi410 ($550/pair) has a soft dome tweeter and carbon fiber woofer.
We've been waiting for Escient, one of the major names in the music-server market, to offer a true video-server solution. At CEDIA, the company showed off its new Vision Series line of video playback and distribution products, but there was no way to directly import movies from the disc drive to the hard drive. Happily, that issue has now been addressed. Escient is releasing two true video servers/players: The VS-100 sports dual 500GB drivers, and the VS-200 has dual 1TB drives. Then there's big papa, the VX-600 media server, which has four 1TB hard drives. The line also includes the VC-1 networked client, to which you can stream movies, photos, and music stored on the servers over a home network. The Vision Series allows access to the Rhapsody online music service, and the players all have HDMI 1.3 connections and 1080p upconversion. The products certainly aren't cheap -- $3,999 for the VS-100, $5,999 for the VS-200, $7,999 for the VX-600, and $1,999 for the VC-1 -- but they're not as bank-breaking as other video servers on the market. Look for the Vision Series in February.
Marantz is joining the Blu crew in 2008 as well, with a high-end Blu-ray Disc player, the BD8002. And actually, high-end doesn't even cut it. Marantz is calling this player "ultimate quality" with built-in Silicon Optix processing for superb DVD upconversion, and the press materials indicate internal decoding of both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
Alex Thatcher, Senior Product Marketing Manager for HP's Digital TV Solutions Group, shows off the new third-generation MediaSmart 1080p LCD HDTV. The new model has a new look and a noteworthy new feature: a built-in Extender for Windows Media Center, which will make it even easier for users to stream HD video, pictures, and music (wired or wirelessly over 802.11n) from a Vista Premium or Vista Ultimate PC to their HP TV.
The new room correction in Anthem's D2 and D1 pre-pros is billed as the only full commercial implementation of principles developed by Canada's National Research Council 15 years ago in Project Athena. Improved thermal design adds stability--in fact, the model we heard had a lamp sitting on its top vent holes, as you can see.
Among the new stuff from Onix, a champion of the budget speaker genre, is the step-up Concerto. Eight hundred a pair will buy you a dual-drive woofer with magnets in front and back. We're betting that when we get to try it, that's going to be some pretty disciplined bass, with the driver starting and stopping on a dime, though of course, that's just speculation at this point. Also new is the X-Statik which puts the tweeter and midrange in an open baffle above the conventionally enclosed woofer. It'll be $699/pair.
Vinyl isn't just for well-heeled audiophiles. If you've got access to some great old LPs, or have been buying Arctic Monkeys 45s, the MMF-2.2 turntable will bring 'em to life for $399. If you're digitally au courant, mate it with the Bellari VP530 phono preamp with tube output stage and USB output as well as conventional stereo-out. At $340 bucks, this thing has got us salivating.
I've already described a Totem product as best sound of the show, and I haven't changed my mind, but the Induction Dynamics room was just as good. So it's a tie. Big, smooth, transparent, addicting. The big fella is the ID1.18 and the center is the C1.8. Other models, including in- and on-walls, complement the ones we heard. There's no digital room correction built in--the sound is just plain old great engineering with patented crossover, timbre-matched drivers, external sub amp, etc. You get the best qualities of a big speaker (massive soundstage, top-to-bottom accuracy, meaty bass) with the best qualities of a small speaker (timbral fidelity, phase coherence, subtlety, comfort)--in a, well, pretty huge package. But it sounded stupendous. A 5.1-channel system would be roughly 20 grand and the ID folks will match your existing speaker finish or create whatever you desire on a custom basis. Wow, wow, and wow. Also, wow.
We're longtime fans of Al Langella, the guy who puts the Design into Audio Design Associates. If the Cinema Renaissance Mach III seems a little on the flashy side (don't worry, the front-panel showmanship can be subdued with a command), be advised that if it follows in the ADA tradition, it'll sound as good as or better than anything else in its category. Seriously. It's got a tube output stage. HDMI 1.3 won't be handled until the next generation, which will come along, well, eventually. Price quite reasonable at under $100,000. If Britney buys this thing, people will think she's gone sane again.
The LVCC brain trust offers a new innovation in pedestrian traffic management--the double yellow line. Presumably that means stay to the right (though that didn't stop some of these guys) and don't try passing anyone (though that didn't stop me).
Spruce up your desktop with the energy-efficient Icon-1 chip amp and S-1 speaker with full-range driver. The prototype system we heard was pleasingly though insistently warm--it's still being voiced. But it's already got a feel-good quality and you need that when you're at your desk. The package will ship at the end of March for $399.