The new Speaker Box 5 from Project (the turntable people) sounded ridiculously dynamic for such a tiny feller. Distributed by Sumiko, they will sell for $400/pair in a variety of colors, such as this fire engine red. The electronics shown here are not included!
At $700/pair, PSB's Imagine Mini (second from left, on stand) may turn some heads. It did not have any deep bass, but was clean as far down as it went, and even when played loud (though not unreasonably loud) did not fall to pieces. With a good subwoofer, five of them plus a spare (unfortunately they are sold only in pairs), or four with an Imagine center, could make for a sweet, small room home theater setup.
Quality home theater demos were thin on the ground anywhere at CES, but particularly rare in the Venetian hotel. This is the venue for high performance audio, which for far too many audiophiles does not leave room for either multichannel music or any combination of audio and video. But the Wolf Cinema room was an exception, combining the $25,000 Wolf DCL-200FD LED-lit DLP projector with an ISCO anamorphic lens ($10,000) on a 120" wide, 2.35:1 screen. The latter was said to be a 1.4-gain Screen Innovations design, but I need to check up on that, as the only 1.4-gain screen listed in SI's brochure is the dark gray, Black Diamond HD. The speakers were from the Sonus Faber Toy series, together with three T-1 REL subwoofers. The result was exceptional video and audio, even if the former cost several times the latter. The pre-pro was a Primare, no longer distributed in the US by Sumiko (Sumiko distributes Wolf projectors).
Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems showed its new $42,000/pair Momentum monoblock amps, shown here with the Wilson Audio Sashas, dCS Puccini SACD playback system, Weiss Firewire to coaxial digital converter, and high-rez music from a Mac laptop that together teamed up with them to produce one of the best sounding rooms at the show.
If you look at the back of NAD's new T787 AV Surround Sound Receiver ($3499) you'll see the plug-in modules that make the 120 WPC x 7 unit amenable to future upgrading. As delivered it includes the latest digital video, HDMI, and audio modules. A Control4 Director Series Module is an option. The T187 AV Preamp Processor ($2499) is similarly equipped.
I heard the Fat Lady Sing, and she was in fine voice. The Fat Lady is a floor-stander from Morel of Israel, where the name apparently is politically incorrect. I have to admit that it's descriptive of the cabinet, which is designed to sing along with the speaker and stop short of coloring the sound.
Denon and Marantz are the first non-Apple manufacturers to incorporate AirPlay audio streaming without the use of an AirPort Express device. An AirPlay logo appears on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch (running iOS 4.2 and up). Press it and a drop-down list of compatible devices appears. Thus you can take music from an Apple mobile device, or a PC or Mac running iTunes, and stream it hither and yon to your Denon/Marantz toys. The capability is built into four Denon a/v receivers -- the AVR-4311CI, -3311CI, -991, and -A100 100th anniversary model -- plus the N7 tabletop system. Also on board are Marantz products: the SR7005 receiver, AV7005 pre-pro, NA7004 network audio player, and M-CR603 network CD receiver. You can get the software upgrade for $50 two days from the publication of this item. (Photo: Lisa Cazzola.)
While waiting to be briefed on Monitor Audio's GX Series, we couldn't help being fascinated by the incredible woofer excursion of the GX50 ($1795/pair, left) -- not to mention how little influence it seemed to have on the tweeter output. Turns out the GX Series is a re-do of the old Gold Series. All drivers are made of C-CAM, a ceramic powder coated aluminum magnesium. The high-res ribbon tweeter is crossed over at 2700Hz, indicating a healthy appetite for power. The 15-ply red bubinga woodgrain covering the one-inch MDF on the speaker was unusual, subtle, and lovely and the cabinet did well in the knuckle-rap test. Other GX models include another stand-mount, two towers, two centers, and sub.
We're pleased to announce that the AudioQuest exhibit has won the Home Theater 2011 CES Blog's Award for Distinguished Achievement in Promotional Artwork Evoking a Nightmare for this image of the giant red wolves that savaged us in our dreams. Yeah, go ahead and laugh, but we woke up in our hotel bed missing a leg.
The Intrepid II, in lower right corner, is Theta Digital's first Class D amp, at 7 times 150 watts. It is expected to go into production in four months. Class D amplification, in general, is more energy efficient though some audiophiles question whether it is ready for primetime. Theta's implementation will boast load-agnostic frequency response regardless of speaker impedance. At upper left is the Theta III HD pre-pro, at $19,995 for version with Xtreme DACs and a mere $14,999 for version with Premium DACs. Upgrade your old Casablanca III for $4995 and your old Casablanca I or II for $5000. Apologies for awful pic.