Aerial Acoustics has long been known for great-sounding speakers but not, until now, for those with high sensitivity or efficiency ratings. The Model 7 changes that with an efficiency rating of 89dB, something that can run off a decent receiver with, say, 50 watts per channel. Price $9850/pair.
As Dynaudio's first wireless speaker, the Xeo stays right up to date with a significant CES 2012 trend. Getting that capability with the usual sweet Dynaudio sound will cost you $4500/pair for the floorstander or $2300/pair for the stand-mount. However, if you add additional pairs, you can reduce those speaker prices by the $350 cost of the transmitter/receiver kit. The signal is uncompressed, naturally.
One more step along the road to the eventual domination of the human race by robots is the creation of cute little baby seal robots that are supposed to soothe lonely and ill people’s feelings and make them feel that something actually cares about and loves them. Of course, it’s just a dang robot with no feelings or real fur. I know just posting this has put me on the robot empire’s hit list. I will definitely be keeping a close eye on my iRobot Roomba from now on...
Russound showed off the company’s AirGo Outdoor Sound System, which Russound says is “a portable amplifier speakerdock for an Apple® AirPort Express”. (You supply the AirPort Express.) The single-point stereo speaker sounds fantastic, and the incorporation of the AirPort Express means you can stream music from any compatible device to the AirGo wherever you can connect to your network. Since AirPort Expresses can simultaneously be used as a WiFi repeater, the AirGo will also act like a local hotspot and extend your network for backyard parties. Because the amplifier is a beefy 40 watts, anything but a car battery (pretty difficult to carry) would be drained in short order. So the AirGo Outdoor Sound Station is designed for AC use only. Not to worry, the speaker is fully weather-resistant (don’t plan on submerging it, though). According to Russound, the AirGo Outdoor Sound Station is just the beginning of a series wireless and outdoor products.
HiFiMAN invited numerous journalists to a press conference this morning, fed them a standard hotel buffet breakfast, and then explained why the company uses planar drivers in their over-the-ear headphones. EiC Rob Sabin shows why he will never be able to have a second career as a fashion model in the picture above - but the smile on his face does indicate the fact that the HE-400 over-the-ear headphones ($399) sounded pretty darn good. One benefit of the planar driver is that it does not require high voltages as an electrostatic driver would, which means its easier to drive with portable audio devices.
“People have been conditioned to accept poor quality sound, and we are here to change that,” claims Dean Kurnell, President of ClarityOne Audio. (Actually, we at HT Mag are here to change that, but we appreciate the help...) The company’s PureSound processor is designed to eliminate the distortion in analog speakers caused by magnetic field build-up that “occurs in traditional crossovers where only a single wire coil is used.” The patented technology is supposed to provide the most direct route possible for the signal while minimizing distortion between input and output.
The company’s first products to feature the PureSound processor are a series of earbuds and over-the-ear headphones. The PureSound technology allows ClarityOne to use 8 ohm voice coils in their models. Most other manufacturers, according to ClarityOne, use voice coils with a much higher resistance - including some that are more than 32 ohms - in order to mask distortion. In addition to providing better sound, having a lower-resistance voice coil means the player driving the earbuds/headphones doesn’t have to work as hard so the batteries’ charge lasts longer.
Even the most dialed-in, industry-savvy tech writer misses a thing or two along the way, and Sonic Emotion is a company that’s been totally off my radar. (In my defense, they’re only now trying to break into the U.S. consumer market.) The company’s technology, Sonic Emotion Absolute 3D, is supposed provide “all listeners an immersive 3D sound experience from a single device - regardless of their positioning in the room, device location and room dimensions - using any input format...” Despite the fact that that is indeed quite a claim, during a demo this afternoon the folks at Sonic Emotion quickly proved they’re more than just talk. Using an AudioSource S3D60 and a variety of demo material, the presenter quickly convinced the group of us jaded press people that the technology actually does provide a very impressive 3D sonic expansion of two-channel sources from a single box. According to Sonic Emotion, the technology is not room-dependent (as some other simulated surround devices are). The effect was quite good, and it was stable regardless of where I stood in the demo area. Look for more products incorporating Sonic Emotion technology coming later this year.
When have you last seen a Home Theater in a Box that uses vacuum tubes in its AV receiver section? Samsung has one in its 6730W home theater system&$151;flat panel available separately! It sounded warmer and more pleasant than it had any right to in an open space, though of course tubes alone are no panacea. No price available as yet, but it's the first HTiB I've found at least interesting. The tubes are in the receiver's input stages; the output is solid state. Samsung is also offering some one-piece, two-channel iPod (and Android) docs with vacuum tube inputs.
At 70 inches, the UW70 is the largest LCD TV Westinghouse has ever introduced. With LED edgelighting, 120Hz refresh rate, and frame interpolation, it should be available in the second quarter of this year forget this$2300 or less!
The 46-inch, LED-edgelit UW46 from Westinghouse incorporates 120Hz operation but no frame interpolation and sports a super-slim, silver-edged bezel. It should be available this quarter for $700. The company says that 46-inchers were the best-selling large-size TVs in 2011, a trend I expect to continue at this price.
Westinghouse's first foray into 3D, the 47-inch W473D uses conventional CCFL backlighting and passive-polarized glasses. It should be available in the second quarter of this year for $900. The prototype pictured here exhibited severe crosstalk/ghosting, so I'd say the company has some work to do before it's ready for prime timeand even then, it might not fly that well at big-box stores, where 3D is not in much demand.