Available either alone ($1000) or with a small subwoofer and surround satellites ($2000), GoldenEar's new SuperCinema 3D Array is an unpowered soundbar (requires an external, customer-provided AVR) that appears to effectively compensate for the limited spacing of its left/right channel drivers by a second set of internal drivers to "effectively cancel out [the] crosstalk distortion between the left and right channel[s]." I spend some time listening to it, and was surprised at how effective it was. More importantly, its overall performance, while no substitute for good, well separated conventional speakers (of which GoldenEar makes more than its well-received share) was remarkable and well worth considering by those who need a space-saving, home theater solution.
Take me to your leader. The 8T is the leader, or at least the first entry in a new line of speakers that's an offshoot of RBH. The four midrange drivers in the upper array have beryllium cones. The tweeter is a beryllium dome tweeter from Scan-Speak. At $50,000/pair, however, they're not for most of us, though the layout is vaguely similar to a B&W home theater speaker system from the late 1990s. The shape of the woofer enclosure here also suggests an intriguing configuration for a floor-mounted center channel speaker for use below a projection screen—though no center speaker is likely to match the 8T.
Fortunately, RBH does make speakers for the rest of us, I didn't get sufficient information on the model shown here, but it appears to be an update on the RBH 8300-SE which sells for $9700. That's hardly cheap, but not outrageous in today's high-end speaker marketplace.
This free-standing version of the Wisdom Audio LS4 is designed to be tri-amped, together with Wisdom's own electronic crossover. $100,000, and the customer must supply the six amplifier channels needed. As heard with Audio Research amps and a pair of Wisdom's own monster subwoofers, they did sound magnificent. The speakers can also be wall-mounted, and in fact Wisdom has often demonstrated its systems in the past in a home-theater setup, though the demo here was strictly 2-channel.
Wisdom launched several new in-wall speaker systems that would be well-suited to a home theater setting, particularly one using a perforated screen. The demoed units were the P4i ($1500 each) and L8i ($5000 each). While neither could match the sheer majesty of the Wisdom LS4s, both of them (with a smaller Wisdom subwoofer) provided sound of a quality I never thought possible from small in-walls,m with none of the usual in-wall colorations. One caveat here is that the temporary walls used in the demonstration may not be typical of real walls, either in the size of their internal cavities (the Insights do not use a backbox) or in rigidity and lack of resonances (the walls here appeared to be made of MDF, not the sheetrock of most residential construction).
I'm fascinated by the drive units manufacturers select or design for their speakers. Here and in the following entries I'll cover a few of them. Shown in the photo above are the midrange and tweeter in the new Aerial Acoustics 7. The midrange is made by SB Acoustics and the tweeter by Scan-speak, customized for Aerial.
Driver manufacturer SB Acoustics showed an array of their drivers, available both to manufacturers (either stock or custom) and DIY enthusiasts. Shown here is a new SB 8-inch woofer with an aluminum cone. It resembles (and may be) the woofer seen in some of the new Revel Performa line on display at the show and available in mid 2012.
There are specialty manufacturers that make various parts for loudspeaker drivers, and when ordering specialty drivers it is possible for a manufacturer of finished speakers to select the cone, surround, frame, voice-coil, etc. from various sources and have these parts assembled by a finished driver specialist. That's way it's possible to experiment with different configurations without the expense of fabricating the individual (very expensive) parts only to discard them if the results prove unsatisfactory.
That may or may not be how Wilson or any other specific manufacturer orders its custom drivers, only that it's possible. Note how the midrange driver used in the Sasha from Wilson Audio (and in variations in most of that company's newer speakers) at first glance resembles the driver from SEAS shown below. However, if you look closely the resemblance is mainly in the cone material, with significant differences in the dust cap, frame, surround, and presumably the internal structure as well.
Technicolor showed off M-Go, the robust new media app for TVs, tablets, smart phones and computers that makes it possible to access anything you want to watch on the device or thrown to your TV. Through a simple menu on your mobile device or computer you can get to your desired movie or TV show without the need to navigate to each service, comb through the TV program guide or scroll through your DVR to find it.
This year most TV manufacturers are pairing tablets with TVs to create what they call a “second screen” or “Dual Screen” experience. Why interrupt what you are watching to bring up menus that shrink the screen or overlay TV guide grids that block your picture, when you can bring up the menus and guides on your tablet?
Toshiba, Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, LG and others showed up their apps that run on tablets to control and enhance your TV viewing experience. Although they would like you to buy their tablets, the apps will run on any Android or iOS device.
Your universal remote control may become a thing of the past. TV manufacturers are creating apps that can not only control the TV, but can be programmed with macros to control your whole home theater system.
Remote control apps have been appearing over the past year. These apps work over wifi to control connected TVs and devices.
This year, Sony and Samsung are showing tablets with IR (infrared control), that can send commands to most any home theater device.
What do you think? Are you ready to chuck your home theater remote for an app on a tablet?
Along with control and second screen capabilities, TV manufacturers are pairing their tablets to TVs allowing users to send media to their big screen directly from their tablet.
The TV apps make it possible to “fling” photos, music, or movies that are stored on the tablet towards the TV and have it play on the big screen. Most apps will be able to find media stored on other sources--computers, media servers--in a home network and push that media to the TV (Media Renderer capabilities).
Both the tablets apps and the TVs are DLNA certified which makes the media sharing possible. While this is possible on other DLNA certified media apps, the paired apps will undoubtedly create a seamless experience.