Tivoli's wildly successful Model One and PAL radios now come in Bluetooth versions. Adding the wireless capability pushes the price of a Model One from $149 to $259. Also touted was the free Tivoli Radio app, which offers iOS and Android access to 100 of the internet radio stations that Tivoli's servers supply to the NetWorks internet radio.
Yes, that's a Sonos streaming unit. But this bloggette is about the blank white base it's sitting on. That's the Arcam SonLink ($350) which gives your Sonos fix a little of that old DAC magic. It was one of several DACs shown; another was the AirPlay-compatible airDAC, coming in four months at a price to be announced. But the most exciting news is that Arcam is working on the successor to the AVR600, one of the best a/v receivers we've ever heard. We eagerly await it.
The WCS-2 record cleaning machine ($750) was only one of the many worthy and provocative things happening in the Music Hall room at the Venetian. We say provocative because WCS stands for wet clean suck—don't blame us, we're just reporting—and partly because Roy Hall treated us to a monologue about how "I've always told my customers to go **** themselves and I've been successful beyond my wildest dreams." Also shown were prototypes of the forthcoming Ikura turntable which combines a plastic dual plinth with a carbon fiber tonearm and will sell in two versions, one with MDF platter for "$1000-ish," and a step-up model with acrylic platter and different cartridge. But the most provocative thing was the sheer quality of the sound that emerged from a system combining the Music Hall-branded Marimba speakers ($350/pair) and stands ($250/pair), a70.2 integrated amp ($1499 with phono stage), and USB-1 turntable (a mere $250 including Ortofon cartridge). A highly natural vocal treatment combined with a mighty synth bass to produce what was quite simply one of the best audio demos at the show from a system cost that's less than what some audiophiles would spend on cables.
Don't get us wrong: Moving the high-end audio exhibits from the lowbrow Alexis Park to deluxe digs at the Venetian has been the best thing the CES authorities have done for showgoing audiophiles. Now we can browse in comfort and style. But we still feel sad when we realize that we've spent more time at the glitzy Venetian than in its ostensible inspiration: sweet, crumbling, quiet, car-free Venice. Sigh.
Sharp may be working on new technologies like its IGZO low power consumption LCDs for portable devices or upping the pixel count beyond the current industry goals in its gee-whiz 8K demos (see below), but it doesn't plan to be left behind in the race to 4K. It showed prototypes of its own that looked as impressive as the best versions seen elsewhere. They're expected to ship in the spring (of this year!), in both 60- and 70-inch sizes. The "Moth Eye" feature is a Sharp proprietary glare reduction technology.
Sharp showed its 8K HDTV at last year's CES, and it was here again for 2013. It remains a technological tour de force, but is unlikely to be a real product any time soon. One doubling of resolution at a time, please!
Denmark’s Bang & Olufsen continues its long tradition of melding style and technology at CES with the BeoVision 11 LED-based LCD HDTV, featuring an unusually robust six-speaker sound system, and the ultra-slim BeoLab 12 line of powered speakers.
Available in 40-, 46- and 55-inch screen sizes with prices starting at $5,995, the 3D-capable TV is DLNA-compliant for streaming content from a smartphone or home network via Wi-Fi and has an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts brightness and contrast. It also includes a motorized wall mount for adjusting the position of the screen via remote control. B&O offers a choice of six colors for the fabric panel below the screen, which can be framed in silver or black.
The BeoLab 12 speaker line now has three models: The 12-3 (shown) and 12-2, featuring an acoustic lens that disperses high frequencies in an 180-degree arc, and the new 12-1, which excludes the acoustic lens. Sound is reproduced by a flat 6.5-inch woofer and a 2-inch midrange/tweeter in the BeoLab 12-1, which packs 160 watts of power, while the 320-watt 12-2 and 480-watt 12-3 add a 0.75-inch tweeter (with acoustic lens) plus a second woofer in the 12-3. All are offered in silver or white and pricing is $4,613/pair for the 12-3, $3,120/pair for the 12-2, and $2,950/pair for the 12-1. The speakers can be mounted on the wall or placed on optional floor stands.
B&O also showed the nonconformist BeoPlay A9 wireless music system, featuring AirPlay and DLNA connectivity plus five powered speakers—pairs of 0.75-inch tweeters and 3-inch midranges with an 8-inch woofer—that deliver remarkably full sound; total power is 480 watts. A touch sensor lets you adjust the volume by running your hand along the top of the speaker. Fabric covers are available in six colors and the solid wood legs come in oak, beech or teak.
Just what the world needs: another wireless music system. Klipsch agrees, which is why it put audio quality first in the high-performance Stadium Music Center debuting at CES. The all-in-one system gets high marks for supporting connectivity via AirPlay, Wi-Fi, DLNA and the CD-quality aptX version of Bluetooth in a package that looks bold and sounds even bolder.
An on-the-fly demo with Red Hot Chili Peppers, featuring Flea’s muscular bass lines front and center, was impressive and had me looking around for a separate subwoofer. Not needed. The ring between the Stadium’s speaker modules joins a pair of 5.25-inch woofers that produce surprisingly deep bass to complement the rich sound delivered by pairs of horn-loaded 1-inch tweeters and 3-inch midrange drivers. The point of the system: You don’t have to sacrifice sound quality for convenience, according to Mark Casavant, senior vice president of product development. He’s not kidding.
Available this summer for $2,000, the system is housed in a brushed-aluminum cabinet with grille covers that come in several lifestyle colors.
Purposely resembling a mini band shell in a nod to the full-size Klipsch Music Center in the company’s home state of Indiana, the smaller Music Center KMC 3 will be available this spring for $400 in several bright colors. The system produces robust sound through a pair of 2-inch drivers and a 5.25-inch woofer, supports aptX Bluetooth and has a USB charging port and auxiliary input on its back panel.
Linksys showed its new ultra-fast AC1300 Wireless Universal Media Connector at CES. Although a number of routers were launched last year with the new 802.11ac capability, few devices are available to take advantage of the faster speeds. Smart TVs, Blu-ray players, AV receivers, and media streamers can be connected to the AC1300 via Ethernet cables. The device receives the wireless signal from the router using 802.11ac and transfers the stream to the devices for higher quality HD video without lagging, long buffer times or other interruptions.
The previous 802.11n standard can connect at speeds up to 300 Mbps (megabits per second) on a home network. The new standard is capable of gigabit speeds with single wireless connections at up to 500 Mbps. While a Vudu 3D HDX movie only requires a speed of 9 Mbps to a streaming player, wireless speeds decrease drastically over distance. It's important that a wireless router is sending the signal as fast as possible as it can dip below the speed needed over relatively short distances within a home.
The AC1300 can receive the fast stream from the router making sure that your device doesn't downgrade your Netflix 1080p stream to a standard definition movie. This 802.11ac connector is available now for $159.
A lot of compact wireless audio systems have crossed our desk over the last few years but the forthcoming Polk Woodbourne, named for a neighborhood in the company's native Baltimore, is different. It has a fiberboard (not plastic enclosure) and the enclosure is sealed (not ported). Wireless options include both AirPlay and Bluetooth apt-X. Power is 70 watts RMS for each woofer and 20 for each tweeter. The demo was impressive for its spaciousness, thanks to the outward-aiming mounting of tweeters on the far sides of the curved baffle. We could close our eyes and imagine we were hearing a larger system. Pricing will be $599 when it arrives between April and June. Polk also showed the new TSx series which replaces the TSi. There are three towers, two monitors, and two centers in cherry or black. Woofers are polypropylene impregnated with other materials so that the intrinisic resonances of any one material are canceled out. Their size has increased in the towers and the larger center from 5.25 to six inches for bigger bass. Pricing ranges from $199 for the smallest center to $999/pair for the biggest tower.
Meridian's first on-wall speakers include the DSP 520 ($5000/each) and DSP 648 ($7000/each). Unlike most in-walls, but like other Meridian speakers, they are self-powered and loaded with DSP magic. They're also built with separate enclosures for the drivers, the electronics, and the back box. Our exclusive closeup shows buttons your installer can use to dedicate the speaker to left, center, or right channel use. Mount Meridian's Media Controller 200 to the back and you can control the system from your iPad.
Tannoy's new Precision line includes continues to use a coaxial array—the company calls it a dual concentric array—with the tweeter mounted at the center of the midrange driver. But this new version is revoiced for greater efficiency and dynamic range. The line includes the Precision 6.4 tower, $3200/pair; the Precison 6.2 tower, $2400/pair; the Precision 6.1 monitor, $1200/pair; and the Precision LCR, $1000. All have six-inch woofers, hence all the sixes.
The Revel Rhythm2 has an 18-inch aluminum driver with four-inch voice coil backed up with 2000 watts. Of course like any state-of-the-art sub it can be room corrected via USB, in this case with a third-party measuring tool. But this one is slightly unusual because it takes into account the bass output of the speakers as well as that of the sub. The demo was impressively powerful though marred by an unavoidable rattle in the room ventilation—if you want to own a sub this powerful, you may need to invest a little extra to make the room fit for it!
D-Link announced a new router with StreamBoost technology for better high definition video streaming, and with a new dashboard to monitor and control your home network. The DGL5500 router is called a "gaming router" because it has low latency (no lag time) for online game play. This capability also makes it an excellent router choice for streaming movies.
You might mistake it for a high-end Blu-ray player at first glance but, no, the Parasound Halo CD 1 introduced at CES 2013 is definitely a Compact Disc player (remember those?) and it costs $4,500. Designed in collaboration with Holm Acoustics of Copenhagen, Denmark, the player uses a Linux-based computer running proprietary software and a CD ROM drive running four times the speed of a conventional CD drive to read and process data in a new way. Vast amounts of data are analyzed and read multiple times to reduce errors and, in turn, the negative effects of error concealment. The result is said to be a nearly bit-perfect data stream.
In keeping with the high-end legacy of the company's Halo line, the C1 has a heavily shielded aluminum chassis, separate power supplies for its analog and digital sections and several output options, including balanced XLR, gold-plated RCAs for analog, and digital audio via BNC, coaxial and optical connectors. A novel “Discrete OpAmp” selector offers a choice between listening to the analog outputs directly from the player’s low-noise op-amps or via discrete transistor output stages.