In fact, these glass-enclosed speakers work amazingly well. The advantages of glass are high density, rigidity, and (with the aid of a damping chamber behind the drivers) "no vibrations," presumably meaning none of the bad kind. Warmth, depth, and solid controlled bass were what I heard and quite liked. Waterfall will also offer on-walls when the French manufacturer gets its U.S. distribution nailed down, which should happen any minute now.
Snell speakers have always had a good reputation, but I had no idea that they were good enough to find their way into the White House. Now, the question is, was it a Republican or a Democrat who put them there?
Following up the release of their ultra-sleek Zeppelin iPod system, Bowers & Wilkins is continuing their push into the lifestyle audio arena with the new wireless Liberty audio system. At the heart of the system is the CP1 console, which has a built-in DVD player and touchscreen control panel. The speaker line features powered tower, bookshelf, and center-channel models, as well as a distinctively curvy subwoofer, that you can mix and match. The main console communicates with the speakers wirelessly over a closed, proprietary 2.4-gigahertz network, and the system's designer claims a low latency of 12 microseconds to ensure that the integrity of the soundfield remains intact. The Liberty system sports eight channels of amplification and provides the freedom to configure those channels however you please, whether it’s a 7.1-channel HT setup, a 5.1-channel setup with second-zone stereo, or even four stereo zones. The Liberty is scheduled for release in the summer of 2008, for an estimated price of $15,00 to $18,000.
For my last CES demo of the year, I spent 15 relaxing minutes in Wisdom Audio's suite at the Venetian. The company was showing off its Sage Series of hybrid speakers that use both traditional woofers and thin-film planar magnetic drivers. An outboard system controller handles the electronic crossover between the speaker's different elements, and it performs room correction using Audyssey MultEQ XT technology. The line includes four models ranging from 20 to 75 inches tall, and each speaker is available in a freestanding, in-wall, or on-wall configuration. The demo consisted of various 2- and 5.1-channel music tracks, and the top-of-the-line L75s sounded absolutely fantastic, impressively spacious and dynamic for such thin speakers. After five days of chaos and concepts, this moment served as a tangible reminder of all that we love about home theater.
I had hoped to see a new 1080p projector from Yamaha. Since that company's 720p DPX-1300 is probably my favorite DLP projector of that flavor, I eagerly anticipate a 1080p design from them. But it was not to be at this CES. CEDIA 2007? A Yamaha rep suggested that might be the case, but he wasn't all that emphatic.
I spent a good part of my day Tuesday at the Venetian which is home to the high-end audio portion of CES, and often has home theater products from cutting edge crossover companies. Companies like Canada's Simaudio. I've experienced Simaudio's home theater components in the past, and they've been superlative. So, it's with high hope that I anticipate the release of the top of the line Evolution series CP-8 surround pre/pro, to be introduced later this year (the front panel says Moon, but I've been assured it will be an Evolution series component on release).
Life|ware combines home entertainment and automation using Microsoft’s Media Center as a backbone. All sorts of other companies, such as Lutron, Russound, Niles, SpeakerCraft, HP, Samsung, Honeywell, and etc, make devices that interface with the system so custom installers can tailor a complete automation/entertainment package that puts control of the entire home within a touchpanel or remote control.
It’s hard to get the whole concept across sometimes, so the Life|ware people partnered with Disney who supplied the actors pictured here who acted out a corny “life” within a complete Life|ware-equipped home.
My personal favorite of the entire setup was the demonstration of a prototype of the Starry Night Sleep Technology bed by a company called Leggett and Platt. The bed monitors your sleep cycle, respiration, heartbeat – it can even tell if you’re snoring – and adjusts the bed accordingly to make your sleepy night perfect. Move over, Big Brother, this is Big Mother. Pricing hasn’t been set yet, but you can bet it’s going to be expensive (with a capital $).