If you look closely in this picture of the chaos that immediately followed the Sony press conference, you’ll see…chaos. If you look a little closer, you’ll see some pencil-thin speakers (actually, I think the term they used was “the width of a finger” but I may have been in the middle of a mile-high altitude-induced alcohol-enhanced stupor at the time so it might as easily have been “the width of a fingerling potato”) on display here as part of the BDV-IT1000ES - Sony’s first ES HTiB that includes an integrated Blu-ray Disc player. The main speakers each measure approximately .75-inch wide by 22 inches long, and they’ll come with the rest of the system when it ships in October and you fork over the required $1,999.
The new XBR7 line is all over the map feature-wise from one model to the next. Of most interest to me was the KDL-52XBR7, the world's first LCD TV with 240Hz operation and frame interpolation. Is it twice as good as 120Hz? We'll see when I get one for review.
Looking at this flat panel edge-on, you'd think it's an OLED, but it's actually an LCD TV that measures only 9.9mm thick. The light source is a set of white LEDs placed along the edge of the screen, so there is no local dimming. Like most of Sony's upscale LCDs, this one offers 120Hz frame interpolation, a wide color gamut, and Bravia Link. The off-axis performance I saw was amazing.
A two-channel / multi-channel preference switch, DSD-output via HDMI, or decoded and sent out over HDMI, and room for 5 discs(CD or SACD) which should be all the Wagner anyone in their right mind can stand.
I've seen installers take weeks to put in systems and fine tune them. Sony offers a turn-key, yet still flexible system that, not counting wiring, could take as little as a day to install. With the capability for a 7.1 home theater and six other rooms featuring everything from 2-channel audio all the way up to high def audio and video (via cat5e), the Sony WHS is very advanced. The system also lets you insert up to three components of your choice, such as a Pioneer BD player, your favorite Theta Digital CD player / DAC and even your crappy VCR. Sony and Control4 touchpads also give you access to your comfort systems (heating/cooling), security systems and lighting. Typical dealer installs start at $35,000 and go up from there.
Every multi-room receiver I’ve used or reviewed has only been able to send standard definition video to a second zone. The Sony STR-DA6400ES is the first I’ve seen that can send high def audio and video to two zones. That’s because HDMI doesn’t easily support transmission over more than, say 50’, without some sort of inline booster, and once you get up in the walls and through the ceilings and down again, 50’ disappears real fast. But by using CAT5e wiring found in much mid-to-high level new construction, Sony has a found a much longer (at least 300’) path. for high def video and audio. Sony uses two Faroudja DCDi Cinema chipsets to support scaling up to 1080p in both the main and secondary zone.
That thing dangling from the neck of Soundmatters' Lee Adams is the foxL Pocket Monitor, a portable audio device said to go as low as 80Hz. I'll just have to get one and see. The Bluetooth version is $249, the other $199.