At the Meridian suite in the Venetian, in the midst of their digital speaker systems and high-end components, was the portable F80. Like so many high-end manufacturer's, Meridian is courting the lifestyle consumer, which includes support for iPod users. The F80 is a portable, 2.1 channel, iPod speaker system that comes in five Ferrari colors.
The bottom floor of the Hilton Hotel's convention center (adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center) is home to hundreds of small stands hawking every description of small electronic thingamajig, most of them representing small Chinese companies. I searched out two of them, only to find that they didn't market anything like what I expected to find: speakers (Dayton) and projectors (Sharpvision).
Now this is an IPTV. Or a PC TV. Or a home theater pc built into a TV? Or a TV with an HTPC built in? Who cares! Anyone who’s used an iPhone or an iPod Touch or a Sooloos knows the future of interface is in touch screens. Allio’s IPTV’s are built around a Vista Media Center platform and have touch screen options on their smaller models. The screen you see here has two Internet-driven streams playing on screen with a third window showing Hulk on Blu-ray (that’s the ever so lovely Jennifer Connelly there). I was able to move, manipulate and resize these windows, images and media using my fingers like Tom Cruise in Minority Report. It’s striking how much the PC gets out of the way when controlled by touch. Cool stuff.
While I liked the HDMI-equipped jack panel at the Mirage -- and envied Tom's at the Hyatt even more -- the aspect ratio on my Philips LCD set left something to be desired. The hotel appeared to be feeding 4:3 analog signals and using the stretch mode. Suze Orman and Anderson Cooper couldn't have gained that much weight, could they?
"We like the sound," said the MK Sound folks in response to my question -- "why an analog bass management controller?" The DMC-1 accepts five XLR input for line-level loop-through. Available in February for $1200. MK is the newly returned heir to the M&K legacy, so expect to see lots of classic models return with upgraded parts to make them even better.
Monitor Audio introduced its flagship Platinum loudspeaker to the US at CES. The lineup includes the floor-standing PL300 ($8999/pair), the PL100 bookshelf ($4299/pair), the PL350 center ($4299), and the PLW-15 600W subwoofer ($4299). Stands are optional. The big system was not in use while I was there, but the smaller PL100's sounded clean and natural, with fine imaging, an uncolored midrange, and sparkling but not exaggerated highs from the ribbon tweeter—a first for Monitor Audio.
Monster Cable’s Head Monster, Noel Lee, announced today that Monster Music will be releasing “Theater of the Mind,” the new album by hip hop superstar Ludacris. The “HDS” format of Monster Music allows their discs to be played in any DVD player producing high performance surround sound. The new Ludacris offering will be released on Blu-ray Disc in high definition lossless 7.1 surround sound that can be played on a Blu-ray player without the need for special audio decoders.
The Mordaunt-Short Mezzo line already included a tower, and the Mezzo 6 continues in the line, but now it has a big brother in the form of the Mezzo 8 ($2495/pair). The latter's a three-way with two 6.25-inch woofers, 5.25-inch mid, and one-inch aluminum tweeter mounted at the top of the enclosure. The excellent Alumni sat/sub line has another upsized model, shown -- the Alumni 8 ($1095/pair), a tall, slender speaker with four passive woofers, two active ones, and a tweeter. It complements the similar though not identical Alumni 3 center. Stand or wall mount, high gloss black or white with black grilles.
NAD’s latest offering to CES is another pair of A/V receivers, the T 747 and T 737, which the company says offer stellar performance and unbeatable value. The T 747 in particular decodes both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, a must for any high-quality receiver. It also provides Faroudja DCDi processing, auto calibration, and it can reach sound levels of up to 60 watts per channel.
Usher showed up with a whole new line of relatively affordable speakers, the NV series. They're still being refined, but should be available in a few months. The NV 601 is the smallest model in the line. I was one of the first to hear it; they hooked it up for the first time at the show (they claimed) just before I walked into the room, and a few minutes from the close of the show (they had been featuring their more upscale models in their two rooms throughout the show). The sound was impressive, with a solid midrange, good balance, and detailed but very sweet highs just the right balance for home theater and music. Estimated price will be in the neighborhood of $1100/pair (stands not included). There are also two floor standers and a center channel, the NV 603.
Which some might construe as weightist. The composite fiberglas, carbon fiber, and resin enclosure makes damping material unnecessary. Two 9-inch woofers share the enclosure with a 6.5-inch mid and 1.1-inch tweeter. The $32,000 pricetag (per pair) may seem stiff but the composite enclosure trickles down to the monitor-size Super Octave. Morel also offers three Sound Spot satellites, all of which have coaxial drivers in a metal pedestal enclosure, but the drivers differ, so pricing ranges from $1500 to $2000 to $2500. The best version has a resin-covered silk tweeter.