Induction Dynamics showed its S1.8 3-way ported loudspeaker, a versatile model that can be used as a bookshelf or freestanding speaker. Based on my recent experience with ID speakers, they feature extraordinary construction quality, excellent sound quality and are well suited for multichannel music and movies. The secret to their sound quality lies in the 4th order crossovers, which provide 24dB per octave roll-off between drivers. The S1.8 has an 8-inch Kevlar woofer, a 3-inch soft dome midrange and a 1.125-inch soft dome tweeter.
NewKinetix Re (the e is supposed to have a line over it, but I don't know how to generate that character - basically because I'm alphabetically challenged) is a plug-in accessory for an iPhone or iPod touch that turns either device into an IR remote control. Other such IR-enabling products already exist, but as far as I can tell the NewKintetix unit is the first one that does not require a separate box to generate the IR signal. One can be yours soon for $49.95.
A few years back the maker of Energy and Mirage speakers, Audio Products International, was bought by Klipsch. Then a company celled Gentec International gobbled up all three brands. Unfortunately, Energy and Mirage went through the succeeding years with little new of interest to the serious audiophile. A shame, because the Energy Veritas v2.8 from 1994 remains one of my all time favorite (and underappreciated speakers). I still own a pair and although they were never ready for home theater (a matching center channel was never made for the original Veritas'). I break them out every time I need a (still excellent) 2-channel referenced. That's not often these days, but as little as time as they get in my listening room they aren't going anywhere.
CES 2010 is now just a memory, but hopefully not a fading one. On my last day or two I saw a few things that I couldn't get posted while still in Vegas. IDT, the company that now owns the HQV Reon video processing technology, showed a number of interesting new technologies. The most intriguing was a small, nondescript box (no wasted funds on here on cosmetics!) that can perform all the Reon video processing functions, including deinterlacing, upconverting, and noise reduction, plus flesh tone correction&$151;the latter said to be more sophisticated than the flesh tone correction offered in some televisions. No decision yet as to whether it will be marketed under IDT's own brand name or by a third party. The price could be as low as under $100, which would be a huge plus for those whose HDTVs have mediocre built-in video processing.
Though I've covered only a fraction of the rooms at the Venetian so far, with a day to go, my favorite rooms today were the Thiel (above) and the Avalon, where the new Avalon Times were making terrific sounds, driven by monoblock power amps from Jeff Rowland. The Time employs two 11" Nomex-Kevlar composite woofers, a 3.5" concave Ceramic Dome midrange, and a 1" concave Diamond diaphragm tweeter. The Thiel and Avalon systems could not have soundxed more different (Thiel leaner, Avalon warmer and richer) but both flattered a wide range of the music I tried on them. The Avalons, however, will cost you a lot more, at $49,000/pair -- and the fijnish shown is a $4000 option!
Which would you rather have, more content options streamed from the Internet or wireless speaker connectivity? LG Electronics thinks you should have both and has introduced three Network Blu-ray Disc Home Theater Systems featuring content-on-demand options through alliances with CinemaNow, YouTube and HD titles from Netflix as well as wireless speaker connectivity. The speakers are designed by Mark Levinson, well known in the arena of high-end audio. This introduction follows on the heels of the LG BD300 Network Blu-ray player shown at CEDIA 2008. The LHB979 system is shown in the photo above and is scheduled to be available in the second quarter of 2009. A price was not available at the time of the announcement.
Purosol, arguably one of the best screen cleaners around, has a new look for the packaging. Fortunately, it's the same old formula inside. $10 for the little bottle. $26 for the big bottle/little bottle combo. Cleaning cloths are included.
The beloved game show Jeopardy! celebrated its 25th anniversary by taping a week's worth of shows at CES. Interestingly, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune were the first game shows to be produced and broadcast in high-def in 2006.
JVC had three demos in its theater presentation. The first was a trailer in 2D, played back on the new DLA-HD990 consumer projector ($10,000, available now). It looked superb. The next was a 2D clip using the company's 4K, DLA-RS4000, a projector that will put a $150,000+ hole in your bank balance. It was the same 4K demo that JVC presented at the 2008 CEDIA, and here, like there, was head-and-shoulders the best-looking video at the show, either 2D or 3D. The third demo, a 3D presentation using two of the latter projectors, was dimensional enough, but for me was soft and lacking in the crisp detail I expect of HD, whether 3D or 2D. The source may have been to blame here-a dim underwater coral reef, and its residents, isn't the easiest subject to photograph well. In any case the three minute 3D clip was said to use between 1TB and 2DB data space!
Some of the best sound at CES was from speakers that don't officially exist. KEF gave the press a look at their skunkworks with a “concept” speaker called the Blade. In a cabinet carved from carbon fiber, the Blade uses the latest version of KEF’s Uni-Q coincident midrange and tweeter with four woofers mounted in close proximity around the sides of the cabinet to better emulate a point source. The woofers on either side of the cabinet cancel cabinet vibrations. The sound that came from these speakers was simply magic. Driven by Audio Research electronics, I heard spooky, lifelike imaging, high-resolution of detail, and tremendous dynamic swing and punch. Bass and drum kits in particular were simply right there in the room with us. Sticking to its story that this was a technology demonstration, KEF wouldn’t say that this speaker would ever come to market. But the sound here is just too good to keep it in the hangar at Area 51.
Sooloos, manufacturer of server-based home entertainment systems, was recently acquired by Meridian, well known for their luxury AV products. The Sooloos has been considered one of the most intuitive and user friendly (as well as costly) media servers available. The merge with Meridian is a great fit for both companies.
The future of mainstream multi-room entertainment is wireless, whether it be Wi-Fi, Powerline, RF, or some other magical, yet-to-be-discovered communication protocol. Easy end-user installation is important, too. (Thus the popularity and success of multi-room audio systems such as Sonos.) Klipsch is getting into the act with a new product called the LightSpeaker. Although it was impossible to hear a demo during last night’s CES Unveiled event, the LightSpeaker’s particulars make it something we’ll be searching for on the CES floor. The LightSpeaker combines an LED light with a powered speaker and fits most 5-inch and 6-inch recessed lighting fixtures using a standard Edison socket. Klipsch says there are only about 620 million recessed can light fixtures in the U.S. alone. (Now that’s a market worth paying attention to.)
In addition to the 3D projector above, LG showed (but did not demonstrate) this currently available SXRD model, the LG CF181D. The nice young Korean lady who quoted us the $2500 price sounded sincere, but that sounds like a bit of a bargain for what is a very large projector.
Perhaps the biggest surprise at the show was the first self-contained consumer 3D projector, the LG CF3D ($10,000, late spring). Its an SXRD (LCOS) design with two separate light paths. There are six SXRD chips in the design-an oddity as SXRD chips are made by Sony and their use outside of Sony projectors are rare. The projector was on demonstration. The demo used polarized glasses (not shutter). An anime excerpt was very effective on a large screen, crisp, bright, and dimensional, but a live-action 3D clip of carnival in Brazil did not look anything close to high definition, 3D or not. Like the JVC 3D clip, above, we'll have to blame the source material on that score-for now.