The new Speaker Box 5 from Project (the turntable people) sounded ridiculously dynamic for such a tiny feller. Distributed by Sumiko, they will sell for $400/pair in a variety of colors, such as this fire engine red. The electronics shown here are not included!
First, it's T+A, not T&A. Stop giggling. It makes you look sleazy. In addition to some cool-looking loudspeakers (which we didn't get to hear) the German company showed the K8 Blu-ray receiver with 150 watts time seven. It streams from iPods and other devices in lossless WAV, FLAC, and OGG as well as MP3 and WMA with resolution up to 96/24. Sure is purty, as it ought to be for $9500.
As I was wandering around the 3D Tech Zone, I stumbled upon a small booth with an autostereoscopic 3D LCD TVin other words, no glasses. Technicolor was demonstrating its algorithm that takes in right and left images, derives depth information for each pixel, and interpolates six additional views between the right and left images, a process that cannot yet be performed in real time.
I heard the Fat Lady Sing, and she was in fine voice. The Fat Lady is a floor-stander from Morel of Israel, where the name apparently is politically incorrect. I have to admit that it's descriptive of the cabinet, which is designed to sing along with the speaker and stop short of coloring the sound.
What to our wondering eyes should appear on the floor of South Hall but the Grey Lady herself, The New York Times, touting her apps for computers, smartphones, e-readers, and of course this year's particular CES obsession, tablets. The paper's show coverage also refers to (other) media companies chasing partners at this year's CE extravaganza.
The Intrepid II, in lower right corner, is Theta Digital's first Class D amp, at 7 times 150 watts. It is expected to go into production in four months. Class D amplification, in general, is more energy efficient though some audiophiles question whether it is ready for primetime. Theta's implementation will boast load-agnostic frequency response regardless of speaker impedance. At upper left is the Theta III HD pre-pro, at $19,995 for version with Xtreme DACs and a mere $14,999 for version with Premium DACs. Upgrade your old Casablanca III for $4995 and your old Casablanca I or II for $5000. Apologies for awful pic.
The new Thiel floorstanding SCS4T (about $3700/pair), mentioned again further down in this report, is a modest speaker by Thiel standards. The single coaxial driver has the advantage of coincidence. That is, the tweeter is mounted coaxially with the woofer, so the two drive units do not produce comb filtering dips in the speaker's response at off axis angles. Coaxial drivers are also used in more upmarket models from Thiel, and also by KEF and Tannoy, but otherwise are relatively rare.
Yes, I heard more dramatically impressive sound at the show, but the Thiel room, one of the first I visited, sounded so honest and right that for me it represented the sort of value that most of the higher-end products could not manage. Of course, a pair of Thiel subwoofers were helping it along in the deep bass!
And unlike nearly all of the speakers heard at the Venetian, the SCS4T is ready for home theater. The older, stand-mount SCS4 (about $2400/pair, available in singles) should be a good match. It uses the same coaxial driver and can be used as a matching center channel, even mounted on its side (a trick that other non-coaxial 2-way speakers cannot do without sonic consequences.
That's it in the middle. As we've previously reported, it's the floorstanding big brother of the SCS4 stand-mount (left) with a slightly different crossover and outrigger feet that make it stable even in a house full of rocketing toddlers. Price $3690/pair.
Toshiba's big announcement was the introduction into the US market of its Cell TV, first seen in a "soft launch" last year. This flagship sits at the pinnacle of a new lineup that includes 10 series of LCD TVs, seven of which are LED illuminated. Thanks to the incredibly powerful Cell processor in its outboard box, the Cell TV has it all, including LED local dimming with 512 zones (five times as many as most current local dimmers), 3D capabilities (including real-time conversion of 2D to 3D) using active-shutter glasses, 480Hz refresh rate (actually 240Hz with backlight scanning), WirelessHD 60GHz (wireless HDMI) and 802.11n WiFi connectivity, VoIP video-phone capability, and Super Resolution+ and Net Resolution+ video processing, which upscale SD images and clean up low-res Web video, respectively.
A trip back to the Toshiba booth will be needed to get a look at Toshiba's demo of glasses free (autostereoscopic) 3D. The crowds waiting to see this technology were huge. Still, I think all the hoopla about 3D without glasses is going to leave a lot of people disappointed. I suspect that it will either be years away (if it's ever perfected at all—not all technical challenges have a ready solution) or a serious step backwards in image qualitywhether from Toshiba or anyone else. But I could be surprised. A similar demo from Sony, while hardly flawless, looked better than I expected.
Toshiba is introducing a whole new lineup of LCD TVs, primarily with LED backlighting. The top of the line UL610 models (46-, 55-, and 65-inchesthe 55-incher is shown on the left in the photo). The UL610s use active 3D glasses for full HD 3D, claimed deep blacks (thought all of the Toshiba LED sets use LED edge lighting, not full backlighting), 480Hz operation, and special 3D crosstalk cancellation technology. All of the 3D sets in the ranges below the UL610 employ passive glasses technology.
I finally was able to see Toshiba's autostereoscopic 3D demos. They had some of the same problems described in the Sony's glasses-free 3D demo. I also noted a pervasive graininess in the images. This was visible in the Sony as well but I did not attribute it to the glasses free technique. It apparently is. Nevertheless, Toshiba claims that they will have these sets on the market late this year. As it stands now, however, 3D with glasses is still superior, apart from its lower brightness.
Five years in the making, Totem Acoustic's Element Series features a massive large-diameter magnet structure suitable for arm curls. Even the littlest member of the family -- as it happened, the one we got to hear -- combined the naturalism and balance typical of Totem with a new bass solidity, mated with Accuphase electronics. Pricing ranges from $5995 to $13,000 for the flagship. Note that the competition Totem is aiming at sells products for much more than that.
The Principal Grand subwoofer from Vienna Acoustics packs a 12-inch pulp-carbon driver into an enclosure with two separate chambers for the 300-watt amp and crossover. The latter, as shown in the pic, is on the bottom. The company, which actually manufactures in Vienna, is fussy about its drivers, in this case source from ScanSpeak because it's important for a sub "to play more than one note." Amen. Pricing ranges from $3000-4000 depending on finish. Also shown was the Strauss Series In-Waltz in-wall speaker, with features derived from an on-wall cousin.
About a year ago, Philips introduced an LCD TV with an aspect ratio of 21:9 (2.33:1), but it was never made available in the US. Now, Vizio is working on the same idea as demonstrated by this concept piece. It measures 58 inches diagonally with a pixel resolution of 2560x1080, perfect for displaying movies without the hated letterbox bars. The prototype uses CCFL backlighting, but the final version could use LEDs. I was told it could become an actual product by the third quarter of this year and that it would be "Vizio priced."