Once a bustling center of earth-changing activity, the CES2012 Press Room at the Las Vegas Convention Center looked dull and dismal (well, more so than it did earlier during CES) fifteen minutes before closing time on Friday. Gone is the jovial camaraderie, the fighting for seats, the wrestling matches for the last (free) press lunch, and the incessant questioning. (It’s usually one of two: “Are there any lunches left?” or “What’s the login and password for the Press Room WiFi?”) I was one of the last few stragglers to inhabit the large conference room that’s housed the CES press for as long as I can remember - which, considering the state of my mind at the end of CES, is not too long - Friday, showing just how dedicated I am (and what a loser I am, too). The most important journalist question I asked during the CES grind? “Where are the f’ing free cookies and brownies that they used to give us?”
(On a brighter note, that’s the Griffin HELO TC iOS-device-controlled helicopter I convinced the Griffin booth guy to allow me to leave with.)
DISH Network is attempting to "hop" all over its competition at CES with a new whole house DVR that records prime time, all the time.
As part of a full company makeover that includes a new kangaroo mascot, the satellite TV provider is introducing Hopper, said to be the world's most advanced DVR. It's a 3-tuner model with a massive 2-terabyte hard drive that can record up to six HD programs simultaneously, and allows simultaneous viewing of different channels in up to three additional rooms through the companion Joey set top box.
Dish Network will bring Blockbuster@Home and an expanded version of HBO On Demand and Cinemax on Demand to customers who haven’t been able to stream movies and TV shows because they have slow internet. “Dish Unplugged” will stream content directly to the “Hopper” DVR via satellite.
Welcome to the wonderful world of high-end audio. After two eventful days scoping out the latest in video at the Las Vegas Convention Center venue I retired to the relatively relaxing confines of the Venetian Hotel, where I could listen to some tunes played back on deliciously succulent 2-channel gear. Yes, mainly 2-channel. There were a few interesting surround setups, such as in the Atlantic Technology booth where they were showing off the new H-PAS bookshelf speaker, and even a few rare full home theater setups, such as in the Wolf Cinema room. But the Venetian was mostly a 2-channel world.
But an interesting one. I wanted to scope out loudspeakers in particular, some of which have also been covered here by Home Theater's audio tech editor, Mark Fleischmann, and others. But what follows here is what caught my eye…er, my ears.
In the photo above is the new Magico Q7, the largest offering from that loudspeaker specialist. Each speaker is 750 lbs, 60-inches high, and 32-inches deep. A pair of them will set you back $165,000. That’s three zeros, and is not a typo. But they sounded astonishing, as well they should. Don't look for a review of five of them in Home Theater any time soon. In fact, Magico, like many high-end speaker makers, does not offer a center channel speaker.
As Dynaudio's first wireless speaker, the Xeo stays right up to date with a significant CES 2012 trend. Getting that capability with the usual sweet Dynaudio sound will cost you $4500/pair for the floorstander or $2300/pair for the stand-mount. However, if you add additional pairs, you can reduce those speaker prices by the $350 cost of the transmitter/receiver kit. The signal is uncompressed, naturally.
If you were exhibiting at CES and you didn’t have any earphones or headphones to demonstrate, then you must not have gotten the memo that said everyone must make earbuds. Amidst the bewildering variety of mostly mediocre offerings, Sonomax was showing off their latest eers - custom molded earphones. Unlike most other custom molded earphones which have to be professionally fitted, eers come in a do-it-yourself kit that includes a special goo that flows into your ear and hardens to create a custom-fit for your specific ear. According to Sonomax, "Since ears are more unique than fingerprints, perfect fit and comfort can only be achieved with custom-fit earphones.” The PCS-150 uses a single driver. The PCS-250 uses dual drivers and a crossover. Both models include in-line microphones for use with mobile phones. Pricing will be approximately $199 and $299 respectively.
Energy has long been one of my favorite speaker companies, not least because of my long term reference Energy Veritas v2.8 speakers, circa 1994 (an eon for an audiophile to favor anything). But the brand has fallen on hard times since its acquisition (along with Mirage) by the Klipsch Group. Hopefully better days are ahead. There are, apparently, some new Veritas models in the lineup, but you'd never know it from Klipsch's CES kiosk that features subwoofers and soundbars.
Jan 13, 2012
Published: Jan 12, 2012
TAD was again showing its high-end speakers and electronics. But there's been a new delivery to the family, the E1 floorstander (the smaller of the two shown in the picture). For TAD, it's now the company's "entry level" consumer mode. Like all TAD speakers, it exhibited a tremendous dynamic range—which you should expect for those bucks but don't always get.
One more step along the road to the eventual domination of the human race by robots is the creation of cute little baby seal robots that are supposed to soothe lonely and ill people’s feelings and make them feel that something actually cares about and loves them. Of course, it’s just a dang robot with no feelings or real fur. I know just posting this has put me on the robot empire’s hit list. I will definitely be keeping a close eye on my iRobot Roomba from now on...
It is hard to walk from the Sands Convention Center to the audio exhibits at the Venetian Towers without noticing this tempting array of candy apples. They sure looked better than the modest fruit distributed with the press room's box lunches.
GenAudio astounded me at last year's CES with its AstoundSound 3D audio system, which creates a convincing spherical soundfield from two speakers. This year, the company announced that its launching AstoundSound for CE, an application that manufacturers can include in their products, such as iPod speakers, soundbars, and TVsin fact, GenAudio is partnering with Analog Devices and other DSP makers to include the algorithm in their chips.
I heard a clip from Kitaro's Earth in Bloom that was downmixed from 5.1 to 2 channels and then expanded by AstoundSound in real time played first on a $12,000 pair of Gheithain pro studio monitors and then on a $300 2.1 Panasonic soundbar, and the result was remarkable, with various sounds flying all around the room, including overhead. Of course, the studio monitors had better sound quality, but the effect was quite pronouncedand enjoyablefrom both.