Truth be told, the only reason most AV journalists come to shows and conventions is for the free swag. Tough times in the economy and shrinking promotional budgets have done some serious damage to the quality and amount of swag a savvy journalist can accrue over the course of three or four days of press conferences and meetings. While not the best swag ever, Universal Remote Control’s Mitch Klein scored big points with surprise offerings like these which he presented to a select group of bacon-enthusiast journalists. No word on whether URC will ever begin manufacturing a remote control that looks like a large slice of crispy, delicious bacon – even though many of us have begged them to do it.
What’s not to love about a leather recliner with diamond stitching, a built-in cup holder for your brewski and an optional LaunchPort swivel-base that holds and charges your iPad? Your biggest challenge will be to not fall asleep during the big game. Best part: You can position the motorized backrest and footrest from a smartphone/tablet or home automation control panel from Crestron, AMX, Control4, Savant and others. Available for $5,500-$6,000 apiece with or without the stitching.
OK, the wording should be One Adam 12, but if you know the reference you’ve been on the planet and watching TV for far too long. But Adam Audio GmbH, of Germany, was one of several manufacturers (including KEF, Totem, and Wharfedale) attempting to make music on the open show floor. The strikingly styled Tensor Gamma Mk2 shown here is the smallest model in Adam’s top of the line Tensor Mk2 Series.
URC was showing off the company’s long-awaited DMS-AV Network Home Theater Amplifier that takes a 125-watt x 7 AVR with boatloads of inputs and features and marries it to a URC Total Control-based whole-home music distribution system. The DMS-AV connects to the homeowner’s LAN and can handle up to 32 streaming audio sources. You can even digitally stream the analog output from a turntable to any of the connected zone amplifiers in the home. URC says the DMS-AV is finally shipping with an MSRP of $1,499.
Artison, the company founded by respected audio designer Cary Christie nearly a decade ago, is replacing its SB-1 SoundBar with three low-profile models designed for seamless integration with the new generation of ultra-thin TVs. The numerical designations of the new Studio Series models---Studio39, Studio46 and Studio55---reflect the approximate width of the soundbar, although each grille is custom fitted and color matched to the TV it’s being used with as in the photo above.
Highlights of the soundbars include a 2.25-inch-deep extruded aluminum, bass-reflex cabinet, 3.5-inch carbon-fiber mid/woofers---Studio39 has four drivers, the other models have six---three 1-inch Vifa tweeters and two 1-inch “stage” tweeters that fire out the sides of the enclosure to expand the sound stage. Pricing is $999 for Studio39, $1,499 for Studio46 and $1,999 for Studio55. The Studio46 ships this month with the other models expected to be available in October/November.
If there was a theme to this year's CEDIA EXPO, it would be The Rise of the Soundbar. While these devices are incapable of reproducing the full impact of a 5.1 or 7.1 surround system consisting of discrete speakers and a subwoofer, they are undeniably convenient. And many of them sound better than you might imagine. One such is this fully powered $900 model from Atlantic Technology. The driver configuration is 2-channels, but has internal processing that is said to offer a three or five channel ambient experience from a Dolby Digital or DTS surround source.
Using H-PAS technology, the Atlantic claims extension down to 47Hz without a subwoofer. While there was a trend at the show toward ultra thin soundbars, most of the latter required a subwoofer to go that low. The Atlantic is 6.5-inches deep, and may be wall mounted, shelf-mounted, or positioned on top of your stand-mounted flat panel using special brackets designed for this purpose.
The long-awaited debut of the Atlantic Technology H-PAS PowerBar 235 will come in about two weeks, when it will finally ship, offering the most extended bass you can get in a bar thanks to ingenious multi-chambered enclosure design. Numerous tweaks over the last few months include the addition of DTS decoding, and Atlantic makes a big point of having on-board Dolby Digital decoding as well, as opposed to counting on a conversion to PCM (which we're told some new LG TVs won't do). More tweaks: vocal enhancement to push dialogue forward, left-minus-right surround expansion, a less aggressively illuminated display that fades to black after confirming setting changes, and replacement of the see-through grille for something more discreet.
The Bowers & Wilkins CI800 Series replaces the Signature in-walls with pricing at $5000-8000/pair. These speakers feature parts from B&W's high-end 800 Series including Rohacell woofers, new Kevlar midranges, carbon-reinforced metal tweeters, and premium capacitors among other things. Three models include two in-walls and one in-ceiling speaker. The larger of the in-walls is the CWM8.3 with dual eight-inch woofers, a five-inch midrange, and one-inch tweeter.
Cambridge Audio's Minx sat/sub sets have been so successful that a new division of the company has been formed to exploit their successors. They include the single-driver Min11 ($95/each) and the dual-driver Min21 ($180/each). They have a tad more bass than their predecessors, at 130 and 120Hz respectively, but the big design change is in the flat diaphragms. The dual cube now has a hybrid BMR (bending mode radiator) and dynamic driver on top and a plain dynamic driver on bottom while the single cube uses a single hybrid driver. The new approach yields better power handling, longer throw, and the removal of an 8kHz spike. Crossover has also been improved. With flat-diaphragm subs of 8, 12, and 14 inches, pricing ranges from $849-1849. Cambridge also showed the Azur Stream Magic 6 network audio player which plays pretty much anything with 24/384 upsampling and is priced at $1149. Cambridge is also shipping two surround receivers shown at CES, the Azur 651R ($1899) and 751R ($2799).
What is it that the Canton Digital Movie soundbar has that no others do? To find out you will have to look closely at the back panel (not pictured, ha). It has a phono input. You read that right, a phono input. That's a set of values we applaud. It also has two optical, two coaxial, and two analog inputs (including phono) as well as two analog outs. On the front are two coaxial tweeter/mid-woofer arrays flanking four more mid-woofers, all aluminum. Look for it in mid-November for $1500.
The Darbee video processor is said to cleanly enhance a video image. Based on what I saw at CEDIA (and based on Kris Deering's review that's available on this site) it does the job surprisingly well. I did notice, however, that if there are artifacts in the source material it will enhance those as well! But the degree of enhancement is adjustable.
The Darbee Fidelio, not yet available, will be a more upscale version of the current Darbee video processor when it ships at a date TBD (the basic Darbee will still be in the line). It is expected to sell for around $2000 and offers not only video enhancement but a touch screen interface, Video EQ, Multiple inputs and modes, and downloadable features.
As lossless surround addicts, we deplore pricey soundbars that don't support HDMI and therefore lack lossless surround compatibility. Definitive Technology does it right with the SoloCinema XTR, as you can see in the picture, with three HDMI ins and one out in addition to optical and analog. The 5.1-channel bar is the first we've heard of to feature the Dolby Volume volume-leveling and low-volume listening mode: a huge plus. Three aluminum tweeters and three pairs of three-inch convex aluminum woofers are under the hood. The outboard sub has an eight-inch woofer in a flat enclosure that can go against a wall or under a sofa, with three spacer feet. In the demo the bar produced surprisingly discernible and well-imaged surround effects to the side and slightly behind the listener. The remote's highly tactile design helps you feel around for the right button in the dark. Product started shipping in small quantities this month but won't hit its stride till October, at $1999.