Just what the world needs: another wireless music system. Klipsch agrees, which is why it put audio quality first in the high-performance Stadium Music Center debuting at CES. The all-in-one system gets high marks for supporting connectivity via AirPlay, Wi-Fi, DLNA and the CD-quality aptX version of Bluetooth in a package that looks bold and sounds even bolder.
An on-the-fly demo with Red Hot Chili Peppers, featuring Flea’s muscular bass lines front and center, was impressive and had me looking around for a separate subwoofer. Not needed. The ring between the Stadium’s speaker modules joins a pair of 5.25-inch woofers that produce surprisingly deep bass to complement the rich sound delivered by pairs of horn-loaded 1-inch tweeters and 3-inch midrange drivers. The point of the system: You don’t have to sacrifice sound quality for convenience, according to Mark Casavant, senior vice president of product development. He’s not kidding.
Available this summer for $2,000, the system is housed in a brushed-aluminum cabinet with grille covers that come in several lifestyle colors.
Purposely resembling a mini band shell in a nod to the full-size Klipsch Music Center in the company’s home state of Indiana, the smaller Music Center KMC 3 will be available this spring for $400 in several bright colors. The system produces robust sound through a pair of 2-inch drivers and a 5.25-inch woofer, supports aptX Bluetooth and has a USB charging port and auxiliary input on its back panel.
Times change. The once illustrious speaker brands Klipsch, Jamo, and Energy now belong to conglomerate VOXX (along with RCA, AR, and others). This lonely kiosk on the main convention center floor didn't look too encouraging, given the vitality of those brands at past shows. At the Venetian, where most of the audio exhibits are held, things looked slightly better. I'd expect the Klipsch name to be kept relatively sacrosanct, and there were some nice looking Jamo floor-standers on static display. But the Energy Demo was relegated to a modest-looking sound bar.
Texas Instruments, developer of the DLP imaging chips used in many of today’s video projectors, is demonstrating at CES 2013 a new architecture that makes the already minuscule pixels in Pico projectors even smaller. Dubbed Tilt & Roll Pixel, or TRP, the technology is said to double resolution to 1280 x 800 and increase brightness by as much as 30 percent, making it possible to project larger images from ever-smaller projectors (like the one built into Samsung’s Galaxy Beam phone). At the same time, power consumption is reduced by up to 50 percent.
This 21:9, 29-inch may not be just the ticket for that big screen home theater, although it can display 2.35:1 films without black bars. But its primary application will be for a computer monitor, where it can display multiple images at once, including a 4-screen split for multitasking.
This is just one of the images that the LG video wall morphed into. The moving 3D images ranged from the surreal to the fantastic. It was the standout booth entrance at the show. LG provided the passive polarized lens of the 3D glasses over the camera lens.
LG's BH9430PW all in one home theater system may be a bit (OK, more than a bit) less ambitious than some of the components we discuss in this report and review in the pages of Home Theater, but for many folks it's all they think they can afford (which is not always the case). It's said to be a 9.1-channel system, but I saw only 5.1 channels in the demo. The small speaker cones use Kevlar, a material long used in some very high-end speakers. B&W, for example, began using Kevlar for some of its drivers in the mid 1970s. I didn't get to hear the LG system; the demo began with a far too loud (for me and the system) crash, boom, bang action scene and I was out of there like a shot.
I guess it's a toss-up as to who thought of a curved OLED first, but LG's 3D-capable EA9800 (no word on price or availability) looks appropriately cinematic as well. OLEDs are uniquely suited to curved designs, as they're so thin they can be twisted or rolled into forms impossible up to now with other display technologies.
LG's OLED employ 4-color pixels--sort of. The fourth color is white, along with the usual red, green,and blue.
Meridian's first on-wall speakers include the DSP 520 ($5000/each) and DSP 648 ($7000/each). Unlike most in-walls, but like other Meridian speakers, they are self-powered and loaded with DSP magic. They're also built with separate enclosures for the drivers, the electronics, and the back box. Our exclusive closeup shows buttons your installer can use to dedicate the speaker to left, center, or right channel use. Mount Meridian's Media Controller 200 to the back and you can control the system from your iPad.
MK celebrates its 40th anniversary with three new THX-certified subs, all with dual drivers in a push-pull configuration that has the front-firing driver operating in phase and the bottom driver operating out of phase, as shown in the brochure we photographed on our hotel room bed. Each driver is in a separate chamber with electronics in a third one. Driver sizes are reflected in the models numbers: X12 ($3200), X10 ($2600), and X8 ($1900). Rated power is 400 watts RMS and 700 watts peak for the X12, 350-650 for the X10, and 300-600 for the X8. Shipping between February and April depending on model. Fans of the venerable MK 150 might want to given a listen to its new tweeter.
There are loads of compact audio systems with AirPlay and Bluetooth wireless compatibility at CES, but how many of them include Monitor Audio's one-inch gold dome tweeter and four-inch aluminum woofer in a biamped configuration for a mere $500? The Airstream 5300 has wider dispersion than an earlier model, with tweeters pushed to the far sides of the baffle, and it has a threaded insert for wall mounting, a nicety you won't find in many competitors.
When it comes to headphones, for Monster it’s all about fashion with lots of color and style, a parade of headphone-wearing models, celebrity endorsements and marketing—lots of marketing. A host of celebrities—including recording artist and former Prince collaborator Sheila E, boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees—were on hand at Monster’s pre-CES 2013 press event to help Monster introduce a slew of new headphones.
Highlights include the gaming-focused EA Sports MVP Carbon by Monster headphone ($270), featuring proprietary surround processing and available in black or white beginning in February/March; the in-ear ClarityMobile line with three models aimed at business travelers—a $50 model with an in-line microphone and two $70 models—slated to hit stores in April; an angular on-ear addition to the Diesel VEKTR line offered in military green and chrome ($280); three washable iSport in-ear models for the work-out crowd, ranging from $80 to $160; seven on-ear and in-ear DNA models, featuring a triangular ear cups and dual inputs that allow five ‘phones to be connected at once, ranging in price from $130 to $230; new on-ear and in-ear Bluetooth-powered wireless models with noise cancellation for the Nokia Purity line; and the youth-focused N-Pulse headphones, a new addition to the NCredible line developed with Nick Cannon and available in black or white for $200.
Here's a front shot of the Theta Supernova preamp-processor covered in an earlier blog. It should sell for around $10K, just a bit more than half the cost of a fully configured Theta Casablanca. The only open question appears to be if the Supernova will offer the same advanced room correction that will grace the Casablanca. My vote is yes, it should.
Morel's high-performing SoundSpot satellites have a new iteration in the SP3. It has a larger orb with a new 4.5-inch woofer that enables it to perform better at the low end, lowering the formerly 120-150Hz sub crossover to 90dB, so the sub won't have to do so much work (and call so much attention to itself). The Lotus grille pattern makes it acoustically transparent.
The WCS-2 record cleaning machine ($750) was only one of the many worthy and provocative things happening in the Music Hall room at the Venetian. We say provocative because WCS stands for wet clean suck—don't blame us, we're just reporting—and partly because Roy Hall treated us to a monologue about how "I've always told my customers to go **** themselves and I've been successful beyond my wildest dreams." Also shown were prototypes of the forthcoming Ikura turntable which combines a plastic dual plinth with a carbon fiber tonearm and will sell in two versions, one with MDF platter for "$1000-ish," and a step-up model with acrylic platter and different cartridge. But the most provocative thing was the sheer quality of the sound that emerged from a system combining the Music Hall-branded Marimba speakers ($350/pair) and stands ($250/pair), a70.2 integrated amp ($1499 with phono stage), and USB-1 turntable (a mere $250 including Ortofon cartridge). A highly natural vocal treatment combined with a mighty synth bass to produce what was quite simply one of the best audio demos at the show from a system cost that's less than what some audiophiles would spend on cables.
At the CES 2013 NETGEAR press conference, the company announced NeoTV PRIME, a Google TV streaming player that is available now for $129.99. Like other Google TVs, a growing number of apps can be added from the Google Play store. And like other Google TVs, it has global search to find the titles you want whether they are on live TV, streaming Internet services, web pages, or your own media on your home network.
What NETGEAR brings to the PRIME is a full access Chrome web browser. With Flash and HTML 5 plug-ins, it will (theoretically) play videos from any website (though certain websites have blocked Google TV access).
The included two-sided remote has a QWERTY keyboard, appears to be identical to the Vizio's Co-Star Google TV keyboard. The other side has a touchpad mouse control, directional navigation buttons and direct play buttons to immediately access Amazon on Demand, HBO Go, Crackle, Netflix, and YouTube. The YouTube smartphone app will have a "play to Google TV" button to send a video directly to the Google TV YouTube app. There is also a button for MyMedia that brings up the network attached storage (NAS) drives and other DLNA sources including ReadyShare available on NETGEAR routers.