Okay, we couldn't hear a real demo because the show sample wasn't treated as kindly as it should have been on the trip to New York, but the ZVOX 425 looked nice, anyway. It's a "single-cabinet home theater system" that's five inches deep, mounts on the wall, has a built-in amplifier, five speakers, two powered subwoofers (yeah, that's right, two powered subwoofers in a five-inch deep cabinet that hangs on the wall), and virtual surround circuitry. The subwoofers are side-firing to help eliminate wall vibrations. The box is filled with five 3.25-inch full-range speakers and two 4-inch subwoofers. There's no digital input - it's designed to accept the stereo audio (or headphone jack) output from a TV and use the source material's encoded Dolby Pro Logic signal. As a result, says ZVOX, it's less expensive and there's no "digital weirdness". ZVOX says the 425 is the perfect ticket for people who are painfully afraid of wires and want a simple system they can hang on the wall under their plasma/LCD panel TV and pretend they have true home theater. The total size is 37" W x 7" H x 5" D. Price is $599.99.
This is not a picture of the DCM Cinema package. It's more of a sat/sub kind of thing. But I saw a picture of it and for $399 it's intriguing, especially given the company's stated policy of timbre-matching every model to every other model, no exceptions, period. Look for a review soon.
Le Sphère from Cabasse was warm and natural with the sweet midrange of choral music and most impressive with the deep pitches of pipe organ. Bel Canto electronics clearly helped. Still, I couldn't get over the feeling of being watched. Pricing not announced; expect something stratospheric.
Andrew Lipinski makes last-minute adjustments to a surround system based on the L-707 stand-mount horned speaker with amplification built into the stand. It sounded big and transparent, with effortless bass, and for $35,035 it had better be. The company will soon replace another manufacturer's external sub amp with its own.
The picture doesn't do it justice, but Logitech's $299 Squeezebox wins the prize here for the coolest looking display on a product. You can pick other display layouts, but the one with the digitally simulated analog VU meters dancing back and forth warms my cockles. (And let me tell you, they've been pretty cold lately...) The fact that it's a great device to use to propagate digital music throughout the house doesn't hurt, either. The $2,000 Transporter (the Squeezebox's audiophile big brother) was in the next room, but I was afraid to get too close for fear I'd like it too much and have to buy one.
I remember my first audio / video trade show. Chicago, June 1995, the last official summer CES. I arrived at O'Hare mid-afternoon and made my way to the Palmer House, a grand old hotel where the show would take place. The lobby was huge, enormous and, as I would come to find, the place where journalists, manufacturers and their PR firms would come together each evening to conspire over cigars and cognac, with the manufacturers or their agents, naturally, picking up the tab.
Yes, as a matter of fact all the news coming in for the next few days will be ground into show Blog fodder, including this. Marantz isn't among the exhibitors here at HE 2007 and I don't know if anyone will be using the VP-11S1 for demonstration. Nevertheless, the projector is getting a running change in production to HDMI 1.3, but the retail price will remain fixed at $20K. Deep Color and 12-bit color depth are being touted, but don't get too excited about that yet. Consumer HD sources aren't using either currently. Marantz will be offering upgrades to existing VP-11S1 owners (like me), but pricing for that isn't established yet. While I won't be jumping in for the Deep Color, my experience switching among the different species of HDMI suggests that as everything else moves to 1.3-spec that switching issues might be minimized being 1.3 all the way around. Stay tuned on that one- if Marantz talks me into upgrading my 11S1 I'll let you know what that gets me!
Come September Outlaw Audio will offer this new LCR speaker, shown here by Outlaw's Peter Tribeman. It's appropriately named the Outlaw LCR Speaker ($700 each) and uses two of the same 5.25" woofer-midranges found in the Outlaw Bookshelf Speaker plus the 1" silk-dome tweeter. It will offer a three-position boundary switch (Off, -2dB, -4dB) to compensate for near-wall or atop-TV positioning
Outlaw has also jumped into the full-range speaker business with its recently introduced Outlaw Bookshelf Speaker ($1000/pair (in black, $1100/pair in cherry, available now). It employs a 5.25" woofer-midrange and 1" silk-dome tweeter, both of them sourced from an unnamed but well-known Scandinavian driver manufacturer. The Bookshelf is shown here with the new Outlaw LCR Speaker. More on the LCR in the following report.
While the new Outlaw speakers use imported parts, they are assembled and tested in the U.S. (If you're wondering, the model designations are simply the Outlaw Bookshelf Speaker and the Outlaw LCR Speaker. Like all Outlaw products, they are available only on-line.)
Outlaw Audio has an impressive home theater demo at HE2007. The five 8200e THX Ultra 2 speakers are from Atlantic Technology, as are the two side-mounted dipole surrounds that fill out the 7.1-channel system. The projector is ProjectionDesign's premier single-chip DLP with an anamorphic lens filling a 2.35:1 Screen Research acoustically transparent screen. The source is a Sony Blu-ray player and the program material is a scene from Vertical Limit (yes, that scene).
I've got to hand it to Nicoll Public Relations. Not only do they represent a lot of our favorite manufacturers, like Meridian, B&W, and Silicon Optix, they're also responsible for supporting the press during our Home Entertainment shows, and YES, that basically means feeding us.
Murphy's got this law, see? When you only have one working prototype of your new product, but you go ahead and set yourself to be the first press event for a room full of just fed journalists who are eager to hear or see something exciting, well then, you can rest assured knowing your prototype will crap out. That's what happened at 10 AM when the ZVOX 450 ZBIT the ZDUST just before the press arrived. Someone said it was a Bill Gates moment.
Outlaw has a new LCR speaker in development. Using the ubiquitous two-woof one-tweet arrangement found on many affordable designs, this new LCR comes with a twist. There are two crossovers in the box, one optimized for a vertical left / right stance, the other for a center channel stance. The latter minimizes comb filtering, the bane of horizontal arrayed two way center channels. The switch to "switch" between the two crossover is on the back.
The soothing sounds of Frank Sinatra singing "What's New" (CD, originally a Capitol Records recording) were a welcome treat in the BAT / Wilson room. A pair of Watt Puppy 8 speakers sounded as smooth and inviting as the pair I heard in Denver last September, telling me the new, kindler, gentler Wilson wasn't a figment of my imagination. The BAT Rex preamp uses 18 tubes and fed dual 150SE tube monoblocks. Jeff Pour of Balanced Audio Technology turned off the house lights so we couldn't leave.