SE2 Labs has what is most likely the ultimate HTiB. It looks like an expensive espresso machine, but there's so much audio/video goodness inside this beautiful box that the approximately $20,000 price tag seems dirt cheap. Seriously, these guys have put just about everything you'd ever want in terms of high-end home theater gear and capabilities into one extremely well-machined chassis. All you need to add are speakers and an HDTV.
Omnimount isn't happy with just hanging things on the wall any more. This new pro-style equipment rack will retail for $999 with other versions to come soon. It's sturdy. The shelves are adjustable. It makes your system look neat and tidy. What more could you want?
The Klipsch folk have decided they want to horn in on the earphone business with models starting at around $99, one of which is supposed to be the smallest in-ear model on the market. Oh, and to the dude who stole the iPhone that was part of this display, you are definitely not cool.
The DMC 1000 media server is out in a new version (or will be in October or November) with four independent zones, a 250GB hard drive to complement the DVD/CD drive, 1080p processing, cooler cosmetics, and the ability to be commanded by a Palm Pilot. Got $3499?
Four new Escient media servers, including the VS-100 ($3999), now handle DVDs. You can also get paid downloads from Rhapsody and other outfits, run a photo show, and bask in the new user interface. A media server has to be copy-protection-savvy to transfer disc content to its hard drive, so Escient follows with interest the legal woes of Kaleidescape, whose own DVD server has sparked litigation by the studio-dominated DVD Copy Control Association.
The Azur 340R surround receiver (center, $679) is a third-generation product from Cambridge Audio. It delivers 50 watts times five with two HDMI-in and one out (video switching only). Oh, and Cambridge is now offering a turntable!
The bad news is that none of four new receivers have on-board decoding for the new lossless and other Dolby and DTS codecs. The good news is that modular construction will allow updates for this issue, in perhaps a year, and others that may arise. If you don't plan to buy a Blu-ray or HD DVD player soon, and prize NAD's consistent performance and high value, one of these new kids may be the receiver for you. They include the T 785, shown, $2999; T 775, $2499; T 765, $1999; and T 755, $1299.
The Integra DTC-9.8 surround pre-pro is THX Ultra2-certified and features both the HQV Reon-VX video processor and advanced Audyssey auto setup and room EQ. Now available for $1600. Not as photogenic but possibly more exciting is the DHS-8.8 HD DVD player, the high-endish class act of the format for $1100 (November). Also saw the DSR-4.8 2.1-channel SACD/DVD-receiver, with 50 watts times two, and the DTR-8.8 receiver, with 140 watts times seven, built-in HD Radio, and several key features of the pre-pro ($2400, November).
Among four new receivers from Marantz is the top-line SR8002 ($2450). Like several new receivers at the show, it includes on-board decoding for Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, and both versions of DTS-HD--a trend of which we approve! Look for it in October.
Pioneer's new top-line receiver is the SC-09TX with 200 times seven watts of energy-efficient Class D ICEpower amplification and cool front-panel color LCD in lieu of the usual boring fluorescent display. It'll cost seven grand. Of course it has on-board decoding for Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, etc. Also new are three other models: VSX-94TXH ($1600), VSX-92TXH ($1300), and VSX-91TXH ($1000). And then there's the X-Z9 system ($1799), with SACD drive, PC streaming via Cat5, and specially designed speakers.
Every five years or so it always looks like 3D TV is ready to take the big leap from cheese to prime time. This time, though, it really does look like truly watchable, enjoyable 3D TV is just around the corner. Not more than 100 yards from one another, TI and Mitsubishi showed demonstrations of 3D TV technology using shutter-style glasses synched by infrared emitters. Both demos including original 3D material as well as 2D video that had been "upconverted" to 3D. The calibre of the 3D images varied depending on the subject material and the company doing the conversion. Mitsubishi and Samsung are going to be offering 3D-upgradeable DLP rear-pro sets now or in the very near future.
Aerial prez and designer Michael Kelly stands next to a version of his company's impressive System 1. it's shown here for the first time with a 2.35:1 screen, which may be flat or curved, masked or unmasked.
I was impressed, and surprised, by the quality of the image that Meridian's iRIS produced on a modestly sized, flat panel screen. More than a simple iPOD dock, this $400 jewel upconverts the low rez image on a video iPod to 1080p, cleans it up in various ways, and outputs it to your HDTV. No, it's not high def, or even DVD-quality, but it was way better than VHS and more than watchable. Two other nearby screens also showed different program material (animation and TV-based) but they weren't as impressive as this one. If the color balance looks a bit whacked in the photo, it wasn't the demo, but rather my hurried attempts at color correction. The untouched, available light photo was badly skewed by the lighting in the convention center.
Every show has a surprise, and for me CEDIA's 2007 surprise was the demo I saw from the St. John Group, the importer/distributor perhaps best known for handling the Cabasse line of loudspeakers. This group has picked up Screen Research for distribution, and now has a projector line to shine on those screens: CineVERSUM.