Let’s say you have a nice home theater system in one end of the room and a powered subwoofer in the other. Everything sounds nice until you plug the subwoofer into the AC outlet next to it, and, viola, your system is now humming a new tune. Unfortunately, it’s not humming the tune you wanted it to.
The ported cabinet on Leon Speakers’ new A3 Subwoofer is only 4” deep even though it holds an 8” woofer. It can be used as an in-wall, on-wall, or in-room subwoofer and is a great match for the company’s new Horizon 212 single-cabinet LCR that’s only 2” deep. As with all Leon Speakers speakers, the cabinets can be totally customized when it comes to size, finish, color, and etc. The base price of the A3 is $1,195. The Horizon 212 starts at around $1,500.
For my last CES demo of the year, I spent 15 relaxing minutes in Wisdom Audio's suite at the Venetian. The company was showing off its Sage Series of hybrid speakers that use both traditional woofers and thin-film planar magnetic drivers. An outboard system controller handles the electronic crossover between the speaker's different elements, and it performs room correction using Audyssey MultEQ XT technology. The line includes four models ranging from 20 to 75 inches tall, and each speaker is available in a freestanding, in-wall, or on-wall configuration. The demo consisted of various 2- and 5.1-channel music tracks, and the top-of-the-line L75s sounded absolutely fantastic, impressively spacious and dynamic for such thin speakers. After five days of chaos and concepts, this moment served as a tangible reminder of all that we love about home theater.
For one of my last demos of CES2008, I stopped by the Definitive Technology room in the Venetian. There, in addition to showing off the newest Mythos ST speakers, they were putting on demos of the company’s new Solo Surround Array speakers. The SSAs join the growing number of single speaker simul-surround thingees that reduce the multiple speakers of the traditional surround system to one slim one. Of all the slender systems I’ve heard, the Definitive SSA-50 is by far the most impressive, the most surrounding, and the most amazing. Regardless of whether I was standing in the back of the room or in the middle of the room’s “sweet spot”, the effect was stunningly immersive. It certainly won’t replace a full-blown 5.1-channel system, but for the rear-speaker challenged, wire-averse, or stubbornly dcor-driven, this is a single-speaker solution that will make you sit up and listen.
Screen Excellence showed a new LED light kit for use with their screens that provides a 6500 K ambient light glow around the screen frame. I had them turn the lights way up for purposes of taking the picture, but when set at the recommended level it helped make the picture of the $13,500 CineVersum projector used in the demo even more stunning.
Vinyl isn't just for well-heeled audiophiles. If you've got access to some great old LPs, or have been buying Arctic Monkeys 45s, the MMF-2.2 turntable will bring 'em to life for $399. If you're digitally au courant, mate it with the Bellari VP530 phono preamp with tube output stage and USB output as well as conventional stereo-out. At $340 bucks, this thing has got us salivating.
Among the new stuff from Onix, a champion of the budget speaker genre, is the step-up Concerto. Eight hundred a pair will buy you a dual-drive woofer with magnets in front and back. We're betting that when we get to try it, that's going to be some pretty disciplined bass, with the driver starting and stopping on a dime, though of course, that's just speculation at this point. Also new is the X-Statik which puts the tweeter and midrange in an open baffle above the conventionally enclosed woofer. It'll be $699/pair.
The new room correction in Anthem's D2 and D1 pre-pros is billed as the only full commercial implementation of principles developed by Canada's National Research Council 15 years ago in Project Athena. Improved thermal design adds stability--in fact, the model we heard had a lamp sitting on its top vent holes, as you can see.
Alex Thatcher, Senior Product Marketing Manager for HP's Digital TV Solutions Group, shows off the new third-generation MediaSmart 1080p LCD HDTV. The new model has a new look and a noteworthy new feature: a built-in Extender for Windows Media Center, which will make it even easier for users to stream HD video, pictures, and music (wired or wirelessly over 802.11n) from a Vista Premium or Vista Ultimate PC to their HP TV.
Marantz is joining the Blu crew in 2008 as well, with a high-end Blu-ray Disc player, the BD8002. And actually, high-end doesn't even cut it. Marantz is calling this player "ultimate quality" with built-in Silicon Optix processing for superb DVD upconversion, and the press materials indicate internal decoding of both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
We've been waiting for Escient, one of the major names in the music-server market, to offer a true video-server solution. At CEDIA, the company showed off its new Vision Series line of video playback and distribution products, but there was no way to directly import movies from the disc drive to the hard drive. Happily, that issue has now been addressed. Escient is releasing two true video servers/players: The VS-100 sports dual 500GB drivers, and the VS-200 has dual 1TB drives. Then there's big papa, the VX-600 media server, which has four 1TB hard drives. The line also includes the VC-1 networked client, to which you can stream movies, photos, and music stored on the servers over a home network. The Vision Series allows access to the Rhapsody online music service, and the players all have HDMI 1.3 connections and 1080p upconversion. The products certainly aren't cheap -- $3,999 for the VS-100, $5,999 for the VS-200, $7,999 for the VX-600, and $1,999 for the VC-1 -- but they're not as bank-breaking as other video servers on the market. Look for the Vision Series in February.
Phil Jones of American Acoustic Development told us about some of his new speaker lines. The 3000 Series, including the 3003 floorstander ($3900/pair), uses a silver tweeter and ring (as opposed to cone) woofer. Why is the baffle so wide? More forward energy, said Phil. The more modestly priced Vi Series including the Vi410 ($550/pair) has a soft dome tweeter and carbon fiber woofer.