On-wall bipole speakers are usually mounted at head-height and are therefore dangerous obstacles for movie watchers who get up to go to the bathroom in a darkened home theater. (Talk about being able to feel the surround effects!) Sunfire’s new on-wall bipole speaker features the company’s Cinema Ribbon high frequency drivers and a Tweeter Shaping circuit that allows the installer to tailor the high frequency output without affecting the crossover relationship between the Cinema Ribbons and the cone woofer. In addition to being the only on-wall ribbon bipole speaker available, the new CRM-21BP is one of the slimmest on-wall bipoles – only 3 5/8” deep.
Do we detect an extra spring in Thiel's step? The revered but staid speaker maker suddenly let fly with THIELnet, which retrofits existing speaker and sub models for the networked present and future. Using wireless technology from Bicon, better known in the telco industry, THIELnet offers either wireless or ethernet connections from either 5.1-channel or multiple stereo sources. The newly renovated models include the SCS4D stand-mount speaker (based on the SCS4) and the SS1D sub (based on the SS1). You go, Thiel.
No one, and we mean no one, has been doing room correction longer or better than TacT. But unlike a lot of other manufacturers of high-end surround preamp-processors, TacT has been quick to adopt HDMI 1.3, so the new TCS pre-pro can handle Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, etc. Each of 12 channels may be configured as a main or sub channel. The ICS (Internet Correction Services) feature will let you upload your settings to the web where they may be analyzed or stored. The before-and-after demo revealed a better focused (but not as warm) sound in the after part. The product will ship in February for 15 grand.
The best truly tiny satellite we've ever heard is the One|Sound Model 2.2 from CDT Audio. Mounted to the wall, the two-inch mid-tweeter handled everything above 200Hz with confidence and ease--we actually thought, at first, that the surprisingly coherent sound came from larger models sitting below. To really show how small these things are, we started pulling stuff out of our pockets to indicate scale. We're guessing CDT will do well by appealing to the existing audience for the almost equally small Bose Jewel Cubes--which are sold only as part of an integrated system and thus operate at a competitive disadvantage.
Totem Acoustic enters its third decade with a 20th anniversary version of the venerable model known as The One. The stand-mount monitor features a new crossover, platinum speaker terminals, and redesigned drivers. Exhibited with always-fabulous Naim electronics, this was the best sound I heard at the show, with an up-close laser-like focus that turned a guitar pick scraping steel strings into a revelation. Plenty of woody guitar-body midrange detail too. And the depth, oh, the depth. The price is $3595/pair, you can buy a surround configuration if you want, and act now because only 2000 pairs will be made.
In fact, these glass-enclosed speakers work amazingly well. The advantages of glass are high density, rigidity, and (with the aid of a damping chamber behind the drivers) "no vibrations," presumably meaning none of the bad kind. Warmth, depth, and solid controlled bass were what I heard and quite liked. Waterfall will also offer on-walls when the French manufacturer gets its U.S. distribution nailed down, which should happen any minute now.
Olevia will be adding 120 Hz technology to many of the models in this year's line of 1080p LCDs, so their booth is filled with demonstrations of the technology's potential benefits. There aren't a lot of specifics available about the new line just yet, but the first 120 Hz models are expected to be released around April, with more models coming later in the year. Olevia also announced that they've teamed up with Universal Electronics to offer the Taurus RC-LRN learning universal remote with some of this year's new models.
Nestled among Ion's various USB turntable offerings was this different spin on analog-to-digital conversion: The TAPE 2 PC copies old audiocassettes to MP3s, and even grabs track names off the internet via Gracenote MusicID. So all of you erstwhile Walkman enthusiasts (and we are legion) can now transport your library into the 21st century without breaking the bank on hundreds of Duran Duran and Rick Springfield downloads.
Far from the madding convention center, Dolby provided A-B comparisons of their new Dolby Contrast technology, part of their HDR ("High Dynamic Range") tech family. The interesting part is that it is a video technology, for adjusting the range of dark to light in the LED backlighting of LCD TVs. By precisely dimming the right area of the screen at the right time, contrast can be heightened as never before, for a very film-like effect. (As the exciting screen image suggests, Blu-ray and DVD playback will both benefit.)
Ah, the splendor of the high-end table radio. SoundWorks i765 is a fab-sounding 2.1-channel system with built-in DVD/CD player plus a radio with improved AM and FM tuners over all previous models. It also now docks, charges, and provides video pass-through for all of the latest iPods, which allegedly is a very complicated affair.
Didn't I cover the world's thinnest LCD yesterday? That was Hitachi. This is JVC, which is also showing off a new LCD that measures just 1.5 inches deep…mostly. As the company puts it, "across most of its width [the cabinet] measures a mere 1.5 inches deep, with a maximum depth of just 2.9 inches at the panel's center." Why is it deeper at the center? One reason is because, unlike the Hitachi LCDs, these new models have integrated tuners. The new line will include two models, the 42-inch LT-42SL89 and 46-inch LT-46SL89, both of which are 1080p. The estimated release date is early this summer, with no pricing announced.
Okay, by "the end of wires" I'm not referring to the terminations, silly, rather the conclusion of the wired era. Audiovox is showing off an assortment of wireless loudspeakers, a wireless suboofer (with a nifty, decor-friendly faux chest to conceal it!), and even a kit that will turn ANY pair of speakers wireless. Noise levels in the Main Hall were such that I cannot comment on sound quality, but listen up, cables: You've been given notice!
Westinghouse's new TX Series of 1080p LCDs includes 42-, 47-, and 52-inch models, all of which allow you to output 1080p through all HD-capable connections, including component video. The series' release date is listed as March 2008, and prices are expected to range from $1199 to $2499. The 47-inch model will be offered in both a standard 60 Hz model and in a 120 Hz option. The company is also releasing a full complement of 720p panels at lower price points.
Somehow we've spent the past two years failing to notice Avalon's first and still only home theater speaker package, the Evolution, at around $5000 for a 5.1-channel configuration. Efficiency is HT-worthy at 90dB and the tweeter is a super-cool Avalon-made aluminum-ceramic composite dome mated with Kevlar woofer.