The Harman Kardon AVR 7550HD ($2799) is the one of first surround receivers to feature Dolby Volume, one of the most sophisticated signal manipulation circuits to come along in years. It can take the edge off offensively toppy TV ads and intelligently reduce the dynamics of movie soundtracks, for late-night viewing, without losing intelligibility. Other attractions include 110 watts times seven, internet radio, and of course the full panoply of next-gen surround codecs via HDMI 1.3a.
The Wadia 170 iTransport is the first iPod docking device to coax a digital signal out of the iPod (incidentally, my 82-year-old mom loves hers). Till now the iPod could output only a line-level analog signal to docks. How Wadia managed this is a story yet to be told. The company insists that there is no need to pay a hacker to crack the case –- the 170 is Apple-approved. Price: $379.
Matthew Polk wanted to design the kind of outdoor speakers he would like to use in his own house. One of the more inspired things he came up with is the Atrium Sat30 ($150/each), a teardrop-shaped speaker that can dangle from the eaves or sit on the ground. If rain gets in, I was told, it evaporates.
With the TGM-100 Theater Grand Media Server, Sunfire has added a signal source to its excellent speaker and amp products, so now you can have a complete Sunfire system. The server sucks up DVDs and CDs and stores the content on the TGM-HD6 Theater Grand Hard Drive. Note that the latter, on the bottom, has eight slots. Available drives hold one, three, or six terabytes. Sunfire will explore the Blu-ray angle "when it makes sense."
The brushed nickel plated finish of new Audio Design Associates components immediately grabs the eye. For surround buffs the big news is the PTM-7200 amp with seven channels times 450 watts into four ohms. It's ADA's first Class D product. Mate it with the Cinema Rhapsody Mach IV pre-pro with eight HDMI 1.3 ins and two outs, which incidentally gives it something in common with the new Suite 7.1 HD switcher. No word on pricing yet. Shipping first quarter of 2009.
The Thiel SCS4D is an the IP addressable version of their SCS4 debuted at the last CES. The SCSrD is powered by 250 watts of class-D amplification. The Cat5e cable in the back and the power chord are the only indications that we're not in Kansas anymore.
This is the latest trend in whole house mobility. Face it, you'll be in the kitchen, the den, the bedroom, the bathroom or the garage with your iPod Touch not far from hand. But nobody carries around a remote. Other companies making the iPod Touch part of their tool drawer include SpeakerCraft. The ability is there, why not use it?
The BD1 control center from the Thiel Zoet collaboration is shown here driving multiple Thiel SCS4D speakers. The current version of the controller can only accept optical and coaxial digital signals, and can distribute Dolby Digital and DTS audio as well. However, TrueHD and DTS-HD MA will have to wait for another version (I'm guessing the BD2) that will come out sometime next year.
Like its immediate predecessors, TiVo's latest DVR, the HD XL, has garnered THX certification for video and audio. The whopping 1TB (yes, that's 1 terabyte) hard disc can store up to 150 hours of HD content, and it can be yours for only $600.
With one of the longest model designations in the industry, Epson's new top-of-the-line 1080p projector will be available in two versions—the Pro Cinema 7500 UB (<$5000) and the Home Cinema 6500 UB (<$3000). Both include HQV Reon-VX processing, a purported contrast ratio of 75,000:1, Fujinon lens, and high-speed auto iris. The Pro version includes an extra lamp, ceiling mount, ISF certification, longer warranty, and anamorphic scaling with an optional Panamorph lens. Both should be available in December.
Epson's new step-down 1080p line includes the Pro Cinema 7100 (<$3000) and Home Cinema 6100 ($2000). These do not offer the Ultra Black (UB) technology, so the claimed dynamic aspect ratio is "only" 18,000:1. Otherwise, the similarities and differences between them as much the same as the 7500 UB and 6500 UB.
New from Marantz is the BD7003 Blu-ray player, shown here atop the SR6003 AVR. At $800, it quite pricey for a Profile 1.1 player, though it does play all recordable formats, which many BD players don't. Notice the gently curving facia on both units, an elegant design statement.