Though strictly speaking, it was a Friday when we saw the Polk OWM5, a $179 speaker that will tolerate any of nine mounting methods if you speak to it nicely. Let us count the ways: vertical wall mount, horizontal wall mount, vertical shelf mount, horizontal shelf mount, corner mount, horizontal ceiling mount, vertical 45-degree wall mount, vertical corner wall mount, and standard articulating wall mount bracket. There's also an OWM3 which is less versatile, with a mere seven mounting methods.
PSB's SubSeries 500 subwoofer ($2149) propels a 12-inch woven fiber driver into action with a Class H tracking power supply amp rated at 500 watts continuous power, 750 dynamic, and 1500 peak. The combination extruded aluminum and MDF enclosure should be tough enough to stand up to that onslaught of low-frequency vibration. Stop drooling, that's not polite.
The A-shaped Avalon Aspect boasts 92dB efficiency, which should make it compatible with home theater use as long as you're willing to buy five of them -- no complementary center or other models yet. For $8500/pair you get two 7-inch kevlar woofers and a one-inch proprietary neodymium composite tweeter. The latter gets a waveguide-like treatment thanks to a foam structure built into grille. You won't see it unless you pop the grille and look at the underside, as Avalon showed us.
The new Radiance line from Acoustic Energy, one of Britain's finest speaker makers, includes tower, monitor, center, and sub models with varying configurations built around 6.5-inch woofers, 5-inch midranges, and 1-inch tweeters, all aluminum. Thermal management -- that is, letting heat escape -- was a design priority, implemented with a double voice coil that sits both inside and outside the former. The ring radiator tweeter is designed to match direct and reflected sound into a seamless whole. The minimalist crossover uses no resistors. A 5.1 set with towers in the front left and right positions will sell for $6200, while four monitors, center, and sub will go for $4400.
The media server category is growing. Sooloos distinguishes itself by concentrating on its touchscreen interface. You can import iTunes or Windows Media Player libraries, though ripping through Sooloos will allow true gapless playback by encoding each CD as a single long file. The basic configuration holds 2500 CDs though a test version has done up to 100,000. Touchscreen is fanless, therefore totally silent, and suitable for your listening room. Rendering and storage components are separate and can be kept in a closet. You can search with multiple criteria -- jazz, or jazz with Thelonious Monk, or jazz with Thelonious Monk recorded in the 1950s. There's Rhapsody support. Meridian made a wise move by getting involved with these people (and vice versa).
SE2 Labs builds the following items into a single chassis about the size of three desktop PCs sitting close together: Runco video processor, Bryston surround processor, ICEpower amps, Netlinx control system, Transparent Cable powerline conditioner, Xbox 360, iPod dock, Transparent Cable harness, HD DVR (from DirecTV, Dish, or Comcast), powerful but quiet cooling fans, 4.3-inch touchscreen, anti-noise and vibration system, and Super Easy 2 Connect rear panel. Outside the box there's the SE2 RF remote control -- the volume key blushes purple when touched. And then there's the optional stuff: Wadia 170 iPod transport, Apple TV, Blu-ray drive, Nintendo Wii. Doing it all in one box reduces equipment weight from 275 to 110 pounds, custom install hours from 80+ to 2, connections from 330 to 30, and cost from $45,000 to $30,000. Need a remote status report? Just ask the system by email. It has been shipping since last September.
After Tom Hank’s fun snarky intro to Sony’s omnipotence in the electronics and content market, we were treated to Sony’s vision for upcoming products. It started with glasses with a portion of the lens devoted to little video screens. Imagine walking through your real life while watching a picture-in-picture movie.
This company makes some of the best PC speakers and compact systems. In the former category is the Expressionist BASS ($129), a cone-shaped wonder with sub firing out of the bottom. For the bedroom, Altec offers the Moondance GLOW ($179), a clock/radio with pyramid-shaped snooze remote. Finally, inMotion MAX ($199) is the successor to my all-time favorite portable system, the im600, which I own, use daily, and gave my Mom for Christmas. It's iPhone hip -- in other words, shielded from microwave radiation -- so you can keep your iPhone on and take calls while it plays music through the system.
Wireless speaker connection is coming, as an option, to (nearly?) every speaker model in the Pure Acoustics Line -- now that's going wireless. It consists of a receiver mounted in the top of the speaker plus a dome-shaped transmitter. Note that we're not talking about self-powered speakers or room-to-room tranmission, just in-room.
In addition to the new Focus 360, Dynaudio showed the cosmetically matching but smaller 220 II, heir to the original 220. In addition to a makeover that makes it resemble a smaller 360, it’s also got significant upgrades to the crossover and port tuning. Price is $2200/pair, shipping in March.
The Panorama is a $2200 bar speaker from Bowers & Wilkins, one of the world's coolest speaker manufacturers. Available in March, it has distinctive curves at the sides which distinguish it from other bar speakers. Behind the metal grille are two 3.5-inch drivers in the middle, handling the center channel; two 4-inch subs that go down to 40Hz, and at the sides, two pair of 3.5-inch full-range drivers. You'd think the latter would split the front and surrounds channels, but no, each driver mixes the two with some DSP magic. Unlike a lot of bar speakers, this one has three digital inputs (both coax and optical) and two analog ins, and onboard decoding for Dolby Digital, DTS, and Dolby Pro Logic II (but not the new lossless stuff).