Completing Pioneer's THX story at CEDIA is the newly announced certification of its Elite EX series of architectural speakers. As a result, the company now offers THX-certified products that encompass the entire signal path from Blu-ray player through A/V receiver to speakers.
I blogged about this LED-illuminated DLP projector before the show, but now I've seen a demo, which looked great on a Da-Lite Affinity screen (0.95 gain), even with some ambient light. The LEDs are claimed to have a 100,000-hour lifespan, which corresponds to 12 or 13 years of normal use. Colors looked quite natural thanks to the advanced calibration process that assures an accurate color gamut and grayscale.
The demo of Projectiondesign's 3-chip DLP Helios was mighty impressive on a 2.35:1, 11-foot-wide Da-Lite Affinity screen. The clip was from 10,000 B.C., an eminently forgettable movie that was chosen because it was color-graded on a Projectiondesign projector. The dual-lamp Helios was at its minimum lamp and iris settings to accommodate the screen, which means it can easily fill a screen up to 16 feet wide. Like the Kroma, the Helios produced very natural skin tones and razor-sharp detail.
I hadn't heard of the Quantum before the show. This is Projectiondesign's "entry level" projector, which should be shipping next month for roughly $11,750, depending on the selected lens. It's small but mighty with a 220W UHP lamp and high-quality optics.
After blogging about these in-wall speakers before the show, I was eager to hear them for myself. The demo consisted of some CD selections in 2.1 (using the new SCS subwoofer, about which more in the next post), multichannel audio from DVD concert videos, and a clip from Monsters, Inc. shown on a Screen Research ClearPix2 woven, acoustically transparent screen. The system controller provides Audyssey MultEQ XT and several memories for different setupsmusic, movies, speakers behind a screen or not, etc.and the result sounded great, with deep, clean bass and excellent imaging.
This skinny subwoofer, dubbed the Suitcase Subwoofer (SCS) because of its shape, hardly looks like it can go deep, but it does. Even more surprising is the driver compliment, which consists of two 5x7-inch "woofers" at the mouth of what Wisdom calls a complimentary folded horn. Only the horn's port is visible, and it can be configured to exit the cabinet on the front or either side, making placement very flexible. This serves the company's goal of a sub that can be placed where traditional subs can't, such as behind or under furniture. Power is supplied by a 500W amp, and the list price will be around $4000 when it ships in October.
It is large, as many of us discovered when we walked through it to get to the Omni for preshow events. Atlanta itself is large, spread out, surprisingly hilly, and not walkable. However, I am grateful to finally attend a CEDIA Expo on the east coast. Perhaps Atlanta will grow on me during the next two CEDIAs, which will return here.
Phil Clements, father of H-PAS technology, explains its use in a bar speaker. While Atlantic is studying this prospect, the product shown is pre-H-PAS. It is a seven-channel configuration with three tweeters and two 4x6-inch woofers in the front and two on the sides for surrounds. Channels are shared among the drivers with a triple voice coil structure. A "180-degree feel" is promised.The bar is the FS-7.0. With eight-inch sub, it is the SB-8800 system. Shipping in September for $800 (for the bar) and $300 (for the sub).
This mockup gives an indication of what the production model may look like. However, Atlantic is studying the use of 5.25-inch woofers in lieu of the 4.5-inchers shown here. It may ship in December give or take a month. Atlantic also plans to license the technology to a half-dozen other manufacturers including at least one "super high end" player and various "upper mid-fi" brands, according to Tribeman.
As we previously reported, the H-PAS speaker technology making its debut at Atlantic Technology's off-site exhibit has been one of the most eagerly awaited events of the show. Simply put, this bass-building speaker technology works -- with tympani, bass clarinet, and of course pipe organ. While the midrange was not perfectly balanced, and we were informed that voicing will be tweaked, it was clear that Atlantic is correct in claiming that deep bass episodes don't starve the mids and highs or collapse the soundstage. What makes it work is what Tribeman calls a cascading of well-known speaker design elements such as bass reflex, inverted horn, acoustic suspension, and transmission line. In other words, "it's all in the plumbing" -- the drivers and crossover are nothing special. Credit is due to the inventor, Phil Clements of Solus/Clements. The prototype shown uses a pair of 4.5-inch woofers and is said to be flat down to 30Hz.
A company best known for architectural speakers moves into multizone technology with a vengeance. Nirv is the name the tattooed folks at Speakercraft have given to a system that operates with the 10-button remote pictured here. The remote's got a mic built into it, for home intercom use, and that barely scratches the surface. The concept is to use a single Cat5 cable to send HD video, HD audio, control, data, paging, and voice anywhere in the home. Any zone can be turned into a home theater and grab content from any source in any other zone. The system learns how you use it. Settings follow users from room to room, including parental controls, indicating unseen depths of moral fiber in people with multiple pieces of body art, or maybe it's just Metamucil. An installer can walk the user through setup, and when that's done, an easy repeatable interface takes over. Dealer cost 10 grand. In addition to the Ruckus speakers already reported on, Speakercraft also announced several new in-wall and in-ceiling models, including the AIM 10, a three-way, 10-inch pivoting unit selling for $8250-1125. Oh, and a debut surround receiver was also announced -- the Vital 910 ($1125). This company was always interesting. Now it's fascinating.
Harman Kardon, the first receiver maker to feature Dolby Volume, has added it to three models. That's good news because Dolby Volume will even out level differences among source inputs and make dynamically extreme movie soundtracks less excruciating. The new models start at $600 and 50 watts times seven for the AVR 1600. Step up to the AVR 2600 for $800 and you'll get 65 wpc, Faroudja Torino video processing, and compatibility with the Bridge III (optional) which brings iPod docking and charging. Step further up to the AVR 3600 for $1200 and get 80 wpc with the Bridge III supplied. We hope to get the latter (pictured) for review.
LG Electronics also showed its new ultra thin “Full HD” LED LCD HDTV. The SL90 series, available in 42-inch and 47-inch sizes, features LED lighting with local dimming for a claimed dynamic contrast ratio of 3,000,000:1, a depth of 1.15 inches, extensive calibration capabilities, and TruMotion 120Hz.
LG has brought wireless to some of its new LCD HDTVs. The flagship 55-inch, 55LHX (shown, $4799) offers wireless operation of up to 30 feet between the supplied media box to which the sources are connected (shown on the right in the photo) and the set itself. Just as important for enthusiasts, however, is the set's LED backlighting with local dimming, for a claimed 5,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio.
LG Electronics has just added the high-definition streaming movie service from Vudu, Inc. to its BD390 Wireless Network Blu-ray Player. Vudu offers rental or purchase of a wide range of movie and TV titles, including more than 2,200 in 1080p. The BD390 ($399) currently provides Netflix, Roxio, CinemaNow, and YouTube streaming content as part of its “NetCast Entertainment Access” feature. The Vudu addition will be available later this month (September 2009) as a free player upgrade.