Onkyo's first foray into separates includes the PR-SC5503 surround preamp-processor ($2699), with the up-to-date feature set you'd expect in an Onkyo receiver, and the PA-MC5500 multi-channel power amp. The amp's got nine channels of 150-watt AB amplification, enough to accommodate both height and width channels, and can connect to the pre-pro via XLR. Both about to ship; pre-pro price may be around $2699. Onkyo also showed the BD-SP807 Blu-ray player which boasts Anchor Bay video processing. (And the company plans to introduce its first -- perhaps anyone's first -- HDMI 1.4 receivers this spring, reports TWICE.)
One of the highlights of CEDIA 2009 was Atlantic Technology's announcement of H-PAS technology, which gets subwoofer-worthy bass out of a tower speaker. The prototypes shown then have developed into production models that are about to ship. First to ship will be the 5.25-inch tower; the 4.5-inch version may follow later in the year. With the inevitable pipe organ source material, the demo proved the ability of H-PAS to produce deep true bass sans sub. Phil Clements of Solus/Clements, father of H-PAS technology, weathers the media spotlight with good grace.
Bring together any two people at CES and you'll inevitably hear the question, "What's the coolest thing you've seen so far?" At the moment, my answer is the plug-less Flipower USB Charger from Powertech. Plug-less? Yes. When you're ready to use the Plipower, you slide what looks like a credit-card-thin outlet cover away from the charger. This fits over a standard electrical outlet, and you use another electric device's plug to hold the Flipower in place - getting two-for-one usage from that outlet. Price and availability have yet to be determined, but let's hope it's soon because this thing is really cool.
It's an age old problem. You have a pair of ears. You have a pair of earbuds. Unfortunately, they aren't the same size - and even when the size is about right, the flippin' earbuds are darn uncomfortable to wear for anything longer than a few minutes. You could pay big bucks to have special custom-fit earbud covers made for you personally. Or you could spend $20 (plus shipping) for a set of yurbuds from yurtopia. The company makes 12 sizes of earbud adapters out of surgical silicone. The yurbuds slip over your existing earbuds and channel the sound directly to your ear canal. They're soft and flexible, so they're quite comfortable.
Tunebug's Vibe is a small triangular puck that sits on any flat surface and turns it into a speaker. No, it's not audiophile stuff, but it can sure beat the pants off that teeny speakier in your portable media player or laptop. The Shake does the same thing for bike and skate/snowboard helmets - or any other three-dimensional surface from which you might want to produce sound. Using the Shake on a helmet lets you hear music and the ambient noises around you (potentially keeping you from getting flattened by an oncoming truck).
Gefen's new ToolBox line includes wall-mounted "system integration devices" used for HDMI connectivity and distribution. The new models are designed to be installed on the wall near the gear rather than in a rack. Each unit comes with locking HDMI cables and are available in glossy cream or black. In addition to HDMI splitters and switchers (including matrix switchers), the line will include a wireless HDMI transmitter/receiver package that will extend HDMI signals at 1080p/60 full HD resolution up to 30 feet.
TAD, already one of our favorite speaker manufacturers, now offers both a mono-block amp and a SACD player cum DAC, both priced at $26,500. Stereo amp and preamp are on the drawing board. The final version of the Compact Reference speaker is now shipping for $37,000/pair. A demo with female vocal and piano was startling in its directness, marred only slightly by the sight of the chandelier gently swinging, apparently as a result of a subwoofer on the floor above.
It may not look like much, -- and our limited photographic skills don't help -- but we'll bet a lot of penurious audiophiles will go nuts for Dynaudio's new DM-6, a two-way monitor with 5.5-inch woofer and 1.5-inch fabric tweeter, in black or rosewood vinyl. Other models are now available in attractive black or white gloss finishes.
Tiny projectors - like this one from Microvision - are big this year, although picture size and quality isn't necessarily so. I overheard one presenter say you could project an image up to 200 inches with one of these types of projectors. Technically, I suppose you could send a photon from one of these projectors to Mars, but that doesn't mean it's watchable at that size or distance.
The BLX 200 is not only Anthem's first Blu-ray player but its first source component. Price $799. Also new were two LCOS projectors, the LTX 500V ($8499) and LTX 300V ($5799). The difference between them is that the step-up model has 120Hz refresh and ISF certification. Sister brand Paradigm is now shipping the products we saw four months ago at CEDIA.
I always like going to the NXT suite during CES to see what new things they've cooked up. The three-room suite is filled with a variety of current, brand new, and concept products utilizing NXT's slim and flat transducer technologies. One of the most interesting items was a 2.1 flat-panel TV add-on speaker system from Q Acoustics. The Q-TV2 attaches to the rear of the TV chassis and can be used whether the set is on a stand or wall-mounted. The subwoofer is around an inch thick, and the slender side speakers are mounted on arms that can be adjusted to match the width of the TV. The system accepts analog or digital audio from the TV and has boundary compensation circuitry for use when the system is up against a wall.
Let's say you're playing Rock Band and pretending to be George Harrison. Wouldn't the fantasy be heightened by a speaker resembling a stage monitor at your feet? Polk knows how that feels and responds with the HitMaster, with dual horned tweeters, $100/each. Also shown was a new surround bar (we got our wrist gently slapped for saying sound bar) for $350. "Pro Logic like effects" are promised.
Achromatic is the name of a new line from the venerable (and underrated) Anglo-Chinese brand Wharfedale. In addition to the $399 sat/sub set, the line also includes towers, monitors, and subs. The existing Evo2 ($600-1900, shown) and Opus2 ($1700-5000) lines have been beefed up with aluminum-coated copper wire for better heat dispersion. They continue to have kevlar woofers and soft dome tweeters.
The MPS-2510P active reference monitors from the rejuvenated MK Sound were sounding good, with their dual 5.25-inch woofers, trio of one-inch silk domes, and onboard dual 180-watt amps, one for the woofers and one for the tweeters. Price $2999. The MX-350 dual 12-inch sub ($2299) has improved 400-watt amps for each driver.