If you look at the back of NAD's new T787 AV Surround Sound Receiver ($3499) you'll see the plug-in modules that make the 120 WPC x 7 unit amenable to future upgrading. As delivered it includes the latest digital video, HDMI, and audio modules. A Control4 Director Series Module is an option. The T187 AV Preamp Processor ($2499) is similarly equipped.
Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems showed its new $42,000/pair Momentum monoblock amps, shown here with the Wilson Audio Sashas, dCS Puccini SACD playback system, Weiss Firewire to coaxial digital converter, and high-rez music from a Mac laptop that together teamed up with them to produce one of the best sounding rooms at the show.
Quality home theater demos were thin on the ground anywhere at CES, but particularly rare in the Venetian hotel. This is the venue for high performance audio, which for far too many audiophiles does not leave room for either multichannel music or any combination of audio and video. But the Wolf Cinema room was an exception, combining the $25,000 Wolf DCL-200FD LED-lit DLP projector with an ISCO anamorphic lens ($10,000) on a 120" wide, 2.35:1 screen. The latter was said to be a 1.4-gain Screen Innovations design, but I need to check up on that, as the only 1.4-gain screen listed in SI's brochure is the dark gray, Black Diamond HD. The speakers were from the Sonus Faber Toy series, together with three T-1 REL subwoofers. The result was exceptional video and audio, even if the former cost several times the latter. The pre-pro was a Primare, no longer distributed in the US by Sumiko (Sumiko distributes Wolf projectors).
At $700/pair, PSB's Imagine Mini (second from left, on stand) may turn some heads. It did not have any deep bass, but was clean as far down as it went, and even when played loud (though not unreasonably loud) did not fall to pieces. With a good subwoofer, five of them plus a spare (unfortunately they are sold only in pairs), or four with an Imagine center, could make for a sweet, small room home theater setup.
The new Speaker Box 5 from Project (the turntable people) sounded ridiculously dynamic for such a tiny feller. Distributed by Sumiko, they will sell for $400/pair in a variety of colors, such as this fire engine red. The electronics shown here are not included!
Xbox Kinect users already know how cool it is to use motion control. PrimeSense, the folks who developed the technology behind the Kinect, are now actively licensing it to other companies and hope to have it built in to TVs in the near future. Computer maker, Asus, will be the first computer company to develop a product that will allow you to stream content from your PC to your TV and control it using hand gestures.
I thought I’d seen just about every variation of an iPod case by now, but a quick walk-through of the section of CES devoted to all things iPod brought me to this booth. Beaheadcase has combined a bottle opener with an iPod case because you never know when you might be using your iPod and need to open a bottle of beer. Just remember, don’t drink and download.
There are quite a few add-on devices that will turn your iPod touch into a remote control, but most of them are cumbersome or require some sort of obtrusive dongel. The most interesting one I’ve found so far is the Surc, which is an iPhone case with a built-in IR emitter. The case isn’t much larger than the iPhone itself, and it’s easily removable if you only want to use it at home. A free app is available that lets you customize the remote by adding in remote control code sets already in the Surc database – or you can teach the remote codes that aren’t yet available. Multiple rooms and macros can be easily programmed into the iPhone/Surc combo in minutes. It’s extremely easy to set up, and the UI is configurable (buttons can be moved, added, or removed). Availability is targeted for early 2011 with pricing yet to be determined. Surc cases for the iPod touch and iPad are in development. You can learn more at www.getsurc.com.
Focal showed off a new multimedia speaker system called the XS Book. The system consists of a powered speaker (2 x 20 watts) that takes an analog audio output from your computer. A speaker cable is then run from the amp in the first speaker to the companion speaker. Even though the system doesn’t include a subwoofer, Focal claims a frequency response of 50 Hz to 22 kHz, which is very believable based on what I heard during a demo at Focal’s suite in the Mirage. In fact, these speakers are good enough to be used as main bookshelf audio or TV speakers in a small room. They’re compatible with Omnimount brackets for on-wall mounting. Pricing is expected to be $399.