JBL showed, but did not demonstrate, its new Studio 5 series. Intriguingly styled, with the tweeter horn cleverly incorporated into the cabinet structure, it consists of 5 models: the Studio 530 bookshelf ($689/pr), the Studio 580 tower with dual 6.5-inch woofers ($899 each), the Studio 590 with dual 8-inch woofers ($1119 each), the Studio 520C center, and the Studio 550P sub ($689).
The new Polk LSiM flagship lineup was mentioned in an earlier blog, but here's a shot of the whole family, from the top of the line LSiM 707 floorstanders ($4000/pr) on down to the two different center channels speakers (both of them 3-ways). This range was announced and first shown as last year's CEDIA, but production has been much delayed (see below for one reason why!). But they are now ready to ship. We're anticipating a review system real soon now.
Harman announced and demonstrated a new audio processing format called QuantumLogic. Extremely complex, what it offers, on both the recording and playback end, is the ability to manipulate the signal in unprecedented ways. For example, it can isolate a solo singer, or just the orchestra, or even just the ambience, and process and move it around in the sound field in almost any way the user (or the recording engineer) desires. The extraction process is nearly total. The process provides extreme flexibility for enhancing (or, it must be said, compromising) the sound, again either on recording or playback. You'll be hearing a lot more about it both here and elsewhere in the future.
The first product to include QuantumLogic will be Lexicon's new MP-20 Media Processor. It has also been implemented in a Ferrari which was on display on the show floor, but that's hardly a mass market item (nor is the five-figure processor!).
You might want to start looking around for a great set of speaker stands (the ones GoldenEar Technology used were filled with sand and lead shot) or upgrade the shelving on your bookcase/wall because the new Aon 2 and Aon 3 from GoldenEar Technology are so f’superb they demand something extra f’special underneath them. The new Aons will catch your eye from the start thanks to their “truncated pyramidal construction” which results in a speaker cabinet that not only looks good but is also integral to the sound quality due to the absence of parallel cabinet walls and minimal front baffle area. Like the mind-blowing Triton Two towers from GoldenEar, the Aons incorporate the same High Velocity Folded Ribbon (HVFR) high-frequency driver. Each Aon model also has two side-mounted planar low-frequency radiators (8-inch in the Aon 3 and 6-inch in the Aon 2). The result of the way these drivers couple with the room, the Aon 3 (that’s the model I spent some time listening to) had an f’incredible amount of bass output. These speakers are sure to make some noise when they start shipping later this year for $399/each (Aon 2) and $499/each (Aon 3).
The new Lexicon MP-20 Media Processor is not yet shipping, but promises to be killer, both for your home theater and your bank account (the exact price has not yet been announced, but should be somewhere south--but not too far south--of $20,000). It incorporates Harman's new QuantumLogic audio processing (more on this below), 12.4 channels, 192/24-bit audio resolution, 8 HDMI 1.4a inputs, 1080p video scaling, a large front panel screen interface with soft buttons for selection the desired options, auto calibration and room EQ, and more.
Sound control company Auralex brought examples of the company’s HD Cinema Series of absorption panels that not only seriously improve the sound quality of your home theater room – they can seriously improve the looks of your room, too. The panels come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors; so you can mix and match panels to come up with your own unique look. Panels start at $255/each.
Robert Deutsch very favorably reviewed the Focal Chorus 826W Anniversary Editiion late last year in Stereophile. Now there's an entire new Chorus W lineup (the W stands for the incorporation of Focal's sandwich cone material into the line--the standard Chorus models do not have this). The 826W ($3495/pr) is the second from the left in the photo. New are the bigger 836W ($4195/pr), the 807W bookshelves ($1495/pr), the CC800W center ($795) and the SW800W subwoofer ($1595).
The new Martin Logan Montis ($10,000/pair) was producing compelling music in one of the shows isolated (sort of) sound rooms, ably assisted by a pair of humongous McIntosh amps (for newbies, that's a "tosh" without the "a" and without the iPod).
Panasonic was demonstrating its new PT-AE7000 3D projector ($3500) on a 100-inch (diagonal) Joe Kane Affinity screen (gain 1.1) from Da-Lite. Granted that the 3D program material was all animated, which is almost always impressive on a video display, it nevertheless looked superb. The trailers from Toy Story 3, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast all had me salivating for the full releases (scheduled for October--at least for the latter two). It was interesting to see that the 3D re-processing of the older hand drawn animation on Lion KIng and Beastlooked very good, with a minimum of the layered cardboard cutout effect. Kudos here to both Disney and Panasonic.
Wireless HDMI was a common theme at CEDIA. DVDO's offering in this regard is AirHD, which uses the 60GHz WirelessHD system. It can convey up to 1080p/60 and 3D up to 30 meters within a room, but not from one room to another. A package with one transmitter (seen here on the right) and one receiver will go for $129 when it ships in November. The booth demo included an Epson projector with a built-in receiver.
The popular Edge video switcher/processor from DVDO is now greener thanks to lower power consumption than the previous generation. It provides five HDMI inputs and four analog-video inputs with five audio inputs and two HDMI outputsone A/V and the other audio-only for an AVR or pre/pro. As before, it upscales all inputs to 1080p and cleans up all sorts of video problems. It's shipping now for $499.
DVDO was demonstrating a prototype technology from parent company Silicon Image in the form of a 6-in/2-out HDMI matrix switcher. The important features include InstaPort, which allows switching inputs in less than a second because all ports are active all the time, and InstaPrevue, which displays PIP insets from all inputs as seen in this photo, letting you select the input you want based on the content. No pricing or availability was revealed.
THX has been talking about its Media Director technology for some time, but it's finally being introduced to the marketplace. Media Director embeds metadata in the content itself, describing how the content was created and how it should be rendered in order to preserve the creator's artistic intent and assure optimal presentation. To do so, the so-called content descriptors are created along with the content and remain associated with it all the way to the end user's display and audio system, which automatically adjust their settings for optimal playback, offsetting the calibrated settings as needed for that content only.
The first Blu-rays to include Media Director metadata are the new Star Wars discs, but other studios are ramping up to include it in their new releases. On the hardware side, the first player to have Media Director capabilities is the Dune HD Blu-ray/media streamer from HDI Dune (yeah, I had never heard of them, either). As you can see in the photo above, it was implemented in a Sharp Elite TV at the THX booth, and it will be part of the 2012 Sharp Elites. In fact, starting in 2012, products that hope to be THX-certified must include Media Director functionality.