I’m convinced that Soundmatters is doing something they shouldn’t be doing. It’s got to be illegal, or at least against the laws of acoustics. The company’s new foxLO is subwoofer that’s not much bigger than an external hard drive. Soundmatters says the $149 foxLO is “the world’s first palm-sized hi-fi subwoofer”. While the industrial design is very cool, that alone wouldn’t warrant giving it a listen. The claim of being “a true hi-fi subwoofer”, however, made me give it a highly skeptical listen - after which I became a true believer. This little 2.5” high x 4.5” wide x 6.3” deep unit incorporates an active woofer with passive radiator and a built-in 25-watt amplifier. And it absolutely rocks in a way that something that small shouldn’t be able to do. The foxLO is expected to be available this Spring.
Griffin’s new smartphone universal remote control uses Bluetooth to send commands to an IR emitter that sits near your home theater system. As a result, the $69.99 Beacon doesn’t require the user to attach any dongles or special transmitters to the phone (something that makes other smartphone remotes a pain in the butt). The IR emitter is battery powered, so it can be placed wherever is most convenient without the need for running a power cable to it. Models are available for both iOS and Android smartphones.
This metal grille has a lotus pattern that is said to be acoustically transparent. You'll find it in Morel's new Sopran tower ($12,000/pair) and Octave 6 ($6500/pair for the tower, $3500/pair for the monitor).
The gorgeous green Focal Diablo Utopia was fed in style by the Devialet D-Premier, winner of a CES 2012 Innovations award. The D-Premier combines the functions of streamer, DAC, preamp, and hybrid amp in a svelte flat form factor. At $16,000 it doesn't come cheap.
GoldenEar Technology continues to produce thoughtful, independent-minded, and well-engineered new products. Pride of place in the company's exhibit went to the Triton Three powered tower, whose 800-watt DSP-enhanced digital amp drives a 5- by 9-inch sub driver, further reinforced by two 6.75- by 8-inch passive radiators. With the top end handled by GoldenEar's signature folded ribbon tweeter and Audio Research electronics, the speaker left the room awash in delicious sound. Another notable debut was the SuperCinema 3D Array soundbar. This LCR bar includes, in triplicate, the folded ribbon and a 4.5-inch woofer. Cancellation of inter-aural crosstalk gives it the ability to sound anywhere from slightly to considerably (almost unnervingly) bigger than the width of the bar itself. Since it's an LCR, factor in the cost of surrounds and sub. Pricing for either one: $999/each. Also shown was the Invisa HTR 7000 in-ceiling speaker, the first product in that genre to include the folded ribbon ($499).
It may have been one of the less dramatic introductions at CES, but Sony's new, lightweight active 3D glasses will be welcomed by those of us with red bumps decorating the bridge of our nose after every 3D movie.
According to the CEA (the Consumer Electronics Association, the CES show-runners) the CES exhibit space covers the equivalent of 34 football fields likely enough to hold all of the NFL playoff games with room left over for the Super Bowl, both this year and next. Sony's booth must be occupying at least two of those fields, with the same dizzying array of new products as in all the big booths, from the sublime to the gadgety. More than a few of those products are mentioned in these pages; for more on several of them, including Sony's Crystal LED technology demonstration, see our video blogs.
JVC demonstrated three of its projectors, the DLA-X30R ($3500), DLA-X70R ($8000), and the DLA-X90R ($12,000). The DLA-X30R was demonstrated in 3D with an anamorphic lens on a 2.35:1 source. The ability of the JVC projectors to do 3D with such an add-on lens new for 2012. Previously, and with some other projectors, the internal processing did not have enough horsepower to handle both 3D and the anamorphic vertical stretch needed for use with an anamorphic lens.
The DLA-X70R was used for a 2.35:1 2D source, but here by using the zoom method to fill the screen (a convenient option here thanks to the lens memories that all three projectors offer. A review of the DLA-X70R is in the works and should appear in our May 2012 issue. Both of these projectors were used on Screen Innovations Black Diamond screens (1.4 gain, 100-inches wide) in a well-darkened space.
The DLA-X90R was demonstrated in JVC's 4K e-Shift theater on a 150-inch diagonal (about 130-inches wide) Stewart DT Reflection screen (gain 1.7). the images were stunningly vivid, and the demo all too brief!
The entry point for the LG booth (why do they call them booths when they’re more like stadiums?) was perhaps the knockout of the show, with dozens of LG flat panel displays arrayed in a video wall displaying a stunning loop of 3D images. And because LG is using passive glasses in all of its LCDs, it was able to show 3D not only on these screens but on most of the screens in their booth as well, providing either regular or clip-on passive glasses to all comers.
Although it was first introduced at CEDIA last September, I missed seeing the Mitsubishi HC-7800D DLP projector at that show. This 3D-capable single-chip model uses IR-sync'd active glasses that boast a much shorter inter-eye blackout time (when both lenses are closed) than most active glasses0.2 milliseconds compared with about 3mswhich means they let more light through for a brighter 3D image. The HC-7800D provides 2D-to-3D conversion and vertical lens shift with manual zoom and focus. It is available now for $3000, including the IR emitter but no glasses (except now through the end of February, when you get one pair in a special promotionwhich is a good deal, since the glasses cost $200 each!).
I saw a demo on a 110-inch (diagonal) Vutec Silver Star screen using a clip from Yogi Bear, an awful movie that nonetheless has great 3D, and it looked quite good with no discernable crosstalk. But even with the reduced inter-eye blackout time, the image was still pretty dim.
Giant flat panels, 4K, and 8K weren't the only stories at the Sharp booth, though they did grab all the attentionand real estate. Sitting on static display was the new XV-Z30000 single-chip DLP projector, which provides 3D capabilities with IR-sync'd active glasses (two pairs and the emitter are included, extras are $100 each) that are compatible with Sharp's 3D flat panels and offer the ability to watch 3D content in 2D for those who don't enjoy the stereoscopic experience. Unlike the XV-Z17000 (reviewed here), the Z30000 has a center-mounted, long-throw lens with horizontal and vertical lens shift and motorized focus and zoom. It should be shipping in February for $4500.