Just what the world needs, another A/V receiver, I thought as I approached the Sherbourn booth. But the new SR-8100 (7 x 80 watts) and SR-8200 (7 x 125 watts) receivers---the company's first---have a refreshingly uncluttered look and low-profile design, support Bluetooth streaming and are covered by a generous 10-year warranty. Other goodies include multiple HDMI 1.4 inputs (seven and four, respectively), automatic room correction and an audiophile-oriented Class AB amplifier section. The $999 SR-8100 is expected to be available by the end of the year while the $1,999 SR-8200 is slated to ship in early 2013.
Mozaex founder Douglas Kihm has been thinking about building a pair of super headphones since he was a kid, a dream he has finally realized with the BluWavs, which he is billing as the "world's first 7.1 discrete HD headphones." Each of the bulbous earcups contains five mini drivers, including what he calls a "vibration subwoofer" that literally shakes your head for a tactile experience. Each set of headphones comes with the Blender Console, which looks like a '70s-era equalizer and is available in analog and digital versions. In addition to a 15-band EQ for the front L/R channels, the blender has discrete level controls for each channel so you can really screw up...er, personalize the sound.
The 7.1-channel surround field was impressive while listening to DTS HD Master versions of the soundtrack for Tron Legacy, Peter Gabriel's Growing Up Live and Omar Hakim's Listen Up live jazz jam. Package prices range from $1,295 to $2,595, depending on the version of the Blender.
What’s not to love about a leather recliner with diamond stitching, a built-in cup holder for your brewski and an optional LaunchPort swivel-base that holds and charges your iPad? Your biggest challenge will be to not fall asleep during the big game. Best part: You can position the motorized backrest and footrest from a smartphone/tablet or home automation control panel from Crestron, AMX, Control4, Savant and others. Available for $5,500-$6,000 apiece with or without the stitching.
Arthur C. Clarke famously said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Some of the automation systems on display at CEDIA are so technologically advanced that they certainly do seem like magic. But not far from the convention center, I found a clue to what’s really going on. If there’s an entire area just for elves to park their cars, what other fantastical creatures might be working behind the scenes? Leprechauns? Fairies? Now I understand why so many of the presenters talk about using wizards to program their systems.
Crimson AV primarily makes mounts for big flat-panel TVs and projectors. And while I was impressed by the company’s attention to even the smallest details of the largest mounts, one of Crimson AV’s smallest devices was getting the largest attention. The $39.95 pocket-eAzl is a cleverly designed stand for iPads and other tablets that folds up into a small brick-like package that’s about the height and depth of an iPhone but only half the width, so it easily fits in a shirt, pants, or jacket pocket when not in use.
Antennas Direct is really into antennas. That’s all they seem to want to talk about, which is not surprising since antennas are what the company makes. However, they may have gone too far with this prototype antenna for the person who likes to watch TV while cruising down the highway in his sidecar motorcycle. So far no one seems to make a mount suitable for use to install one of Sony’s new 84-inch 4K flat panels in the sidecar.
TV bling? Who knew. Séura, the master of TVs that morph into mirrors and mirrors that turn into TVs, is showcasing the Crystal Frame Vanishing Television Mirror at CEDIA Expo. Incredibly, all that glitters around that 55-inch screen is not gold but a gazillion tiny Swarovski crystals. Really. How much will Crystal set you back? How's $16,500 sound? Séura offers more than 100 vanishing TV options with screens ranging in size from 10 to 75 inches with prices from $2,000 to $35,000.
The company is also introducing the Storm 1080p outdoor television with LuminOptics technology, which is said to ensure a bright, clear picture even on those sunny days when you're lounging poolside. Highlights include an anti-reflective tempered safety glass cover, an airflow system to control moisture brought about by extreme changes in temperature, an O-ring system that keeps water and other contaminants at bay, aircraft-grade aluminum construction and the ability to withstand temperatures as low as 30 below zero or as high as a scorching 140 degrees. Available in 42-, 47- and 55-inch screen sizes.
Focal's Sub Utopia EM earns its $13,999 pricetag with the use of an electromagnetic active voice coil, pictured to the right of the sub. This affords its 13-inch driver a degree of control and damping not possible with a conventional passive voice coil. Outboard amp required, 500 to 1000 watts recommended. Focal also showed three multimedia speakers: the Little Bird, the Bird, and the Super Bird, hence the headline. The cool thing is the flat box that goes with them. It combines the functions of a stereo integrated amp, headphone amp, DAC, and active sub, with wireless connectivity for iOS devices. Pricing is $995, $1199, or $1499 for the package depending on size of fowl. Add another $99 for an iOS or USB dongle.
Cambridge Audio's Minx sat/sub sets have been so successful that a new division of the company has been formed to exploit their successors. They include the single-driver Min11 ($95/each) and the dual-driver Min21 ($180/each). They have a tad more bass than their predecessors, at 130 and 120Hz respectively, but the big design change is in the flat diaphragms. The dual cube now has a hybrid BMR (bending mode radiator) and dynamic driver on top and a plain dynamic driver on bottom while the single cube uses a single hybrid driver. The new approach yields better power handling, longer throw, and the removal of an 8kHz spike. Crossover has also been improved. With flat-diaphragm subs of 8, 12, and 14 inches, pricing ranges from $849-1849. Cambridge also showed the Azur Stream Magic 6 network audio player which plays pretty much anything with 24/384 upsampling and is priced at $1149. Cambridge is also shipping two surround receivers shown at CES, the Azur 651R ($1899) and 751R ($2799).
With nine amp channels and 11.4-channel preamp outs, the Integra DTR-70.4 is armed for nine to eleven bears. Theoretically you could add a stereo amp and get 11.1 channels of joy out of the DTS Neo:X height and width enhancement mode, but that may be the least of this receiver's achievements. It is certification-studded with THX Ultra2 Plus, ISF video calibration for the dual-core video engine, and—a personal favorite of ours—Audyssey MultEQ XT32 auto setup and room correction. We've tried the latter with another product (the similarly featured Onkyo TX-NR3010) and the extra filter resolution makes a notable improvement: the room-corrected sound is less hard and fatiguing and it images better. Plug an Android smartphone into the MHL-HDMI input. Get a look at several HDMI sources simultaneously with InstaPrevue. This being Integra, there are niceties a custom installer would appreciate such as extra 12-volt triggers and IR jacks, and—well, we'd like to go on, but we're tired now.
We always regret having to resort to torture, but with bamboo under the fingernails and a threat of the iron maiden we finally convinced Revel to start shipping its long-awaited Performa3 speakers starting in two weeks (and if it doesn't happen, we've got thumbscrews). The line features two of everything: towers, monitors, centers, sub, and a single bipole surround. Gloss walnut and black finishes are supervised by Italian craftsmen and the speakers are produced at an Indonesian facility that has air conditioning—it's nice to run across a star designer (Kevin Voecks) who refuses to accept the torturing of workers. All drivers are proprietary aluminum cones or domes. Priced per speaker, the towers go for $2500 and $1750, the monitors for $1000 and $750, the centers for $2000 and $1000, the subs for $3000 and $2000, and the bipole is $900. The top-of-the-line F208 tower and C208 center have both tweeter and boundary level controls for extra flexibility in acoustically difficult spaces. Revel also introduced the 2-Series of four in-ceiling and three in-wall speakers including the home theater worthy W253L LCR with 1-inch tweeter and dual 5-1/4-inch woofers.
JVC announced nine new LCOS projectors at its Thursday CEDIA press conference. As before, these fall into two lines, Procision (consumer) and Reference (pro), each of which have models that differ only in model number (with one exception, the Reference DLA-RS4810 at $5095, which does not have a Procision equivalent).
All but the base model in each line employ JVC’s e-shift2 technology, which upconverts 2D HD content to 4K, i.e. 3840 x 2160 (as last year, the projectors cannot accept a native 4K source). Further video processing then manipulates this upconverted signal to operate with the projectors’ 2K (1920 x 1080) LCOS imaging chips.
E-shift2 is an upgrade from last years e-shift. Compared to e-shift, e-shift2 is said to sample 12 times as many pixels in its processing. It also simplifies the light path for higher brightness. The new projectors are said to produce higher native contrast ratios than last year’s models, with the top of the line designs said to achieve 130,000:1. The lamps in the new lineup are also specified to 4000 hours, with more stable brightness levels with increasing hours. You can also operate the projectors from your smart phone or tablet with a downloadable application.
The top two models in each line carry ISF and (pending) THX 3D certification. E-shift2 now extends down to a new $5000 price point with the DLA-X55R (Procision) and DLA-RS48 (Reference). The top models are the DLA-X95R and DLA-RS66, each at $11,999. The popularly priced DLA-X35 and DLA-RS46, which do not have e-shift, will retail for $3500. 3D glasses and a 3D transmitter are optional. Delivery of these new models is expected before the end of the year.
First impressions on the first day included the absence of some major players (Samsung, Panasonic, and apart from a small off-site event to launch its 4K, 84-inch HDTV, LG) leaving Sony the only heavy hitter in the flat panel business present. Many booths were smaller. Bowers&Wilkins/Classe/Rotel were hardly the only ones to downscale their square footage on the show floor-though in their case they have also set up shop at an off-site hotel.
Though not exhibiting at the 2012 CEDIA Expo, LG Electronics took space in a local restaurant in Indianapolis on Thursday night to announce pending availability of its new 84-inch 4K-resolution flat-panel HDTV. According to Jay Vandenbree, senior VP of Home Electronics, the 3840 x 2160-pixel display will be sold by a limited selection of U.S. retailers starting in October. Manufacturer’s suggested retail pricing has been set at $19,999, about $5,000 less than Sony plans to charge for it’s own 84-inch 4K panel announced for the U.S market on Wednesday. That HDTV should be available in November. Of course, there’s no real 4K content available to view on these televisions, nor any medium to deliver it, so buyers will be viewing upscaled 1080i from their cable boxes or 1080p from their Blu-ray players for the foreseeable future. Both sets are said to accept a 4K signal, though, so viewers will not only be future-proofed but should also be able to use other 3rd party scalers to achieve the best image quality with existing 2K content.