Somehow we've spent the past two years failing to notice Avalon's first and still only home theater speaker package, the Evolution, at around $5000 for a 5.1-channel configuration. Efficiency is HT-worthy at 90dB and the tweeter is a super-cool Avalon-made aluminum-ceramic composite dome mated with Kevlar woofer.
One of my formative experiences as an audiophile was a visit to Michael Hobson’s showroom in a New York Soho loft. This was before Mike started Classic Records. He was selling Avalon loudspeakers and Jeff Rowland Design Group amps and preamps. How well I recall the floorstanding Avalon Ascent, fed via Cardas cables by two Rowland Model Ones operating as monoblocks. Hobson put on the adagio from Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto performed by Rudolf Serkin. I went on to buy the amp and collect all of Serkin’s Beethoven piano concerto recordings.
The A-shaped Avalon Aspect boasts 92dB efficiency, which should make it compatible with home theater use as long as you're willing to buy five of them -- no complementary center or other models yet. For $8500/pair you get two 7-inch kevlar woofers and a one-inch proprietary neodymium composite tweeter. The latter gets a waveguide-like treatment thanks to a foam structure built into grille. You won't see it unless you pop the grille and look at the underside, as Avalon showed us.
Avatar now has a place in movie history as a film that has forever changed public consciousness of a technology. In this case, the technology is 3D. Like it or not, 3D is coming home, and James Cameron's blockbuster has made a majority of viewers aware of that.
Panasonic will retain its special arrangement with Avatar, providing the much sought after 3D Blu-ray title to purchasers of its products through February 2012.
James Cameron's masterwork has done much to convince consumers that 3DTV is a worthy investment. And folks can enjoy it at home if they buy a Panasonic 3DTV or Blu-ray player on which to view it. But those who use non-Panasonic gear are still out in the cold for another year. Of course Panasonic provided a lot of production support during the making of the hit movie, so if anyone is going to have a special relationship with Avatar and its producers, it's going to be Panasonic.
One of the home theater industry’s greatest sins is modesty. If excessively modest people hide their lights under a bushel, speaker and receiver manufacturers go them one better, hiding their achievements in boxes. Boxes with drivers on the front, boxes with buttons and knobs that sit in a rack—boxes. True, surround speaker packages that break away from the boxy norm are slowly making inroads into the conservative milieu of home theater, just as some clever surround receivers boast digital amps and slim form factors. This month’s Spotlight System does none of those things. To divine what’s special about it, you’ll have to look deeply into its soul.