Price: $6,995 At A Glance: THX Ultra2 certified • Fits in a standard 2-by-4 wall • Easy to install in existing construction • Separate amplifier with remote control
It’s What You Don’t See
A bottle of vodka can’t make a speaker sound any better than it actually does. But it can make me think I sound better (smarter, and of course funnier). It might even make suggestible friends agree if you pass the bottle around the room. However, it still can’t change a subwoofer’s performance. Vodka, after all, isn’t a room treatment product—although enough (empty) bottles spread throughout the room might be just the thing.
Hang a blue ribbon on the wall for these planar-driver speakers.
To stand out from the crowd, a speaker (or any product) needs to have a gimmick. "Gimmick" is too harsh of a word, really. "Unique element of differentiation" is too clinical but more on the mark. Maybe I should say, "thingamajig." On-wall speakers used to stand out from the crowd by their ability not to stand out. They were slim, contemporary in style, and loosely matched the flatness of plasma TVs, plus, until recently, only a handful were on the market. In some cases, these speakers were even voiced to sound their best when mounted on a wall. (Imagine that.) But on-wall speakers are no longer unusual. They're everywhere, including in some HTIB systems. Differentiation is definitely different now—it's a heck of a lot harder to do.
Two of JL Audio's three massive are now pumping it up: the 12" Fathom f112 and the 13.5" Fathom f113. These beasts are big, loud, claim to go down to 22 Hz, and use a room acoustic correction system that's supposed to help produce more balanced bass throughout the room. The system works much like what's found in a number of receivers these days, in which you plug a microphone into the front of the sub, and the sub automatically generates a series of tones that are analyzed by the internal circuitry to get a final optimization curve. The Fathom f112 has an internal 1500-watt amp and sells for $2600 in satin black. The 2500-watt f113 sells for $3200 in satin black. A 305-pound beast with dual 13.5" woofers that goes below 20 Hz will be available sometime next year.
After giving out sales percentages that show Harmony remotes have almost taken over the world, Logitech showed off their newest Harmony remote control, the Harmony 1000. The design is a departure from that of the current models, which are the traditional long and skinny shape. The Harmony 1000 is rectangular, less than 1/2 inch thick, and has a 3.5-inch color touch screen that's very bright - the Logitech folks said they're using a screen originally designed for car GPS navigation systems - and extremely sensative to the touch. They've redesigned the screen layouts, too, making using the new remote even easier than any of their other models - which I wasn't sure was possible. It'll be available for $499 in October. Infrared extenders are $149.
Epson and Atlantic Technology are teaming up to bring out the world's largest HTiB. There are two versions. Each one includes a drop-down screen with built-in Atlantic Technology speakers (LCR), a DVD-based media center (with HDMI inputs and upscaling capability), and rear speakers (also from Atlantic Technology) that can either hang on each side of the projector or be mounted on the wall. For $4,999, you get a 720p Epson LCD projector with the system. For $6,999, you get an Epson 1080p model. Both systems come with racetracks to help hide the wires for installations even I could do.
Billy Mays, were he still with us, along with Andy Sullivan, the Slap Chop guy, and the rest of the TV pitchmen won't like this new outboard device from SRS Labs. Hook it up between your satellite or cable box and your TV or AVR, and it will use its processing magic called SRS TruVolume, to reduce the volume of those annoying commercial interruptions down to a more listenable level. The MyVolume Volume Leveling Adaptor is available now for $99.95. The analog audio version is $49.95. CHECK ONE OUT...I mean, check one out.
You’ll find more rock-like speakers here at CEDIA than anywhere else in the world. A new one from an old company caught my eye as I was moving through the crowds to get to my next appointment. StereoStone’s Fountain Speaker has a real working water fountain, submersible low-voltage lighting, and an 8” woofer with left and right tweeters. The whole thing ships completely assembled in a single box – without the water, I assume – and sells for $599.95.
It's hard to believe, but more iPod-related stuff is on the way. Soon to be available are kiddie cases from ifrogz, a company started by the same guys who developed Reminderband custom silicone bracelets. (And how many times haven't we all wondered how the world existed before those came along?) The new company's Tadpole line of video iPod cases are made specifically for children ages one and up - but they do not come with sedatives or tension relieving headache medicine for adults of child-rearing age.
In an effort to take the wind out of the sales of the HD DVD promotional armada heading to retail stores this month, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE), MGM Home Entertainment, and Lionsgate announced they're targeting May 23rd of this year to deliver the first batch of Blu-ray Disc (BD) titles at retail.
Before the first consumer players - that's right, players - have even hit the market, TDK has started shipping cartridgeless 25GB recordable and rewritable Blu-ray Disc (BD) discs to retailers and is thus claiming bragging rights as the first company to bring blank BD media to the market. TDK Vice President of Marketing, Bruce Youmans, went so far as to say being the first to introduce recordable BD discs "can be counted among the most significant product introductions in the company's distinguished 70 year history."