Panasonic has a new LCD video projector, the PT-AE3000. While it looks identical to its predecessor, the PT-AE2000, it includes a number of new features and enhanced specs. It now claims a dynamic range (peak contrast ratio) of 60,000:1, a light output of 1600 lumens. Features include 120Hz operation with the added frames interpolated (hopefully the interpolation can be turned off!). The most exciting feature is a Lens memory that can save different settings for zoom and focus so that you can do constant height projection on a 2.35:1 screen without using an anamorphic lens. $3500, in October.
Two years ago I prodded for a new Thiel center channel to match the company's flagship CS3.7 speaker. Now it's here—or will be later this year. The MCS1.2 uses the same coaxial midrange-tweeter driver as the CS3.7, along with a pair of smaller, newly developed woofers. In addition to use with the CS3.7s, the MCS1.2 can also be used as left and right front speakers and/or surrounds. Pricing TBD.
Procella is a relatively new speaker company to these shores, with headquarters in Los Angeles, Stockholm, and Sydney. Its speakers, apart from the surrounds, follow the professional, powered-speaker paradigm. That is, they are driven by on-board amps. The P815, for example (the two stacked cabinets on the left in the photo, for example, is bi-amplified with 700 x 2 watts of built-in, class-D power. That model sells for $10,000 each.
TAD's new monoblock power amp outputs 300W into 8 ohms and 600 watts into 6 ohms. What looks like an amp stand under the thick aluminum chassis is actually a cast iron piece of the amp's structure that houses some of the components and adds to the rigidity of the piece. Each $26,500 monoblock weighs in at 200 lbs.
TAD has a new Compact Monitor under development, and while it's still a year or so away from commercial availability, it was on demo at this year's CES. Driven by prototypes of new TAD class A monoblock amplifiers (150Wpc into 8 ohms, 600WPC into 2 ohms), it sounded sensational, with the apparent ability to convincingly replicate the weight and power of a full symphony orchestra, an ability that escapes most loudspeakers.
TAD showed off its new Reference One speaker (about $60,000/pair) with a variety of music, from 2-channel to SACD to open reel tape to multichannel. A planned demonstration of high resolution multichannel sound, without video, on Blu-ray disc didn't come off when mastering problems interferred, but the multichanel material, from Reference Recordings, was played from a standard DVD (in PCM) and sounded terrific.
The big tape deck visible in the photo is an old Technics RS 1500. A company called The Tape Project (www.thetapeproject.com) plans to issue a number of pre-recorded analog tapes in 15ips, half-track, two-channel. They will also sell refurbished Technics decks (estimated price about $8500).
There isn't a lot of budget gear at HE2007, but then the show has always trumpeted itself as a high-end show. New York dealer Sound by Singer had five rooms filled with increasingly expensive gear, but the first room was at least relatively real world, with a price of approximately $6000. The speakers were the JM Focal Chorus 836V floorstanders at $3000/pair. The electronics were from Cambridge Audio (the 840A integrated amp and 840C CD player, at $1500 each). The sound was very clean and well balanced. My only reservation: from a front row, center seat the imaging was a little bloated. But it was a fine-sounding system, and the step up to the next system in Sound by Singer's progressively more expensive chain of rooms was over $30,000. But that system was anchored by the JM Focal Electra 1037Be ($10,995/pair), one of the best sounding speakers I've heard at the show.