Price: $500 At A Glance: iPhone/iPod dock and USB cable included • iDevice remote control app • Mixing studio listening modes
There are two hard-wired options for integrating content from an iPod or iPhone into a receiver-based home theater system. The A/V receiver might have a Made for iPod–compatible USB jack, allowing you to plug the device right into the front or back panel. Or the iPod can fit into an accessory dock. But wouldn’t it be great to have both options?
Price: $1,750 At A Glance: HVFR folded diaphragm tweeter • Dual woofers in slim enclosure • High sensitivity
There are no second acts in American lives,” F. Scott Fitzgerald gloomily mused. Don’t tell that to Sandy Gross. Having cofounded Polk Audio and Definitive Technology, he has recently formed a third Baltimore-based loudspeaker company called GoldenEar Technology. I’ve asked Gross more than once why he’s launched a third speaker brand when the first two have left him at a pinnacle of material success. He always starts his reply with a broad smile that says it all.
Price: $3,350 At A Glance: 90-by-60-degree Tractrix horn • Extremely focused imaging • More decibels for your watts
The story of Klipsch is often told, but the storytellers, myself included, typically fail to mention two of the three key principals. Every audiophile has heard of Paul W. Klipsch. He founded the loudspeaker company that bears his name in 1946 and spent several decades patiently perfecting his use of horn-loaded drivers to provide—and here I’ll just quote the Klipsch mantras—high efficiency, low distortion, controlled directivity, and flat frequency response. Paul was also known to take notes during sermons so that he could grill the minister afterward on the fine points of theology.
Audio Performance Video Performance Features Ergonomics Value
Price: $650 At A Glance: AirPlay and direct iDevice link • Expansive Audyssey suite • Browser control, network audio features
In A/V receivers, there are two prevailing philosophies when it comes to certain must-have features—room correction and dynamic volume modes being good examples. Some manufacturers prefer to develop their own in-house versions. This gives them the ultimate control over what they sell to consumers, sometimes offering greater versatility or an unusual spin. Others are content to license features from other companies. The advantage of resisting the “not invented here” philosophy is that technology licensors such as Audyssey devote all of their attention to making their stuff work and are constantly improving it.
To dramatize the efficiency of its two Class D receiver models, Pioneer hooked up one of them to a meter that monitored power consumption in real time as compared to a Class AB model. At left is the Class D SC-57. At right is the Class AB VSX-1021-K. Though rated for more watts, the SC-57 sucks up less power. Pioneer also showed three new Blu-ray players ranging from $199-399 and made a point of saying they are built to last, unlike all too frequently disposable competitors.
Paul Barton, the speaker-designing eminence of PSB, has tried his hand at headphones. The M4U 2 ($400) can function in active or passive modes. Active gets you more gain but passive is handy when the battery runs out. Cushions are asymmetrical to follow the form of the human ear. Cord can be plugged in either side. A control cord will add numerous features including the ability to skip songs. The product may surface in time for the holiday season.
Totem Acoustic, you knocked our socks off. Now give them back. Technically, the Element Series was announced at CES and it is against our code of honor to cover anything but new-for-this-show stuff. However, the center speaker is new, so we've wiggled out. It's called the Wood ($4500/each) and it will be joined by the Water sub ($5500) at a time yet unspecified. The existing models include two towers and a monitor. Powered by Arcam electronics, the big Metal tower ($16,000/pair) provided the best sound we've heard at the show so far, with effortlessly natural and well imaged vocals that flourished despite noise from the show floor.
A whirlwind tour of the Paradigm booth: The Monitor 7 line is the latest version of a killer value series. It has fewer SKUs, and one of them (the Mini Monitor, $279/each) will soon be reviewed in our pages. The Paradigm Cinema Series has gotten its first rethink in 10 years. For a 5.1-channel treatment, mate the Cinema 100CT sat/sub set ($1249, pictured) with the MilleniaSub ($1399). The Millenia LP updates the flat speaker line with 4.5-inch woofers and one-inch tweeters, in various configurations, in 1.75-inch-deep enclosures.
USB is something previously unseen on a Rotel receiver or pre-pro. But there is one on the front panel of the RSP-1572 pre-pro, and yes, it's iDevice compatible. The product ships in October for $2199. The next big thing from Rotel will be a second receiver using Class D amplification, RSX-1562, but it wasn't on display.