Hate your TV's speakers? Need a sweet little amp to drive something better? The Audio Design Associates CCA-3D is a third-generation device designed for that purpose. Also shown was a typically weighty seven-channel power amp, the MPA-7500, with 250 watts into eight ohms and 450 into four. ADA's longtime designer Alfred Langella is working on the company's first Class D amps but isn't quite satisfied yet. With his high standards, we suspect they'll be special.
The Insight Series is the latest in flat speakers from Wisdom Audio, a company that specializes in them. These hybrid planar speakers use flat diaphragms through most of the frequency spectrum but switch to cones for bass reproduction. They're available as in-walls or on-walls. For surround channels, Wisdom suggests the smaller Sage Series.
The NHT Absolute Wall is the latest outgrowth of the popular Absolute series. It's four inches deep -- more than many on-walls, but that also gives it a deeper voicing. NHT suggests using this speaker to drive surround, height, or width channels in concert with other Absolute models. Price $199/each, shipping November.
The BG Radia RS-420 ($5000/pair) caught our eye with its gleaming red finish. Name your color -- the company is willing to custom mix anything you want. The speaker mates two Neo-10 planar midranges with two Neo-3 ribbon super-tweeters. Price $5000/pair including paint.
Monitor Audio's SF3 in-wall ($399/each) uses a dyed sublimation process -- not Freudian as far as we can tell -- to allow reproduction of any high-res image on the grille, so it hardly looks like a speaker. Monitor also showed a couple of biamped idecks and new trimless in-walls with rounded corners reminiscent of Apple products.
Wharfedale's new Jade series has a Crystal AM enclosure. That is a composite of wood fiber and polymer made in multiple layers of microscopic thickness and arranged to prevent the backwave of the drivers from polluting their output. The aluminum tweeter has an oversized surround to defeat ringing and the woofer is a weave of glass and carbon fiber. There are two towers, two monitors, two centers, and a surround at prices ranging from $4199 for the biggest towr to $1199 for the smaller stand-mount.
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.
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.
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.
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.