With nine amp channels and 11.4-channel preamp outs, the Integra DTR-70.4 is armed for nine to eleven bears. Theoretically you could add a stereo amp and get 11.1 channels of joy out of the DTS Neo:X height and width enhancement mode, but that may be the least of this receiver's achievements. It is certification-studded with THX Ultra2 Plus, ISF video calibration for the dual-core video engine, and—a personal favorite of ours—Audyssey MultEQ XT32 auto setup and room correction. We've tried the latter with another product (the similarly featured Onkyo TX-NR3010) and the extra filter resolution makes a notable improvement: the room-corrected sound is less hard and fatiguing and it images better. Plug an Android smartphone into the MHL-HDMI input. Get a look at several HDMI sources simultaneously with InstaPrevue. This being Integra, there are niceties a custom installer would appreciate such as extra 12-volt triggers and IR jacks, and—well, we'd like to go on, but we're tired now.
Cambridge Audio's Minx sat/sub sets have been so successful that a new division of the company has been formed to exploit their successors. They include the single-driver Min11 ($95/each) and the dual-driver Min21 ($180/each). They have a tad more bass than their predecessors, at 130 and 120Hz respectively, but the big design change is in the flat diaphragms. The dual cube now has a hybrid BMR (bending mode radiator) and dynamic driver on top and a plain dynamic driver on bottom while the single cube uses a single hybrid driver. The new approach yields better power handling, longer throw, and the removal of an 8kHz spike. Crossover has also been improved. With flat-diaphragm subs of 8, 12, and 14 inches, pricing ranges from $849-1849. Cambridge also showed the Azur Stream Magic 6 network audio player which plays pretty much anything with 24/384 upsampling and is priced at $1149. Cambridge is also shipping two surround receivers shown at CES, the Azur 651R ($1899) and 751R ($2799).
Focal's Sub Utopia EM earns its $13,999 pricetag with the use of an electromagnetic active voice coil, pictured to the right of the sub. This affords its 13-inch driver a degree of control and damping not possible with a conventional passive voice coil. Outboard amp required, 500 to 1000 watts recommended. Focal also showed three multimedia speakers: the Little Bird, the Bird, and the Super Bird, hence the headline. The cool thing is the flat box that goes with them. It combines the functions of a stereo integrated amp, headphone amp, DAC, and active sub, with wireless connectivity for iOS devices. Pricing is $995, $1199, or $1499 for the package depending on size of fowl. Add another $99 for an iOS or USB dongle.
The last model to commemorate KEF's much-celebrated 50th anniversary is an echo of its historic BBC-approved LS35A monitor. The new LS50's curved baffle includes the famous coaxial Uni-Q array, with the tweeter centered in the woofer, and the specific drivers having trickled down from the bleed-edge Blade über-tower. The ported design plays deeper than the LS35A's sealed design. Even amid the hubbub of the show floor, this was one of the best monitors we've ever heard casually demoed, and it hurts to say that it's priced per pair, at $1500, which will make odd-numbered surround configurations impractical unless you don't mind sticking an extra speaker in the closet. Shipping now.
It's about time KEF offered a product specifically for the growing computer-speaker audience. Though the X300A's ship date is not imminent, the preview demo made us want a pair right away, with the tight imaging we expect of a Uni-Q speaker and good top-to-bottom proportioning. It's KEF's first self-powered speaker, with powerful Class AB amplification and USB bridging the gap from one speaker to another, and each one having its own separate digital-to-analog converter. You might see it in December for $799/pair.
Paradigm is greeting its 30th anniversary with two extraordinary limited-edition speakers, the monitor-size Inspiration (only 300 to be made) and the Tribute tower (only 200 to be made). The camera flash made their dark gloss cherry enclosures gleam red though under ordinary lights they were duskier. Under the surface are seven layers of medium-density fiberboard. The tweeters are pricey beryllium and the seven-inch woofers are C-PAL carbon-anodized pure aluminum. The demo featuring the tower wowed us with awesome, effortlessly extended bass, sweet tangy brass, and a close-up and personal vocal perspective. While a companion center was not shown, there's probably something suitable in the Reference line, so there's no reason not to contemplate using these babies in a surround system. The monitor and tower ship in late October for $1299/each and $2999/each respectively. Get 'em while you can.
The Paradigm Millenia CT system is a smaller 2.1-channel version of the amazing-sounding MilleniaOne 5.0 sat/sub set, which earned a rave from us when we reviewed it rather late in the game. What appears to be a single module in the pic is actually an Apple TV box sitting atop a similarly proportioned Paradigm module which accepts input from both Apple TV and your optical-digital signal source of choice. Amplification is in the sub. Pricing is $699 with sub; there is also a larger MilleniaOne CT at the same price without sub. Both ship September. Paradigm also showed a Soundtrack 2.1-channel soundbar ($799, shipping October) with two one-inch aluminum tweeters, two 4.5-inch mid-woofers, two passive radiators, and outboard eight-inch side-firing sub.
As lossless surround addicts, we deplore pricey soundbars that don't support HDMI and therefore lack lossless surround compatibility. Definitive Technology does it right with the SoloCinema XTR, as you can see in the picture, with three HDMI ins and one out in addition to optical and analog. The 5.1-channel bar is the first we've heard of to feature the Dolby Volume volume-leveling and low-volume listening mode: a huge plus. Three aluminum tweeters and three pairs of three-inch convex aluminum woofers are under the hood. The outboard sub has an eight-inch woofer in a flat enclosure that can go against a wall or under a sofa, with three spacer feet. In the demo the bar produced surprisingly discernible and well-imaged surround effects to the side and slightly behind the listener. The remote's highly tactile design helps you feel around for the right button in the dark. Product started shipping in small quantities this month but won't hit its stride till October, at $1999.
The Tannoy people say they fine-tune their systems for music first and everything else second. We think that's a good attitude. The new Definition Series features "dual concentric" driver arrays with the center physically positioned and time-aligned to the acoustic center of the mid-woofer, reducing phase issues to nil, we were told. Internal bracing uses "differential materials technology" including a free-floating structure to protect the crossover. These speakers all have dual woofers with models including the 10-inch DC-10T and 8-inch DC-8T towers, 6-inch DC-LCR, and 12-inch Definition sub. The 7.1-channel system demoed—with big towers in front, smaller ones behind, center, and sub—totals $29,600 and it sure did sound musical with the evil-singing-cockatoo clip from Rio.