If there was a theme to this year's CEDIA EXPO, it would be The Rise of the Soundbar. While these devices are incapable of reproducing the full impact of a 5.1 or 7.1 surround system consisting of discrete speakers and a subwoofer, they are undeniably convenient. And many of them sound better than you might imagine. One such is this fully powered $900 model from Atlantic Technology. The driver configuration is 2-channels, but has internal processing that is said to offer a three or five channel ambient experience from a Dolby Digital or DTS surround source.
Using H-PAS technology, the Atlantic claims extension down to 47Hz without a subwoofer. While there was a trend at the show toward ultra thin soundbars, most of the latter required a subwoofer to go that low. The Atlantic is 6.5-inches deep, and may be wall mounted, shelf-mounted, or positioned on top of your stand-mounted flat panel using special brackets designed for this purpose.
The Klein K-10 Cinema Pro tri-stimulus colorimeter may not do absolutely everything that twice as expensive color spectroradiometers will do, but it comes close, is much faster, and will read much lower light levels. At $5900, it must be used with color calibration software such as the SpectraCal we use for our reviews. (Not coincidentally, it was being demonstrated in the SpectraCal booth.)
The Darbee video processor is said to cleanly enhance a video image. Based on what I saw at CEDIA (and based on Kris Deering's review that's available on this site) it does the job surprisingly well. I did notice, however, that if there are artifacts in the source material it will enhance those as well! But the degree of enhancement is adjustable.
The Darbee Fidelio, not yet available, will be a more upscale version of the current Darbee video processor when it ships at a date TBD (the basic Darbee will still be in the line). It is expected to sell for around $2000 and offers not only video enhancement but a touch screen interface, Video EQ, Multiple inputs and modes, and downloadable features.
Seymour-Screen Excellence showed its new, acoustically transparent screen that does the job without an obvious weave or visible perforationsthough its surface does have some texture to it. It's available in a variety of formats including fixed frame, retractible (masked or not) and curved widescreen. A 100-inch wide, retractible, 2.35:1, flat model will cost you about $4000. For masking, add $2000.
When it comes to high-end speakers, Sony has had tough sledding in the U.S. market, despite some quality products. Its current SS-AR1 and SS-AR2 are excellent designs, but at $27,000 and $20,000 per pair respectively, they'll be a hard sell to any but the passionate and well-healed audiophile.
So when I saw a new pair of concept speakers side-by-side with Sony's new 84-inch, 4K flat panel on the company’s show floor booth I was intrigued. They weren't getting much attention from the CEDIA crowd, of course. All eyes were on the HDTV, and the sound was at a very low level and drowned out by the general din of the convention center din.
But the speakers were being demonstrated rather secretively at a nearby hotel. The official introduction is still weeks or months away (possibly at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver in October but more likely at CES in January), so it’s all very hush-hush for now. If I tell you more about them here I’d have to kill you. But you can get a closer look in the following entry, including the speaker’s unique tweeter arrangement. For now I'll just say that they will get a lot of positive attention when they arrive officially. The pricing is still TBD, but will be lower, and perhaps considerably lower, than the SS-AR1 and SS-AR2. And unlike be those determinedly 2-channel designs, matching centers, bookshelves, and subs will be available.
Digital Projection was featuring Its D-Vision 35 LED ($39,000 with lens) and D-Vision Scope ($34,995). Both are single-chip home theater designs, identical in form factor to the photo here, but very different in their features. The D-Vision LED uses LED lighting for consistent color and long life, though with some sacrifice in brightness. The D-Vision Scope has a higher than HD resolution chip that enables projection of 2.35:1 films without an anamorphic lens and with an on-screen pixel density of 2560 x 1080. Both looked outstanding, though I favored the brightness and big screen capability of the D-Vision Scope.
JVC’s booth on the show floor, using its top of the line DLA-X95R projector with e-Shift2 technology, provided one of the more eye-popping demos at the show. The 2D demo, with clips produced specifically for demonstration purposes from a 4K source file downscaled to 2K for transfer to Blu-ray, looked incredible on a 123” diagonal, 16:9, Stewart Studiotek 130 screen, suggesting that e-Shift2 really is a genuine step up from last year’s original e-Shift. The sound was special as well, provided by Definitive Technology speakers (anchored by the Mythos Super Towers at the left and right).
I always take time out at CEDIA to sample some of the home theater seating exhibits that sprinkle the show floor. OK, so it’s a tough show and the dogs do bark! This jumbo love seat from Cinema Tech is more than just comfy. It not only reclines, but a powered headrest can be raised or lowered, depending on your needs of the moment. It’s available in different configurations (such a single seat). The catch is the price (for the loveseat shown) of about $7500 depending on the leather selected. A number of other manufacturers were also showing theater seats with adjustable headrests.