Home theater or digital cinema at home? Wolf Cinema’s DLP digital projectors blur the line. The biggest, baddest Wolfs (Wolves?) are three-chip DLP projectors with full 1080p resolution, constant screen height, and scalable light output configurations for a wide variety of screen sizes, materials and lighting conditions- including very large screens. They are custom install centric in that they run hot and require professional installation and ventilation. Wolf Cinema’s distributor seems open to getting us a review sample, so it looks like I might get to take this Ferrari for a drive!
This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Chord Electronics’ Chordette Gem is a really cool USB DAC. But as cool as that is, that’s not even what’s coolest about it. Have an iPod Touch or iPhone? Yeah, me too. I opened my iPhone's BlueTooth settings and saw the Chordette right away and paired it with a 4-digit code expertly supplied by Sumiko’s Norbert Schmied (granted, it was the 1-2-3-4 default, but my man was all over it). Right away I was playing tunes through the stereo speaker system connected to the Chordette over BlueTooth (and Light Sabers, Star Trek phasers, and other, um, iPhone app related sound effects, some of which may have been regarded as unsavory). We don’t need no stinking white cables! $799 and you’re living the dream!
Perhaps it would have been more appropriate to introduce this hip-swinging HDMI adapter at Las Vegas, but NextGen brought the company's twisting, rotating, 360-degree HDMI connector to the sparsely attended Hall B in the Convention Center. While there was plenty of room there, this connector will make it easier to hook up HDMI gear when space is tight. Pricing is TBD (which is "to be determined" not "two billion dollars"). If it's like the rest of NextGen's products, it'll be surprisingly inexpensive and will work exceedingly well.
Walking around CEDIA, you'll see tools you never knew existed designed to solve problems you never knew anyone ever had. Although I've always believed that (1) you should always use the right tool for the right job,(2) you can never have enough tools, and (3) battery/electric tools are always better than ones that require my own muscle power; there are some tools on display here that even I can't justify having at home. My wife will probably say I have a hole in my head when I say I need this tool, but I can't help wanting the awesome Hole Pro Adjustable Hole Cutter drill attachment. It's capable of cutting smooth holes in all kinds of materials (dry wall, plywood, even some metal). But wait - there's more! As the name implies, it's adjustable; so this one tool can be used to drill anything from a 1 7/8-inch hole to a 17-inch hole. And the clear plastic housing not only catches all the dust and debris as you're cutting - it also serves as a support housing that makes sure you drill the hole perpendicular to the plain of the surface you're cutting. A built-in depth gauge prevents you from drilling too far into your wall and into a water pipe or speaker wire. Models range from $119.95 to $164.95 depending on the maximum size hole the tool will cut. Check out the videos of the Hole Pro in action at the company's web site www.holepro.com.
Mark's already mentioned in a previous post American Recorder Technologies' speaker package that comes with a laser alignment tool, but you can buy the laser tool - plus a fancy sound pressure level meter - in a cool, aluminum carrying case from ART for $249. It's overkill for the one-time HTiB setup, but anyone who is into home theater enough to be reading our blogs about CEDIA will want one of these packages. If you're really serious about setting up home theaters - as in, you're an installer or would like to be - the Basic Home Theater Kit is just a start. Other professionally oriented kits include digital inclinometers, laser line generators (for visualizing dispersion patterns), and laser alignment glasses.
I really shouldn't make fun of this because there can be some serious math work involved in putting together a complicated whole-house A/V and automation system, but I couldn't help chuckle at the title of this CEDIA University course being offered for installers and designers. Maybe CEDIA should have picked a more impressive name for this course, something like "Beyond Fingers: Why a Calculator Should be in Your Toolbox" or "Mathematical Profitability: Making Cents out of Numbers".
If money really is no object and you want a true digital-cinema projector in your home theater, this is the only game in town. The CAT MBX 4 is a 3-chip DLP with a resolution of 2048x1080, the same as you see in digital cinemas. It also provides D-Link decryption in order to display DCI (Digital Cinema Initiative) files. Other standard features include 3-kilowatt xenon lamp, dual power supply, custom lenses, anamorphic lens with sled, custom irises, and a plenum enclosure with a cooling system that keeps the internal temperature within 3 degrees of the target at all times. The projector is fed by an outboard processor via two dual-link DVI connections, each of which provides a higher bit rate than standard DVI. If you have to ask how much, you can't afford it, but I'll tell you anyway—$208,000 with the standard processor (10-bit processing, 12-bit output) and an extra $32,000 for the 12-bit processor. Heck, why not buy two for 3D?
Adam speakers are well known in the pro audio world, and better in Europe. But they are crossing the seas and making a splash in the home audio/video market. I auditioned the high-end Tensor line in a two-channel setup but the company is preparing for US launch a diverse line of home theater and in-wall/on-wall speakers. The sound I heard was preternaturally clean, dynamic and rhythmically right. They’re coming.
Leon speakers are all about audio- audio for your video. The company custom builds speakers around video displays of all kinds, there is nothing off the shelf about any Leon system. On display at CEDIA was this whopping 140” wide Stewart CineCurve screen (that’s almost 12 feet wide for those of you keeping score at home!) with accustom built Leon speaker system tracing the screen. I'm cheating calling it a soundbar, but I don't know what else to call it and I'm lazy. I don’t know how much the speakers cost, but if you can afford a CineCurve that size, and a projector to drive it, you don’t care!
Paradigm is rolling out its PBK-1 Perfect Bass Kit as an optional upgrade for its entire subwoofer line. For $299 you can use the included microphone and tailor your sub’s response. The microphone and supplied software are based on the ARC system Anthem uses in its surround processors (Anthem’s parent company is Paradigm) and measure several different in-room positions to calculate correction for a variety of listening positions. No sub should leave the dealer without it!
Audio Plus’s John Bevier totally brown-bagged me. He grinned unabashedly and led me to a darkened demo room. To see what? To hear what? Soon, I was watching a 2.35:1 image on a really big screen. Universal’s Wanted on Blu-ray, an absolute guilty pleasure, roared into its dynamically brutal train crash sequence. The sound was spacious, articulate, and punchy. You figured it out before I did, but the cute little Dome system pictured above, with speakers the size of grapefruits, is where all that sound was coming from. Walking among Focal’s impressive (and sometimes imposing) line of speakers had been a setup from the start. The Dome costs $2,500 for a 5.1 channel system, and in addition to the splashy colors, they can be mounted on stands, on wall, or plopped onto a piece of furniture. They can be swiveled any which way for optimal sound. This is a design solution that rocks!
I didn't include a post about the XBR10 series of LCD TVs with the rest of the products from the Sony press conference on Wednesday because it was not active, and photo of a blank screen is boring. This 240Hz LCD uses LED edge lighting, which allows it to be very thin but precludes local dimming. It also provides widgets and access to online streaming content, and an outboard box transmits 1080p wirelessly to the set. It will be available next month in 46- and 52-inch screen sizes; pricing was not disclosed.
I already blogged about the Lexicon BD-30 universal Blu-ray player, but no one outside the company knew before the show that it has received THX certification. At the Lexicon booth, I also learned that it can decode DVD-Audio and SACD and send multichannel PCM via HDMI, a great feature in this $3500 player. The BD-30 is pictured here with the MC-12HD pre/pro, which just received a firmware update that lets it accept a 7.1-channel PCM bitstream from Blu-rays that offer it—the previous version was limited to 5.1 PCM.
The B8500 series is Samsung's latest LED-backlit, local-dimming LCD, available in 46- and 55-inch screen sizes. What distinguishes this line is its depth—only 1.6 inches, far thinner than most LED-backlit sets. The 46-incher will list for $3700, while the 55 carries a price tag of $4600.
The newest addition to Samsung's stable of LCD TVs is the LN65B650, a 65-inch monster with conventional backlighting that will list for $6000. Of particular note is a picture mode called BD-Wise, which is found on select 2009 TVs and all of the company's '09 Blu-ray players. BD-Wise lets the TV and Blu-ray player communicate and automatically set their parameters depending on the content. A satellite feed looked quite bad with lots of artifacts, but Blu-ray looked <I>much</I> better.