Really big 3D in the home no longer requires a special projectorwith the Image Anyplace 3D Passive Viewing Kit from Flexible Picture Systems (FPS), you can display passive-polarized 3D using any pair of conventional projectors, providing greater brightness than single-projector systems. The 3D signal from a Blu-ray player or broadcast source is sent to an HDMI splitter and then on to two IA3D processors, which separate the left and right images. These signals are sent to the two projectors fitted with polarizing filters in front of the lenses. The IA3D processors also provide advanced geometry correction derived from the Silicon Optix Geo processor, making setup and alignment surprisingly easy. The kit includes two IA3D processors, HDMI splitter and cables, polarizing filters, 10 paper glasses, four plastic glasses, and a remote for $7495. Just add two projectors and a polarization-preserving screen, and you're in business.
HDBaseT is designed to clean up cable clutter in a big way. This interface format uses a single, slender cable with an RJ45 connector on each end to carry HDMI (with HDCP compliance), Ethernet, USB, RS-232, and up to 100 watts of AC power more than 100 meters, precluding the need for all those separate cables (and extenders in the case of HDMI). Crestron, AMX, Gefen, and Extron are selling HDBaseT products nowincluding adapters that convert between HDBaseT and HDMI for legacy gearand promoters include LG, Samsung, and Sony Pictures, which believes that people will consume more content if connections are this easy. Fortunately, the HDBaseT Alliance is a non-profit organization, and licensing costs very little, which bodes well for its adoption among consumer-electronics companies.
Wolf demonstrated its Cub 3D projector ($15,000) on a SI Black Diamond screen (gain 1.4, 10-feet wide). The demo material consisted of music, including scenes from the new Blu-ray release of Rio which I recently reviewed for our November issue. It's a terrific transfer, and I had no complaints about the Wolf. A review sample of the Cub is expected at chez Home Theater, soon.
Panasonic brought along its 152-inch, 4K plasma. It was surprising how small it looked on the open show floor, until a passerby stood in front of it to provide a sense of scale. I don't even want to imagine how much it adds to an electric (including air conditioning!) bill. Of course if you can afford the set, that probably won't matter much to you.
Vivitek was demoing two of its projectors in 2D. A stacked pair of its well-established H9080 LED-based DLP projectors ($15,000 each, shown here) were converged onto a 118" wide, Da-Lite Affinity screen (gain 1.1). A single D8300 ($118,000, shown below) was firing onto a c comparably sized Stewart Firehawk.
Phil Clements of Solus/Clements has been teaming up with Atlantic Technology to develop and market H-PAS, which uses four subenclosures to produce huge bass from small to midsized speakers, including Atlantic's new soundbar. At the Solus/Clements booth we got to hear the on-wall SX-40W ($799/each), also available in an in-wall version (SW-40IW, $599/each). It could and did do justice to the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony. It was not as forceful as the spine-rattling live performance we heard at the Munich Gasteig but the low notes of the organ were deep and true, an especially great feat considering they were driven by a Sherwood stereo receiver retailing for $300. The stand-mount 5.25B ($749/each) was slightly more of a good thing. Solus/Clements also offers H-PAS in tower, center, and LCR configurations.
Perhaps the biggest news from KEF was the unveiling of the R Series, which includes three towers, two monitors, two centers, a surround, and a sub at prices from $1000-2500. Pick hit may be the stand-mount R300, a three-way with 5.25-inch coaxial Uni-Q drivers (basically a tweeter mounted in the middle of a midrange) plus a 6.5-inch woofer for $1800/pair. Finishes are walnut or rosewood veneers or piano black. KEF also showed new in-walls with ultra-thin bezels. Incidentally, the company celebrates its 50th anniversary in October.
The KEF LS3/5A has a model number old grizzled audiophiles will greet with pleasure. It's a reiteration of a popular BBC-designed monitor that's appeared under many brands over several decades. Always glad to see this mellow classic resurface, though in this case, it was just a historical footnote in KEF's 50th anniversary celebration -- not a product you can go out and buy.
Yes, THX now certifies soundbars, and isn't it about time someone brought order to that sonically chaotic universe? The first bar to win certification is the Teufel Cinebar 51THX, from a German manufacturer. This 2.1-channel bar (with outboard sub, not pictured) is guaranteed to produce SPL up to 105dB at a specified distance of six feet with the right kind of horizontal and vertical dispersion. Also glimpsed at the THX booth: the Acurus A2002 stereo power amp.
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.