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.
The Bowers & Wilkins ISW-3 sub has a front-facing slot grille that can be disguised as a vent for very minimal footprint. It costs $1000. Budget another grand for the SA-250MkII sub amp. B&W also showed the PM-1 monitor ($2800/pair). It has a new carbon-braced aluminum tweeter that pushes breakup mode up to 40kHz, beyond the range of human hearing. It's mated with a five-inch Kevlar woofer.
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.
The CEDIA Expo focuses on home theater sound, home automation, high-end video projection, and all sorts of toys for rich guys’ mansions. So I’m surprised to say that the first report I’m filing from the Expo is about headphones — a product that few custom installers even sell.
While not brand new, Omnimount’s RE27 enclosed rack still elicits feelings of want and desire. The RE27 is a 19-inch rack that works with standard 19-inch rack shelves and accessories. It ships fully assembled, has integrated cooling with top and bottom ventilation, and has front and rear access with removable side panels. (If you can’t get to the component or cable you need to reach with this rack, you’re simply not trying…) All total, the RE27 is supposed to be able to hold up to 750 lbs of your most valuable gear. The $699 price is a steel – which also happens to be what the rack is made of.
There are days - many of them just like today - when I muse over how nice it would be to replace nearly all of my body parts with shiny mechanical, motorized versions. (No more worn out feet or stiff backs at the end of a long day covering a convention!) If it ever does become feasible to cyborgify myself, I know just the folks I’ll have do it: Future Automation. One stop at their booth immediately gives you the impression that if there’s a way to make something move, slide, lower, raise, turn, or otherwise shift and hide, these guys have figured out how to get it done. You won’t find their mechanisms boxed and stacked on an end cap at Best Buy or Walmart, though. Future Automation likes to do the weird, wacky, and close-to-impossible stuff. Until now, they’ve concentrated on motorizing the UK. Now they’re bringing their hidden-wire act to the US. Welcome to America, guys!
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.
To dramatize the efficiency of its two Class D receiver models, Pioneer hooked up one of them to a meter that monitored power consumption in real time as compared to a Class AB model. At left is the Class D SC-57. At right is the Class AB VSX-1021-K. Though rated for more watts, the SC-57 sucks up less power. Pioneer also showed three new Blu-ray players ranging from $199-399 and made a point of saying they are built to last, unlike all too frequently disposable competitors.
Epson made quite a splash at last year's CEDIA with a demo of its first LCOS projectors. The company actually refers to their version of this technology as 3LCD Reflective—essentially the same thing as LCOS, though I recall that they noted in 2010 that they were liquid crystal on quartz rather than on silicon.
Control4 added a new 7-inch portable touch screen controller with a capacitive full-color LCD panel that you can carry with you tablet-style through your home or use as a tabletop touch screen with it resting in its docking station. While portable and tabletop touch screens are quite cool just because they’re touch screens, the new 7-inchers from Control4 ooze even more coolness because they can be used as intercom devices that will allow you to have a conversation with another person in your home via another Control4 intercom device without requiring either person to hold down a button. Since they’re wireless and portable, you can use these touch screens to bring temporary system control or intercom access to rooms or areas of your home that don’t need a dedicated touch screen. MSRP $999.
It’s been a long year since CEDIA 2010 when Emotiva Pro first showed a high-performance pre/pro with a fully integrated Control4 controller built in. In the meantime, Emotiva Pro morphed/merged/acquired/became Sherbourn; and the new/old company says the PT-7020C4 media processor/controller should be ready to roll in just a few weeks. The PT-7020C4 is a full-blown pre/pro with 5 HDMI 1.4 ports that’s “fully 3D compatible” and “offers a true hardware bypass for direct, unprocessed 3D streams to the video monitor” in addition to having a Genesis/Torino scaling engine. The PT-7020C4 also features dual 32-bit DSPs, balanced XLR connections, and full Ethernet control.