The Bowers & Wilkins CI800 Series replaces the Signature in-walls with pricing at $5000-8000/pair. These speakers feature parts from B&W's high-end 800 Series including Rohacell woofers, new Kevlar midranges, carbon-reinforced metal tweeters, and premium capacitors among other things. Three models include two in-walls and one in-ceiling speaker. The larger of the in-walls is the CWM8.3 with dual eight-inch woofers, a five-inch midrange, and one-inch tweeter.
Krell is getting back into the sub-$10K price point with the Foundation pre-pro. At $6000, it offers fully balanced output stages, as you can see from all those XLR outs. Ever conscious that the surround audiophile may also be a stereo audiophile, it supplements its eight HDMI ins and two outs with a stereo preamp mode that keeps the signal entirely in the analog domain. Add some combination of Krell's five-, three-, or two-channel power amps and you've got a compelling system.
Soundcast Systems’ awesome wireless, portable, weather-proof speakers are amazing in terms of both sound quality and wireless range. But the Outcast and Outcast Jr suffer from the same problem. They’re both basically white cylindrical towers with no visual personality other than “blah”. Now Soundcast is partnering with Skinit, Inc to provide skin adhesive wraps for the two speaker towers. Soundcast says the skins are easy to put on and feature a “residual-free removal”, so you can remove old and apply new skins whenever your heart desires a new look. Skinit offers a large online library of colors, patterns, photography, art, professional sports leagues, colleges, and universities from which to choose – or you can even customize your own design. Pricing is $49.99 per wrap for either the Outcast or the Outcast Jr, and they’re available from Soundcast Systems’ or Skinit’s websites.
Artison, the company founded by respected audio designer Cary Christie nearly a decade ago, is replacing its SB-1 SoundBar with three low-profile models designed for seamless integration with the new generation of ultra-thin TVs. The numerical designations of the new Studio Series models---Studio39, Studio46 and Studio55---reflect the approximate width of the soundbar, although each grille is custom fitted and color matched to the TV it’s being used with as in the photo above.
Highlights of the soundbars include a 2.25-inch-deep extruded aluminum, bass-reflex cabinet, 3.5-inch carbon-fiber mid/woofers---Studio39 has four drivers, the other models have six---three 1-inch Vifa tweeters and two 1-inch “stage” tweeters that fire out the sides of the enclosure to expand the sound stage. Pricing is $999 for Studio39, $1,499 for Studio46 and $1,999 for Studio55. The Studio46 ships this month with the other models expected to be available in October/November.
Speaker designer Paul Barton of PSB, who has applied his considerable skills and ears in the past year to wirless bluetooth speakers (the NAD Viso 1) and headphones (the M4U), has now bowed his answer to the powered desktop speaker system. The PSB Alpha PS1 features built-in amplification delivering 20 watts per side. The left side speaker has the volume control on the back panel, along with analog RCA and 1/8-inch inputs and an RCA subwoofer output. A clever touch is the USB power-only port, which can be used to power any third-party wireless dongle you might use to facilitate wireless streaming from a computer or source component. Price on the system will be $300 when it becomes available in October.
Mohu’s original paper-thin indoor HDTV antenna – the $44.99 Leaf – is descended from a special antenna designed to do double-duty as a mudf flap on military Humvees. Soon to come from Mohu is the $120 Sky HDTV amplified outdoor HDTV antenna. Mohu says the sleek Sky HDTV antenna is omni-directional, very lightweight, and extremely easy to install. Mohu also showed the $49.99 JOLT Amplifier that can be used with any HDTV antenna to boost performance.
Normally known for making high-end indoor seating, CINEAK’s new outdoor collection features hand-crafted seating made with marine-grade materials so they can take a beating and keep on seating. While you’re enjoying your outdoor view, you can soon listen to one of CINEAK’s customizable outdoor entertainment systems that look like attractive outdoor storage consoles – but inside they hide marine-grade speakers and subwoofers and integrated LED lighting. The entertainment systems are available in a multitude of finishes including a variety of woods, painted aluminum, carbon fiber, and acrylic, as well as custom finishes by request. Interlocking panels can be removed, replaced, or mixed and matched for a truly unique look.
Sonance, which introduced the first in-wall-speaker a couple decades ago, is demonstrating the third generation of its Invisible Series speaker panels at CEDIA Expo. The panels mount flush in the wall and can be covered with up to an eight of an inch of any flexible material---including spackling compound, wallpaper or plaster---and painted over without compromising the performance. Hailed as the company’s best sounding invisible speaker to date, the panels are designed to fit between the studs in standard 2 x 4 wall construction. Judging from the demo on the noisy show floor, the sound is surprisingly decent.
The four new models boast 90-dB sensitivity, enabling the panels to play much louder than previous generation panels. All models have an injection-molded polypropylene diaphragm, extruded aluminum frame and require only 2 inches of depth for mounting. Optional enclosures are said to reduce sound transmission to adjacent rooms by up to 20 dB. The IS4 three-way panel shown in the photo has a suggested retail price of $1,600 per pair. Other pricing: The two-way IS2 is $1,100 per pair, the single stereo IS4SST is $900 and the ISW Woofer is $600.
Remote control and home automation company URC introduced two brand new remote controls to CEDIA. Yawn…I know. The world needs another remote control as much as it needs another set of $20 earbuds. But the URC TRG-100 and TRG-200 have built-in gyroscopes and use motion-based technology so all you have top do is move and point the handheld remote to control the cursor directly on the TV screen. The basic TRG-100 has a minimalist design with very few buttons. The TRG-200 has direct numeric keys along with other direct function buttons. The new remotes are designed to work with URC’s Total Control whole-house systems with the company’s new MRX-20 Advanced Onscreen Network System Controller.
The MRX-20 offers a simple as well as a more elaborate on-screen user interface that is very cleanly overlayed on top of the HD picture on the TV so the user can summon direct TV controls – or, more interestingly because it’s done so unobtrusively, access controllable features provided by other URC control devices throughout the house. Pricing and availability for the new TRG remotes and the MRX-20 have not been announced.
Home-automation stalwart Crestron is demonstrating at CEDIA Expo a Near Field Communication (NFC)-based technology called airConnect that enables homeowners to trigger personal control settings for a home theater system and other devices connected to a central control system by simply holding an NFC-enabled smartphone close to an NFC tag in the room. The tag can be programmed to initiate any number of activities or automated routines, such as turning on system components, closing motorized shades, lowering a projector screen and launching a control app on the phone. The NFC tags, which are 1-inch, paper-thin squares, can be embedded in convenient locations, such as behind a wall keypad. A number of Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices are NFC-enabled and Crestron says it will support iPhone and iPad as soon as they incorporate NFC technology.
Crestron is also demonstrating enhanced AirPlay functionality for its Sonnex multiroom audio system, which allows you to stream audio from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac PC to any room in the house without having to switch audio sources. Hit play and the system detects audio signals and automatically switches to the AirPlay source. The Sonnex system incorporates high-performance digital audio processing, full matrix switching and high-powered amplification.
Of the four soundbars in Polk Audio's line, two are new, and one is quite remarkable. We're talking about the SurroundBar 9000 IHT ($799). This 5.1-channel bar has three tweeters for the front channels and dedicated woofers for each of the five channels, with each driver powered by 45 watts, plus external eight-inch sub. What fascinates us is that bass frequencies from 80-200Hz are routed to all woofers in the bar. In other words, if there's significant bass content in any one of the five channels, it's routed to the other channels as well. This allows better bass handling than you'd expect in a bar. It also allows a lower crossover to the sub, an audiophile-approved 80Hz, which keeps voices from booming out of the sub. Connectivity is optical and analog, both times two, with Dolby Digital and DTS decoding. Guess what? The 9000 worked wonders with a James Taylor concert track, with realistic acoustic guitar harmonics and a vocal presentation that was crisp but not fatiguing. The other new guy is SurroundBar 5000 IHT ($399), a 2.1-channel Bluetooth bar with a pair of full-range drivers backed up by a 6.5-inch sub. Both shipping this month.
The wiggling-needle volume meters that are synonymous with McIntosh are now equally pleasing-to-look-at LEDs. The MC8207 seven-channel amp ($6000) on which they blink boasts 200 watts per channel into both eight and four ohms. McIntosh also showed two pre-pros, one of which was making its debut at CEDIA. That was the MX121 and it brings AirPlay and music streaming from Pandora and the like. Price is $6500. Both shipping now.
See that USB port on the back of the Marantz SA-11S3 disc player? The advent of computer-worthy USB ports on audio products is a development whose importance can't be overstated. True, there are a lot of great outboard DACs on the market, with more to come—but what if you don't want that extra box and power cable in your rack? One option is to build the DAC into another product such as the Pioneer SC-68 surround receiver, or this Marantz SACD/CD player. Incidentally, it does not do Blu-ray or DVD. The Burr-Brown DAC has resolution of 192/24. Build quality is typically superb, with copper substituting for aluminum in the back panel and some internal parts. Price is $4000.
What you see is Meridian's Media Source 200. This little fella makes adding additional zones easy. Plug an ethernet cable into it and it'll output to Meridian DSP speakers via wireless Cat5 SpeakerLink. There's also a mini-jack that serves as a combo optical or analog connection for your signal source of choice. Product ships end of this month for $1000. Meridian also announced two new in-walls, the DSP520, a 5.25-inch two-way design, and the DSP 630, similar but with extra woofer. They've got RS-232 and IR ports, both bidirectional, and are shipping in November at prices to be announced.
Runco is in Indianapolis with several new DLP front projectors across a range of price points, including three models in its new XtremeProjection Series targeted at high-end installations, the X-200i ($14,995), the X-400d ($34,995), and the X-450d ($39,995). The X-200i features integrated processing, while the two top models ship with the DC-300 Dimension Digital Controller, an outboard processor said to be optimized to enhance 3D performance. The X-200i, shown here and demonstrated for press on Thursday, is a single-chip DLP projector rated for 1430 ANSI lumens and up to 50 foot-lamberts of light output. It threw some impressive images of Kung Fu Panda on a 120-in Stewart Studiotek 130 screen.