CES 2011: The Speaker Report Page 3

Future shock
CES also saw previews of new technologies that could change the way we listen in years to come. Summit Wireless demonstrated new Aperion Audio speakers featuring Summit's new wireless audio system. Using the UNI band, which Summit says is normally reserved for applications such as AWACS aircraft radar systems, the system at the show produced glitch-free, crystal-clear 5.1 audio. It also automatically figures out how many speakers are connected and where they're positioned, using an ultrasonic transducer built into each speaker. It can even instantly fine-tune the balance to suit different seating positions; all you do is hit a button on the remote. Each of the speakers incorporates a module with a wireless receiver and amplifier. The new Aperion system is slated for introduction this spring at $2,499 for a 5.1 rig.

THX conducted one of the most interesting audio demos I've ever heard. The company's new slot speaker technology employs a long array with 32 small woofers and 60 tweeters. Using sophisticated audio processing, the slot speaker can steer beams of sound precisely to any point in a room. The beams can be focused or broad. Two listeners can hear completely different sound feeds, or one can listen while the other hears only a soft background noise. A new super-efficient analog amplification technology helps make it possible. I was amazed as I walked around the room and encountered beams of sound barely wider than my head, and even more amazed when I exited the beams and the sound instantly quieted. No specific plans for this yet, but THX is pitching the slot speaker and the new amp technology to its licensees. Meanwhile, it's proof that audio technology still has the power to shock.

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