I ran into industry icon Joe Kane at Warner's Total HD glitz and glam event, and among tha many things I learned in the conversation was that the HD DVD version of <I>Digital Video Essentials</I> is on hold again.
TAD showed off its new Reference One speaker (about $60,000/pair) with a variety of music, from 2-channel to SACD to open reel tape to multichannel. A planned demonstration of high resolution multichannel sound, without video, on Blu-ray disc didn't come off when mastering problems interferred, but the multichanel material, from Reference Recordings, was played from a standard DVD (in PCM) and sounded terrific.
The big tape deck visible in the photo is an old Technics RS 1500. A company called The Tape Project (www.thetapeproject.com) plans to issue a number of pre-recorded analog tapes in 15ips, half-track, two-channel. They will also sell refurbished Technics decks (estimated price about $8500).
SVS is a company that specializes in subwoofers, sold mostly on-line. They had one of the few home theater demos at the Venetian, and the only one that actually used film as a program source. I know, that's tacky in a venue in which 99% of the demos are 2-channel audio, but they did their best.
Later this year, SVS will make its new AS-EQ1 system available. It’s an Audyssey-based bass room equalizer, operates in both the time and frequency domains, and is designed to correct the in-room performance of one or two subwoofers. It is expected to sell for $750.
I may be the only reporter to take pictures of raw loudspeaker drivers at this year's CES. But I've always been fascinated not only by the products we buy, but by the parts that go into them. And SEAS of Norway is one the biggest suppliers of high quality loudspeaker drivers. These new DXT tweeters offer controlled wide dispersion. Note the rings molded into the front plates of both versions. These rings produce diffraction, thereby widening the radiation pattern above 7kHz—the first time to my knowledge that this audiophile boogie-man has been deliberately generated to <I>enhance</I> speaker performance!
PMC also showed these new in- and on-wall speakers. The Wafer 1 sells for $1199 each (on-wall version) and the Wafer 2 for $1799 (on-wall). The demo was a bit atypical of how the environment of the speakers in an actual installation, but they still sounded quite good. The speakers are actually loaded into transmission lines, despite their small size.
The Venetian, the new home of the Specialty Audio and Video exhibits, was primarily a two-channel oasis. Here (and below) are two highlights. I didn't get into many of the rooms; if I peeked in and there didn't seem to be screen there, I had to move on, as time was very short and the two-channel exhibits there are being thoroughly covered by our sister publication, <I>Stereophile</I>. But I did check out a few rooms that prior experience suggested might be prime. The VTL-Avalon room was one of them. The system sounded pristine through VTL's vacuum tube electronics and Avalon Acoustics Eidolon Diamond speakers.