The new Radiance line from Acoustic Energy, one of Britain's finest speaker makers, includes tower, monitor, center, and sub models with varying configurations built around 6.5-inch woofers, 5-inch midranges, and 1-inch tweeters, all aluminum. Thermal management -- that is, letting heat escape -- was a design priority, implemented with a double voice coil that sits both inside and outside the former. The ring radiator tweeter is designed to match direct and reflected sound into a seamless whole. The minimalist crossover uses no resistors. A 5.1 set with towers in the front left and right positions will sell for $6200, while four monitors, center, and sub will go for $4400.
Say hello to Acoustic Technologies, which made its world debut at CES with a product three years in the making. The Classic is a slim tower using a single three-inch full-range driver. Why not do woofers and tweeters? Because they insert a crossover, and with it various irregularities and ill effects, into the signal path. Don't laugh -- this speaker had a highly natural, pleasing, gentle, ungimmicky sound with a well developed midrange and good soundstaging. Vocals sounded just right. Complementary models will arrive next year to bring the new company into surround territory.
If 2008 was the year of the iPhone, it only makes sense that 2009 is bringing in its own share of small consumer electronics products. Although you won’t be able to fit this in the palm of your hand, Energy’s 8-inch ESW-M6 mini subwoofer ($600) is still a worthy contender in its own category.
The Suite 7.1HD surround preamp-processor from Audio Design Associates, second from bottom in picture, supports Dolby Volume as well as the new lossless surround codecs. It costs $5500 and will ship in a few months. There are eight HDMI ins and two outs, which should cover every high-def contingency known to humankind. Rather than introduce new amps, ADA is sticking with the existing PTM-6150 and -8150, which is absolutely the right decision, as they are (I'll stick my neck out) the best outboard surround amplifiers in the industry.
This company makes some of the best PC speakers and compact systems. In the former category is the Expressionist BASS ($129), a cone-shaped wonder with sub firing out of the bottom. For the bedroom, Altec offers the Moondance GLOW ($179), a clock/radio with pyramid-shaped snooze remote. Finally, inMotion MAX ($199) is the successor to my all-time favorite portable system, the im600, which I own, use daily, and gave my Mom for Christmas. It's iPhone hip -- in other words, shielded from microwave radiation -- so you can keep your iPhone on and take calls while it plays music through the system.
JVC is not the first name that comes to mind in the high-end AV receiver market, but this classy-looking design just might change that. As is often the case at CES, designs are shown to gauge the reactions of dealers and the media. While no production decision has yet been made, I'd say yea based on looks alone—but only if the performance and features measure up to the cosmetics. It's a tough market out there.
Anthem showed two new projectors, the LTX 500 at $7500 and the LTX 300 at $5500. Both will ship in April. My photos did not come out, but visualize if you will JVC's newest LCoS models. For that's what they areJVCs with Anthem logos. The Anthem folks freely admitted this; why deny a good thing. I didn't get to experience the Anthem demo; they closed it down three hours before the official close of the show.
Arabesque, from the Crystal Cable folks, is the second manufacturer we know of (in addition to Waterfall) to use glass enclosures. The faceted design of this floorstander came about after the company realized that a curved glass enclosure wouldn't be possible -- but it looks great.
The AVR600 ($5000, bottom) is the first HDMI receiver from British manufacturer Arcam and therefore the company's first model to support lossless surround. It's HDMI 1.3, of course -- otherwise why bother? -- with five ins and two outs. The seven times 120 watt amp is Class G, which combines Class AB power output with a linear tracking power supply that ensures peaks are well-supplied with juice. Though Arcam had previously used Class G in HTiB products, this is the first implementation in an a/v receiver. Shipping in February. The company also showed a prototype of a forthcoming Blu-ray Profile 2.0 player (top) – Tom has the details below.
In addition to its AVR600 A/V receiver (expected to ship in March, which is when we're hoping to get a sample for review), Arcam showed an early prototype Blu-ray player. It wasn't quite bug-free, but then it's probably nine months away from market, leaving plenty of time for Arcam to sort them all out. To our knowledge, this makes Arcam and Cambridge Audio, both of them UK companies, the only two small, specialty manufacturers to come forward with a Blu-ray player. The system was producing great sound through a pair of Totem Wind speakers and an Arcam subwoofer
By itself, it's probably not accurate to call the PS Audio Memory Transport ($1695) a music server. Built around a Teac DVD ROM drive (though the unit is limited, at present, to music use with two-channel CDs) the Audio Transport can rip CDs at a variety of resolutions (including lossless compression). It has limited internal storage, however. Instead, it is designed to be connected via its Ethernet output and a home network (wired or wireless) to an external hard drive (or even solid-state flash drive) of the user's choice. The latter, which is often a noisy device, may be located in a remote location in the home, such as in a closet. (I don't know about you, but my closets have no AC outlets. But there are ways to fix that.)