Wow, was my first thought when I heard Jennifer Warnes’ mellifluous voice floating between a pair of SP-BS22-LR bookshelf speakers , one of four models in Pioneer’s new budget line of “home theater and music” speakers introduced at CEDIA Expo. Budget in price, not sound. The handiwork of chief speaker designer Andrew Jones who also happens to be director of engineering for high-end speaker maker TAD, the $130-a-pair bookshelf model is joined by the SP-C22 center speaker ($99), the floor-standing SP-FS52 ($130 each) and the SW-8MK2 subwoofer ($160). Design highlights include a sophisticated multi-element crossover that you just don’t find in this price range. The deal gets even sweeter if you opt for a complete home theater package: $499 for a system with four bookshelf speakers, a center-channel and sub or $629 if you go with a pair of mini towers for the front channels. The mission behind the new line is to engage younger consumers by offering high-quality sound at affordable prices, Jones said.
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.
Pro Control says that the company is a new remote control brand that was created by super-custom remote control maker Remote Technologies Inc (RTI) to bring a line of more affordable – yet still customizable – remote control solutions to the market. Shown here at CEDIA were the Pro24.r 2.4-inch color touchscreen remote control that. The $250 MSRP remote can be used as a standalone remote or as a more elaborate remote control system when used in conjunction with the $250 MSRP ProLink.r central processor that offers one-way control capabilities when used with the Pro24.r, as well as with PCs, in addition to iOS and Android devices running the company’s ProPanel app..
The $450 Pro24.z also sports a 2.4-inch color touchscreen but comes with its own charging cradle and provides control plus two-way feedback when used with the $450 ProLink.z central processor. (Like the Pro24.r, the Pro24.z can be used as a standalone remote, as well.) Wizard-based programming software is said to make it simple and straightforward to program either system, which means that labor costs should be lower than the fees for charging other, more extensive remote control systems.
Coming later this year is the iPro.8 “companion controller” for use with systems based on either of the two central processors but which are normally controlled by smartphone or tablet apps. The iPro.8 allows users in the room who don’t have ready access to a smartphone/tablet to still be able to operate the system. The iPro.8 will have an MSRP of $149.
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.
Extruded aluminum enclosures and Imagine Series lineage are only part of what make the Imagine W1 and W3 on-wall speakers special. In addition to being voiced like the great-sounding Imagine Mini, they're also coordinated the way designer Paul Barton says surround speaker systems should be: with the center having twice the output of the left and right combined. So the W3 center ($1200/each) has a sensitivity rating of 89dB, versus the 86dB of the W1 ($600/each), and the 3dB difference enables the center to play twice as loud with the same power. Of course, in practice, you'll level them to have the same output, but your amp will have more headroom for the center at dynamically challenging moments. Elsewhere in the Imagine line, the Imagine Mini Center ($700/each) is now available to match the Imagine Mini satellite. All of the above are shipping October. PSB also announced CustomSound in-wall and in-ceiling speakers of which the most interesting is the C-SUR, whose angled baffle contains enough drivers to run both side- and back-surround channels. Shipping end of December. Also shown was the second-gen VISO 1 AP compact audio system, which eliminates the original VISO 1's dock in favor of AirPlay for $600. It ships first quarter of 2013. The original VISO 1 remains available.
We always regret having to resort to torture, but with bamboo under the fingernails and a threat of the iron maiden we finally convinced Revel to start shipping its long-awaited Performa3 speakers starting in two weeks (and if it doesn't happen, we've got thumbscrews). The line features two of everything: towers, monitors, centers, sub, and a single bipole surround. Gloss walnut and black finishes are supervised by Italian craftsmen and the speakers are produced at an Indonesian facility that has air conditioning—it's nice to run across a star designer (Kevin Voecks) who refuses to accept the torturing of workers. All drivers are proprietary aluminum cones or domes. Priced per speaker, the towers go for $2500 and $1750, the monitors for $1000 and $750, the centers for $2000 and $1000, the subs for $3000 and $2000, and the bipole is $900. The top-of-the-line F208 tower and C208 center have both tweeter and boundary level controls for extra flexibility in acoustically difficult spaces. Revel also introduced the 2-Series of four in-ceiling and three in-wall speakers including the home theater worthy W253L LCR with 1-inch tweeter and dual 5-1/4-inch woofers.
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.
Schneider displayed its extensive range of anamorphic lens options. The company makers some of the best (and most expensive) such devices on the market, with a wide range of mechanisms to move the lens into and out of position. The device on the right is the latest such rig.
Screen Innovations has incorporated adjustable (and defeatable) backlighting at the boarders of its zero-edge, fixed-frame projection screens. Just don’t call it Ambilight! Apart from this, however, I saw a stunning, bright, and colorful image (granted, the source was Speed Racer) on the 138-inch diagonal, 2.35:1, 1.4-gain Black Diamond screen, driven by a Sony VPL-VW1000 4K projector and a standard 2K Blu-ray disc.
Seymour-Screen Excellence showed its new, acoustically transparent screen that does the job without an obvious weave or visible perforationsthough its surface does have some texture to it. It's available in a variety of formats including fixed frame, retractible (masked or not) and curved widescreen. A 100-inch wide, retractible, 2.35:1, flat model will cost you about $4000. For masking, add $2000.
Just what the world needs, another A/V receiver, I thought as I approached the Sherbourn booth. But the new SR-8100 (7 x 80 watts) and SR-8200 (7 x 125 watts) receivers---the company's first---have a refreshingly uncluttered look and low-profile design, support Bluetooth streaming and are covered by a generous 10-year warranty. Other goodies include multiple HDMI 1.4 inputs (seven and four, respectively), automatic room correction and an audiophile-oriented Class AB amplifier section. The $999 SR-8100 is expected to be available by the end of the year while the $1,999 SR-8200 is slated to ship in early 2013.
No price was announced for it today, but SIM2's Multimedia's Cinemaquattro must be that company's most pricey offering. Offering a full 4K resolution and a 3-chip DLP engine, it claims a brightness of up to 10,000 ANSI lumens from its 2kW Xenon lamp. As with all pro-derived projectors, its chassis is sold separately from its long list of available lenses. SIM2's PR maven, Lucette Nicoll, stands by to give you an idea of its size. It weighs 251 lbs.
At its Friday press event, SIM2 Multimedia featured its M.150 single chip DLP projector with LED illumination. Normally, LED-based projectors aren’t very bright, but this one lit up the screen. It might have helped that the 125-inch diagonal screen was a DNP Supernova with a gain of 2.4. Surprisingly, this screen had no perceptible hot spot and little fall off in brightness at off-axis angles, making it a viable alternative for LED-lit projectors like the M150.
SIM2 also launched, but did not demonstrate, its SIRIO high Brightness 3D projector (shown in the photo above). Its single-chip DLP dual lamp design (2 x 300W) is claimed to offer higher brightness than other dual lamp projectors. The projector body by itself is $25,000, and a variety of lenses are available at extra cost. The projector will go on sale in late October.
The company also announced a $1000 drop in price for its base line, single-chip DLP models. The Crystal 35 is now $5000, the Crystal 45, $7000.
A price was also announced for the Cinemaquattro 4K projector mentioned in an earlier blog: $158,000, not including lens, of which there will be a variety available. Just in case you were hovering on the edge of your seat before writing that check. The projector is based in a professional Christie design; the light output also mentioned earlier will depend on the chosen lamp configuration and lens.
Onkyo’s RBX-500 iLunar Dock Music System is a mini-system that’s designed to give you the sonic runaround thanks to six full-range drivers positioned above a down-firing subwoofer and a special processing chip from Sonic Emotion that creates the impression of stereo sound regardless of the listener’s position in the room. The RBX-500 includes a top-mounted iPod/iPhone recharging dock plus a USB port for charging other types of portable devices. The system is also Bluetooth enabled for wireless streaming from those portable devices, too. The iLunar is anticipated to be available in October for $249 MSRP.
First impressions on the first day included the absence of some major players (Samsung, Panasonic, and apart from a small off-site event to launch its 4K, 84-inch HDTV, LG) leaving Sony the only heavy hitter in the flat panel business present. Many booths were smaller. Bowers&Wilkins/Classe/Rotel were hardly the only ones to downscale their square footage on the show floor-though in their case they have also set up shop at an off-site hotel.