Westone, best-known for custom-molded in-ear monitors worn by touring musicians, is revamping its consumer products line -- starting with the new W-Series in-ear headphones announced today at the CEDIA Expo. All of the designs feature balanced armature drivers, and will list for prices ranging from $199 to $499.
Blu-ray players seem to have vanished from the face of the CEDIA floor this year but that didn’t stop Oppo Digital from debuting their latest revision to our Top Pick BDP-103 with the BDP-103D. Everything remains the same but Oppo has integrated the Darbee processing we reviewing in the Darblet processor last year. The player will be shipping in October at $599. This is a hardware revision so no upgrade options for existing owners. This fuses two of our top pick models into one exciting product so it should be another home run for Oppo.
DVDO showed off its new Air3 WirelessHD adapter ($199), a wireless HDMI solution that sends uncompressed HD video (up to 1080p/60-rez) and 7.1 channel audio over the 60 GHz band. DVDO says that the new unit has a more robust radio its previous version of the Air, which means less possibility for interference. The Air3 also has a much smaller footprint, along with flexible mounting options that let you squeeze the receiver component behind a flat-panel TV mount. The receiver draws power via USB, so you can simply plug it into your TV’s USB port, while the transmitter features an MHL2-capable HDMI input that accepts up to 1080p/60-rez signals from a compatible smartphone or tablet.
Wisdom Audio delivered my favorite presentation of the show with their massive screen and even bigger sound. By all accounts a no compromise, price no object system but it delivered in every way. They also picked some of the best clips of the show to really demonstrate their finesse and might. Their planar speakers stood a good 10’ tall and their subwoofers were the size of couches but they did a great job of delivering a sound that was both massive and refined.
Yamaha's YSP-1400 BL soundbar ($450) has eight little drivers behind that metal grille. They are designed to attain 5.1-channel status by beaming sound all over the place and bouncing it off walls. Take a look at those fat cylindrical feet. Those are the subwoofer drivers. There's Bluetooth, of course, and control apps for iOS and Android. A second new Yamaha soundbar is the YAS-152BL ($350) which is said to produce virtual 7.1-channel surround and also has built-in subs, this time firing out of the bottom surface. This bar's apps can be used to fine-tune the sound in addition to the usual volume and other adjustments. Both products have Dolby Digital and DTS decoding and (no surprise at these price points) no HDMI or lossless surround decoding. Both shipping next month.
The CX-A5000 is the new crowning jewel of the Aventage series introduced by Yamaha a few years ago. The 11 channels (not even counting the subs here folks) pre-pro uses Yamaha’s proprietary YPAO room correction software, four distinct zones and more ins and outs than the revolving doors in Washington D.C. The extra channels are a Yamaha trademark, you know the old, you bring a knife, I’ll bring a gun chestnut. But they are used to create front and rear “presence” channels which, if your room and budget allow, could make your movie experience all that much more intense.
Two new products from Cambridge Audio caught my eye. It’s got that certain je nais c’est quoi that says I’d like to find a place to put it! First up is the three piece speaker system, the Minx M5. While the tiny 2” speakers in the cubes probably don’t produce bass frequencies as low as my IQ, the 5-1/4” subwoofer, easily placed at the foot of your desk, will certainly fill things out. With 60 watts of amplification built in, 15 for each of the satellites and 30 for the sub, it should have plenty of headroom to play cleanly to its limits. Best of all, the $299 asking price seems well set!
Proving the you’re never too far away from home to be in control, the Z-Wave Alliance sponsored a Himalayan expedition where climber Mariusz Malkowski went to the top of Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world. When Malkowski reached the 29,609 foot summit, he Skype’d in live to the Expo show floor on a satellite phone. Malkowski said it was midnight his time with local temps at minus 40-degrees! Using his satellite phone, he was able to check the status of several Z-Wave devices, and after speaking to the assembled crowd for a moment, he then unlocked a Kwikset Z-Wave enabled door lock, and turned on Fibaro Z-Wave enabled lights and then adjusted his Remotec Z-Wave thermostat. Definite proof that you are never too far away from home for technology to keep you in touch!