Cambridge Audio makes good stuff. Though it has lagged behind in certain areas in the past, at CES it showed a strong will to catch up, unveiling the azur 640BD Blu-ray player, shipping in February for $999, and yes, befitting an expensive player it is Profile 2.0. The company also caught up with the HDMI revolution with the azur 640R receiver, shipping in March for $1695, and yes, it has HDMI 1.3 and all the goodies that go with it. All over the world the children sing for joy.
The Panorama is a $2200 bar speaker from Bowers & Wilkins, one of the world's coolest speaker manufacturers. Available in March, it has distinctive curves at the sides which distinguish it from other bar speakers. Behind the metal grille are two 3.5-inch drivers in the middle, handling the center channel; two 4-inch subs that go down to 40Hz, and at the sides, two pair of 3.5-inch full-range drivers. You'd think the latter would split the front and surrounds channels, but no, each driver mixes the two with some DSP magic. Unlike a lot of bar speakers, this one has three digital inputs (both coax and optical) and two analog ins, and onboard decoding for Dolby Digital, DTS, and Dolby Pro Logic II (but not the new lossless stuff).
It’s not easy to admire a sleek flat panel on your wall when you have to look at a large, cumbersome mount behind it. Look no further than Premier Mount’s WTFM3765 ($230), a super-thin mount that will hold a flat panel on the wall with hardly any space between. Dubbed the “World’s Thinnest Flat-Panel Mount” for a reason, this mount places your flat panel less than a half inch from the wall.
By the way, iThing is my lonely protest against having to type both iPod and iPhone in blog after blog. The Marantz IS301 is a wireless Bluetooth dock package consisting of four pieces: dock, cradle, receiving station, and card remote. You can detach the wireless dock from the cradle, with your iThing in it, and wield them as though they were a remote control. The cradle is hardwired via dual CAT5 (one for audio, one for video) to the receiving station which has the usual jacks to connect to a receiver.
Wireless speaker connection is coming, as an option, to (nearly?) every speaker model in the Pure Acoustics Line -- now that's going wireless. It consists of a receiver mounted in the top of the speaker plus a dome-shaped transmitter. Note that we're not talking about self-powered speakers or room-to-room tranmission, just in-room.
With a name like Pioneer Elite, home-theater junkies may be lining up already to get their hands on the company’s new in-wall/in-ceiling speakers. Pioneer has expanded its architectural series of in-wall/in-ceiling speakers to include some new additions with the name Elite on them. Given the company’s history of solid performance with its Elite brand of plasma HDTVs and Blu-ray players, the new speakers could very well be a big hit.
This is the system that decouples the Totem Wind from the floor. It consists of a back piece plus a front "claw" filled with different sizes of ball bearings. That enables a form of tuning that helps the speaker mate with the room and the amp, we were told. The claw somehow escaped our camera -- see full-size photo in the first item above. Still, two pretty blue pictures in a row. That's class.