There are two new members of Pioneer's premier speaker family. The S-4EX-W, the smaller bookshelf model in the photo, and the smaller center channel,the S-8EX-W. (The two floor standers and the subwoofer are not shown here.) The Pioneer rep on hand seemed a bit fuzzy on the prices, but $4,000/pair for the bookshelves and $2100 for the center was his story. All of the speakers, and corresponding in-walls, employ a unique magnesium cone woofer with an integral, coaxially mounted beryllium-dome tweeter. Shipping now.
We thought the tiny sat CDT showed at last year's CES sounded great, and after a year of further tweaking, it's shipping as the Sonapod. In a 5.1 set with any of various subwoofers, it might sell for anywhere from $900-2000. CDT also showed a small triangular sat that was like nothing else we've ever seen. Possible review material.
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.
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.
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.
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.