With the cute musicBox desktop amp and iDAC on display, both featuring pure digital iPod docks and selling for about a grand, Peachtree Audio's David Solomon has a lot to talk about. But the theme he is most passionate about is Apple TV. Videophiles see it as a 720p-limited video streamer. But to Solomon, it's a $99 audio streamer that "could save our industry." He says that if the audio industry doesn't get on board with the way music lovers choose to listen today, it will slowly evaporate, as those listeners gravitate to audio products sold at computer hardware stores.
That's it in the middle. As we've previously reported, it's the floorstanding big brother of the SCS4 stand-mount (left) with a slightly different crossover and outrigger feet that make it stable even in a house full of rocketing toddlers. Price $3690/pair.
No model number, price, or availability date was given for this Samsung 27-inch PC monitor/3DTV combination. But it can handle all 3D formats (the image on screen shows the side-by-side format in its native form before it's processed into a single, unsqueezed 3D image. The display includes an antenna input (it has a built-in tuner) and an HDMI port. You will need active glasses to watch 3D on it (it is not autostereoscopic).
The Polk FX Wireless Surround ($399) assigns surround-channel duty to a single speaker that sits on the floor behind the sofa. We heard it and it worked, though it worked better when we weren't standing over it with a camera. If surround aversion is a disease, this may be the cure, and quite an audacious one. Please note that the foot isn't ours. We wear Hush Puppies.
No price, delivery date, or model number was offered on Samsung's 3D DLP video projector. It didn't look all that good, but possible culprits include the highly variable program material, the fact that the side of the booth opposite the screen was open to the well-lit show floor, the 3.0 gain screen (don't move off-center!), and seriously blown-out whites. But it did look much better than this prize-worthy photo.
The PSB Imagine Mini builds on the success of the Imagine line with a four-inch clay ceramic and polypropylene woofer and one-inch aluminum tweeter in a satellite-size enclosure. Bracket (shown at right) or stands optional. Price $700/pair, shipping April.
As you'd expect, I'll start with a cheap joke: Each of these Silbatone Acoustics SGW-24 speakers can double as a studio apartment. Even if you have a roommate. But believe it or not, this massive horned loudspeaker has a plausible reason to exist in the home theater realm: It's an attempt to recreate Western Electric theater speakers from the early days of the talkies. Western Electric, in case you didn't know, was the manufacturing arm of the Bell System (later AT&T) for more than a century. Oh, and it was my father's employer for several decades, though he worked on the phone side of the business, not the cinema side. More on the SGW-24 here. Believe it or not, it had dynamic power, the focus associated with horns, and even a certain delicacy. But I would say that, being a Bell Baby.
Perhaps it was just a matter of time before Paradigm employed the term Paradigm Shift to describe a new product line. In this case it's also a new marketing approach that adds online, direct, and other retail channels to the traditional a/v retailers who have always been Paradigm's mainstay. Say hello to the A² Active Atom, a powered version of our old friend, the world-beating Atom satellite. As you can see, it streams Apple-style. The one shown was a working engineering sample. Paradigm also showed the Millennium LP on-wall and mentioned head transducers including four earbuds, two headphone models, and two gaming headphone models.
While DTS was industriously showing the 11.1-channel version of its Neo:X technology at South Hall, Onkyo was demoing the same technology at the Venetian, but in more low-key way, and with a mere 9.1 channels (5.1 plus back-surround and height, no width). We can't explain why, but it sounded better, even with the same demo material. The guy in the pic must have agreed as he slowly levitated into the air, somehow drawn to the height channels like a moth to flame, and spontaneously combusted.
You'll probably read some blogs from our two-channel colleagues about The Sonus Faber, a fridge-size floorstander selling for $200,000/pair in a limited production run of 30 pieces. Playing a solo cello recording, TSF mustered some of the best sound at the show. But there were also brand new home theater worthy models at Sonus Faber's suite in the Venetian, namely the Toy Monitor Grand (center) and Toy Wall (upper righthand corner). They're sold in pairs, for $2,000 in both cases, but you can add the Toy Center for $995/each.
The Martin Logan C2 ($799/each) and FX2 ($649/each) are eyebrow raisingly affordable entries from this longtime champion of the electrostatic speaker. What raised our other eyebrow is that we liked the model playing better than the most costly ones we've heard in the past. Go figure.
While it wasn't new, and didn't have the ultimate refinement of the Revel/Levinson system playing in the adjacent room, the imaging of JBL's massive horn-loaded Synthesis 1400 was striking and endlessly engaging. With two of these, you don't need a center speaker. With Mark Levinson electronics, the system weighed in at $44,500.
Here's a way to encourage your kids to write on the wallthat is if the wall is an LG Touch TV which functions like a huge, modern-day, multi-colored Etch-A-Sketch. It's also a 2D plasma HDTV. But it's clear that not all of us are Rembrandt.
Polk Audio's Blackstone series comes in the three versions shown including wireless sub not shown. The demo featured smooth and gentle mids. For more information see our review coming a few months after you read this.