Five years in the making, Totem Acoustic's Element Series features a massive large-diameter magnet structure suitable for arm curls. Even the littlest member of the family -- as it happened, the one we got to hear -- combined the naturalism and balance typical of Totem with a new bass solidity, mated with Accuphase electronics. Pricing ranges from $5995 to $13,000 for the flagship. Note that the competition Totem is aiming at sells products for much more than that.
They include the T 787 ($3499) and T 757 ($1499) a/v receivers, with seven times 120 and 60 watts respectively, both fully up to date with HDMI 1.a for 3D compatibility. Also shown was the T 187 pre-pro ($2499). The pricier receiver and pre-pro can be outfitted with an optional Control4 module.
Dolby Home Theater v4 is, as the name suggests, the fourth-gen implementation of sound enhancement for PCs from Dolby Labs. It incorporates trickle-down technology from Dolby Volume (best known for its use in surround receivers) including volume leveling, dynamic enhancer, and spatial virtualizer. First of two demos at the Central Hall sanctum involved a laptop with and without DHTv4. It was a huge difference: muffled sound versus rather bright sound. In the second demo, another laptop bitstreamed into an Onkyo receiver with Focal sat/sub speakers. This time the benefits were more subtle, though still discernible: a larger soundstage and more solid imaging. The technology will be shipped with laptops including Acer, Lenovo ThinkPads, and more to be announced. In another corner of the Dolby booth a Nokia N8 smartphone with built-in Dolby Digital Plus (a high-quality lossy surround codec) mustered pretty good surround via Harman Kardon receiver and Focal floorstanding speakers.
The SS-AR1 floorstander ($27,000/pair) has appeared at various shows in the past and we've seen it before. But CES 2011 marked its real entry into popular consciousness as part of a Sony division that also includes ES receivers and projectors. Ray Kimber of Kimber cable and IsoMike recording fame and Chad Kassem of Acoustic Sounds lent their credibility to the proceedings. The speaker's blend of woods includes a cabinet of Hokkaido maple that's harvested only in November when it's at the peak of its powers. Drivers are designed by Sony and custom made by ScanSpeak. The piano black finish is done by a company that makes, um, pianos. Demos included a Nat King Cole tune in which the strings were vivid yet unhyped and the voice reproduced so well, it practically burnt a hole in our brain. We're convinced this is a very fine speaker indeed, and not at all surprised, having liked Sony's long-gone SS-series speakers from the 1990s.
We're pleased to announce that the D'Agostino Momentum monoblock amp has won the Home Theater 2011 CES Blog's Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cosmetics. It sounded good too, but man, look at that thing. It is the first product from Dan D'Agostino's new company -- you may remember him as Mr. Krell.
While I don't have a great shot of Sharp's XV-Z17000 DLP 3D projector, it looked bright and beautiful on a 100" screen with a stated gain of 1.0. It was clearly one of the best 3D projectors I've seen so far, and also the least expensive at about $5000.
First, it's T+A, not T&A. Stop giggling. It makes you look sleazy. In addition to some cool-looking loudspeakers (which we didn't get to hear) the German company showed the K8 Blu-ray receiver with 150 watts time seven. It streams from iPods and other devices in lossless WAV, FLAC, and OGG as well as MP3 and WMA with resolution up to 96/24. Sure is purty, as it ought to be for $9500.
One of the few loudspeaker-related audio demos on the floor at South Hall was the DTS demo of 11.1 surround with extra channels for height and width enhancement. It actually started with a mere 7.1 movie demo and worked its way up to footage of two savvy musician slash sound designers using a combination of acoustic instruments and electronic processing to create a height- and width-enhanced soundscape. The instruments included one that combined the functions of bass violin, cello, viola, and fiddle. A tree was also used as a musical instrument. It was noteworthy that the demo relied on 11.1 more for aesthetic effect (hmmm, that sounds nice) than for realism -- that is, an evocation of something that happens in the real world and is reproduced convincingly. From our seat in the back and off center, the effect was pleasing but not something we'd cite as grounds for adding numerous speakers to a basic 5.1 surround system. However, our colleague Josh Zyber saw another DTS 11.1 demo at Nobu two nights prior and said it was very impressive, with strong imaging in places you wouldn't expect. The pic, incidentally, is what folks saw while waiting in line for the 11.1 demo: other showgoers in raptures over DTS headphone technology.
My Home PC is the latest from Control4, whose interface standard bulks large in custom installation and home theater. It marks the first time Control4 has extended its reach beyondproprietary onscreen and touchscreen interfaces to third-party devices such as computers and tablets. With the likes of Denon, Marantz, Harman, Onkyo, Pioneer, Sony, and many more as Control4 partners, My Home PC is likely to see far-ranging use in the a/v sphere and beyond.
One real advantage of LG's passive glasses technology is the lighter, cheaper passive glasses, shown here in this lightheaded demo setup. Notice the flip-down glasses on the right, for eyeglass-wearers. The FPR technology employs circular polarization, so you can tilt your head without the image fading out.
Sony's new HDR-TD10 3D High Definition Flash Memory Handycam Camcorder (about $1500, April) is one of the first the full HD 3D consumer camcorders. It includes two separate 1920 a 1080 CMOS sensors and two lenses to capture distinct 1920 x 1080 data streams for each eye. It's also capable of 2D still image capture at 7-megapixels. At present, playback is from the camera only via an HDMI link to the video display. The future should bring dedicated playback devices (such as a 3D Blu-ray player with a flash card slot). Oh, and you can view the image you're shooting in autostereoscopic 3D on the 3.5" viewfinderno 3D glasses required.