The popular Edge video switcher/processor from DVDO is now greener thanks to lower power consumption than the previous generation. It provides five HDMI inputs and four analog-video inputs with five audio inputs and two HDMI outputsone A/V and the other audio-only for an AVR or pre/pro. As before, it upscales all inputs to 1080p and cleans up all sorts of video problems. It's shipping now for $499.
The new Martin Logan Montis ($10,000/pair) was producing compelling music in one of the shows isolated (sort of) sound rooms, ably assisted by a pair of humongous McIntosh amps (for newbies, that's a "tosh" without the "a" and without the iPod).
The new Lexicon MP-20 Media Processor is not yet shipping, but promises to be killer, both for your home theater and your bank account (the exact price has not yet been announced, but should be somewhere south--but not too far south--of $20,000). It incorporates Harman's new QuantumLogic audio processing (more on this below), 12.4 channels, 192/24-bit audio resolution, 8 HDMI 1.4a inputs, 1080p video scaling, a large front panel screen interface with soft buttons for selection the desired options, auto calibration and room EQ, and more.
Digital Projection's entry-level 3D model is the M-Vision Cine 3D single-chip DLP, which outputs 3000 lumens without BrilliantColor (5500 lumens with BC, but you sacrifice some color fidelity in this case). Pricing is around $18,000.
Harman announced and demonstrated a new audio processing format called QuantumLogic. Extremely complex, what it offers, on both the recording and playback end, is the ability to manipulate the signal in unprecedented ways. For example, it can isolate a solo singer, or just the orchestra, or even just the ambience, and process and move it around in the sound field in almost any way the user (or the recording engineer) desires. The extraction process is nearly total. The process provides extreme flexibility for enhancing (or, it must be said, compromising) the sound, again either on recording or playback. You'll be hearing a lot more about it both here and elsewhere in the future.
The first product to include QuantumLogic will be Lexicon's new MP-20 Media Processor. It has also been implemented in a Ferrari which was on display on the show floor, but that's hardly a mass market item (nor is the five-figure processor!).
Video-calibration stalwart SpectraCal now offers the eeColor TruVue color processor under its own name. This processor is based on 35 years of research into color perception in various environments, analyzing the color coordinates of each pixel 20 times per second and using three-dimensional lookup tables to compensate for different amounts of ambient lighting and other perceptual factors. It also supports all forms of 3D except frame-packed Blu-ray, and it can expand the color gamut while retaining the D65 white point and flesh tones, which is a pretty cool trick. I look forward to checking it out more closely.
JBL showed, but did not demonstrate, its new Studio 5 series. Intriguingly styled, with the tweeter horn cleverly incorporated into the cabinet structure, it consists of 5 models: the Studio 530 bookshelf ($689/pr), the Studio 580 tower with dual 6.5-inch woofers ($899 each), the Studio 590 with dual 8-inch woofers ($1119 each), the Studio 520C center, and the Studio 550P sub ($689).
DVDO was demonstrating a prototype technology from parent company Silicon Image in the form of a 6-in/2-out HDMI matrix switcher. The important features include InstaPort, which allows switching inputs in less than a second because all ports are active all the time, and InstaPrevue, which displays PIP insets from all inputs as seen in this photo, letting you select the input you want based on the content. No pricing or availability was revealed.
Panasonic was demonstrating its new PT-AE7000 3D projector ($3500) on a 100-inch (diagonal) Joe Kane Affinity screen (gain 1.1) from Da-Lite. Granted that the 3D program material was all animated, which is almost always impressive on a video display, it nevertheless looked superb. The trailers from Toy Story 3, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast all had me salivating for the full releases (scheduled for October--at least for the latter two). It was interesting to see that the 3D re-processing of the older hand drawn animation on Lion KIng and Beastlooked very good, with a minimum of the layered cardboard cutout effect. Kudos here to both Disney and Panasonic.
Sound control company Auralex brought examples of the company’s HD Cinema Series of absorption panels that not only seriously improve the sound quality of your home theater room – they can seriously improve the looks of your room, too. The panels come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors; so you can mix and match panels to come up with your own unique look. Panels start at $255/each.
SIM2 wasn't the only company with a native 2.35:1 DLP projector at the show. Digital Projection showed its dVision Scope 1080p single-chip model with a native resolution of 2560x1080 and a native (non-dynamic) contrast ratio of 7500:1. A modified Gennum processor expands 2.35:1 images to occupy the entire imager when black bars are detected. Pricing is around $50,000. Another new dVision model is the 35-1080p 3D, which uses active glasses and two lamps for 3D content. The price tag here is $35,000.
Also in the SpectraCal booth was an LCD TV using quantum-dot technology from a company called Nanosys. A liquid with suspended nanoparticles is sprayed on a film that is added to an LCD TV, and blue LEDs stimulate the particles to glow red and green. Combined with the blue light from the LEDs, this forms full-color images. The image on the prototype display wasn't the best I've ever seen, but it's a new technology that could well improve in the future.
THX has been talking about its Media Director technology for some time, but it's finally being introduced to the marketplace. Media Director embeds metadata in the content itself, describing how the content was created and how it should be rendered in order to preserve the creator's artistic intent and assure optimal presentation. To do so, the so-called content descriptors are created along with the content and remain associated with it all the way to the end user's display and audio system, which automatically adjust their settings for optimal playback, offsetting the calibrated settings as needed for that content only.
The first Blu-rays to include Media Director metadata are the new Star Wars discs, but other studios are ramping up to include it in their new releases. On the hardware side, the first player to have Media Director capabilities is the Dune HD Blu-ray/media streamer from HDI Dune (yeah, I had never heard of them, either). As you can see in the photo above, it was implemented in a Sharp Elite TV at the THX booth, and it will be part of the 2012 Sharp Elites. In fact, starting in 2012, products that hope to be THX-certified must include Media Director functionality.