You might want to start looking around for a great set of speaker stands (the ones GoldenEar Technology used were filled with sand and lead shot) or upgrade the shelving on your bookcase/wall because the new Aon 2 and Aon 3 from GoldenEar Technology are so f’superb they demand something extra f’special underneath them. The new Aons will catch your eye from the start thanks to their “truncated pyramidal construction” which results in a speaker cabinet that not only looks good but is also integral to the sound quality due to the absence of parallel cabinet walls and minimal front baffle area. Like the mind-blowing Triton Two towers from GoldenEar, the Aons incorporate the same High Velocity Folded Ribbon (HVFR) high-frequency driver. Each Aon model also has two side-mounted planar low-frequency radiators (8-inch in the Aon 3 and 6-inch in the Aon 2). The result of the way these drivers couple with the room, the Aon 3 (that’s the model I spent some time listening to) had an f’incredible amount of bass output. These speakers are sure to make some noise when they start shipping later this year for $399/each (Aon 2) and $499/each (Aon 3).
The new Polk LSiM flagship lineup was mentioned in an earlier blog, but here's a shot of the whole family, from the top of the line LSiM 707 floorstanders ($4000/pr) on down to the two different center channels speakers (both of them 3-ways). This range was announced and first shown as last year's CEDIA, but production has been much delayed (see below for one reason why!). But they are now ready to ship. We're anticipating a review system real soon now.
As we all know, 3D needs as much brightness as it can get, and you get plenty with Digital Projection's Titan Quad 1080p 3D. This monster includes four lamps to blast up to 16,000 lumens at the screen with a native contrast ratio of 2000:1. You can up the contrast to 5000:1 by closing down the aperture, but then you get "only" 8000 lumens. The price for all that light? Just shy of $90,000.
As I was cruising through the Screen Innovations booth, I discovered a projector I had never heard of before, though I learned that it wasn't new at the show. The TruVue Vango from Entertainment Experience is a single-chip DLP model with LED illumination and a claimed contrast ratio of 100,000:1. It comes with an eeColor TruVue color processor, which is also sold by SpectraCal (see next blog entry for more on that).
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).
Screen Innovations' Black Diamond screens are now available in gains of 0.8, 1.4, and 2.7. They can be made as a curved, fixed screen, a traditional fixed frame design, a new Zero Edge frame (shown in the photothe one on the right is a 2.7 gain model) and, in six months, retractable versions. They are also available in any aspect ratio, as long as the maximum height is 56" (higher screens must be seamed.
Not much information was available on this Elite NP-M50 streaming device, but at $700, with an asynchronous DAC, it should be a hot ticket. A similar NP-M30 deletes some capabilities, including the asynchronicity in its DAC, will go for for $500. December availability for both.
Pioneer also introduced three new Blu-ray players, all of them manufactured in-house (last year's Pioneer players were made by Sharp). All of them are 3D capable. The non-Elite BDP-140, not shown, at $199, can play back SACD via its HDMI output (and of course CD and Blu-ray as well!). The two models shown, the Elite BP-52FD and the Elite BDP-53FD (the latter available in November for $500) are loaded with the features shown in the display card. My only disappointment is that they do not have a coaxial digital output, but are limited to HDMI and optical. None of the players includes multichannel analog outputs or component video outputs, the latter deletion mandated for all players released after July 2011, the former an industry trend as HDMI becomes more widespread.
We've discussed Sony's new 4K home theater projector earlier in this running blog, but based on the crowds lining up to see it, it's clearly the hit of the show. But the demo, while striking and definitely worth the time to see, could have used less talk and longer, or more, actual demonstrating. I really wanted to see it a second time, but knowing that the two actual demo selections lasted, at best, 10 minutes, I decided against it.
While it didn't photograph well in its dark location (despite my primo photographic skills!), DreamVision's new Inti series of projectors are lookers. At least their cosmetics are, and if their JVC innards are any indication, their performance will be as well (they were on static display only. The Inti 2, shown here, is $10,000. The Inti 1 is $7000, and the Inti 3 is $13,995.)
I reviewed the Aragon 8008 amplifier for Stereophile back in the mid-'90s and loved it. I often wished I'd bought it, in fact, as it was a near perfect match for my Energy Veritas v2.8 speakers. When Mondial (the original source company) folded, the Aragon line (and the lower end but also well-regarded Acurus products) was acquired by Klipsch. That company never really supported either of these lines. The rights were recently acquired by a company called Indy Audio Labs, which has just re-launched the 2-, 5-, and 7-channel Acurus amplifiers (200w/ch intro 8 ohms, all).
Later this year Indy plans to re-introduce the Aragon 8008 mkIII, 2-channels at 200W/ch (8 ohms) at $4000 and the Iridium, a 400W (8 ohms) differential monoblock, successor to the Aragon Palladium, at $4000 each. Apart from some added control and status features, the amps are said to be nearly identical in design to the earlier versions, though to my recollection the original Palladium was lower powered (but biased heavily toward Class A). And, of course, those 1990s models were considerably cheaper. Time marches on.
Add on anamorphic lenses to provide a 2.35:1 image on a 2.35:1 screen are a popular though pricey option. Panamorph is one of the best known names in the market. Its prism-type lenses are more affordable than the more visibly "normal" round lenses, but they work well. Round lenses, such as those from Schneider (below) are more flexible with regards to throw distance (they offer focus separate from that of the projector's own lens) but their prices are higher. We've seen superb setups with both types of lenses.
You can pay thousands for a good screen, or paint your own for the low hundreds. Screen Goo Americas (probably the company with the most memorable name in the business) offers four flavors: Reference White (roughly unity gain) HIgh Contrast, Max Contrast, and Ultra Silver 3D (high gain, preserves light polarity). All of them may be rolled or sprayed on an appropriate flat, smooth surface. The even make a screen paint for rear projection! It's also said to be flexible enough that the screen can be moderately curved after painting. We're not saying that it can equal a professionally produced screen, but the demo we saw looked mighty impressive. If the cost of a screen is keeping you from acquiring a projection system, this approach might well help.
Anthem’s new Statement M1 mono block Class D amplifier puts out a paltry 1,000 watts into 8 ohms and doubles that (2,000 watts) into 4 ohm loads. The Class D design allowed the Anthem engineers to jam all the amplifier circuitry into a chassis that’s only one rack unit high. To keep things cool, there’s a special heat pipe cooling system – no fans! – and multiple M1s can be rack mounted directly on top of one another. Ideally, you’ll have a dedicated 240V circuit for the M1s in your system; however, Anthem designed the amp to still be able to generate temporary outputs of up to 2400 watts even when connected to a 120V/15A line. Get one, or seven, for $3,500 each.