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.
There’s a bit of a buzz in the industry – okay, there’s a huge roar – about whether one HDMI cable is better than another. There’s certainly plenty of marketing gimmicks from some of the cable manufacturers that will be noted in the long history of snake oil selling. Out of courtesy (and to keep him from sending any more text messages), I made of visit to the Audioquest booth to see our old Editor, Shane Buettner. There, instead of the sickening scent of snake oil, Shane simply laid out the case for why there are performance differences in HDMI and USB cables from an audio standpoint. But hearing is believing, as they say, and so he finally stopped talking, handed over a set of headphones, and proceeded to play music from a CD through three different HDMI cables. Even in the ludicrous environment of the show floor, there were definitely differences in the sound quality of the audio being transported through the HDMI cable. Interesting stuff, and definitely something I’m going to look into a bit deeper.
KEF's new R-series, mentioned in an earlier blog, was inspired by KEF's far pricier Blade ($30,000/pair), shown here in its dress whites. It sounded surprisingly good on the open show floor, with a tight, punchy bass that was undoubtedly helped by the lack of room modes--though the latter can hardly be blamed on any speaker. When I placed by hand on the composite cabinet during those heavy kick-drum hits, I felt practically nothing.
Voco is just one of the many manufacturers hawking wireless multiroom media streaming systems. In addition to being relatively inexpensive, Voco differentiates itself from the competition by giving you the ability to use your voice to find songs, podcasts, internet radio stations, and even YouTube videos. (You can also use your fingers if you’re the quiet type – or a quiet typer.) The system has the capability of streaming up to three audio sources (from your iOS device, CD player, computer, etc.) to up to 10 Voco device equipped zones. Voco V-Zone receivers start at $199.99.
Most recliners have a high back, which can interfere with the audio your ears receive. My long-term HT seats have long had this problem, which I minimize by using a different chair for serious music listening. It's hard to find a low-backed recliner, but the Axis model from Canada-based Palliser might be just the ticket. The rear headrest can be extended when you're in a more laid-back (literally) than critical mood. At roughly $2000 per seat (with power reclining and various shades of leather, straight and curved multi-seat configurations available), if they seem expensive, you haven't priced many premium HT seats. They're manufactured in Canada and Mexico.
Schneider Optics offers a wide range of some of the most respected anamorphic lenses in the business. Interestingly, they also market their own projector, not widely known in the states, that includes an anamorphic lens on a built-in track. The projector is priced around $25,000, with the anamorphic lens. It was on static display only.
This projector mount from Chief ($189) was not in the full-line catalog available at the show, but looks husky enough to handle many home theater projector. It might be useful for those who want their projector mounted high but don't want to hang it from the ceiling, Instead, it's mounted to the rear wall. But since in this case the projector will be mounted near the rear wall, you must be sure that the projector is compatible with the throw distance to your screen.
Once a pioneer of the home AV furniture world, the venerable CWD brand has been resurrected by one of the company’s original founders. But where the original CWD furniture was almost exclusively RTA (ready to assemble) – I think we called it “knockdown” back then – the current iterations are pre-configured and shipped mostly assembled. In other words, they’re more along the lines of fine traditional furniture rather than just an AV rack. The cabinets don’t include any particle board pieces, and each unit has a multitude of AV-friendly features such as generous ventilation and cable management. Customers who’d like to configure and price a unit for themselves can visit imagecraftersinc.com and use the online configuration tool.
BDI says they have “high performance furniture”. I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but I do know the stuff they make is incredibly awesome with unique features, such as hidden wheels and integrated levelers, flow-through ventilation slots (in bottom panels, shelves, and back panels), IR-friendly glass, precision hardware (including things like soft-close hinges), as well as sliding - or removable - back panels. During past conventions I’ve breezed by the BDI booth, slowing down just enough to take in the different designs. This CEDIA, however, I spent some time with the folks at BDI who demonstrated for me just how well thought out and intelligently designed the company’s furniture is. The OLA cabinet pictured above has a gently curved front along with curved, tinted glass doors on either side of the center shelf. The stand will hold up to a 73-inch TV weighing 150 lbs or less. It’s also available in chocolate stained walnut finish. The price is under $1,500.
Induction Dynamics has taken its sister company’s (Phase Technology) all-digital audio processing system that incorporated Audyssey’s MultiEQ XT and precisely matched each speaker to the acoustics of the room to the next level with the ID dARTS system. ID dARTS is available as a freestanding system currently, but in-wall and on-wall versions are in the works. The system Induction Dynamics played for me included a pair of the company’s new three-way S1.8Td tower speakers, a C1.8d center channel, and a pair of S1.8Sd surround speakers. One of the things that made the system stand out was its use of three-inch dome midranges and 1 1/8-inch soft dome tweeters all around. The system is powered, equalized, and filtered by the SX7000d – a sixteen channel amp with up to 250 watts per channel. The SX700d incorporates the Audyssey chipset plus the digital mic input for room calibration. I didn’t get exact pricing, but depending on the system configuration and subwoofer, systems should run between $30,000 and $50,000. Not cheap, for sure, but definitely impressive as all get out.