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.
The Insight Series is the latest in flat speakers from Wisdom Audio, a company that specializes in them. These hybrid planar speakers use flat diaphragms through most of the frequency spectrum but switch to cones for bass reproduction. They're available as in-walls or on-walls. For surround channels, Wisdom suggests the smaller Sage Series.
Runco upped the 3D ante at its press conference with the new D-113d dual-engine projector system. Each 3-chip DLP engine includes twin UHP lamps, which means even 3D images have plenty of brightnessthe company claims it can fill screens up to 420 inches diagonally. Instead of linear polarization to separate the left and right images as in the D-73d, the new model uses spectral filtering similar to Infitec/Dolby 3D, though this system was developed by Panavision with five spectral bands rather than Infitec's three.
Monitor Audio's SF3 in-wall ($399/each) uses a dyed sublimation process -- not Freudian as far as we can tell -- to allow reproduction of any high-res image on the grille, so it hardly looks like a speaker. Monitor also showed a couple of biamped idecks and new trimless in-walls with rounded corners reminiscent of Apple products.
Integra's new lineup of A/V receivers and preamp/processorsthose with model numbers ending in ".3"include a Marvell Qdeo chipset that can upscale 1080p to 4K. Well, to be precise, it quadruples 1920x1080 to 3840x2160, which some argue isn't true 4K (4096x2160). The demo system consisted of a DBS-30.3 Blu-ray player sending 1080p via HDMI to a DTR-40.3 AVR, which upscaled the image and sent 4K via HDMI to a processor made by Marseille. This processor converted the HDMI to four DVI signals, which were sent to a 65-inch 4K plasma of unknown origin that couldn't accept 4K via HDMI. (No currently available display can.) The image looked nice and sharp with no visible motion artifacts, but without a split screen, it was very difficult to see any significant benefit of upconverted 4K.
USB is something previously unseen on a Rotel receiver or pre-pro. But there is one on the front panel of the RSP-1572 pre-pro, and yes, it's iDevice compatible. The product ships in October for $2199. The next big thing from Rotel will be a second receiver using Class D amplification, RSX-1562, but it wasn't on display.
Wolf demonstrated its Cub 3D projector ($15,000) on a SI Black Diamond screen (gain 1.4, 10-feet wide). The demo material consisted of music, including scenes from the new Blu-ray release of Rio which I recently reviewed for our November issue. It's a terrific transfer, and I had no complaints about the Wolf. A review sample of the Cub is expected at chez Home Theater, soon.
There are days - many of them just like today - when I muse over how nice it would be to replace nearly all of my body parts with shiny mechanical, motorized versions. (No more worn out feet or stiff backs at the end of a long day covering a convention!) If it ever does become feasible to cyborgify myself, I know just the folks I’ll have do it: Future Automation. One stop at their booth immediately gives you the impression that if there’s a way to make something move, slide, lower, raise, turn, or otherwise shift and hide, these guys have figured out how to get it done. You won’t find their mechanisms boxed and stacked on an end cap at Best Buy or Walmart, though. Future Automation likes to do the weird, wacky, and close-to-impossible stuff. Until now, they’ve concentrated on motorizing the UK. Now they’re bringing their hidden-wire act to the US. Welcome to America, guys!
Vivitek was demoing two of its projectors in 2D. A stacked pair of its well-established H9080 LED-based DLP projectors ($15,000 each, shown here) were converged onto a 118" wide, Da-Lite Affinity screen (gain 1.1). A single D8300 ($118,000, shown below) was firing onto a c comparably sized Stewart Firehawk.
To dramatize the efficiency of its two Class D receiver models, Pioneer hooked up one of them to a meter that monitored power consumption in real time as compared to a Class AB model. At left is the Class D SC-57. At right is the Class AB VSX-1021-K. Though rated for more watts, the SC-57 sucks up less power. Pioneer also showed three new Blu-ray players ranging from $199-399 and made a point of saying they are built to last, unlike all too frequently disposable competitors.
Perhaps the biggest news from KEF was the unveiling of the R Series, which includes three towers, two monitors, two centers, a surround, and a sub at prices from $1000-2500. Pick hit may be the stand-mount R300, a three-way with 5.25-inch coaxial Uni-Q drivers (basically a tweeter mounted in the middle of a midrange) plus a 6.5-inch woofer for $1800/pair. Finishes are walnut or rosewood veneers or piano black. KEF also showed new in-walls with ultra-thin bezels. Incidentally, the company celebrates its 50th anniversary in October.
As usual, video guru Joe Kane was holding forth in his black-curtained lair in the land of Da-Lite , demonstrating his Samsung-derived projectors (sadly, no longer available) and his approved, Da-Lite Affinity screens (which definitely are). Joe is working 24/7 to get his next test disc ready to market, which will include 3D material and 3D test patterns sorely needed by video pros, calibrators, and users alike.