Yes, THX now certifies soundbars, and isn't it about time someone brought order to that sonically chaotic universe? The first bar to win certification is the Teufel Cinebar 51THX, from a German manufacturer. This 2.1-channel bar (with outboard sub, not pictured) is guaranteed to produce SPL up to 105dB at a specified distance of six feet with the right kind of horizontal and vertical dispersion. Also glimpsed at the THX booth: the Acurus A2002 stereo power amp.
The NHT Absolute Wall is the latest outgrowth of the popular Absolute series. It's four inches deep -- more than many on-walls, but that also gives it a deeper voicing. NHT suggests using this speaker to drive surround, height, or width channels in concert with other Absolute models. Price $199/each, shipping November.
Also new from Runco is the VX-11d, a 3-chip DLP model that's spec'd to output over 1000 lumens. Pricing starts at $30,000, which includes an outboard DHD4 video processor and one of six primary lenses, and it's fully compatible with Runco's optional CineWide anamorphic lens kit with AutoScope motorized sled.
Wharfedale's new Jade series has a Crystal AM enclosure. That is a composite of wood fiber and polymer made in multiple layers of microscopic thickness and arranged to prevent the backwave of the drivers from polluting their output. The aluminum tweeter has an oversized surround to defeat ringing and the woofer is a weave of glass and carbon fiber. There are two towers, two monitors, two centers, and a surround at prices ranging from $4199 for the biggest towr to $1199 for the smaller stand-mount.
Really big 3D in the home no longer requires a special projectorwith the Image Anyplace 3D Passive Viewing Kit from Flexible Picture Systems (FPS), you can display passive-polarized 3D using any pair of conventional projectors, providing greater brightness than single-projector systems. The 3D signal from a Blu-ray player or broadcast source is sent to an HDMI splitter and then on to two IA3D processors, which separate the left and right images. These signals are sent to the two projectors fitted with polarizing filters in front of the lenses. The IA3D processors also provide advanced geometry correction derived from the Silicon Optix Geo processor, making setup and alignment surprisingly easy. The kit includes two IA3D processors, HDMI splitter and cables, polarizing filters, 10 paper glasses, four plastic glasses, and a remote for $7495. Just add two projectors and a polarization-preserving screen, and you're in business.
A whirlwind tour of the Paradigm booth: The Monitor 7 line is the latest version of a killer value series. It has fewer SKUs, and one of them (the Mini Monitor, $279/each) will soon be reviewed in our pages. The Paradigm Cinema Series has gotten its first rethink in 10 years. For a 5.1-channel treatment, mate the Cinema 100CT sat/sub set ($1249, pictured) with the MilleniaSub ($1399). The Millenia LP updates the flat speaker line with 4.5-inch woofers and one-inch tweeters, in various configurations, in 1.75-inch-deep enclosures.
Panasonic brought along its 152-inch, 4K plasma. It was surprising how small it looked on the open show floor, until a passerby stood in front of it to provide a sense of scale. I don't even want to imagine how much it adds to an electric (including air conditioning!) bill. Of course if you can afford the set, that probably won't matter much to you.
It ain’t easy being wireless. Soundcast Systems gave us a peak at just how crowded the wireless spectrum was inside the convention center this afternoon. At another booth, one of the guys told me that they had counted over 190 wireless access points visible from their relatively obscure location in the convention center. It’s a wonder anything wireless worked at all in such a brutal RF environment.
Totem Acoustic, you knocked our socks off. Now give them back. Technically, the Element Series was announced at CES and it is against our code of honor to cover anything but new-for-this-show stuff. However, the center speaker is new, so we've wiggled out. It's called the Wood ($4500/each) and it will be joined by the Water sub ($5500) at a time yet unspecified. The existing models include two towers and a monitor. Powered by Arcam electronics, the big Metal tower ($16,000/pair) provided the best sound we've heard at the show so far, with effortlessly natural and well imaged vocals that flourished despite noise from the show floor.
2011 is SIM2 Multimedia's 15th anniversary. To celebrate, the company is introducing 15 new models in 2011. In honor of the event, members of SIM2's upper management, including President Maurizio Cini, also attended the show.
All of SIM2's projectors are DLP designs. The new models fall into five different ranges: CRYSTAL, MICO, NERO, LUMIS, and CINEMA. The CRYSTAL range (2D only) consists of two entries, the $6500 Crystal 35 and the $8500 Crystal 45. To our recollection, these are nearly blue light specials for a manufacturer which is not normally known for relatively affordable projectors.
The KEF LS3/5A has a model number old grizzled audiophiles will greet with pleasure. It's a reiteration of a popular BBC-designed monitor that's appeared under many brands over several decades. Always glad to see this mellow classic resurface, though in this case, it was just a historical footnote in KEF's 50th anniversary celebration -- not a product you can go out and buy.
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.