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CES 2012

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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 15, 2012 2 comments
I remember CESs of long ago—that's about five to ten years, an eternity in CES time— when all of the literature handed out was in print form. Now it's typically on a flash drive, a disc (and even they are getting thinner on the ground—particularly the tiny ones that can't be used on Mac computers) or a simple card with directions to a news-release website. But not always; there's still a pile of paper to deal with, like the 6-inch stack I brought home with me. Luckily I drive to the show.

One of the realities of blogging at CES is that we here at Home Theater cover the video news first, which means that most of the video-related entries end up at the bottom of the blog pile, with the later, heavily audio-related entries at the top. That's why the blogs here are front-loaded with audio. Much of the serious high-end audio is at the Venetian Hotel, well removed from the of the circus atmosphere at the Las Vegas Convention Center where just about everything else, including the video, resides.

You may see a lot of audio entries below and wonder why? Well, for my part, I can't escape my roots of a dozen years or more writing the Stereophile. But more importantly for our present purposes, speakers are speakers, and I spent most of my time at the Venetian scoping them out. While many speakers that you'll see here will be inappropriate for home theater, largely because their manufacturers don't see fit to make matching center channel speakers for them, the technology involved is still fascinating. To me, anyway.

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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 15, 2012 2 comments
Take me to your leader. The 8T is the leader, or at least the first entry in a new line of speakers that's an offshoot of RBH. The four midrange drivers in the upper array have beryllium cones. The tweeter is a beryllium dome tweeter from Scan-Speak. At $50,000/pair, however, they're not for most of us, though the layout is vaguely similar to a B&W home theater speaker system from the late 1990s. The shape of the woofer enclosure here also suggests an intriguing configuration for a floor-mounted center channel speaker for use below a projection screen—though no center speaker is likely to match the 8T.
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 15, 2012 0 comments
Wisdom launched several new in-wall speaker systems that would be well-suited to a home theater setting, particularly one using a perforated screen. The demoed units were the P4i ($1500 each) and L8i ($5000 each). While neither could match the sheer majesty of the Wisdom LS4s, both of them (with a smaller Wisdom subwoofer) provided sound of a quality I never thought possible from small in-walls,m with none of the usual in-wall colorations. One caveat here is that the temporary walls used in the demonstration may not be typical of real walls, either in the size of their internal cavities (the Insights do not use a backbox) or in rigidity and lack of resonances (the walls here appeared to be made of MDF, not the sheetrock of most residential construction).
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 15, 2012 0 comments
Here are the beryllium cone drivers seen in the new, $50,000/pair 8T speakers from Status Acoustics and described elsewhere here.
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 15, 2012 0 comments
This is the SEAS driver referenced in the posting above.
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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Jan 15, 2012 8 comments
Your universal remote control may become a thing of the past. TV manufacturers are creating apps that can not only control the TV, but can be programmed with macros to control your whole home theater system.

Remote control apps have been appearing over the past year. These apps work over wifi to control connected TVs and devices.

This year, Sony and Samsung are showing tablets with IR (infrared control), that can send commands to most any home theater device.

What do you think? Are you ready to chuck your home theater remote for an app on a tablet?

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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Jan 15, 2012 1 comments
Samsung announced a Blu-ray Disc player that let’s you get digital copies of your movies. This does not mean that the Blu-ray Disc is making digital copies of your movies. Instead, you put a DVD or Blu-ray Disc into the Blu-ray Disc player, and it will access Ultraviolet where you can purchase a digital copy of the movie and save it to your Ultraviolet cloud locker.
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 15, 2012 3 comments
Available either alone ($1000) or with a small subwoofer and surround satellites ($2000), GoldenEar's new SuperCinema 3D Array is an unpowered soundbar (requires an external, customer-provided AVR) that appears to effectively compensate for the limited spacing of its left/right channel drivers by a second set of internal drivers to "effectively cancel out [the] crosstalk distortion between the left and right channel[s]." I spend some time listening to it, and was surprised at how effective it was. More importantly, its overall performance, while no substitute for good, well separated conventional speakers (of which GoldenEar makes more than its well-received share) was remarkable and well worth considering by those who need a space-saving, home theater solution.
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 15, 2012 0 comments
This free-standing version of the Wisdom Audio LS4 is designed to be tri-amped, together with Wisdom's own electronic crossover. $100,000, and the customer must supply the six amplifier channels needed. As heard with Audio Research amps and a pair of Wisdom's own monster subwoofers, they did sound magnificent. The speakers can also be wall-mounted, and in fact Wisdom has often demonstrated its systems in the past in a home-theater setup, though the demo here was strictly 2-channel.
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 15, 2012 0 comments
Driver manufacturer SB Acoustics showed an array of their drivers, available both to manufacturers (either stock or custom) and DIY enthusiasts. Shown here is a new SB 8-inch woofer with an aluminum cone. It resembles (and may be) the woofer seen in some of the new Revel Performa line on display at the show and available in mid 2012.
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 15, 2012 0 comments
There are specialty manufacturers that make various parts for loudspeaker drivers, and when ordering specialty drivers it is possible for a manufacturer of finished speakers to select the cone, surround, frame, voice-coil, etc. from various sources and have these parts assembled by a finished driver specialist. That's way it's possible to experiment with different configurations without the expense of fabricating the individual (very expensive) parts only to discard them if the results prove unsatisfactory.

That may or may not be how Wilson or any other specific manufacturer orders its custom drivers, only that it's possible. Note how the midrange driver used in the Sasha from Wilson Audio (and in variations in most of that company's newer speakers) at first glance resembles the driver from SEAS shown below. However, if you look closely the resemblance is mainly in the cone material, with significant differences in the dust cap, frame, surround, and presumably the internal structure as well.

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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Jan 15, 2012 0 comments
This year most TV manufacturers are pairing tablets with TVs to create what they call a “second screen” or “Dual Screen” experience. Why interrupt what you are watching to bring up menus that shrink the screen or overlay TV guide grids that block your picture, when you can bring up the menus and guides on your tablet?

Toshiba, Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, LG and others showed up their apps that run on tablets to control and enhance your TV viewing experience. Although they would like you to buy their tablets, the apps will run on any Android or iOS device.

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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Jan 15, 2012 0 comments
Attendees of the Monster Retailer Awards could wax nostalgic with Chicago. Many who swayed and sang along with the hit-filled concert could not have been born 45 years ago when the band began, yet the audience sang along with hits from five decades.
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 15, 2012 0 comments
You will see a few asides in these postings that are not speaker-related, but interesting nonetheless. Shown in the photo is the first preamp ever produced by audio specialist Audio Research, the SP-3 from the mid 1970s. It was on static display in the Audio Research room. Audio Research founder William Z. Johnson passed away in 2011. Johnson and his company were key players in the birthing of high-end.
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 15, 2012 0 comments
Fortunately, RBH does make speakers for the rest of us, I didn't get sufficient information on the model shown here, but it appears to be an update on the RBH 8300-SE which sells for $9700. That's hardly cheap, but not outrageous in today's high-end speaker marketplace.

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