CES 2012

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
GenAudio astounded me at last year's CES with its AstoundSound 3D audio system, which creates a convincing spherical soundfield from two speakers. This year, the company announced that its launching AstoundSound for CE, an application that manufacturers can include in their products, such as iPod speakers, soundbars, and TVs—in fact, GenAudio is partnering with Analog Devices and other DSP makers to include the algorithm in their chips.

I heard a clip from Kitaro's Earth in Bloom that was downmixed from 5.1 to 2 channels and then expanded by AstoundSound in real time played first on a $12,000 pair of Gheithain pro studio monitors and then on a $300 2.1 Panasonic soundbar, and the result was remarkable, with various sounds flying all around the room, including overhead. Of course, the studio monitors had better sound quality, but the effect was quite pronounced—and enjoyable—from both.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
If you have any TVs or monitors with a vertical HDMI connection where the HDMI cable comes loose and wriggles itself out, you’ll appreciate the locking HDMI cables being shown by Perfect Path. The cable locks into place because its end cover slides back and forth to lock or release the cable.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
Griffin’s new smartphone universal remote control uses Bluetooth to send commands to an IR emitter that sits near your home theater system. As a result, the $69.99 Beacon doesn’t require the user to attach any dongles or special transmitters to the phone (something that makes other smartphone remotes a pain in the butt). The IR emitter is battery powered, so it can be placed wherever is most convenient without the need for running a power cable to it. Models are available for both iOS and Android smartphones.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
Welcome to the wonderful world of high-end audio. After two eventful days scoping out the latest in video at the Las Vegas Convention Center venue I retired to the relatively relaxing confines of the Venetian Hotel, where I could listen to some tunes played back on deliciously succulent 2-channel gear. Yes, mainly 2-channel. There were a few interesting surround setups, such as in the Atlantic Technology booth where they were showing off the new H-PAS bookshelf speaker, and even a few rare full home theater setups, such as in the Wolf Cinema room. But the Venetian was mostly a 2-channel world.

But an interesting one. I wanted to scope out loudspeakers in particular, some of which have also been covered here by Home Theater's audio tech editor, Mark Fleischmann, and others. But what follows here is what caught my eye…er, my ears.

In the photo above is the new Magico Q7, the largest offering from that loudspeaker specialist. Each speaker is 750 lbs, 60-inches high, and 32-inches deep. A pair of them will set you back $165,000. That’s three zeros, and is not a typo. But they sounded astonishing, as well they should. Don't look for a review of five of them in Home Theater any time soon. In fact, Magico, like many high-end speaker makers, does not offer a center channel speaker.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
The folks at Etymotic Research were showing off the company’s ETY-Plugs, “the world’s highest fidelity non-custom earplugs.” Instead of just muffling the sound, the ETY-Plugs are actually able to reduce sound approximately 20 dB in all frequencies. That means music and speech sound natural and totally intelligible, just at a much-reduced volume. Since it’s only the overall volume level that’s affected and not the natural frequency response, Etymotic says they are perfect for both musicians and audience members who want to hear what is being played but at a lower volume level. The ETY-Plugs come in two sizes. Both sell for $12.95/pair.
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 13, 2012 1 comments
Back in never-neverland, Sony introduced the new SS-AR2 speaker (about $20,000/pair) to supplement the larger SS-AR1 ($27,000) introduced last year.
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Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
Got modest plans for a modest home theater using modest-sized speakers but want a THX-Certified experience? At CES, THX announced the company’s latest certification program, the THX Compact Speaker System Certification. The new specifications are designed for systems used in rooms up to 1,000 cubic feet and cover two-channel (2.1 - two speakers and one subwoofer - is the minimum requirement) all the way to full-blown 7.1-channel systems.

In the company’s suite, the THX people showed off a sample of a new MK sub/sat 2.1 system based on the MK M7. The speaker hasn’t finished the certification process yet, but THX expects that MK will be the first company to begin selling THX Compact Speaker System Certified speakers. The matching subwoofer was not on display. Expected pricing was not available.

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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
PSB is one high-end manufacturer that hasn't forgotten the rest of us. The new Imagine T2 isn't cheap at $3500/pair, but offers a lot of…um… imaginative engineering borrowed from the company's higher-end Synchrony line. It's also is capable of amazingly good sound, if a brief audition was any indication. A matching center is likely later, but the T2 itself is available now.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
In collaboration with Mark Levinson (the man, not the company), chip maker Intersil and its subsidiary D2Audio are developing a suite audio-enhancement algorithms called Mighty Cat. The idea is to use mastering tools to optimize the performance of audio hardware, such as soundbars, computer speakers, and TVs; manufacturers would "tune" the algorithms specifically for each individual product and then embed the code in the firmware of that product.

The demo I heard was played on a pair of inexpensive Logitech computer speakers. The ultimate goal is to make the Logitech speaker sound like the $25,000/pair Daniel Hertz M7 on which it is sitting in this photo—an impossible dream, to be sure, but the processing did improve the Logitech's sound dramatically, making it much richer and fuller. Intersil is in negotiations with various manufacturers to incorporate this technology into their products.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments

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