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 TVsin 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 pronouncedand enjoyablefrom both.
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.
Although it was first introduced at CEDIA last September, I missed seeing the Mitsubishi HC-7800D DLP projector at that show. This 3D-capable single-chip model uses IR-sync'd active glasses that boast a much shorter inter-eye blackout time (when both lenses are closed) than most active glasses0.2 milliseconds compared with about 3mswhich means they let more light through for a brighter 3D image. The HC-7800D provides 2D-to-3D conversion and vertical lens shift with manual zoom and focus. It is available now for $3000, including the IR emitter but no glasses (except now through the end of February, when you get one pair in a special promotionwhich is a good deal, since the glasses cost $200 each!).
I saw a demo on a 110-inch (diagonal) Vutec Silver Star screen using a clip from Yogi Bear, an awful movie that nonetheless has great 3D, and it looked quite good with no discernable crosstalk. But even with the reduced inter-eye blackout time, the image was still pretty dim.
Myspace CEO Tim Vanderhook, and co-owner, Justin Timberlake announced Myspace TV at the Panasonic CES press conference. Available on Panasonic TVs as part of VIERA Connect on their next generation of Smart VIERA TV HDTVs, Myspace TV allows users to share and comment on the TV shows that they’re viewing.
Vanderhook began by explaining,“Historically, TV has been a shared experience, as people gathered together to watch their favorite programs.” Viewers can make comments on programming creating a group conversation that will show up on their friends’ Myspace TV.
JVC demonstrated three of its projectors, the DLA-X30R ($3500), DLA-X70R ($8000), and the DLA-X90R ($12,000). The DLA-X30R was demonstrated in 3D with an anamorphic lens on a 2.35:1 source. The ability of the JVC projectors to do 3D with such an add-on lens new for 2012. Previously, and with some other projectors, the internal processing did not have enough horsepower to handle both 3D and the anamorphic vertical stretch needed for use with an anamorphic lens.
The DLA-X70R was used for a 2.35:1 2D source, but here by using the zoom method to fill the screen (a convenient option here thanks to the lens memories that all three projectors offer. A review of the DLA-X70R is in the works and should appear in our May 2012 issue. Both of these projectors were used on Screen Innovations Black Diamond screens (1.4 gain, 100-inches wide) in a well-darkened space.
The DLA-X90R was demonstrated in JVC's 4K e-Shift theater on a 150-inch diagonal (about 130-inches wide) Stewart DT Reflection screen (gain 1.7). the images were stunningly vivid, and the demo all too brief!
Cardas is best known for bleeding-edge cables but is moving into earbuds with the EM 5813 Ear Speakers. Their heavy and lustrous metal casings are brass in the $425 model and steel in the $325 model. Despite their weight, they fit well and don't fall out easily if you pick the right cushion size (took me a couple of tries). Cardas went to a lot of trouble to make the tube mimic the shape of the cochlea, in proportions that adhere to the Golden Ratio, a longtime Cardas design obsession. (It seems to have resulted in a long string of great-sounding products.) The diaphragm is about the size of the eardrum.
GoldenEar Technology continues to produce thoughtful, independent-minded, and well-engineered new products. Pride of place in the company's exhibit went to the Triton Three powered tower, whose 800-watt DSP-enhanced digital amp drives a 5- by 9-inch sub driver, further reinforced by two 6.75- by 8-inch passive radiators. With the top end handled by GoldenEar's signature folded ribbon tweeter and Audio Research electronics, the speaker left the room awash in delicious sound. Another notable debut was the SuperCinema 3D Array soundbar. This LCR bar includes, in triplicate, the folded ribbon and a 4.5-inch woofer. Cancellation of inter-aural crosstalk gives it the ability to sound anywhere from slightly to considerably (almost unnervingly) bigger than the width of the bar itself. Since it's an LCR, factor in the cost of surrounds and sub. Pricing for either one: $999/each. Also shown was the Invisa HTR 7000 in-ceiling speaker, the first product in that genre to include the folded ribbon ($499).
NAD is now shipping three receivers introduced at CEDIA 2011. They include the T 787 ($4000), T 777 ($3000), T 757 ($1600), and T 748 ($900). All but the bottom model have modular construction to allow a variety of updates in the top two models and video updates in the third. The top model has dual transformers which should do a lot to juice dynamics. This receiver would beat up your receiver and take its lunch money if it didn't have such a dreamy, poetic hi-fi personality.
Energy has long been one of my favorite speaker companies, not least because of my long term reference Energy Veritas v2.8 speakers, circa 1994 (an eon for an audiophile to favor anything). But the brand has fallen on hard times since its acquisition (along with Mirage) by the Klipsch Group. Hopefully better days are ahead. There are, apparently, some new Veritas models in the lineup, but you'd never know it from Klipsch's CES kiosk that features subwoofers and soundbars.
Good things come in threes, and in this case it's Parasound's new three-channel Halo A31 amplifier ($3000, available soon). It's essentially a three-channel version of Parasound's highly-regarded Halo A21 stereo amp, and a cousin to the company's Halo A51 five-channel design. Why would you want a three-channel amp? To locate your front channel amps up front and your surround amps in the rear where they can benefit from shorter cable runs to the surround speakers. Or perhaps you don't need as much power in back, or already have a decent stereo amp you can use there.
Giant flat panels, 4K, and 8K weren't the only stories at the Sharp booth, though they did grab all the attentionand real estate. Sitting on static display was the new XV-Z30000 single-chip DLP projector, which provides 3D capabilities with IR-sync'd active glasses (two pairs and the emitter are included, extras are $100 each) that are compatible with Sharp's 3D flat panels and offer the ability to watch 3D content in 2D for those who don't enjoy the stereoscopic experience. Unlike the XV-Z17000 (reviewed here), the Z30000 has a center-mounted, long-throw lens with horizontal and vertical lens shift and motorized focus and zoom. It should be shipping in February for $4500.