CES 2012

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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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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 12, 2012 0 comments
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!

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 12, 2012 0 comments
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.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 12, 2012 0 comments
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).
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 12, 2012 0 comments
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.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 12, 2012 0 comments
Interesting shapes were seen in the exhibit of this Danish loudspeaker maker.
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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Jan 12, 2012 0 comments
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 12, 2012 0 comments
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.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 12, 2012 0 comments
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 12, 2012 0 comments
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.
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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Jan 12, 2012 0 comments
Giant flat panels, 4K, and 8K weren't the only stories at the Sharp booth, though they did grab all the attention—and 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.
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 12, 2012 0 comments
Two years ago I prodded for a new Thiel center channel to match the company's flagship CS3.7 speaker. Now it's here—or will be later this year. The MCS1.2 uses the same coaxial midrange-tweeter driver as the CS3.7, along with a pair of smaller, newly developed woofers. In addition to use with the CS3.7s, the MCS1.2 can also be used as left and right front speakers and/or surrounds. Pricing TBD.
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 12, 2012 0 comments
The entry point for the LG booth (why do they call them booths when they’re more like stadiums?) was perhaps the knockout of the show, with dozens of LG flat panel displays arrayed in a video wall displaying a stunning loop of 3D images. And because LG is using passive glasses in all of its LCDs, it was able to show 3D not only on these screens but on most of the screens in their booth as well, providing either regular or clip-on passive glasses to all comers.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 12, 2012 0 comments
Monitor Audio's Shadow on-walls come in four sizes, all with four-inch flat mid-woofers and the famous C-CAM tweeter used in company's other speakers, built into tough extruded aluminum enclosures. Prices range from $849 to $1649 per pair. They sounded mellower than is typical for Monitor and were home theater worthily dynamic.

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