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 photoan 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It may have been one of the less dramatic introductions at CES, but Sony's new, lightweight active 3D glasses will be welcomed by those of us with red bumps decorating the bridge of our nose after every 3D movie.
The Paradigm people unveiled their new Paradigm SHIFT brand at CES 2011. At CES 2012 they showed the Paradigm SHIFT soundbar—not the company's first, but the first under the new moniker. It includes a wireless sub and will sell for $799 starting this summer. Paradigm also showed new in-ceiling speakers with magnetic grilles and noted that the magnets are embedded in the speaker, not merely glued on. That's the kind of thing you can do when you control your manufacturing. Also shown was a $59 Bluetooth dongle to go with active speakers. Having trouble routing your earbud cables? Paradigm is introducing a $12 ear hook to take care of that problem. On the Anthem side, the M1 mono-block amp ($3499) was being demoed to good effect and the brand's two pre-pros, AVM 50v and D2v, are being updated for 3D.
This metal grille has a lotus pattern that is said to be acoustically transparent. You'll find it in Morel's new Sopran tower ($12,000/pair) and Octave 6 ($6500/pair for the tower, $3500/pair for the monitor).
Like most cable manufacturers these days, Kimber Kable's top speaker cables sell at "If you have to ask" prices. Shown here is how they are internally constructed, which looks like a braided mesh of cables over a flexible inner core.
TAD was again showing its high-end speakers and electronics. But there's been a new delivery to the family, the E1 floorstander (the smaller of the two shown in the picture). For TAD, it's now the company's "entry level" consumer mode. Like all TAD speakers, it exhibited a tremendous dynamic range—which you should expect for those bucks but don't always get.