I could have really used this when I installed and reviewed SunBriteTV’s 4660HD 46-inch weather-resistant outdoor flat-panel HDTV several months ago. In fact, I looked everywhere for (at least I thought I had) and asked anyone who would listen about a surge protector for the HDMI connection going from the system inside my house out to the HDTV on the back patio. Having gone through the pain of a relatively extensive surge from a frighteningly close lightning strike, I’m slightly more aware of the potential downside of too much electricity. As far as I can tell, Ethereal is the first company to offer an in-line surge protector specifically for HDMI connections. The Ethereal HDM-SP is available now for $159.99 – a price that could wind up saving you a lot more if you live in lightning-prone locales like I do.
The Darbee video processor is said to cleanly enhance a video image. Based on what I saw at CEDIA (and based on Kris Deering's review that's available on this site) it does the job surprisingly well. I did notice, however, that if there are artifacts in the source material it will enhance those as well! But the degree of enhancement is adjustable.
When it comes to high-end speakers, Sony has had tough sledding in the U.S. market, despite some quality products. Its current SS-AR1 and SS-AR2 are excellent designs, but at $27,000 and $20,000 per pair respectively, they'll be a hard sell to any but the passionate and well-healed audiophile.
So when I saw a new pair of concept speakers side-by-side with Sony's new 84-inch, 4K flat panel on the company’s show floor booth I was intrigued. They weren't getting much attention from the CEDIA crowd, of course. All eyes were on the HDTV, and the sound was at a very low level and drowned out by the general din of the convention center din.
But the speakers were being demonstrated rather secretively at a nearby hotel. The official introduction is still weeks or months away (possibly at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver in October but more likely at CES in January), so it’s all very hush-hush for now. If I tell you more about them here I’d have to kill you. But you can get a closer look in the following entry, including the speaker’s unique tweeter arrangement. For now I'll just say that they will get a lot of positive attention when they arrive officially. The pricing is still TBD, but will be lower, and perhaps considerably lower, than the SS-AR1 and SS-AR2. And unlike be those determinedly 2-channel designs, matching centers, bookshelves, and subs will be available.
Scheduled to be available later this year, NextGen’s latest remote control extending device is a hockey puck-like device that receives signals from a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth and blasts out the corresponding IR code so you can control your AVR gear using NextGen’s smartphone app. Pricing is expected to be $79.95.
One-upping Paradigm's 30th anniversary models and KEF's 50th anniversary models, Wharfedale celebrates its 80th anniversary with the Denton monitor. Audio history buffs will recognize the model name which goes back decades and decades. If that mahogany finish looks good to you (and it looked great to us) act fast because only 2000 pairs will be made. The one-inch soft dome tweeter and six-inch Kevlar woofer were made especially for this model in IAG's Shenzhen factory, which is capable of making every part, however tiny, that goes into its products. Also shown were two UPC subs including a dual 10-inch powered by 500 watts and a dual 8-inch powered by 350 watts. They come with remote control for volume, crossover, and phase and you can turn off the front panel display if it annoys you. We wish all subs were so eager to please. And we wish all speakers were so drop-dead gorgeous.
Runco is in Indianapolis with several new DLP front projectors across a range of price points, including three models in its new XtremeProjection Series targeted at high-end installations, the X-200i ($14,995), the X-400d ($34,995), and the X-450d ($39,995). The X-200i features integrated processing, while the two top models ship with the DC-300 Dimension Digital Controller, an outboard processor said to be optimized to enhance 3D performance. The X-200i, shown here and demonstrated for press on Thursday, is a single-chip DLP projector rated for 1430 ANSI lumens and up to 50 foot-lamberts of light output. It threw some impressive images of Kung Fu Panda on a 120-in Stewart Studiotek 130 screen.
Krell is getting back into the sub-$10K price point with the Foundation pre-pro. At $6000, it offers fully balanced output stages, as you can see from all those XLR outs. Ever conscious that the surround audiophile may also be a stereo audiophile, it supplements its eight HDMI ins and two outs with a stereo preamp mode that keeps the signal entirely in the analog domain. Add some combination of Krell's five-, three-, or two-channel power amps and you've got a compelling system.
Digital Projection was featuring Its D-Vision 35 LED ($39,000 with lens) and D-Vision Scope ($34,995). Both are single-chip home theater designs, identical in form factor to the photo here, but very different in their features. The D-Vision LED uses LED lighting for consistent color and long life, though with some sacrifice in brightness. The D-Vision Scope has a higher than HD resolution chip that enables projection of 2.35:1 films without an anamorphic lens and with an on-screen pixel density of 2560 x 1080. Both looked outstanding, though I favored the brightness and big screen capability of the D-Vision Scope.
Speaker designer Paul Barton of PSB, who has applied his considerable skills and ears in the past year to wirless bluetooth speakers (the NAD Viso 1) and headphones (the M4U), has now bowed his answer to the powered desktop speaker system. The PSB Alpha PS1 features built-in amplification delivering 20 watts per side. The left side speaker has the volume control on the back panel, along with analog RCA and 1/8-inch inputs and an RCA subwoofer output. A clever touch is the USB power-only port, which can be used to power any third-party wireless dongle you might use to facilitate wireless streaming from a computer or source component. Price on the system will be $300 when it becomes available in October.
Screen Innovations has incorporated adjustable (and defeatable) backlighting at the boarders of its zero-edge, fixed-frame projection screens. Just don’t call it Ambilight! Apart from this, however, I saw a stunning, bright, and colorful image (granted, the source was Speed Racer) on the 138-inch diagonal, 2.35:1, 1.4-gain Black Diamond screen, driven by a Sony VPL-VW1000 4K projector and a standard 2K Blu-ray disc.
Sonance, which introduced the first in-wall-speaker a couple decades ago, is demonstrating the third generation of its Invisible Series speaker panels at CEDIA Expo. The panels mount flush in the wall and can be covered with up to an eight of an inch of any flexible material---including spackling compound, wallpaper or plaster---and painted over without compromising the performance. Hailed as the company’s best sounding invisible speaker to date, the panels are designed to fit between the studs in standard 2 x 4 wall construction. Judging from the demo on the noisy show floor, the sound is surprisingly decent.
The four new models boast 90-dB sensitivity, enabling the panels to play much louder than previous generation panels. All models have an injection-molded polypropylene diaphragm, extruded aluminum frame and require only 2 inches of depth for mounting. Optional enclosures are said to reduce sound transmission to adjacent rooms by up to 20 dB. The IS4 three-way panel shown in the photo has a suggested retail price of $1,600 per pair. Other pricing: The two-way IS2 is $1,100 per pair, the single stereo IS4SST is $900 and the ISW Woofer is $600.
At its Friday press event, SIM2 Multimedia featured its M.150 single chip DLP projector with LED illumination. Normally, LED-based projectors aren’t very bright, but this one lit up the screen. It might have helped that the 125-inch diagonal screen was a DNP Supernova with a gain of 2.4. Surprisingly, this screen had no perceptible hot spot and little fall off in brightness at off-axis angles, making it a viable alternative for LED-lit projectors like the M150.
SIM2 also launched, but did not demonstrate, its SIRIO high Brightness 3D projector (shown in the photo above). Its single-chip DLP dual lamp design (2 x 300W) is claimed to offer higher brightness than other dual lamp projectors. The projector body by itself is $25,000, and a variety of lenses are available at extra cost. The projector will go on sale in late October.
The company also announced a $1000 drop in price for its base line, single-chip DLP models. The Crystal 35 is now $5000, the Crystal 45, $7000.
A price was also announced for the Cinemaquattro 4K projector mentioned in an earlier blog: $158,000, not including lens, of which there will be a variety available. Just in case you were hovering on the edge of your seat before writing that check. The projector is based in a professional Christie design; the light output also mentioned earlier will depend on the chosen lamp configuration and lens.
The gorgeous zebrawood finish and Retro meets Danish styling of Triad’s towering Cinema Reference speaker was hard to miss on the CEDIA Expo show floor. The 47.5-inch-tall CR LCR 1 main speaker combines a horn-loaded Air Motion Transformer (AMT) driver with two 8-inch midrange drivers and a 15-inch woofer. The companion CR Surround is 27 inches tall and features a pair of 1-inch compression tweeters and two 5-inch mids in a horn-loaded configuration and a 10-inch woofer. In-wall, on-wall and stand mounting options are available. Estimated pricing is $12,500 each for the CR LCR and $5,000 each for the CR Surround, both of which are expected to be available for sale in January. A companion subwoofer is being developed.
Of the four soundbars in Polk Audio's line, two are new, and one is quite remarkable. We're talking about the SurroundBar 9000 IHT ($799). This 5.1-channel bar has three tweeters for the front channels and dedicated woofers for each of the five channels, with each driver powered by 45 watts, plus external eight-inch sub. What fascinates us is that bass frequencies from 80-200Hz are routed to all woofers in the bar. In other words, if there's significant bass content in any one of the five channels, it's routed to the other channels as well. This allows better bass handling than you'd expect in a bar. It also allows a lower crossover to the sub, an audiophile-approved 80Hz, which keeps voices from booming out of the sub. Connectivity is optical and analog, both times two, with Dolby Digital and DTS decoding. Guess what? The 9000 worked wonders with a James Taylor concert track, with realistic acoustic guitar harmonics and a vocal presentation that was crisp but not fatiguing. The other new guy is SurroundBar 5000 IHT ($399), a 2.1-channel Bluetooth bar with a pair of full-range drivers backed up by a 6.5-inch sub. Both shipping this month.