Focal's Sub Utopia EM earns its $13,999 pricetag with the use of an electromagnetic active voice coil, pictured to the right of the sub. This affords its 13-inch driver a degree of control and damping not possible with a conventional passive voice coil. Outboard amp required, 500 to 1000 watts recommended. Focal also showed three multimedia speakers: the Little Bird, the Bird, and the Super Bird, hence the headline. The cool thing is the flat box that goes with them. It combines the functions of a stereo integrated amp, headphone amp, DAC, and active sub, with wireless connectivity for iOS devices. Pricing is $995, $1199, or $1499 for the package depending on size of fowl. Add another $99 for an iOS or USB dongle.
After yesterday's Media Preview appearance, the GoldenEar SuperCinema 3D Array soundbar offered smooth performance with dynamically challenging movie material and the broad on- and off-axis imaging afforded by its folded ribbon tweeter. We'd say it's worth the $999 pricetag.
Crimson AV primarily makes mounts for big flat-panel TVs and projectors. And while I was impressed by the company’s attention to even the smallest details of the largest mounts, one of Crimson AV’s smallest devices was getting the largest attention. The $39.95 pocket-eAzl is a cleverly designed stand for iPads and other tablets that folds up into a small brick-like package that’s about the height and depth of an iPhone but only half the width, so it easily fits in a shirt, pants, or jacket pocket when not in use.
Epson's long delayed LCOS (reflective LCD) projector caused quite a ruckus when it was demonstrated at the 2010 CEDIA. But it was never released and has now gone back to the drawing board. So don't look for it any time soon.
But there is a new Epson LCD in town, the PowerLite Pro Cinema 6020. The claim of 2400 lumens and a peak contrast ratio of 320,000:1 would, if realized, be industry highs. The refresh rate of 480Hz is said to increase the 3D brightness. At under $4000 when available in November, the projector will come with 2 pair of active 3D glasses, a spare lamp, and a guarantee of an exchange if, on delivery, there is even one dead pixel.
Mozaex founder Douglas Kihm has been thinking about building a pair of super headphones since he was a kid, a dream he has finally realized with the BluWavs, which he is billing as the "world's first 7.1 discrete HD headphones." Each of the bulbous earcups contains five mini drivers, including what he calls a "vibration subwoofer" that literally shakes your head for a tactile experience. Each set of headphones comes with the Blender Console, which looks like a '70s-era equalizer and is available in analog and digital versions. In addition to a 15-band EQ for the front L/R channels, the blender has discrete level controls for each channel so you can really screw up...er, personalize the sound.
The 7.1-channel surround field was impressive while listening to DTS HD Master versions of the soundtrack for Tron Legacy, Peter Gabriel's Growing Up Live and Omar Hakim's Listen Up live jazz jam. Package prices range from $1,295 to $2,595, depending on the version of the Blender.
Sony’s launched its new XBR-84X900 84-inch diagonal LED edge-lit LCD set at its CEDIA EXPO 2012 press conference. With a native 4K resolution (3840 x 2160), it can display native 4K material at 24Hz or 30Hz, or upscale 2K sources to 4K. With its passive 3D glasses, it can also produce a full 2K 3D resolution to each eye (passive glasses in a 2K 3D set reduce the resolution of a 1920 x 1080 source to 1920 x 540). The set looked spectacular and will be available at selected Sony stores in November for $25,000.
Sony also announced two new flagship XBR-HX950 LCD flat panels: 55-inches ($4500) and 65-inches ($5500). The sets offer full LED backlighting with local dimming and are available now.
At the CEDIA Media Preview, for 90 feverish minutes, several dozen exhibitors showed their wares to media personnel walking through a single large room. Here are some audio highlights relating to speakers:
Surprisingly big sound from a tiny box is what you can expect from the Bluetooth-enabled ClarityHD Micro Speaker Monster introduced at CEDIA Expo. The concept: Instead of suffering through the tinny sound you get from your smartphone, tablet or PC, stream the audio to a portable speaker that easily fits in a briefcase or backpack.
CSR’s aptX audio coding is employed to deliver CD-quality sound and functions such as playing music, answering calls and Bluetooth pairing are handled by simple voice commands. Operating range is 30 feet and the speaker’s lithium-ion battery is said to last 5 hours on a single charge. Available in black and white, the ClarityHD sells for $220 and has a minijack input for use with non-Bluetooth devices.
Sony introduced three new AV receivers. The claim to fame of both the STR-5800ES (130 Watts per channel) and STR-2800ES (100 WPC) is that they may be directly integrated with the popular Control4 home automation system. They may also be used with a variety of other automation systems. The third model, the STR-DA1800, does not have Control4 built-in. All three offer 4K upconversion, full WiFi, Bluetooth, Airplay, and Internet access features.
Cary Audio has made a distinguished contribution to the headphone craze sweeping across the consumer electronics industry with the HH-1 headphone amp. Introduced at CEDIA Expo, the amp is designed and built in the U.S. and teams a tube preamp stage with a solid-state MOSFET output stage, chosen for its tube-like sonic characteristics. Featuring Class A operation at all output levels and a 30-second muting circuit to prevent annoying turn-on pops, the amp sports a pair of RCA inputs with loop-through outputs and is designed to drive headphones with impedances between 30 and 600 ohms. Price: $1,595.
Though outwardly similar to last year’s VPL-HW30ES, Sony’s new VPL-HW50ES (available in October) is an updated design. It incorporates the same Reality Creation processing as the company’s flagship VPL-VW1000 4K projector, scaled down here for 2K operation. There’s a new Iris 3 algorithm for the projector’s advanced dynamic iris, for a claimed dynamic contrast ratio of 100,000:1. The light output is also said to be increased by 30% to 1700 lumens. The 3D transmitter is internal, and the 240Hz panel is claimed to reduce 3D crosstalk. There’s also a 2D-to-3D conversion mode and a 244-zone panel alignment feature to insure convergence.
While at $4000 the VPL-HW50ES is more expensive than the HW30ES (which remains available at a reduced price of $3000), the new projector’s price includes 2 pair of active 3D glasses and a spare projection lamp.
Another CEDIA behind us. Reports are saying attendance was up by 4% compared to 2011. Those of us who were there find that hard to believe, but perhaps it was the wider aisles and smaller booths that gave the appearance of fewer people.
Regardless of how many people were there, we saw a lot of cool stuff. And took a lot of pictures.