Hollywood is at it again. The movie studios and their trade association are lobbying the Federal Communications Commission for power to cripple the component video interface--the only one available on millions of early-generation HDTVs.
The latest subwoofer to hit the Bowers & Wilkins CM Series is the ASW 12 CM. Similar in design to the ASW10, it has a 12-inch Kevlar-paper-cone driver with a large three-inch voice coil to pound that driver into submission, and probably you as well. The 500-watt Class D amplifier should provide plenty of power, pummeling the driver only when needed, and resting energy-efficiently the rest of the time. The finish is gloss black, the ship date is September, and the price is $2000.
Have you been playing dirty, dirty records? Sumiko hates that. At its booth were the Okki Nokki record cleaning machines. Judging from the bottle and brush sitting on top of each one, this must be a wet-system cleaner. The product is available in black or much hipper white for $499 without dustcover or $549 with dustcover, because it's worth another fifty bucks not to let your record cleaning machine get dirty, right? Also on display were a full panoply of compact and affordable phono preamps including something we hadn't seen before: a tube model.
JBL's new ES Series will include a tower with six-inch woofers ($500/each), plus a center ($329), surround ($329/pair), bookshelf ($400/pair), larger bookshelf ($500/pair), and a couple of subs ($450 and $550). I'm still waiting to get my hands on the cute bottle-shaped CS 6100 unveiled at CEDIA in September 2006. It's on the way!
The coolest trick at CES was Summit Semiconductor's WiSA (Wireless Speaker & Audio) technology and the way it could literally move the sweet spot from the usual front-and-center position off to the side or to the back of the room. It was uncanny. WiSA spreads uncompressed high-res signals wirelessly among powered speakers. You're looking at the power/receiver board that makes it work. WiSA will surface first in Aperion products. The loudspeaker industry would be crazy not to jump on this, especially since it can be built into speaker systems selling for less than $1000.
With the TGM-100 Theater Grand Media Server, Sunfire has added a signal source to its excellent speaker and amp products, so now you can have a complete Sunfire system. The server sucks up DVDs and CDs and stores the content on the TGM-HD6 Theater Grand Hard Drive. Note that the latter, on the bottom, has eight slots. Available drives hold one, three, or six terabytes. Sunfire will explore the Blu-ray angle "when it makes sense."
Price: $3,149 At A Glance: Brilliantly ironclad build quality • Tight, tuneful sealed sub • Carver-worthy dynamics
Little Speaker Lusts for Power
My lonely battle to establish the satellite/subwoofer set as a respectable speaker category just got a little less lonely. Bob Carver, legendary designer of amps and speakers, has joined me on the space-saving speaker front. Carver first gained fame when he founded Phase Linear in 1970. He designed what the industry then considered some of the world’s most powerful amplifiers. His current company, Sunfire, has branched out into surround processors, an extensive subwoofer line, and speakers. With the HRS line, he enters the sat/sub category with a product that—like most Carver products—shows a healthy lust for power. Take these four satellites, a barely larger center, and one of Carver’s famously potent subs, and you’ve got a sat/sub set that’ll turn heads and change minds.
Headphones aren’t just about mobile audio. They’re also a cost-effective way to get good sound into your ears even when you’re not on the go. If you have $400 to spend on a set of speakers, your options are of limited fidelity, but the same money will buy you the Sennheiser HD600, one of the most popular high-end headphone models of all time. Try getting a comparably great-sounding set of surround speakers for that price.