Yamaha's YSP-1400 BL soundbar ($450) has eight little drivers behind that metal grille. They are designed to attain 5.1-channel status by beaming sound all over the place and bouncing it off walls. Take a look at those fat cylindrical feet. Those are the subwoofer drivers. There's Bluetooth, of course, and control apps for iOS and Android. A second new Yamaha soundbar is the YAS-152BL ($350) which is said to produce virtual 7.1-channel surround and also has built-in subs, this time firing out of the bottom surface. This bar's apps can be used to fine-tune the sound in addition to the usual volume and other adjustments. Both products have Dolby Digital and DTS decoding and (no surprise at these price points) no HDMI or lossless surround decoding. Both shipping next month.
Satellite/subwoofer sets and stand-mount speakers were conspicuous in their near-absence from this year's CEDIA but Monitor Audio showed three different (and differently shaped) sats. From left to right: The newest member of the family is Monitor's flagship sat, the Apex 10 ($1000/pair). Though the pic doesn't show it off well, the woofer has a dimpled surface that enables it to be both thin and strong, increasing clarity and reducing distortion. The MASS (Monitor Audio Satellite System), introduced at CES, is a 5.0-channel system selling for $699. Its fabric-wrapped polymer enclosure has a distinctive shape designed to inhibit bass-bloating standing waves. The Radius ($500/pair), an existing line, has been upgraded with a one-inch tweeter and four-inch woofer. Monitor's proprietary driver material is C-CAM, a ceramic-coated aluminum-magnesium blend. In all cases complementary centers and subs are available. Oh, and the speakers plug into their stands, with binding posts for cable at the bases of the stands.
While NAD's usual practice is to add features to existing surround receiver models, the T 758 ($1199) is the successor to the T 757. It boasts 120 watts of continuous power per channel, we assume into two channels. Modular construction, a neat feature of NAD receivers, allows for future upgrades, whatever technology comes our way. One thing this receiver does not have is an ethernet jack or any network audio features. For those step up to the even brawnier T 777 ($2999) and T 787 ($3999). Note that these list prices are lower than historical ones because NAD is aggressively courting a smaller but more committed dealer base. As a result, receiver sales have doubled, and just may triple. Clearly a lot of home theater buffs are willing to pay for great surround sound even at the expense of frilly features.
Its 0.75-inch-thick granite enclosure makes the Status Element monitor unique. The enclosure of the 53-pound speaker has four additional layers: elastomer, aluminum, silicon, and foam. Under the hood are a one-inch fabric tweeter and 6.5-inch beryllium alloy woofer. Your $15,000/pair can buy any of several colors of granite of which our favorite (though not pictured) is cactus green. It looked great on the spokesperson's iPhone. This product was born in the U.S.A.
Paradigm has refreshed its world-beating Millennia CT sat/sub system as the CT 2. It still has the same one-inch tweeter and four-inch woofer, both S-PAL, the company's satin-anodized aluminum, with an eight-inch driver built into the flat-form-factor sub. The new elements are in the control module and they include Dolby Digital decoding and Buetooth with aptX. Current CT owners should check out the upgrade. Price for CT 2 is $849, shipping first quarter of 2014. Paradigm has also added a Soundtrack II to the existing Soundtrack soundbar. The new one has 2.1 channels, two one-inch S-PAL tweeters, two four-inch woofers, two 4.5-inch passive radiators, wireless sub, Bluetooth/aptX, and will sell for $899. Also new is a Soundscape soundbar designed to go with TVs 60 inches and up. This 5.0-channel bar (sub extra) has three tweeters, each mated with a midbass driver, except for the center tweeter which gets two. Each of the seven drivers is powered by 25 watts. Dolby Digital, DTS, and Bluetooth/aptX are included. Price is $1499. Both bars will ship in the first quarter of 2014.
Olympica is a new speaker line from Sonus Faber, whose speakers have always been luxurious in both build and looks. A 1.1-inch silk dome tweeter and six-inch paper-composite woofer are built into a curved enclosure that is asymmetrical and built in mirror-imaged pairs. This allows the slot ports, located toward the rear of the side panels, to interact with the room in different ways, so if you audition these, you'll want to experiment with positioning, facing the port inward or outward. Available in light walnut and dark graphite veneer finishes, these were easily the most beautiful products we've seen on the first day of CEDIA 2013, and we suspect we won't see anything finer. Pricing is $6500/pair, shipping now. A matching center model is also available.
We hit the soundbar beat pretty hard at this show and our coverage wouldn't be complete without mention of two Bose products. The CineMate 1 SR ($1350) is said to be the bestselling bar in North America over the past nine months. It uses seven of the same tiny drivers that make the famous Bose "jewel cubes" sound pretty good (we know this, having reviewed them in another form). There are also two radiators providing side effects. And the bar's pretty control savvy, with multi-room control and Control 4, Crestron, RTI, and Savant compatibility. The same bar features in the Lifestyle 135 system ($2100) which adds a console with iOS dock and room correction.
Celebrity designer Andrew Jones, having already ennobled two loudspeaker lines that sell for real-world prices with his high-end touch, brings much the same values to the SP-SB23W soundbar. The 2.1-channel bar uses the same curved MDF enclosure, the same one-inch soft dome tweeter (times two), and similar three-inch woofers (times four) plus a 100-watt, 6.5-inch, wireless sub. Each of the six drivers gets a separate 28-watt amp channel. Designed for music as well as movies, the bar offers Bluetooth with aptX compression coding, plus Dolby Digital and DTS decoding, and is designed to plug into a TV's analog output. See upcoming review by Brent Butterworth. Price $399, shipping this fall.
In the past, we've found Phase Technology's three-channel passive soundbars quite persuasive, so we happily greeted the new TeatroTSB3.0. Here's the cool part: Spatial Field Expander drivers at the sides of the extruded aluminum bar push the left and right channels outward for a most un-bar-like, room-filling effect. Each of the three channels gets a classic Phase Tech 0.75-inch soft dome tweeter (this is the company that invented soft dome tweeters) plus a couple of polypropylene woofers; the SFE side drivers are one-inch aluminum domes. Shipping in late fall, price n/a. Phase Tech also showed the SB60 CA (Classic Audiophile) monitor to honor its 60th anniversary. Ken Hecht, son of the late founder Bill Hecht, remains actively involved in the company.
The Canton DM 50 sound pad (yes, we love the name too) is just about wide enough for the pedestal of a large flat panel TV. While the driver complement remained something of a mystery due to the nondetachable grille, it does have two 3.5-inch woofers firing out of the bottom. Dolby Digital and DTS decoding are present. Total power is 200 watts, Class D. Like any respectable bar nowadays, it also has Bluetooth. Price $599.