The G95 is this high-end digital icon's first product to combine preamp, surround processing, and amplifier functions. Power is rated at 100 watts times five. Also included is a DVD/CD drawer (with DVD-Audio compatibility). The price is a mere $8400 and surround-savvy, spaced-starved audiophiles are salivating. Meridian also showed off a new variant of its Faroudja video processing with motion compensation, not to mention a trendy iPod dock.
Audio Physic's Sky on-wall suits a variety of decor situations with four choices of side panel for a mere $2000/pair (the company has a high-end rep on the block). Without panels, it also functions as an in-wall. The Spark mini-tower, Celsius center, and Step stand-mount speakers may find their way into my listening room.
The former design guru of Platinum Audio now heads up American Acoustic Development, or AAC, and while the 7001i Reference monitor's ribbon tweeter caught my ear, I was soon sucked into the vortex of Phil's M Series, his first value-priced home theater package ($1350/5.1-channel system). He is a bass player and let me assure you the system had jaw-droppingly tight and focused bass response as well as the designer's signature clarity.
Speakers of the future will go green. Among the several environment-friendly materials Infinity is considering is recycled-denim insulation (not to mention bamboo plywood). It will soon arrive in product. Just think, what was warming someone's booty yesterday may be in your speakers tomorrow.
The newer and smaller of Bang & Olufsen's two powered floorstanding speakers powers its woofer with 500 watts of Class D ICE power (the smart green kind) and saves sweeter-sounding Class AB for the midrange and tweeter. At $9900/pair, you might find it sinfully expensive, but when you see some of B&O's slick moves for integration with swiveling video displays and its brand-new multimedia interface, you just might change your mind.
What's the best way to arrest rapidly moving showgoers and convince them that your noise-cancelling headphone technology is the best? Sennheiser plopped a couple of plane seats (first class, of course) on the show floor with a speaker between them spewing recorded jet turbine noise. I then sat down next to the speaker, put on the cans, and got the point. The PXC 450 is comfortable, despite its ear-enveloping size, and sounds full, rich, and spacious, with profound bass.
You don't see the parts inside a speaker enclosure. So when you lay eyes on the latest generation of Wharfedales to live in the now-familiar curved enclosure, you won't see the fat, sexy, new magnets and capacitors that will provide "better dynamic range" and "much better high-frequency response." Is the familiar dark-hued tone of recent Wharfedale product about to change? I'd like to find out in my own environs.
Only the latest version of the HDMI interface, 1.3, will carry DTS-HD Master Audio, though 1.2 and 1.1 will do for DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, not to mention Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus. Sherwood receiver model R-872 ($999) is the lowest-priced one with the full monty. Also fully qualified to be your man is the R-972 ($1499).
Vogue Tech. Co. of Taiwan showed a peak-eared feline-like multimedia speaker system using flat-panel diaphragms licensed from U.K.-based NXT. Safe to say this is a Home Theater Magazine blog exclusive.
"KEF Wireless" is the laconic name of the British loudspeaker's icon entry into cable-free audio. Proprietary algorithms (I've heard this so often, it's almost like a pickup line in a bar) resist noise from nearby appliances and ensure audiophile-ish bandwidth. The "after market" version (lower right) has a 50-watt Class D amp backed up with, I'm told, a great power supply. But you can also buy KEF Wireless built as a "doughnut" into one of KEF's slender, world-beating Reference towers (top left). Also in the works: The new Austin series, with redesigned Uni-Q coaxial driver array (KEF likes putting tweeters amid other drivers) with strengthened tweeter and bigger magnets--"not overly analytical" and "easier to place."