And that's not the only thing this 78-pound, $3999 receiver has to offer. It comes with four cool brushed-aluminum keypads (supplied, no extra charge) and 140 watts times seven. It can play loud, as the people at the neighboring Verizon booth noted ruefully.
The Meridian P200z in-wall subwoofer fits an eight-inch active driver and eight-inch passive radiator into a three-quarter-inch depth. In a conventional subwoofer, that's not nearly enough space, but the dedicated amp (bottom) uses DSP magic to compensate. The enclosure is a nonresonant wood-metal laminate. Price tentatively pegged between $4000-5000.
Paul Barton has been putting his legendary ear (actually, both of them) to work in an overhaul of the Stratus line. He's bringing over the liquid-cooled aluminum dome tweeters and fiberglass woofers from the even higher-end Platinum line and promises furniture-grade cabinetry like the gleaming gloss-black beauties shown here. They are the GT1 tower ($1999/pair), GB1 bookshelf ($1099/pair), and GC1 center ($849/each). Strong bass and a sweet midrange are givens. These may become the midpriced high-end speakers to beat.
A hot issue among surround buffs is HDMI and what it does or doesn't do. If you want your system to handle next-gen surround formats like DTS-HD Master Audio, you need HDMI version 1.3 connectivity in your receiver. According to Denon's Steve Baker, his company's receivers will support HDMI 1.3 "as soon as the chipsets become available." That is likely to happen in 2007 though it's hard to be any more specific than that. In the meantime, you'll have to be content with the fact that Denon's ASD-1R docking station ($129) comes in both iPod-white and iPod-black.
When Revel revamped its highly successful 10-year-old Ultima line as the Ultima2, the Lexicon people needed come up with new high-current amps that can drive difficult loads. Say hello to the ZX-7 ($7999), RX-7 ($5999), and GX-7 ($2999). The biggest gun delivers 300 watts times seven into eight ohms, 450 watts into four ohms, and is stable down to two ohms. Oh, and make sure you've got a dedicated 20-amp circuit to run it.
Joining Definitive's in-ceiling lineup is the RCS II, a step up from the company's smaller existing in-ceiling models. Sealed into a medite enclosure are a one-inch aluminum dome tweeter, two 5.25-inch woofers, and two 6.5-inch passive radiators. The enclosure is tilted at a 45-degree angle. Price: $569 each.
These two JBL sat/sub sets are so cute, I couldn't decide which picture to run. The sexy globe at top left is the CS480 ($700 for a 5.1-channel set). The inverted wine bottle at bottom right is the CS6100 ($1000/5.1-ch set). Both are two-way designs with 3.5-inch woofers and come with 12-inch subs. You, the reader, decide--which one should I review?
Didn't get to hear them, unfortunately, but don't the Yamaha Soavos look great? They include a full surround set, shown, plus the floorstanding Soavo-1 and monitor-sized Soavo-2, not shown. Pricing TBD. Yamaha also showed the RX-V2700 receiver ($1799) with 140 watts times seven, iPod dock (of course, $100), XM satellite radio (the antenna goes for about 20 bucks), and network jack for Internet radio or connection of a multi-zone Yamaha MusicCast system. Is there an all-Yamaha system in your future?
In the Faustian struggle for the soul of the audio industry, Mephistopheles mans the sales floor, giving the public what it wants, namely on-wall speakers. The beckoning demon's proposition is irresistible. If you're hanging a flat-panel display, why not hang speakers there, too? All other things being equal, on-walls are at a sonic disadvantage when it comes to soundstage depth. But, as any competent demon knows, all things are rarely equal. So, let's restate the proposition: If on-walls are what you want, why not buy the best-sounding ones you can find? If they sound good in the space and look good on the wall, you might find yourself handing the demon your credit card.
In a world where manufacturers all too often behave with a depraved indifference toward the muscles of the lower abdomen, Thiel has introduced a speaker that poses no hazard to the delicate. True, Jim Thiel dodged the all-important weight question, but judging from the way he picked it up and casually hefted it, the SCS4 should be just my kind of speaker. It has the same coaxial driver array as the SCS3, uses a challenging (Jim said) first-order crossover, and will ship before year-end for less than $1000. I will try this at home. The Thiel exhibit is using it as the center and surround speakers in a demo system with the floorstanding CS3.7--unveiled nine months ago at CES and previously unheard--serving as front left/right.