Focal ingeniously integrates a soundbar with a subwoofing TV stand. They're two separate products, but notice how they fit together. The Dimension 5.1 soundbar ($1399) is a "true 5.1" bar with a brushed aluminum chassis holding five inverted dome full-range drivers and lateral bass drivers, driven by six times 75 watts, along with HDMI, lossless surround decoding, and touch controls at the right side. Four dip-switch DSP controls compensate for room size, seating distance, and whether you're using a wall mount or placing the bar on a cadenza. Both standing and wall brackets are provided. If you want more bass, place the Dimension SUB ($399) behind the bar. Wouldn't that block the sub's drivers? No, the elliptical drivers are on the sides. The demo sounded excellent, with a warm, un-screechy midrange and full bass.
The rethought CM Series from Bowers & Wilkins includes three towers, three monitors, two centers, and one sub. They use a double dome aluminum tweeter array which combines a dome with a ring radiator, stiffening the driver and shifting its breakup mode from 30 to 38 kHz. Nautilus-style tweeter tube loading is employed in all of these new speakers though it's most visible in the tweeter-on-top models (the CM10 S2 tower and, pictured here, the CM6 S2 monitor). Woofers continue to be Kevlar. The models, all priced per speaker, are the CM10 S2 tower ($2000), CM9 S2 tower ($1600), CM8 S2 tower ($1200), CM6 S2 monitor ($1000), CM5 S2 monitor ($800), CM1 S2 monitor ($550), CM Centre2 S2 ($1250), CM Centre S2 ($700), and ASW 10CM S2 subwoofer ($1500).
Two years in the making in close association with Dolby Labs, Triad's approach to a Dolby Atmos enabled speaker is to build four two-inch ScanSpeak drivers into the top for the height channels. The Inroom Bronze LR-H is based on the InRoom Bronze LCR, with the front driver array consisting of a one-inch fabric dome tweeter and dual 5.5-inch woofers. We've heard the prototype in Dolby's New York offices and it produces impressive height effects. Atmos capability raises the basic model price from $600 to $1000/pair.
One question about Dolby Atmos that we haven't seen raised before: What effect would it have on auto setup and room correction systems in receivers and pre-pros? D+M's Atmos demo provided the answer: Audyssey has updated its technology to handle Atmos related concerns. The D+M demo used vaguely specified products including a Marantz pre-pro, Marantz multichannel amp, and Snell speakers. It used the same Dolby Labs clip disc as every other Atmos demo at CEDIA, but because it wasn't abusively loud, we enjoyed it more than most of the others.
KEF's famous coaxial Uni-Q driver array is what distinguishes its R60 Dolby Atmos enabled speaker ($1200/pair) from the competition. With a one-inch aluminum tweeter nestling amid a 5.25-inch aluminum woofer, it's the same version of Uni-Q used on the R100. KEF also showed three new tower speakers and a monitor: Blade Two ($24,000/pair), Reference 5 ($18,000/pair), Reference 3 ($13,000/pair), and Reference One ($7500/pair).
One of the largest selections of Dolby Atmos compatible surround receivers and pre-pros was at the Integra booth. They included these receivers: DTR-70.6, 11.2 channels, 135 watts per channel with two channels driven; DTR-60.6, 9.2 channels, 135 watts; DTR-50.6, 7.2 channels, 130 watts; DTR-40.6, 9.2 channels, 110 watts; DTR-30.6, 7.2 channels, 95 watts; and the Atmos-incompatible DTR-20.4, 5.2 channels, 80 watts. Then there were the pre-pros, of which only the first had Atmos: DHC-80.6, 11.2 channels; and DHC-60.5, 7.2 channels. Finally Integra showed the DTA-70.1 nine-channel power amp, rated at 150 watts per channel. Most of the receivers (except the last) are THX Select2 Plus certified while the pre-pros and multichannel amp are THX Ultra2 Plus certified. Select models also have ISF video certification and the HDBaseT HDMI extension interface. We'll update with prices when we get them.
You might suspect the top-firing driver in Sonus Faber's Lilium tower ($70,000/pair) makes it a Dolby Atmos enabled speaker. But you'd be wrong. That's a bass driver, not a height driver, and it's complemented by a bottom-firing passive radiator. The 3.5-way system is triwired and, as you'd expect from the luxury-minded Italian manufacturer, dressed to kill. Price: $70,000/pair.
Yamaha's excellent Aventage surround receiver line now features two Dolby Atmos compatible models, both with nine amp channels: the RX-A3040 ($2199, 150 watts with two channels driven) and RX-A2040 ($1699, 140 watts with two channels driven). The semi-enclosed demo, with Yamaha speakers, was crisp enough to rise above the noise of the show floor, and the height effects (from ceiling speakers) were clearly discernible. Yamaha also showed its first sound base, the SRT-1000 ($500), which features eight front "beam drivers" along with two oval mid-woofers and two bottom-firing bass drivers. Made of sturdy MDF, it is designed to hold sets up to 88 pounds and 55 inches. In addition Yamaha showed two soundbars, one with HDMI input and lossless surround decoding for $1000 and one with legacy inputs for $399. The former is the YSP-2500, which simulates "true 7.1" surround from 16 beam drivers. It is the first soundbar we've encountered with a headphone jack.
Paradigm introduced two new speaker lines, one for the home theatrically inclined, one for two-channel. The Millennia LP XL on-wall speaker ($699/each) handled the front channels with the LP 2 ($499/each) handling the surrounds. The whole system, but especially the dual Monitor SUB 10s, benefitted from Paradigm's homegrown ARC room correction in the MRX 710 receiver. The climactic scene of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit sounded as if it were playing through a much larger speaker system. Then we got an earful of the new Prestige line, which includes three towers and a monitor. The tower playing was the Prestige 85 F tower ($3999/pair and up depending on finish). This 2.5-way model's PPA tweeter uses a phase aligned lens that improves not only phase but output. While the k.d. lang and Boz Scaggs tracks sounded pretty upfront in the upper midrange, they also had a delicious lower midrange richness, underpinned by tight but extended bass. Both series are worth a demo if you have the chance. Incidentally, Paradigm continues to manufacture in North America, in Mississauga, Ontario.
Listen Audio captured our attention by stating its intention to build the kind of product that "allows the listener to shut off from the world." One such product is the Diffuse, an absorptive panel that takes the form of a modular 2 x 2 foot panel in foam, vinyl, wood, or laminate finishes, starting at $90 for the foam version. It uses differing slot widths and a 3/4-inch air gap to increase bandwidth. It can zap high-frequency flutter echoes but operates down to low frequencies. Benefits: "More stage. The walls seem to push away." Listen also showed the Voice ($3995/each), an in-wall speaker with a 3.5-inch-thick enclosure, 3/4-inch-thick cabinet walls, coaxial drivers, and a 94dB sensitivity rating. It is designed "to compete with the highest-end freestanding two-channel speakers" while also satisfying multichannel and in-wall needs. Listen's Concierge service will dispatch one of its several acoustic design firm partners to the location. Once they determine the specs, the installer comes in and does his work, and then the engineers return to see how the installation worked out and assess the need for tweaks. This is a most impressive company.