Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 13, 2014 0 comments
On Friday afternoon a CEDIA panel was convened to discus the subject of immersive audio. And we all thought that immersive sound meant 5.1- or 7.1-multichannel! But with Dolby Atmos there's a new kid in town. And Dolby Atmos isn't alone.

The panel was moderated by industry tech guru Michael Heiss, and consisted of Brett Crockett of Dolby, Andrew Jones of Pioneer and TAD, Dr. Floyd Toole, a consultant with Harman Kardon, and Wilfred Van Baelen, the founder of Auro...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 13, 2014 0 comments
By now you've likely heard of Dolby Atmos-Enabled speakers, which include an additional driver or drivers firing out of the top at an angle to bounce Atmos' height information off your ceiling if installation of ceiling speakers is impractical--as it will be for most of us. In addition to dedicated Atmos-Enabled speakers, several add-on modules were seen at CEDIA, which are designed to sit on top of your main left and right front speakers and surrounds if you want to add Atmos but don't want to replace your entire speaker system.

The 44-DA from Atlantic technology is designed for this purpose. At $500/pair, it employs a concentric driver (a coaxial woofer-tweeter). While designed to be a perfect fit atop the company's THX-4400 L/R speakers, it can be used on any speaker with a flat top surface large enough to accommodate its approximately 8.4-inch width and 9.5-inch depth.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 13, 2014 0 comments
Classe introduced its new Sigma line at the show, consisting of the Sigma SSP surround sound preamp processor and two amps, the 5-channel Amp5 and the 2-channel Amp2. The latter are both compact class D designs offering 200W per channel into 8 ohms and 400W per channel into 4 ohms.

The Sigma SSP, shown in the photo (though it looks far, um, classier in real life than my middling photography might indicate. It is loaded with features, including SPDIF and 24-bit asynchronous USB digital inputs, DSP-produced parametric EQ and tone control on all channels, and all of the other modes and features of any competent pre-pro. But it has only one HDMI output, is only HDMI 1.4, and is not yet Dolby Atmos-ready. But it's modular design should make future Hardware updates possible. The Sigma SSP and Amp5 are $5000 each, and the Amp 2 is $3500. All three should be available by the end of the year.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 13, 2014 0 comments
While JVC introduced no new projectors at CEDIA EXPO for the first time in years, it still produced some of the best-looking images at the show. Using a native 4K source, its top of the line DLA-X900 looked particularly striking in low lamp mode on an approximately 130-inch wide screen. For those unfamiliar with JVC's current models, its higher-end designs can accept a 4K input and process it so that can be reproduced by the projector's 2K (1920 x 1080) LCOS imaging chips. Through further processing it then simulates 4K. Though it isn't true 4K, it can look very good.

I'm guessing that in the depths of JVC's R&D facilities they're working on a way to produce an affordable true 4K home theater projector. So far no one has done this--unless you consider Sony's $16,000 VPL-VW600ES affordable (but see the story above).

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
While the JBL Atmos demo remains the champ at the show (at least through the first two days) for shear impact, undistorted output level (in a good way), and immersion from 39 speakers, it's not likely to find its way into too many homes. The Atmos demo from GoldenEar, however, was a more conventional 5.4.4 setup with five conventional channels, 4 true ceiling speakers (no reflective Atmos here), and four subs. It was both impactful and at the same time subtle in a way that will please many audiophiles with at least some interest in home theater. Not that a lot of audiophiles wouldn't covet the JBL (I'll take the JBL for my big room when I win the lottery, and something like the GoldenEar for the smaller!), but the GoldenEar is more practical.

The GoldenEar system used an Oppo Blu-ray player, an Integra Atmos-ready pre-pro, three Pass Labs monoblock amps for the front channels, six other amp channels for the two surrounds and two ceiling speakers (I didn't catch the make for the latter, but it was far more modest and less pricey than the Pass amps). The speakers were the GoldenEar Ones left and right, a SuperCenter XL, GoldenEar Twos for the surrounds, and four Invisa HTR 7000s for the ceiling channels. The four subs were the powered subs built into the GoldenEar Ones and Twos. The levels chosen were loud enough, but sensible, and the experienced convinced me, at least in these fledgling days of Atmos (I remain open minded on this), that true ceiling speakers just might produce the best Atmos results.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
Elite Screens introduced its DarkStar ambient light rejecting screen. It claims a good balance between gain, contrast, and viewing angle. Available only in fixed frame form, its price was not specified, only that it would be a fraction of the cost of the current market leaders in such screens.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
B&O is widely known for making excellent, stylish, but very expensive products. While its BeoVision Avant 85-inch 4K/Ultra HD LCD set isn't exactly cheap at $25,000, it's not that far off from the prices its competitors charge for similarly-sized 4K sets (and cheaper than some). The set comes with a unique powered, rotating stand and remote. A B&O sibling 55-inch 4K set is also available, but its $8,000 price (the stand for this model is optional at $2,000) it's not as competitive.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
Splitting an HDMI source to feed both a video projector and a flat panel set is an increasingly popular option in custom home theater installs. But consumer-priced splitters that can do 4K are only just starting to appear. The HDS-12i from Transformative Engineering is one of the first. It can mix output resolutions and both up- and down-scale to 4K. A typical setup might involve a 2K projector and a 4K flat screen Ultra HD TV.

The device also provides full HDCP security and will recognize different EDIDs for each display. Output 2 also can be configured for pass-through, selectable scaling, or an AVR mode which bypasses 4K and 3D to route audio to an AVR or surround pre-pro that lacks the ability to handle these formats.

The HDS-12i's main limitation is that it's only HDMI 1.4a compliant, not 2,0, but that should be adequate for today's source material. It's firmware upgradeable (though not to 2.0--that's hardware) and sells for $299.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
Epson introduced two new projectors that not only use laser illumination (no lamp to replace) but also reflective LCD technology (Liquid Crystal on Quartz, in contrast to reflective LCDs from Sony and JVC that use Liquid Crystal on Silicon). While both of them employ 2K chips, the top model can accept 4K inputs and reproduce them using technology similar to that found in JVC's upscale projectors. (We call it wobulation in homage to early DLP rear-projection sets that employed a similar idea but to different purposes (they weren't 4K, of course), but JVC and, we presume, Epson, would likely take exception to this characterization!)

The LS10,000, which is expected to sell for under $8000, is rated at

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
Christie also showed (but did not demonstrate) its DWX 555-G, a 2K, single-chip DLP projector with laser illumination. Rated at 5000 lumens, it can be yours for $17,995.

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