Bob Ankosko

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
Harman Kardon, the company that brought us the world’s first audio receiver nearly 60 years ago, unveiled two affordable, forward-looking A/V receivers at CES. Both models have wireless connectivity via AirPlay, Wi-Fi and DLNA and include a vTuner for access to thousands of Internet Radio stations. Other common highlights include 4K upscaling for all inputs, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, multizone capability for simultaneously playing two audio sources in two rooms, an eco-friendly digital-power supply, Harman’s EzSet/EQ system and multiple HDMI inputs, including those for 3D playback, CEC and Deep Color.

The 7.1-channel AVR 2700 ($799) is rated to deliver 100 watts per channel, while the 7.2-channel AVR 3700 ($999) is rated at 125 watts per channel and provides two subwoofer outputs and a remote control for the second zone.

Both models are slated to hit stores over the next couple months and are compatible with Harman's free remote control app for Apple and Android mobile devices.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
HiFiMan is introducing two in-ear headphones aimed at “audiophiles on the go” and a high-performance portable music player at CES. The RE-600 “Songbird” ($399) and RE-400 “Waterline” ($99) earphones use custom-designed Titanium-coated drivers, neodymium magnets and premium cabling. Both are due out in the coming weeks.

The flagship HM-901 music player ($999) is slimmer than previous models, has a simplified user interface, and accepts most lossless audio formats, including Apple lossless. It uses 32-bit DAC chips and accommodates 24-bit/192 kHz upsampling. The player will be available in March with an optional $399 docking station to follow in April.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
You just never know who or what you’re going to run into while walking the show floor…

Dancing Robots: Tosy’s mRobo Ultra Bass is actually an MP3 player with a built-in speaker. When the music starts to play, the little guy turns into a dancin’ fool with some serious moves. Best part: Watching his head pop out from his chest when the music starts (mRobo is a mere torso before he springs into action).

And then there's...

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 09, 2013 0 comments
Denmark’s Bang & Olufsen continues its long tradition of melding style and technology at CES with the BeoVision 11 LED-based LCD HDTV, featuring an unusually robust six-speaker sound system, and the ultra-slim BeoLab 12 line of powered speakers.

Available in 40-, 46- and 55-inch screen sizes with prices starting at $5,995, the 3D-capable TV is DLNA-compliant for streaming content from a smartphone or home network via Wi-Fi and has an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts brightness and contrast. It also includes a motorized wall mount for adjusting the position of the screen via remote control. B&O offers a choice of six colors for the fabric panel below the screen, which can be framed in silver or black.

The BeoLab 12 speaker line now has three models: The 12-3 (shown) and 12-2, featuring an acoustic lens that disperses high frequencies in an 180-degree arc, and the new 12-1, which excludes the acoustic lens. Sound is reproduced by a flat 6.5-inch woofer and a 2-inch midrange/tweeter in the BeoLab 12-1, which packs 160 watts of power, while the 320-watt 12-2 and 480-watt 12-3 add a 0.75-inch tweeter (with acoustic lens) plus a second woofer in the 12-3. All are offered in silver or white and pricing is $4,613/pair for the 12-3, $3,120/pair for the 12-2, and $2,950/pair for the 12-1. The speakers can be mounted on the wall or placed on optional floor stands.

B&O also showed the nonconformist BeoPlay A9 wireless music system, featuring AirPlay and DLNA connectivity plus five powered speakers—pairs of 0.75-inch tweeters and 3-inch midranges with an 8-inch woofer—that deliver remarkably full sound; total power is 480 watts. A touch sensor lets you adjust the volume by running your hand along the top of the speaker. Fabric covers are available in six colors and the solid wood legs come in oak, beech or teak.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 09, 2013 0 comments
Polk Live: Showgoers listened over UltraFocus 8000 noise-cancelling headphones ($349) while Baltimore’s “cosmic soul cowboy” Bosley Brown and band performed live in a soundproof booth, the first stop in Polk’s Listen Up Tour. Next stop: Macworld.

LP to iPhone: Ion’s iLP digital conversion turntable ($129) records directly to an iPad, iPhone, or iPod using the free EZ Vinyl/Tape Converter app. The table has a USB port for connection to a PC and RCA outputs if you want to go old-school and skip the digital conversion.

Discreet Sound: Want a little music in the bathroom or maybe out in the garage while you finish your Mr. Fix-It project? No problem, just plug SoundFly Air ($200) into any AC outlet and stream tunes from your iPhone or iPad; up to four Flys can be controlled simultaneously. A Bluetooth version that works with only one speaker is available for $180. Sound is decent—much better than the awful sounding Outlet Speaker ($100) BēmWireless introduced at CES.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 09, 2013 0 comments
Just what the world needs: another wireless music system. Klipsch agrees, which is why it put audio quality first in the high-performance Stadium Music Center debuting at CES. The all-in-one system gets high marks for supporting connectivity via AirPlay, Wi-Fi, DLNA and the CD-quality aptX version of Bluetooth in a package that looks bold and sounds even bolder.

An on-the-fly demo with Red Hot Chili Peppers, featuring Flea’s muscular bass lines front and center, was impressive and had me looking around for a separate subwoofer. Not needed. The ring between the Stadium’s speaker modules joins a pair of 5.25-inch woofers that produce surprisingly deep bass to complement the rich sound delivered by pairs of horn-loaded 1-inch tweeters and 3-inch midrange drivers. The point of the system: You don’t have to sacrifice sound quality for convenience, according to Mark Casavant, senior vice president of product development. He’s not kidding.

Available this summer for $2,000, the system is housed in a brushed-aluminum cabinet with grille covers that come in several lifestyle colors.

Purposely resembling a mini band shell in a nod to the full-size Klipsch Music Center in the company’s home state of Indiana, the smaller Music Center KMC 3 will be available this spring for $400 in several bright colors. The system produces robust sound through a pair of 2-inch drivers and a 5.25-inch woofer, supports aptX Bluetooth and has a USB charging port and auxiliary input on its back panel.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 08, 2013 0 comments
Texas Instruments, developer of the DLP imaging chips used in many of today’s video projectors, is demonstrating at CES 2013 a new architecture that makes the already minuscule pixels in Pico projectors even smaller. Dubbed Tilt & Roll Pixel, or TRP, the technology is said to double resolution to 1280 x 800 and increase brightness by as much as 30 percent, making it possible to project larger images from ever-smaller projectors (like the one built into Samsung’s Galaxy Beam phone). At the same time, power consumption is reduced by up to 50 percent.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 08, 2013 1 comments
You might mistake it for a high-end Blu-ray player at first glance but, no, the Parasound Halo CD 1 introduced at CES 2013 is definitely a Compact Disc player (remember those?) and it costs $4,500. Designed in collaboration with Holm Acoustics of Copenhagen, Denmark, the player uses a Linux-based computer running proprietary software and a CD ROM drive running four times the speed of a conventional CD drive to read and process data in a new way. Vast amounts of data are analyzed and read multiple times to reduce errors and, in turn, the negative effects of error concealment. The result is said to be a nearly bit-perfect data stream.

In keeping with the high-end legacy of the company's Halo line, the C1 has a heavily shielded aluminum chassis, separate power supplies for its analog and digital sections and several output options, including balanced XLR, gold-plated RCAs for analog, and digital audio via BNC, coaxial and optical connectors. A novel “Discrete OpAmp” selector offers a choice between listening to the analog outputs directly from the player’s low-noise op-amps or via discrete transistor output stages.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 08, 2013 2 comments
Samsung helped usher in a new era of television on the eve of CES 2013 with the announcement of two next-generation TVs: the super-sleek 85-inch S9 Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV, boasting four times the resolution of today’s 1080p sets, and the 55-inch F9500 OLED TV with a Multi-View feature that enables two people to watch different programs simultaneously from the same screen. Pricing and availability was not announced for either model.

The S9 (shown) boasts a striking design with a screen that appears to float within a frame. Highlights include “extremely high contrast ratio,” a proprietary upscaling engine that converts high-def images to UHD quality, and a 1.35 GHz quad-core processor that’s more than three times faster than last year’s processor for improved content/app multitasking. The set has enhanced voice and gesture control and uses a new version of Samsung’s Smart Hub interface with five content discovery panels that appear onscreen as thumbnail images.

At the heart of the F9500 OLED TV are self-emitting red, green and blue sub-pixels that eliminate the need for backlighting, which is said to ensure absolute blacks and pure whites with no motion blur. The Multi-View feature is enabled by special 3D glasses with built-in speakers that deliver a personalized audio experience. The set also uses a quad-core processor and the updated Smart Hub interface.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 07, 2013 0 comments
When it comes to headphones, for Monster it’s all about fashion with lots of color and style, a parade of headphone-wearing models, celebrity endorsements and marketing—lots of marketing. A host of celebrities—including recording artist and former Prince collaborator Sheila E, boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees—were on hand at Monster’s pre-CES 2013 press event to help Monster introduce a slew of new headphones.

Highlights include the gaming-focused EA Sports MVP Carbon by Monster headphone ($270), featuring proprietary surround processing and available in black or white beginning in February/March; the in-ear ClarityMobile line with three models aimed at business travelers—a $50 model with an in-line microphone and two $70 models—slated to hit stores in April; an angular on-ear addition to the Diesel VEKTR line offered in military green and chrome ($280); three washable iSport in-ear models for the work-out crowd, ranging from $80 to $160; seven on-ear and in-ear DNA models, featuring a triangular ear cups and dual inputs that allow five ‘phones to be connected at once, ranging in price from $130 to $230; new on-ear and in-ear Bluetooth-powered wireless models with noise cancellation for the Nokia Purity line; and the youth-focused N-Pulse headphones, a new addition to the NCredible line developed with Nick Cannon and available in black or white for $200.

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