At the Meridian suite in the Venetian, in the midst of their digital speaker systems and high-end components, was the portable F80. Like so many high-end manufacturer's, Meridian is courting the lifestyle consumer, which includes support for iPod users. The F80 is a portable, 2.1 channel, iPod speaker system that comes in five Ferrari colors.
Marantz's BD8002 Blu-ray Disc Player is way on the other end of the spectrum at $2,099.99 featuring a 10-bit Silicon Optix Realta chipset
with upconversion and scaling to 1080p. The player offers high resolution with decoding of Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD and
DTS-HD Master Audio and is capable of outputting both 7.1-channel analog signals and PCM audio via HDMI.
The brand new Vision Media Management from Escient plays and imports movies, videos, music, and photos for a complete home entertainment networking system. There are two versions of an all-in-one server/player. The Model VS-100 provides dual 500GB drives, while the VS-200 is outfitted with dual 1TB drives. The VC-1 is a high-performance networked audio/video zone player that streams both audio and video from either Vision servers, allowing playback of music, movies, and photos to any room of the home. All feature HDMI 1.3 support and upscaling to 1080p to ensure the best possible image quality from any source.
Totem Acoustics was demonstrating a speaker they call The One. Its a limited anniversary edition of the first speaker they ever manufactured. Sans a subwoofer, these diminutive $3995 (pr) speakers were extremely impressive, outperforming, to my ears, some of the behemoth tower speakers [with five and six figure price tags] that were being demonstrated by other manufacturers at the Venetian.
The use of music servers rather than CD/DVD transports was a common occurrence among high-end manufacturers at the Venetian exhibits. By using servers, they can store high resolution, loss-less files that are far superior to standard CDs, which are limited to 16bits.
Denon showed off their new line of AVRs, many of which feature advanced whole house networking solutions that can access music from iTunes, Windows Media 11 and music servers. Increased whole house networking capabilities will continue to be a major emphasis in Denon products.
Snell Acoustics new Illusion reference monitors are the ultimate LCR, selling for $10,000 a piece. The Illusion series speakers incorporates a new concept in enclosure design that significantly reduces resonance and spurious vibration.
In the wake of a declining market for traditional box speakers, Boston Acoustics has reinvented themselves with a new style [and logo]. Know as the Personal Options Plan or P.O.P. for short, all their new speakers are made of molded plastic exteriors. However, when you rap on the sides or pick up the speaker you become aware that this is just for aesthetics. Inside is the same Boston engineering with a rigid wooden baffle.
TAD, a division of Pioneer, responsible for the development of high-end audio products showed a prototype of a new Class A mono-amp that will be out later this year. It's made using aluminum plating and a cast iron base. After 5 days of running continuously, the chassis was barely lukewarm.