Pioneer's new top-line receiver is the SC-09TX with 200 times seven watts of energy-efficient Class D ICEpower amplification and cool front-panel color LCD in lieu of the usual boring fluorescent display. It'll cost seven grand. Of course it has on-board decoding for Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, etc. Also new are three other models: VSX-94TXH ($1600), VSX-92TXH ($1300), and VSX-91TXH ($1000). And then there's the X-Z9 system ($1799), with SACD drive, PC streaming via Cat5, and specially designed speakers.
Among four new receivers from Marantz is the top-line SR8002 ($2450). Like several new receivers at the show, it includes on-board decoding for Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, and both versions of DTS-HD--a trend of which we approve! Look for it in October.
The Integra DTC-9.8 surround pre-pro is THX Ultra2-certified and features both the HQV Reon-VX video processor and advanced Audyssey auto setup and room EQ. Now available for $1600. Not as photogenic but possibly more exciting is the DHS-8.8 HD DVD player, the high-endish class act of the format for $1100 (November). Also saw the DSR-4.8 2.1-channel SACD/DVD-receiver, with 50 watts times two, and the DTR-8.8 receiver, with 140 watts times seven, built-in HD Radio, and several key features of the pre-pro ($2400, November).
The bad news is that none of four new receivers have on-board decoding for the new lossless and other Dolby and DTS codecs. The good news is that modular construction will allow updates for this issue, in perhaps a year, and others that may arise. If you don't plan to buy a Blu-ray or HD DVD player soon, and prize NAD's consistent performance and high value, one of these new kids may be the receiver for you. They include the T 785, shown, $2999; T 775, $2499; T 765, $1999; and T 755, $1299.
The Azur 340R surround receiver (center, $679) is a third-generation product from Cambridge Audio. It delivers 50 watts times five with two HDMI-in and one out (video switching only). Oh, and Cambridge is now offering a turntable!
Four new Escient media servers, including the VS-100 ($3999), now handle DVDs. You can also get paid downloads from Rhapsody and other outfits, run a photo show, and bask in the new user interface. A media server has to be copy-protection-savvy to transfer disc content to its hard drive, so Escient follows with interest the legal woes of Kaleidescape, whose own DVD server has sparked litigation by the studio-dominated DVD Copy Control Association.
The DMC 1000 media server is out in a new version (or will be in October or November) with four independent zones, a 250GB hard drive to complement the DVD/CD drive, 1080p processing, cooler cosmetics, and the ability to be commanded by a Palm Pilot. Got $3499?
Is it possible to get all the goodness of the Canton exhibit into one photo? We'll die trying. At left is the revamped Vento, with a rounder gloss enclosure, new midrange and tweeter and crossover, and smoother mids and highs (we're told). Available in a month or so. At right is the Karat, revised from 3-way to 3.5-way to eliminate lobing. A 5.1-channel set will go for $4500. Not pictured: the new Chrono line, positioned between the GLE and Ergo lines, about $5000 for a 5.1 set, and the rather stylish looking DSS 303 iPod docking system, also with USB for non-Apple players, for $499, available in a few months and so new it hasn't even been announced till now.
DynAudio's 30th-anniversary move is the Sapphire, at $16,500/pair. It use high-caste drivers from the Evidence in a bird's-eye maple cabinet whose four hues are illustrated on the pedestal below the speaker. Far more staid, but more likely to get reviewed, are the super-chunky stand-mounts 2/10 ($1350/pair) and 2/8 ($975/pair) with their subwoofer-size voice coils. There's no horizontal center and that's the way it should be. DynAudio also showed the IC17 in-ceiling speaker, due at year end for $750/pair.
In addition to showing the Nanosat Prestige, which uses Mirage's familiar spoon-shaped device to emphasize reflected sound, the brand also showed three new subs including the Prestige S8. The strategy is less acoustic output for the surround and more for the shiny eight-inch woven-fiberglass cone. There's a wet-sanded high-gloss lacquer enclosure outside and 400 watts inside. Look for it in late November.