The MI6 is Britain's equivalent of the CIA. The M16, on the other hand, is a floorstanding speaker from Epos that will sell for $1600/pair. An M8 center will be available for $600, an M SUB will complete the system, and of course you're at liberty to use any of the company's sterling monitors as surrounds.
Surround electronics were thin on the ground at HES but Krell did display the S-1000 pre-pro ($6500) and S-1500 multi-channel amp. The latter can operate with five, six, or seven channels and sells for $6000-7000 depending on configuration. Both shipping now. Krell also showed an iPod dock.
Would you like to base your surround system on a pair of slim towers, like the Silverline Preludes, at $1200/pair? Or would you prefer something smaller like the Minuet, at $600/pair? In either case, you can buy them one by one and please yourself. The Chinese silk dome tweeters kept cymbals from getting spitty and the 3.5-inch paper midwoofers mustered a surprisingly well-proportioned and tuneful string bass.
The soundmatters SLIMstage40 packs 170 watts from eight amplifiers into a 39-inch-long bar that sits below a video display. At $899, this speaker bar may be the simulated-surround solution for you. For more bass, check out the low-profile SUBstage200 ($399) or basketball-size SUBstage250Cube ($449).
I asked the folks at Usher if their Be-718 monitor, sold for $2500/pair, would be available in odd-numbered surround configurations like five or seven. "What a great idea!" they enthused archly. Much hard work went into tuning the beryllium-oxide tweeter from which the speaker gets its name. It will ship soon with complementary center and sub. And at 87-88dB sensitivity, the system should run well with a good receiver.
Sometimes the secret to a great speaker is in the stand. The folks at CT-based Proclaim Audioworks say their spherical speakers (not shown) boast their best time-domain response when you arrange them on this versatile stand so that the output of each driver hits "the tip of your nose" at the same time. Pricing is $25,999 for, uh, a speaker or two or five.
Swedish patriots used Crown Princess Madeleine to lure showgoers into their demo room. Inside I found the QM-10 studio monitor which is expected to sell for $1850/pair starting soon and can of course be bought in a surround configuration with forthcoming sub. No, subs. The company thinks a system fit for a princess should have somewhere between two and four of them. Subs, that is, though the little monitors had an impressive amount of bass by themselves.
Four terrified pillows huddle on a windowsill as three-inch-thick speaker cables from Magnan swarm on the floor. The nearby Gershman speakers are acting dignified and trying to ignore the reptile mating dance. It all sounded fab.
Andrew Lipinski makes last-minute adjustments to a surround system based on the L-707 stand-mount horned speaker with amplification built into the stand. It sounded big and transparent, with effortless bass, and for $35,035 it had better be. The company will soon replace another manufacturer's external sub amp with its own.