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.
Wisdom Audio teamed up for its demo with Datasat (preamp-processor), Barco (projector) Seymour Screen Excellence, and HTE (Home Theater Environments), and likely others to whom I apologize for leaving out here due to my rapidly scribbled notes. The wide-ranging selection of program material was particularly noteworthy. 2K from Blu-ray, and no Atmos in sight, but it was excellent nonetheless (though the videophile in me whispers that the gamma was a bit too high, making for rather dark and contrasty images!). HTE deserves special mention for the most stylish room at the show, which should be evident from the picture above. But HTE is from Italy, so that's not surprising!
When I saw these pendant speakers from TruAudio (just to the left of center in the photo, in black and white), the first thing I thought of was the midrange enclosure in B&W's 800 and 802 Diamond loudspeakers.
But the second thing I though of was using them as discrete overhead speakers for Dolby Atmos. I have no idea how they sound, nor do I believe that this is their designed purpose, but they are not only more attractive than the usual in-ceiling speakers, but could suspended at almost any length from a high ceiling at a more appropriate height for the Atmos format than an in-ceiling speaker might provide.
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.
I've only caught two Dolby Atmos demos so far, but the JBL Synthesis demo was by far the most impressive--and may be the most impressive at the show. I'll reserve judgment on that, but with 12 discrete height speakers(JBL SCS 8s), 16 surround speakers (also JBL SCS8s, just a few of them shown here--no way to get all of them into a group photo!), 8 subwoofers, JBL M2 front speakers, a Dolby pro Atmos processor, banks of JBL Synthesis amps, and a 17-foot wide screen (projector unspecified--I'll update this when I find out), this $200,000 system is ready for your lottery winnings.
The picture (only 2K no less, from a DPI NC 900C projector, about $50,000) was spectacular (though with blacks more typical of theatrical presentations rather than the superior blacks available from some even modest home theater models). And the sound was as good as any movie sound I've yet heard, either home or theatrical (the latter including even the best theaters in Los Angeles). It could go plenty loud, but with the exception of an extended racing car sequence it was never edgy or grating. If you're fortunate enough to be at the show while reading this, it's a don't miss demo.
It's no coincidence that manufacturers offering screens that reject ambient light use bright images to show off their wares, often either animation or sports. There's no way such a screen, on dark movie scenes, can compete with a conventional screen in a darkened room. But such light-rejecting screens, if used properly, can be of real value in some installations. Seymour-Screen Excellence introduced its first light rejecting screens this year, including this Ambient Visionaire 1.2 model. As shown here, fixed frame at 116-inch diagonal 16:9, it will cost you about $3500.
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
Audiophiles fondly remember the company Audio Alchemy, which produced a number of well-received, sensibly-priced D/A converters back in the 1990s. They may have been before their time. Today, such separate converters are all over the place, but now include USB connections for the increasingly popular digital downloads, particularly of the high resolution audio variety.
Peter Madnick, who currently heads up design for the extremely pricey electronics from Constellation, has re-acquired the rights to the Audio Alchemy name. While not being shown at a booth (at least not one I've yet seen) I ran into Peter as he was prowling the show floor with a sample of his first new Audio Alchemy product, the DDP-1. It's a D/A converter with optical, coaxial, USB (asynchronous), and analog inputs. With its volume control, it can also function as a 2-channel preamp and a headphone amplifier. While its $1895 ticket is a bit pricier than the Audio Alchemy products of the past, it should be highly competitive in today's D/A market when it ships in December.
Christie Digital, a big name in theatrical digital presentations, made its first appearance at a CEDIA EXPO. Here is the biggest projector they had on display, a 4K, 3-chip DLP. Christie's Josh Kolbeck stands next to it for perspective.
While not on demo at Christie's own booth, it was being used in a Stewart Filmscreen demonstration elsewhere on the show floor. On a 15-foot wide Stewart Director's choice Gray Matte 70 screen, and with 4K sources, it produced what was easily the best-looking images I saw on the show's first day. I didn't catch the price (it took Christie personnel several minutes to find the price on the Christie laser projector shown below), but it definitely falls into the "if you have to ask" category. You'll also need to put it in a separate projection room. It's cooling fans are loud.