How much bandwidth is enough for the upcoming HDMI 2.0 standard? Well, if all you want to do is watch what you’re watching today, your current cable will work. Even if you want to watch 4K material, the standard developing HDMI Forum says you don't have to get new cable provided your cable meets the latest HDMI 1.4 spec. Step in Noel Lee of Monster Cable who is worried about future requirements for 8K and beyond. Monster announced their new cable will be capable of 31.5 Gbps, well over the 18 Gbps the HDMI forum says is required for 60 fps, 4K material. Nothing available yet, just the promise, but I’d believe the head Monster. Or else!
Rotel’s RDD-1580 (top unit in picture) uses two Wolfson WM8740 digital-to-analog converters instead of a single converter in a configuration Rotel claims reduces noise and distortion. A front panel USB port accepts output from Apple iOS devices like an iPod. But most people will opt to stream music from their device to the Rotel via an included Bluetooth dongle that would plug into the USB port. A pair of coaxial and a pair of optical connections on the back should handle connections to a CD, DVD or Blu-ray player. The converter comes with a remote control or you can select which source to convert via the front panel buttons. Both single-ended RCA and balanced XLR outputs are available, the latter a very nice touch indeed. No pricing has been announced yet.
The RMB-1585 is a new flagship multi-channel amp from Rotel. High current class AB topology delivers 200 watts to each of its five channels via two massive toroidal transformers. Rotel credits the use of a total of 120,000 µF of British-made BHC “Slit Foil capacitance and the use of six output transistors per channel for the RMB-1585’s power delivery capability. This 80 pound behemoth offers both RCA and XLR inputs. From my perspective the $2,999 pricing is in line with separates of this quality and in many ways it’s a bargain!
The KEF V300, part of a KEF’s new V series, is a nice desktop system for anybody with a tall monitor. The three piece system is comprised of two tall, narrow and relatively thin (about 3”) free-standing speaker panels. Driving them is a control unit that features two 50 watt Class D amplifiers. Each speaker has two 3-1/4” low frequency drivers and between them a 3-1/4” Uni-Q driver that fills in the midrange and high frequencies. The control amplifier has a single HDMI input and an optical digital input. Hooked to your TV’s HDMI audio return channel, you would control the volume by your TV’s remote. This ensemble looked very attractive, and being KEF, I would expect a clean seductive sound, albeit one unable to alter the laws of physics in the bass. For that, KEF has left you with a subwoofer output (RCA) on the rear of the control amplifier.
Sonance announced Soundbar, a non-powered center channel with adjustable widths meant to exactly match your TV. Soundbar are available in two sizes, one to match TV in the 50” to 65” diagonal range, the other for TV’s in the 70” to 80” diagonal range. However both are true three-way designs, offering six 4.5” Kevlar + Nomex lower frequency drivers and three 4.5” coaxial (midrange / tweeter) drivers. The units ship with all required mounting hardware. Pricing has not been finalized but expect at or under $2,000.
Vutec broke the brightness barrier on the eve of CEDIA 2013 by announcing SilverStar2.2, a high gain (2.2:1 gain) screen that is ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) certified. High-gain screens typically lack in picture quality what they make up in brightness and the ability to move to a large screen with the same amount of projector light. Delivering better than double unity gain while still securing ISF certification is a huge deal.
SP3 Surround Processor Audio Performance Video Performance Features Ergonomics Value 9B SST² Amplifier Performance Features Ergonomics Value
Price: $17,595 At A Glance: No-compromise musicality in a home theater • Clean and powerful • No-frills design
If you’ve ever spent an afternoon at a big-box store courting eye strain and knee pain comparing the lineup of AVRs, then you’ve doubtless discovered that, superficially at least, the offerings have more in common than not. Sure, the more you spend, the more buzzwords are silk-screened across the front panel, the more HDMI connections you find around back, and, when it comes to power, the more exaggeration you get. One thing about Bryston and power—it’s not within theirs to lie. My first audiophile speakers, Magnepan MG-IIIa speakers, didn’t turn amazing until they met a Bryston 4B amp. If current is what your speakers crave, a Bryston amp could be their best friend.
Cinema 12 Surround Processor Audio Performance Video Performance Features Ergonomics Value Model 7.125 Amplifier Performance Features Ergonomics Value
Price: $8,990 At A Glance: Excellent detail and resolution • Music jumps alive • No video processing
Over a decade ago, while writing for a now-defunct audio magazine, my editor shipped me a pair of monoblock Cary tube amps he’d never gotten around to reviewing. Something must have shook loose during transit, because instead of music, all I got when I powered them up was a wisp of smoke as one monoblock sadly committed hara-kiri! The Cary Cinema 12 and Model 7.125 are an eternity of light years away from those fragile forays into bottle socketry. They exude an air of quality and reliability that physically and musically justify their significant price.
Call me weird, but I get excited when I see XLR connectors on my audio gear. Time spent in my fledgling home studio has taught me why pros prefer them. The Cinema 12 offers both single-ended RCA and true, differentially balanced XLR outputs, an arrangement and circuit design mirrored on the Model 7.125 amplifier. The Cinema 12 even offers a pair of stereo analog XLR inputs and a single balanced digital input beyond the roster of seven single-ended analog input pairs. Audio purists will appreciate the fact that you can bypass all digital conversions for your analog sources, including the 7.1 analog input you might use with an SACD player.
Audio Performance Video Performance Features Ergonomics Value
Price: $1,600 At A Glance: Future-proof modular construction • Great ergonomics • Trades features for performance
Oh, it’s coming, all right. Are you ready for it? That’s right, Smell-O-Vision! I’m not talking about old-school scratch-n-sniff cards, but the real, electrified olfactory emitters specified in the HDMI 1.5 standard. OK, I’m clearly exaggerating the contents of the next HDMI version, but even if that travesty comes to pass, NAD’s Modular Design Construction topology means the T 757 can be upgraded by your dealer, instead of a forklift.
Price: $2,000 At A Glance: Light on bells and whistles, heavy on high-end sound • Anthem Room Correction worth the additional effort • High value from a true high-end brand
Anthem Lite and Right
When I hear “Anthem,” I also usually hear “ka-ching!” Anthem’s Statement D2v surround processor sells for a cool $8,500, which is enough cash to keep a Colorado hippie blazing in medical marijuana for years. The MRX 700 is the company’s welcome foray into the world of down-to-earth-priced AVRs, punctuated by the inclusion of the same Anthem Room Correction (ARC) system the company uses in its costlier separates. Anthem’s proprietary room correction alone might be enough to swing some consumers’ decision. Those who’ve used ARC with Anthem’s separates (including some people employed by this fine publication) hold it in high regard. An AVR at the MRX 700’s $2,000 price point is going to be up against a lot of stiff competition. Will Anthem pull it off, or is its first attempt at a killer AVR for the masses about to go up in smoke?