I may be the only reporter to take pictures of raw loudspeaker drivers at this year's CES. But I've always been fascinated not only by the products we buy, but by the parts that go into them. And SEAS of Norway is one the biggest suppliers of high quality loudspeaker drivers. These new DXT tweeters offer controlled wide dispersion. Note the rings molded into the front plates of both versions. These rings produce diffraction, thereby widening the radiation pattern above 7kHz—the first time to my knowledge that this audiophile boogie-man has been deliberately generated to <I>enhance</I> speaker performance!
PMC also showed these new in- and on-wall speakers. The Wafer 1 sells for $1199 each (on-wall version) and the Wafer 2 for $1799 (on-wall). The demo was a bit atypical of how the environment of the speakers in an actual installation, but they still sounded quite good. The speakers are actually loaded into transmission lines, despite their small size.
The Venetian, the new home of the Specialty Audio and Video exhibits, was primarily a two-channel oasis. Here (and below) are two highlights. I didn't get into many of the rooms; if I peeked in and there didn't seem to be screen there, I had to move on, as time was very short and the two-channel exhibits there are being thoroughly covered by our sister publication, <I>Stereophile</I>. But I did check out a few rooms that prior experience suggested might be prime. The VTL-Avalon room was one of them. The system sounded pristine through VTL's vacuum tube electronics and Avalon Acoustics Eidolon Diamond speakers.
TACT, one of the first companies to offer sophisticated room correction, now adds Dynamic Room Correction. It adjusts the equalization to provide optimum response as you change the setting of the volume control. Older audiophiles might think of it as a sophisticated loudness control. The system will be built into the company's two-channel RCS 2.2 XP processor first, but will ultimately find its way into a redesigned surround pre-pro (now on hold pending the arrival of HDMI 1.3). TACT has also improved its user interface, making it faster to arrive at an optimum target curve.
The 2007 line of Sherwood Newcastle AV receivers tops out with the R-972 ($1499.95, summer). Offering 100Wx7 into 8 ohms, it also will accept all of the new audio formats directly through its HDMI 1.3 link and decode them internally (rather than relying on the player to first convert them to PCM). Internal Faroudja processing will deinterlace and/or scale all sources to 720p, 1080i, and 1080p, as directed. The unit also includes Audyssey MultEQ XT EQ.
There weren't a lot of video projector demonstrations on the show floor at the convention center (booth prices are reportedly up significantly this year, and projector demos appear to gravitate increasingly to the custom install CEDIA EXPO in September). But one of the best demos was put on by Optoma. The projector was the HD81 LV (about $10,000, available late spring). A special version of the current HD81 1920x1080 projector, the new model is similar to the old, but uses a more powerful lamp, a different color wheel, and a different iris. It may also be equipped with an optional anamorphic lens ($12,999 for the HD81 LV projector with lens, $4000 for the lens if bought separately). The lens may also be used with the basic HD81. The HD image from <I>Phantom of the Opera</I>, from Blu-ray, with the anamorphic lens in the system, was stunning.