What's more impressive than a stack of McIntosh gear? More than just looking good, McIntosh is releasing their most powerful amps ever. The MC1.2KW Mono Power Amplifier delivers a whooping 1200 watts. Imagine what that will do when you crank up your Metallica CDs. The MA700 Integrated Amp offers up 250 watts x seven channels for a truly off-the-hook home theater.
Denon showed off their new line of AVRs, many of which feature advanced whole house networking solutions that can access music from iTunes, Windows Media 11 and music servers. Increased whole house networking capabilities will continue to be a major emphasis in Denon products.
Marantz's BD8002 Blu-ray Disc Player is way on the other end of the spectrum at $2,099.99 featuring a 10-bit Silicon Optix Realta chipset
with upconversion and scaling to 1080p. The player offers high resolution with decoding of Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD and
DTS-HD Master Audio and is capable of outputting both 7.1-channel analog signals and PCM audio via HDMI.
Marantz showed off two new separates, the AV8003 Preamp/Processor and MM8003 Power Amp. However, price and availability were not available. The AV8003 is network capable providing a built-in digital media player using Ethernet connectivity for streaming audio and video content throughout a networked home. The MM8003 is 150 watts x 8 channels.
Snell Acoustics new Illusion reference monitors are the ultimate LCR, selling for $10,000 a piece. The Illusion series speakers incorporates a new concept in enclosure design that significantly reduces resonance and spurious vibration.
The brand new Vision Media Management from Escient plays and imports movies, videos, music, and photos for a complete home entertainment networking system. There are two versions of an all-in-one server/player. The Model VS-100 provides dual 500GB drives, while the VS-200 is outfitted with dual 1TB drives. The VC-1 is a high-performance networked audio/video zone player that streams both audio and video from either Vision servers, allowing playback of music, movies, and photos to any room of the home. All feature HDMI 1.3 support and upscaling to 1080p to ensure the best possible image quality from any source.
For those flat panel owners who want improved sound over the built-in speakers, Boston's Tvee Soundbar provides exceptional 2-channel audio in a slim footprint speaker that mounts on the wall under a TV or rests on top of an entertainment center. A wireless subwoofer comes with the package and all are sold for $399.99. The Soundbar is available in Boston's new P.O.P. colors.
In the wake of a declining market for traditional box speakers, Boston Acoustics has reinvented themselves with a new style [and logo]. Know as the Personal Options Plan or P.O.P. for short, all their new speakers are made of molded plastic exteriors. However, when you rap on the sides or pick up the speaker you become aware that this is just for aesthetics. Inside is the same Boston engineering with a rigid wooden baffle.
Waterfall Audio, a French speaker designer, have begun distributing their unique see-through speakers that are made of glass in the U.S. There are two towers plus small speakers that are wall-mountable and suitable for use as surrounds. The wall speakers disappear into the decor looking like lighting sconces, rather than hi-tech gear.
Totem Acoustics was demonstrating a speaker they call The One. Its a limited anniversary edition of the first speaker they ever manufactured. Sans a subwoofer, these diminutive $3995 (pr) speakers were extremely impressive, outperforming, to my ears, some of the behemoth tower speakers [with five and six figure price tags] that were being demonstrated by other manufacturers at the Venetian.
TAD, a division of Pioneer, responsible for the development of high-end audio products showed a prototype of a new Class A mono-amp that will be out later this year. It's made using aluminum plating and a cast iron base. After 5 days of running continuously, the chassis was barely lukewarm.
The use of music servers rather than CD/DVD transports was a common occurrence among high-end manufacturers at the Venetian exhibits. By using servers, they can store high resolution, loss-less files that are far superior to standard CDs, which are limited to 16bits.
At the Meridian suite in the Venetian, in the midst of their digital speaker systems and high-end components, was the portable F80. Like so many high-end manufacturer's, Meridian is courting the lifestyle consumer, which includes support for iPod users. The F80 is a portable, 2.1 channel, iPod speaker system that comes in five Ferrari colors.
My rounds at the high-end audio exhibits at the Venetian Hotel only let me sample a few rooms that looked interesting, or appeared to have some semblance of relevance to both music <I>and</I> home theater. But If I diverge a bit from the home theater tack in a one or two of the following entries, well, it's stuff I found interesting.