CES 2010

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Shane Buettner  |  Jan 10, 2010  |  0 comments
The group at Anthem/Paradigm now offers complete turnkey home theater solutions comprised of separate electronics, speakers, a Blu-ray player and a front projector and screen. The results almost shook the Venetian hotel to the ground. The Anthem line brought in Statement series electronics with the D2v processor, A5 power amp, three BLX-200 Blu-ray players (continuous demo, no disc swapping), and an LTX-500 LCOS projector driving an SI Black Diamond screen. Paradigm’s Signature S6 speakers held down left and right duty in this surround system, but my eyes and ears went immediately to the presence of two ginormous SUB 2 subwoofers at the front of the room. The $7499 SUB 2 uses six 10” woofers in its unusually shaped cabinet. And get this. Wiring 240v AC to the SUB 2 Paradigm claims 4,500 watts RMS sustained with its Class D amplification. If you can only wire for 120v, don’t’ feel too bad. Paradigm claims 3,000 watts RMS sustained over old-fashioned 120v lines, which isn’t exactly anemic either. The cabinet/driver configuration cancels cabinet vibration, and all that’s left is earthshaking bass. The versatility of this system was extraordinary, bringing me to my emotional knees with an evocative KD Lang concert performance before shattering that blissful calm with a bonecrusher (ok, hunter-killer) scene from Terminator Salvation (all the demo material was Blu-ray). Then Anthem/Paradigm’s Rob Sample played Nine Inch Nails Beside You in Time, and we were whisked off to the concert arena. I’ve never heard rock concert bass portrayed as convincingly in a home theater system. Not only was the bass pounding at startlingly high SPLs, the air in the room was fully charged. I saw NIN live in 2008, and this is as close as I’ll get to that energy until they come around again. This is powerful stuff. So powerful that I need to know more. Paradigm’s on the hook to send me a SUB 2 review sample. My neighbors have no idea what’s coming for them!
Shane Buettner  |  Jan 10, 2010  |  0 comments
Wolf Cinema has something for those who can’t quite go to the screening room screen sizes supported by its big D-Cinema based projectors. The company was holding private demos showing pre-production samples of a new LED-based projector that will be available later this year. While it’s not small, it looks kinda cute next to the company’s digital cinema based line. The image was bright and punchy, and loaded with crisp detail on a 106” wide 2.35:1 screen. It didn’t hurt that the source material was comprised of clips of serious eye candy like Baraka and the psychedelic Speed Racer. Still, the projector wasn’t missing any of it. Final pricing is not yet determined, but is expected to be around $23k. While it already has a model number, Wolf Cinema’s John-Paul Lazars mentioned calling it the Cub, and I’m running with that. Consider the start of an online campaign!
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 10, 2010  |  0 comments
Yeah, it's one of those kinds of things. We're sworn to secrecy (hopefully not too much longer), but we were one of the few who were given a glimpse at a new speaker line from a brand new company called GoldenEar Technology. New companies come into existence all the time, of course, but what makes this one so special is the fact that it's being started by Sandy Gross and Don Givogue, two of the founders of one of our (and many, many other' people's - if all of the stellar reviews and impressive sales numbers are anything to go by) favorite speaker brands, Definitive Technology. Gross was also one of the founders of another speaker brand you might have heard of: Polk. So when we heard Sandy Gross was working on a new speaker, our ears started to tingle (and not just from being at CES for several days). We can't tell you many of the details, but what we saw was elegant, affordable, and has all the makings of another blockbuster line of gear. To use a Vegas analogy, it's the kind of thing you might get if Frank Sinatra and Elvis had a love child. (Yeah, I know it's not biologically possible, but this is Vegas, after all...)
Tom Norton  |  Jan 10, 2010  |  0 comments
My search for home theater displays at the Venetian hotel, home of the high-end audio exhibits, was frustrating. And while I enjoyed checking out the audio rooms, looking mainly for speakers suitable for home theater (but also for the fun of it!), their prices were often a put-off for multi-channel applications). The Meridian room did not break the price barrier either, but the quality of the system was outstanding. The company left its big 4K projector at home and settled on the smaller DLA-MF10 with an ISCO anamorphic lens (about $28,000 --$15,000 without the lens) and 8-foot wide (approximately) 2.35:1 Stewart Studiotek 130 screen. Even though this projector is based on an older JVC DLA design (extensively modified courtesy of video expert William Phelps) the picture was to die for.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 09, 2010  |  First Published: Jan 10, 2010  |  0 comments
The untimely passing last summer of Jim Thiel, the heart and soul of Thiel Audio, was a jolt to entire high-end audio industry. But he left the company in good hands, as its big demo room at CES amply proved. The Thiel CS3.7s ($12,900/pair) were clean, crisp, but never bright unless the program source made them so, it was one of the best audio demos I've yet heard. The front end of the system, and the amps, were from Bryston. Thiel subwoofers fleshed out the bottom below 30Hz. At some point in the future we can expect a matching center channel for this system; according to Thiel reps, Jim left detailed designs for future projects, and a center appropriate for use with the CS3.7 was one of them.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 09, 2010  |  First Published: Jan 10, 2010  |  0 comments
Though I've covered only a fraction of the rooms at the Venetian so far, with a day to go, my favorite rooms today were the Thiel (above) and the Avalon, where the new Avalon Times were making terrific sounds, driven by monoblock power amps from Jeff Rowland. The Time employs two 11" Nomex-Kevlar composite woofers, a 3.5" concave Ceramic Dome midrange, and a 1" concave Diamond diaphragm tweeter. The Thiel and Avalon systems could not have soundxed more different (Thiel leaner, Avalon warmer and richer) but both flattered a wide range of the music I tried on them. The Avalons, however, will cost you a lot more, at $49,000/pair -- and the fijnish shown is a $4000 option!
Tom Norton  |  Jan 09, 2010  |  First Published: Jan 10, 2010  |  0 comments
You can be forgiven if this looks like one of those odd, transparent speaker systems. But it wasn't put in the Avalon room to compete with the Avalon Time. Its a passive room treatment device from Acustica Applicata (sounds like a singing technique, like a capella), an Italian company. The visible "eye" is a mechanical iris diaphragm, which combined with a port in the base with an adjustable opening and an internal membrane can tune the device to between 26Hz and 60Hz. This is said to improve the low frequency resolution by tuning out bass problem areas over a narrow or broad range. $3600 each.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 09, 2010  |  First Published: Jan 10, 2010  |  0 comments
TAD was demoing both its flagship Reference One speaker (priced in "if you have to ask" territory) and the smaller Compact reference shown here (at $37,000/pair, it's only in the "say again" price range). It sounds spectacular, however, and while you don't need TAD's new disc player and monboblock amps (see below) to make it sing, it couldn't hurt.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 09, 2010  |  First Published: Jan 10, 2010  |  0 comments
TAD's new monoblock power amp outputs 300W into 8 ohms and 600 watts into 6 ohms. What looks like an amp stand under the thick aluminum chassis is actually a cast iron piece of the amp's structure that houses some of the components and adds to the rigidity of the piece. Each $26,500 monoblock weighs in at 200 lbs.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 09, 2010  |  First Published: Jan 10, 2010  |  0 comments
A proprietary master clock , specially designed disc mechanism, and a rigid, die-cast aluminum chassis are only a few of the reason's why TAD's new D600 CD/SACD (2-channel) CD and (two-channel) SACD disc spinner commands a price of $26,500. Available in spring 2010.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 09, 2010  |  First Published: Jan 10, 2010  |  1 comments
Magico's Q5 loudspeaker is composed entirely of one-half inch thick aluminum, and while the speaker isn't very larga as high-end floor-standers go, each one weighs 400 lbs. There are two 9" woofers, one 9" mid-woofer, one 6A" midrange, and a beryllium tweeter. The latter is new for a for Magico; the other drivers are similar in design to the drivers in other Magico speakers. $54,000 a pair, if you have to ask! For five channels, that's...never mind.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 09, 2010  |  First Published: Jan 10, 2010  |  0 comments
Here is a cutaway shot of the insides of Magico's Q5. The damping material and crossover have been removed. According to Magico, the speaker is made entirely in-house.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 09, 2010  |  First Published: Jan 10, 2010  |  0 comments
Atlantic Technology was showing a near finished prototype of its H-PAS speaker, first seen in early form at CEDIA. H-PAS stands for Hybrid Pressure Acceleration System, a fancy name for what is claimed to be a breakthrough in bass loading. It combines several speaker technologies, including bass reflex, inverse horn, and transmission line. The system is purely passive;there is no subwoofer hidden in the box and the only drivers in the design are the two 5.25" woofers and soft dome tweeter seen in the photo (which does not do the gloss black design justice).
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 09, 2010  |  1 comments
The Reference 3.5 from Anthony Gallo Acoustics replaces the Reference 3.1. It was shown at the last CES but is now moving into production. New features include a patented cylindrical piezo film tweeter. The woofer enclosure, just one-quarter of a cubic foot in volume, includes a dampening material that is encased in plastic mesh and therefore does its job exceptionally well. Results: sassy crystalline highs, well-developed and well-controlled bass, and since Anthony has a good ear, a musically adept midrange as well. A second set of speaker terminals is provided for speaker-level output to a sub.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 09, 2010  |  0 comments
The Sony SS-AR1 has been around since 2006 but we didn't notice it till this show. The three-way, four-driver floorstander features a chambered enclosure with a baffle of Hokkaido-grown maple and side panels of Finnish birch, both of which the designers prize for their "generous reverberation." Drivers include aluminum woofers, sliced-paper midrange, and a tweeter backed with six concentric neodymium magnets. Pricing in mid to high four figures. This is the kind of thing a big manufacturer will do just to prove it can. But don't scoff. We've reviewed other Sony SS-series speakers in the distant past and they were, in fact, superbly musical.