2002 CES Day Four

We continue to roam the Alexis Park complex, our antennae tuned for innovative home theater products. Among the most interesting: Legacy Audio's "Harmony" loudspeaker, perhaps the first truly high-performance in-wall we've ever heard. This unique design features a rigid back plate that's screwed into place in a sheetrock cutout between two studs on standard 16" centers. The fully assembled front baffle then slides into place and is secured by two screws. Unlike other in-wall designs that attempt to disappear, the Harmony actually protrudes about two inches from the surface of the wall. Its craftsmanship matched its sonic appeal—it was surprisingly deep and dynamic, but very natural sounding through the midrange and highs.

Legacy is working on a version that can be turned horizontally for center channel use below a plasma monitor or front projection screen. Like other Legacy products, the Harmony comes in a number of natural wood finishes, and four grille colors-black, white, ivory, and gray, stated vice president Bob Howard.

Bryston's partnership with British loudspeaker manufacturer PMC has yielded some compelling designs. The cobalt blue AML1 is a two-way powered monitor, a version of which debuted at the Los Angeles Audio Engineering Society convention. The AML1 is compact but outputs prodigious bass. It's ideal for systems in small-to-medium rooms. PMC chose the 2002 CES to launch an unusual "audiophile sub-bass unit," the TLE1—a slim columnar transmission line subwoofer using two 6.5" drivers. A small footprint, a flat frequency response down to 22Hz, an internal 150-Watt amplifier, a variable roll-off, and continuously variable phase response make the TLE1 a versatile addition to any music or cinema system.

Bryston is venturing into the 7.1 channel field with its new SP 1.7 analog/digital preamp/processor. From mono to stereo to all surround formats, Bryston claims uncompromising purist performance. One unique (in our experience) aspect about the SP 1.7 is that each gold-plated input, whether single-ended or balanced, is buffered by its own line amplifier, a technique claimed to eliminate cross-talk, noise, and other forms of unwanted interaction. For home theaters where space is not a problem, Bryston has the new PowerPac 250, a mono version of the company's highly regarded 4B-ST.