2002 CES Day Three

We've moved to the Alexis Park, home of specialty audio. Traffic here is light, and there aren't many home theater demonstrations. We have seen some compelling new products, however—such as Niroson's prototype surround-sound system consisting of only two small speakers and a compact subwoofer.

Developed in collaboration with Martin-Logan's Gayle Sanders, the Niroson system consists of a self-powered three-chambered enclosure that houses front left/center/right drivers; a similar device for the rear; and a three-woofer sub occupying less than one cubic foot. The front speaker was barely noticeable atop a widescreen Sony monitor, yet it created a remarkable sense of ambience when marketing vice president Lee Adams played a video clip from Twister.Not yet a finished product, this diminutive system should be ready for market sometime in the second half of the year, he stated, probably at around $2500 retail. It could prove to be an ideal solution for small media rooms.

Revox also has an intriguing small-room system, with an E-642 plasma screen and five tiny speakers. The E-642 is a 42" screen with integrated NTSC/PAL tuner, and it's capable of a contrast ratio of 750:1. It looks very good, as does its big brother, the E-650, a 50" plasma unit which can be hung on the wall.

Great pictures aren't much good without great sound, of course. Revox is tackling this challenge with its new M-51surround-sound system—'which includes a DVD/CD player, decoder, FM tuner, phono preamp, and five channels of amplification. The M-51 retails for approximately $7000. Revox is also making all its new products backward-compatible with its older products to insure that those who own them can continue to enjoy them. Optional control modules for the M-51 are available for owners of DAB tuners, A-77 tape recorders, and other such products. Revox in the only company in the world other than McIntosh that continues to support all its old products with replacement parts, according to a company executive.

Arcam has a new eight-channel preamp/processor, also with integral phono stage, and a companion seven-channel amplifier capable of 150Wpc with all channels driven. The preamp/processor supports every known surround sound format, has user-configurable inputs, and keeps separate the processing of analog audio, video, and digital signals. The prototypes represent more than two years of research and development, Arcam engineer Andrew Dutton told us. They looked very impressive, but we are unable to quote prices or delivery dates, which were unavailable at the show.

Arcam claims extraordinary image stability from its DV88 DVD player, which also handles standard and HDCD compact discs, as well as CD-R and CD-RW discs. It will also play MP3 encoded CDs, and a special version, the DV88P, can output progressive scan video. The company is working on an output board to accommodate multichannel DVD-Audio, but has no plans to do anything with SACD.