LATEST ADDITIONS

 |  Jan 07, 2006  |  1 comments

Taking a break from speakers, I stopped in on Swedish manufacturer Bladelius. Designer Michael Bladelius worked on Threshold and Forte amps back in the early 1990s, and now has a complete line of amps, preamps, and home theater electronics bearing his name. They're beautifully done, all named after Norse legends, and all will induce sticker shock. The Grendel 5-channel power amp is priced at $9200. For that you get 350Wpc into 8 ohms and a switching power supply (a conventional supply will make the amp too heavy with that power output!). It's a modular design that may be configured many different ways (prices will vary with other configurations). The Enris pre-pro offers a front-panel widescreen display, HDMI switching, on-board video processing, balanced operation, and a price ranging from $15-$18K. It will ship in the spring.&mdash;<I>TJN</I>

 |  Jan 07, 2006  |  0 comments

The line of speakers from the Italian company Bolzano Villetri may not have been the best sounding at the show (though they may have had the must <I>unique</I> sound) but they were certainly the most unusual (obvious from the photos), and possibly the most gorgeous as well. Briefly, they consist of drivers firing upward and downward, in most cases two woofer-midranges and two small tweeters. The resulting sound fires out on all sides, for a (nearly) omnidirectional sound. The largest floorstander shown, the Great Torre, is priced at $9000. The slightly smaller Piazetta (love those names&mdash;sounds like a small pizza) goes for $6000 (its 6.5-inch woofers would likely be a good match for a subwoofer), and the short Cantora center is $3000. Also shown was a smaller line of speakers using similar technology in less complex enclosures (no prices available yet). But even those were beautiful.

 |  Jan 07, 2006  |  0 comments

Shown is the Bolzano Villetri Cantora center channel speaker.

 |  Jan 07, 2006  |  1 comments

Genesis Advanced Technologies had two major new introductions, plus new subs. The Genesis 3 employs midrange/tweeter line arrays in a dipole configuration, together with an on-board subwoofer. But the new, small F7.1p ($2950-$3250/pair, depending on finish) might be more home-theater friendly. I heard them in a 2-channel configuration, along with the new S2/8 sub ($TBD), and they sounded very honest and neutral. And while they could be used with a Genesis center, they are small enough that they could work nicely in all channels. A bit pricey, perhaps, but Genesis speakers have never been low-end designs. &mdash;<I>TJN</I>

 |  Jan 07, 2006  |  0 comments

Dali was featuring its flagship MegaLine driven by McIntosh components, and they sounded spectacular. But at $42,000/pair, they have to. In the real world, the new Dali IKON line offers a complete range of speakers, including center channels, surrounds and subwoofers. The large floor-standing IKON 6 ($1595/pair) sounded very promising. All the models employ a ribbon tweeter; most are 3- or 4-way designs (only the smallest center channel is 2-way).&mdash;<I>TJN</I>

 |  Jan 07, 2006  |  3 comments

Today was my day to cover the Alexis Park, the site of the high-end audio exhibits. Since my beat is home theater, and the Alexis exhibits specialize in 2-channel setups, much of my time was taken up searching for speakers that might find a comfortable spot in a home theater setup, along with the odd subwoofer, pre-pro or multi-channel amp.

 |  Jan 07, 2006  |  2 comments

These sister companies may both operate under the Harman International banner, but they produce very different speakers. Nevertheless, both put on very good demonstrations in the Hilton Hotel near the convention center. Revel set up its new F52 ($8000) and C52 front and center speakers (together with M22s for surrounds and two B15 subs). The amps were the Mark Levinson No.431 for the rears and the 3-channel No.433 for the three fronts.

The pre-pro was the Levinson No.40, now updated with a very flexible video switcher (including HDMI) and video deinterlacing and scaling up to 1080i. And the disc player was the new Levinson No.51 at $18,500 (it's not a universal player). All the pieces are available now, excerpt for the No.51 (um, March). The sound in this room was strikingly life-like, and never edgy or more aggressive than the programming demanded.

In another suite, two JBL 1400 Arrays (from the new Project Array series) were making 2-channel music with a sound balance that suggested they might, together with the matching 880 Array center and smaller 800 Arrays (for surrounds) produce a full-bodied, dynamic sound for both music and films soundtracks. There's also a 1500 Array subwoofer. It's been too long since we tested a surround set of JBL speakers and these might just be the ones to break that drought. Specific prices for each model were not given, but they start at $3000 each.&mdash;<I>TJN</I>

 |  Jan 07, 2006  |  1 comments

Most of Hitachi's current line was announced last spring and is already in the shops. But two new developments will find their way into new models this year. A new blinking backlight system, which will show up first in 37- and 32-inch models, is said to significantly clean up motion blur.

 |  Jan 07, 2006  |  1 comments

Epson has a new 1920x1080 LCD chip, and was showing it off to the CES crowds in two new PTV models, a 55-inch and a 65-inch. Both looked stunning while showing fish paddling about (<I>Stereophile</I>'s John Atkinson once referred to fish videos as the video equivalent of audiophile music recordings). The sets should be out in&mdash;all together now&mdash;March.

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