CEDIA 2014

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 13, 2014  |  0 comments
Sony's booth at CEDIA EXPO never approaches its presence at CES, but inside the pillars surrounding its exhibit and announcing its presence it demonstrated a stacked pair of its VPL-VW1100ES 4K projectors using material stored on its media server. I didn't think these projectors were performing at their best (and having reviewed both the VPL-VW1000 (the predecessor to the VPL-VW1100ES and essentially identical in performance if not in features) and the VPL-VW600ES I can vouch that they are competitive with the best home theater projectors you can buy). But on music a Sony ES audio system did extremely well, even if the room was far from optimum for sound.

One piece missing, however, was the new VPL-VW300ES projector Sony introduced recently at IFA (IFA is the European CES--more or less). The VPL-VW300ES is a stripped down and less expensive VPL-VW600ES, eliminating such features as the dynamic iris and lens memory. My Sony contact indicated that the company does not intend to market this projector here.

Bob Ankosko  |  Sep 13, 2014  |  0 comments
I knew from the press photo that Artison’s RCC Nano 1 sub was small but I didn’t realize just how small until I saw in person at CEDIA Expo. The little guy is less than 9 inches square yet packs one helluva punch and boasts a “vibration-free” reactance cancelling configuration developed by CEO and chief designer Cary Christie.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 13, 2014  |  0 comments
By now you've likely heard of Dolby Atmos-Enabled speakers, which include an additional driver or drivers firing out of the top at an angle to bounce Atmos' height information off your ceiling if installation of ceiling speakers is impractical--as it will be for most of us. In addition to dedicated Atmos-Enabled speakers, several add-on modules were seen at CEDIA, which are designed to sit on top of your main left and right front speakers and surrounds if you want to add Atmos but don't want to replace your entire speaker system.

The 44-DA from Atlantic technology is designed for this purpose. At $500/pair, it employs a concentric driver (a coaxial woofer-tweeter). While designed to be a perfect fit atop the company's THX-4400 L/R speakers, it can be used on any speaker with a flat top surface large enough to accommodate its approximately 8.4-inch width and 9.5-inch depth.

Bob Ankosko  |  Sep 12, 2014  |  0 comments
Hailed by many as the most significant advance in audio since the advent of surround sound more than 20 years ago, the home theater version of Dolby Atmos surround is off and running with support from at least 20 brands—a roster that is sure to grow in the coming months. Let’s break it down:
Bob Ankosko  |  Sep 14, 2014  |  1 comments
Wilfried Van Baelan talks about the Auro-3D surround sound format he invented before the demo clips roll.

Belgium-based Auro Technologies dazzled CEDIA Expo showgoers with an 11.1-channel “immersive sound” demo of the Auro-3D surround format it introduced in theaters in 2011 and is now bringing to home theaters.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 12, 2014  |  1 comments
When I saw these pendant speakers from TruAudio (just to the left of center in the photo, in black and white), the first thing I thought of was the midrange enclosure in B&W's 800 and 802 Diamond loudspeakers.

But the second thing I though of was using them as discrete overhead speakers for Dolby Atmos. I have no idea how they sound, nor do I believe that this is their designed purpose, but they are not only more attractive than the usual in-ceiling speakers, but could suspended at almost any length from a high ceiling at a more appropriate height for the Atmos format than an in-ceiling speaker might provide.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 12, 2014  |  0 comments
While the JBL Atmos demo remains the champ at the show (at least through the first two days) for shear impact, undistorted output level (in a good way), and immersion from 39 speakers, it's not likely to find its way into too many homes. The Atmos demo from GoldenEar, however, was a more conventional 5.4.4 setup with five conventional channels, 4 true ceiling speakers (no reflective Atmos here), and four subs. It was both impactful and at the same time subtle in a way that will please many audiophiles with at least some interest in home theater. Not that a lot of audiophiles wouldn't covet the JBL (I'll take the JBL for my big room when I win the lottery, and something like the GoldenEar for the smaller!), but the GoldenEar is more practical.

The GoldenEar system used an Oppo Blu-ray player, an Integra Atmos-ready pre-pro, three Pass Labs monoblock amps for the front channels, six other amp channels for the two surrounds and two ceiling speakers (I didn't catch the make for the latter, but it was far more modest and less pricey than the Pass amps). The speakers were the GoldenEar Ones left and right, a SuperCenter XL, GoldenEar Twos for the surrounds, and four Invisa HTR 7000s for the ceiling channels. The four subs were the powered subs built into the GoldenEar Ones and Twos. The levels chosen were loud enough, but sensible, and the experienced convinced me, at least in these fledgling days of Atmos (I remain open minded on this), that true ceiling speakers just might produce the best Atmos results.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 12, 2014  |  0 comments
Audiophiles fondly remember the company Audio Alchemy, which produced a number of well-received, sensibly-priced D/A converters back in the 1990s. They may have been before their time. Today, such separate converters are all over the place, but now include USB connections for the increasingly popular digital downloads, particularly of the high resolution audio variety.

Peter Madnick, who currently heads up design for the extremely pricey electronics from Constellation, has re-acquired the rights to the Audio Alchemy name. While not being shown at a booth (at least not one I've yet seen) I ran into Peter as he was prowling the show floor with a sample of his first new Audio Alchemy product, the DDP-1. It's a D/A converter with optical, coaxial, USB (asynchronous), and analog inputs. With its volume control, it can also function as a 2-channel preamp and a headphone amplifier. While its $1895 ticket is a bit pricier than the Audio Alchemy products of the past, it should be highly competitive in today's D/A market when it ships in December.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Sep 13, 2014  |  0 comments
Belgin-based Basalte’s Sentido is a unique, square-shaped, intelligent, touch-sensitive light switch with a metal-finish front face that’s divided into two or four equal sections, each with different functions. Basalte says that the entire switch is touch-sensitive and creates “an easy way of control and a unique user experience.” Touching more than one section simultaneously, for example, turns on or off all of the connected lights in the room. The Sentido can be programmed so that a long press of multiple sections will allow the user to sequence through up to four individually programmed light scenes. Multiple Sentidos will be capable of integrating into other companies’ smart home systems in the near future. On display was Basalte’s bridge adapter for integrating Sentido switches into Lutron’s HomeWorks QS systems. Since the Sentido switches do not include internal wireless connectivity, low-voltage wire needs to be run from each Sentido switch to central bridge adapter.

Behind the square metal front is...

Mark Fleischmann  |  Sep 12, 2014  |  0 comments
The rethought CM Series from Bowers & Wilkins includes three towers, three monitors, two centers, and one sub. They use a double dome aluminum tweeter array which combines a dome with a ring radiator, stiffening the driver and shifting its breakup mode from 30 to 38 kHz. Nautilus-style tweeter tube loading is employed in all of these new speakers though it's most visible in the tweeter-on-top models (the CM10 S2 tower and, pictured here, the CM6 S2 monitor). Woofers continue to be Kevlar. The models, all priced per speaker, are the CM10 S2 tower ($2000), CM9 S2 tower ($1600), CM8 S2 tower ($1200), CM6 S2 monitor ($1000), CM5 S2 monitor ($800), CM1 S2 monitor ($550), CM Centre2 S2 ($1250), CM Centre S2 ($700), and ASW 10CM S2 subwoofer ($1500).
Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 16, 2014  |  1 comments
The big Blue Bear, the “mascot” for the Denver Convention Center, is sad. Another cycle of CEDIA Expos in Denver has ended; next year we head to Big D A double L AS (that spells Dallas, my, oh yes).

But this latest two-year run in in Denver ended with a bang. It was...

John Sciacca  |  Sep 15, 2014  |  0 comments
Just when we mastered sending 1080p HDMI signals around the house over Cat5 cabling, much larger and more bandwidth intensive 4K video looms darkly on the horizon. And according to some cable tests I’ve seen, the current cable distribution scheme might not work for your 3840x2160 video streams, especially as distances increase. Instead of black screens of “No Signal” or drop-outs and sparklies, Celerity offers a fiber solution that will support 4K runs up to 1000 feet!

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 12, 2014  |  0 comments
Christie also showed (but did not demonstrate) its DWX 555-G, a 2K, single-chip DLP projector with laser illumination. Rated at 5000 lumens, it can be yours for $17,995.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 12, 2014  |  0 comments
Christie Digital, a big name in theatrical digital presentations, made its first appearance at a CEDIA EXPO. Here is the biggest projector they had on display, a 4K, 3-chip DLP. Christie's Josh Kolbeck stands next to it for perspective.

While not on demo at Christie's own booth, it was being used in a Stewart Filmscreen demonstration elsewhere on the show floor. On a 15-foot wide Stewart Director's choice Gray Matte 70 screen, and with 4K sources, it produced what was easily the best-looking images I saw on the show's first day. I didn't catch the price (it took Christie personnel several minutes to find the price on the Christie laser projector shown below), but it definitely falls into the "if you have to ask" category. You'll also need to put it in a separate projection room. It's cooling fans are loud.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 13, 2014  |  0 comments
Classe introduced its new Sigma line at the show, consisting of the Sigma SSP surround sound preamp processor and two amps, the 5-channel Amp5 and the 2-channel Amp2. The latter are both compact class D designs offering 200W per channel into 8 ohms and 400W per channel into 4 ohms.

The Sigma SSP, shown in the photo (though it looks far, um, classier in real life than my middling photography might indicate. It is loaded with features, including SPDIF and 24-bit asynchronous USB digital inputs, DSP-produced parametric EQ and tone control on all channels, and all of the other modes and features of any competent pre-pro. But it has only one HDMI output, is only HDMI 1.4, and is not yet Dolby Atmos-ready. But it's modular design should make future Hardware updates possible. The Sigma SSP and Amp5 are $5000 each, and the Amp 2 is $3500. All three should be available by the end of the year.