Polk Audio's Blackstone series comes in the three versions shown including wireless sub not shown. The demo featured smooth and gentle mids. For more information see our review coming a few months after you read this.
This German manufacturer is strictly two-channel but still captured our attention with the Dixie! stand-mount speaker, a smallish member of the Birdland Series. First it was the cool stand, then it was the beautifully layered sound of a blues recording. Some drivers are custom made, while others are off the shelf but modified by Lindemann. Guys: Please, please, please do some surround products. At least sell your speakers in odd-numbered configs. We're not too proud to beg.
The Principal Grand subwoofer from Vienna Acoustics packs a 12-inch pulp-carbon driver into an enclosure with two separate chambers for the 300-watt amp and crossover. The latter, as shown in the pic, is on the bottom. The company, which actually manufactures in Vienna, is fussy about its drivers, in this case source from ScanSpeak because it's important for a sub "to play more than one note." Amen. Pricing ranges from $3000-4000 depending on finish. Also shown was the Strauss Series In-Waltz in-wall speaker, with features derived from an on-wall cousin.
The BDP-1 Player, as Bryston calls it, does not include a hard drive or streaming capability. Instead, taking a high-performance approach to the music serving process, it accepts high-res music files via digital in and feeds digital out to the Bryston BDA-1 DAC. Player at top, DAC at bottom. Pricing: $2150 each.
An intriguing part of Sony's enormous booth in the Central Hall discussed the "Monolithic Design" philosophy, which gives Sony Bravia TVs a commanding "on/off presence" -- in other words, they look cool whether the screen is active or dark. One aspect of the philosophy in action is a six-degree tilt that suits "low, contemporary furniture."
For folks who don't want to keep their two-channel and multi-channel rigs in separate rooms. You can see how that works. Parasound also showed two five-channel amps, the 250-watt Model 5250 ($2800) and the 150-watt Model 5125 ($1900). Both are THX Ultra2 certified and have dual toroidal power supplies.
I normally would have enjoyed viewing this 84-inch LG LCD/LED 3D 4K set immensely (though it's not yet an available product). It enables full 2K 3D with passive glasses. But dropping my camera, resulting in serious damage, sent me scrambling to the Canon booth to see if they recommended my having it repaired (not at the show, of course). They did not. I needed a new camera anyway. Fortunately, with three days of the show left, I had brought along a spare.
Wisdom Audio's LS4 ($100,000 in a 2.2-channel configuration) is 84 inches tall, making it a suitable mate for the fridge-size sub the company introduced at CEDIA 2010. It uses subs for frequencies below 80Hz -- and handles frequencies above that with planar biamped polyamide-film drivers, imprisoned in heavy steel plates, coaxed into motion by 1030 magnets in front of and behind them. String the magnets end to end and you could measure their length in terms of football fields, or so we were told, and at that point, after a long day, our head began to swim, though this certainly wasn't Wisdom's fault. One point the Wisdom people made that we loved: As an on-wall, this model basically prevents the purchaser from putting the speakers in the wrong place, so he actually gets the performance for which he paid so dearly (assuming his installer is up to snuff).
The Revel Ultima2 Salon2 speakers were driven by Mark Levinson electronics. Nothing new here either, but with a simple piano-bass-drums recording featuring Ellis Marsalis (not even an SACD, just a CD) the system sounded so natural we could have sat there all day. Total pricing just south of $122,000.
A trip back to the Toshiba booth will be needed to get a look at Toshiba's demo of glasses free (autostereoscopic) 3D. The crowds waiting to see this technology were huge. Still, I think all the hoopla about 3D without glasses is going to leave a lot of people disappointed. I suspect that it will either be years away (if it's ever perfected at all—not all technical challenges have a ready solution) or a serious step backwards in image qualitywhether from Toshiba or anyone else. But I could be surprised. A similar demo from Sony, while hardly flawless, looked better than I expected.
We're pleased to announce that the Kondo/Audio Note exhibit has won the Home Theater 2011 CES Blog's Award for Distinguished Achievement in Slogan Writing. See above. Really, isn't this what audio is all about?