The Integra DTR-80.3 nine-channel receiver ($3000) and DHC-80.3 pre-pro ($2600) and their Onkyo equivalents are the only receiver/pre-pro that upscale to 4K by 2K. That they can be ISF-calibrated for each source component is just as unusual and even more impressive. Pictured: Ten reasons why custom installers like to do business with Integra.
Projectors are always big at CEDIA, and Panasonic has two new models on display. I already covered the PT-AE7000U in a previous post, but new at the show is the PT-AR100, an entry-level, 1920x1080 LCD model spec'd with 2800 lumens of light output and a dynamic contrast ratio of 50,000:1. Features include a 2x zoom lens, lockable joystick to adjust the horizontal and vertical lens shift, and the ability to change the lamp and filter without unmounting the unit. It will be available by the end of October for a list price of $1999.
It’s been a long year since CEDIA 2010 when Emotiva Pro first showed a high-performance pre/pro with a fully integrated Control4 controller built in. In the meantime, Emotiva Pro morphed/merged/acquired/became Sherbourn; and the new/old company says the PT-7020C4 media processor/controller should be ready to roll in just a few weeks. The PT-7020C4 is a full-blown pre/pro with 5 HDMI 1.4 ports that’s “fully 3D compatible” and “offers a true hardware bypass for direct, unprocessed 3D streams to the video monitor” in addition to having a Genesis/Torino scaling engine. The PT-7020C4 also features dual 32-bit DSPs, balanced XLR connections, and full Ethernet control.
Surge protection is great and – take it from someone whose equipment recently suffered from the effects of a wayward bolt of lightning – really, really, really important. Unfortunately, most of the serious surge suppression components on the market have the bad habit of taking up valuable rack space. SurgeX’s new XC series separates the protection from the plug, giving you the ability to mount a strip of 18 or 24 outlets vertically along the back of your AV rack (or elsewhere) whilst the serious surge-suppressing circuitry (with SurgeX patented Advanced Series Mode protection technology, a remote interface, an Over/Under Voltage Protection LED, a Power On/Off LED, and a highly interactive Self-Test LED) sits separately. SurgeX says the company’s XC series are built to withstand a 6,000V, 3,000AMP AC power surge at least 1,000 times without failing. (They’re probably telling the truth, although since I had to leave after the 965th surge, I can’t say I saw it with my own eyes…) They’re also backed by an 11-year warranty and are built in the USA.
DNP Denmark may not be the most well known name in screens, but it makes some unique products. Hidden behind the bobble heads in the darkened area to the right of center here is the DNP Supernova Epic, a 132" diagonal, 2.35:1, 0.8 gain model with side masking. Made in Scandinavia, so you know it's expensive. All yours for $20,000.
DNP was using projectors from projectiondesign, and while that company has no booth at CEDIA this year, I was told to watch out for press releases. We will.
James Loudspeaker caught our eye with more than one fascinating product. The SPL-618 three-channel soundbar ($6000) features an unusual tweeter array, as you can see. It reminded us of the petals of a flower. Each quartet of tweeters is angled inward -- not with the intention of creating a sweet spot, but to provide good dispersion via summing. The 2.5-inch-deep bar can be made in various widths.
The area of the Future Technology display of most interest to home theater fans, however, involved this huge, 244.5-inch x 104-inch, 2.35:1 Stewart Aeroview 100 screen. It's a rear projection setup using six DLP projectors with edge blending. The image you can see here was only 16:9 for this preview, but 2.35:1 material that fills the screen is on the menu for the show days. The image was as impaired, as this photo suggests, by the ambient lighting, which is also higher on setup day than it will be during show hours. For more details, see the next post.
The Polk SurroundBar 500 ($999) was first announced a year and a half ago but took some fine tuning. It moves the messy details of connectivity to an outboard rack-size box, left, allowing the enclosure to be just 0.9 inches deep. It can operate in three-, five-, and seven-channel modes. The woofers at the sides have dual voice coils to make such complex motion possible. The picture may not do justice to the dimpled surface of the drivers, which we assume is for air-flow control. Oh, and have we mentioned that Polk has overhauled its excellent LSi Series for the first time since 2002? There are two towers, a monitor, two centers, and a surround. One or more of them will prove quite reviewable.
The venerable Baltimore-based speaker maker showed three new monitors, two new soundbars, and three new subs. The three StudioMonitors include the SM65, an LCR with two 5.25-inch woofers ($449/each), SSM 55, a two-way design with 6.5-inch woofer, $299/each), and SM 45, two-way, 5.25-inch ($199/each). The two larger models have passive radiators on top; the smaller one is back-ported. All have woofer phase plugs whose rubber surfaces are dimpled to control air flow. These speakers are voiced for the audiophile on a budget, as opposed to the home theater buff looking for deep thrills, so the bass is said to trade off midbass force for greater extension. Shipping October. DefTech's two new soundbars include the XTR-SSA5 ($999) which has woofer-tweeter-woofer arrays for three front channels plus some extra drivers that sorta kinda contribute to surround effects (it's a long story). With Pink Floyd's "Money," the five-channel bar managed to break the cash-register effects free from the bar, about a foot out and to the sides. The three-channel version is the XTR-SSA3 ($799). Three new subs range in price from $599-799 and have remote controllable preset EQ modes. Coming this fall is the ProCinema 400 sat/sub set ($599).
Klipsch now makes headphones, as shown by Brooke Hilsmeyer. The killer is the MODE noise-canceling model which sounded great and worth $350. There is also a smaller non-NC Reference 1 and an S4A earbud, designed especially for use with Android devices.
Last month, Sharp unveiled its new Elite-branded LED-backlit LCD flat panels, which I hadn't seen until now. Licensing the Elite moniker from Pioneerwhich collaborated on the new panelsSharp has hit a grand slam, filling a distinct void in high-end flat panels left by Pioneer's departure from the TV business. The PRO-X5FD has all the bells and whistles3D (including 2D-to-3D conversion with user-controllable effect), access to online content (Netflix, Vudu, etc.), THX certification for both 2D and 3D, and ISF certification to name a few.
Control4 added a new 7-inch portable touch screen controller with a capacitive full-color LCD panel that you can carry with you tablet-style through your home or use as a tabletop touch screen with it resting in its docking station. While portable and tabletop touch screens are quite cool just because they’re touch screens, the new 7-inchers from Control4 ooze even more coolness because they can be used as intercom devices that will allow you to have a conversation with another person in your home via another Control4 intercom device without requiring either person to hold down a button. Since they’re wireless and portable, you can use these touch screens to bring temporary system control or intercom access to rooms or areas of your home that don’t need a dedicated touch screen. MSRP $999.
At yesterday's Sony press conference, the company didn't demonstrate the new VPL-VW1000ES 4K projectorthat had to wait until this morning at Sony's booth on a Stewart Ultramatte 150 screen measuring 180 inches diagonally. As with most Sony presentations, this one was mostly talking and not much demo material, but that material was worth the waitexcept for the first clip, which was from Resident Evil at 1080p upconverted to 4K. The clip exhibited severe banding and solarization, which I learned was due to sourcing and processing issues, not the projector. (The original file was 16-bit, which was truncated to 10-bit in the server and then 8-bit for HDMI to the projector.) Also, this clip was projected using Motionflow frame interpolation, which I don't mind, but Tom Norton objected to that more than the banding.
By contrast, the trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man due next year was in native 4K from the server, and it looked, well, amazing. Detail was stunning, and the blacks were better than yesterday's showing of the same clip from the Sony 4K digital-cinema projector. After the formal presentation, I confirmed that the VW1000ES can indeed accept a 4K signal over a single HDMI 1.4 connection. Of course, that won't help most consumers see native 4K content, which will be nonexistent for at least a couple of years to come.
But for me, projectors were the main attractions in the Mitsubishi booth. The currently available HC9000D LCOS design (2D and 3D, $6000) looked fabulous in 2D (it was not being demonstrated in 3D when I was there). I was surprised, in fact, at how bright it looked on its 143-inch diagonal, 16:9, Stewart Studiotek 130 screen (gain 1.3).