CEDIA 2014

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Bob Ankosko  |  Sep 11, 2014  |  0 comments
Amid the aisles and aisles of home automation systems and wholehouse audio/video equipment at CEDIA 2014 is a tiny booth manned by Canadian startup Mass Fidelity. The focal point is a battery-powered Bluetooth speaker that delivers surprisingly robust and spacious sound from a box that can sit in the palm of your hand. It’s called The Core and it is most definitely not your everyday Bluetooth speaker.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Sep 11, 2014  |  0 comments
Paradigm introduced two new speaker lines, one for the home theatrically inclined, one for two-channel. The Millennia LP XL on-wall speaker ($699/each) handled the front channels with the LP 2 ($499/each) handling the surrounds. The whole system, but especially the dual Monitor SUB 10s, benefitted from Paradigm's homegrown ARC room correction in the MRX 710 receiver. The climactic scene of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit sounded as if it were playing through a much larger speaker system. Then we got an earful of the new Prestige line, which includes three towers and a monitor. The tower playing was the Prestige 85 F tower ($3999/pair and up depending on finish). This 2.5-way model's PPA tweeter uses a phase aligned lens that improves not only phase but output. While the k.d. lang and Boz Scaggs tracks sounded pretty upfront in the upper midrange, they also had a delicious lower midrange richness, underpinned by tight but extended bass. Both series are worth a demo if you have the chance. Incidentally, Paradigm continues to manufacture in North America, in Mississauga, Ontario.
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Sep 11, 2014  |  0 comments
When it comes to gardening, some people have a green thumb. Others say they have a brown thumb. In my case, I happen to possess one of the few thumbs covered in sand and tumbleweeds. It’s not that I hate plants. (Although, it seems, plants evidently hate me…) I simply can’t remember to take care of them. It’s always weeks after plants at my home have turned to petrified wood when the thought finally pops into my head that I ought to give them some water. Lawn care is similarly problematic for me. Fortunately, Rachio is a new company that offers an alternative to brown lawns and dead gardens.

The Rachio Smart Irrigation Controller is a DIY sprinkler controller that...

John Sciacca  |  Sep 11, 2014  |  0 comments
People like the idea of having a full motion, articulating arm flat panel TV wall mount but they generally avoid buying them for two big reasons: 1) They stick off the wall too far and look ugly when the TV is pushed back “flat” against the wall and 2) They are too stiff and hard to move. OmniMount’s new OE120IW recessed in-wall mount system solves both of these issues.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Sep 11, 2014  |  0 comments
You're looking at a cutaway of the coaxial driver array that makes Pioneer Elite's Dolby Atmos enabled speakers special, in the hand of designer Andrew Jones. It has a one-inch textile tweeter nestling amid a four-inch aluminum woofer. With two of Jones' very substantial looking crossovers, this coaxial array lives on both the top and front of the Elite monitor and tower speakers, shooting Atmos height channels out of the top, and everything else out of the front in the usual manner. Models include the SP-EBS73 monitor ($749/pair), SP-EFS73 tower ($699/each), SP-EC73 center ($399), and SW-E10 sub ($599). Pioneer's Atmos demo, using the company's Class D powered SC-89 receiver ($3000), was the best Atmos demo we heard on the first day of the show, with not just strong height effects but an overall tonal balance that made even the most aggressive movie soundtracks a treat. Can't wait to review these. Pioneer also showed its $349 SP-SB02 Speaker Base, with pairs of front-firing tweeters and midbass drivers and bottom-firing bass drivers.
Rob Sabin  |  Sep 10, 2014  |  First Published: Sep 11, 2014  |  0 comments
In a keynote speech that marked the beginning of CEDIA’s 25th anniversary celebration this week in Denver, Sony Electronics President and COO Mike Fasulo touted an “Install Innovation” theme and took attendees through a variety of new and growing profit opportunities that Sony, along with industry partners who joined Fasulo on stage, is presenting to today’s integrators.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Sep 11, 2014  |  0 comments
Of the many cool things on display at the MSE booth, Phase Technology's little P3-35 amp ($330) was among the coolest. Feed its Toslink input with a two-channel Dolby Digital signal and it will convert it to three amp channels, just the thing for Phase Tech's Teatro passive three-channel soundbar, cropped out of the picture. Use the analog input and it converts to two channels of Dolby Pro Logic. Power output is 35 watts times three or 50 times two. It's also got Bluetooth and learns TV remote volume commands. Phase Tech also showed its refreshed CI in-wall and in-ceiling lines, which include the CI7.3 X, a three-way eight-inch in-ceiling speaker for $375/each. The PC60 is a 30th-anniversary celebration of a classic monitor with new crossover and drivers including the flat-diaphragm woofer. Then there's the Rockustics X1-PowerRock ($700), the first horn-loaded rock speaker.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Sep 11, 2014  |  0 comments
Definitive Technology's Dolby Atmos demo sounded excellent, with the A60 elevation speaker ($499/pair) plugged into the top of the BP8060ST powered tower ($1998/pair). The height effects were good, the midrange was well dialed in, and the powered tower's bass was awesome. Why, then, are we running a picture of The Borg? It's actually part of Def Tech's new line of products built on the DTS Play-Fi wireless platform. You're looking at the W7 powered speaker ($399). It joins the W8 powered speaker ($699), the rack-mountable W Adapt ($399), the W Amp ($499), and the W Studio soundbar ($1299). The beauty of Play-Fi is that it's not limited, Apple-style, to a single manufacturer. There will be more Play-Fi products from the likes of Polk, McIntosh, Paradigm, and MartinLogan. Oh, and Def Tech plans to provide 24-7 tech support for its Play-Fi products. Play-Fi is going to be huge. Resistance is futile.
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Sep 11, 2014  |  0 comments
After pointing out that it was only two years ago when DISH first introduced the Hopper whole-home HD DVR, Vivek Khemka, DISH senior vice president of product management, announced the expansion of DISH’s program to further the integration of the Hopper with a number of additional home automation systems. “We are allowing unprecedented access to the DISH API,” Kemka explained. With access to the API, third-party automation system programmers will be able to provide seamless control of the Hopper within the confines of the smart home’s controller rather than forcing the homeowner to use two remote controls or apps, often with two dramatically different user interfaces.

The list of new automation partners announced by DISH includes...

Bob Ankosko  |  Sep 11, 2014  |  2 comments
Left to right: AVS Forum’s Scott Wilkinson moderated a panel discussion with Greg Russell, re-recording mixer who worked on Transformers: Age of Extinction, Onkyo’s Paul Wasek, Jeff Cowan of Denon/Marantz, Pioneer’s Andrew Jones, Definitive Technology’s Joel Sietsema, and Dolby’s Brett Crockett.

At a pre-show press conference, Dolby rallied the AV/home entertainment industry around the new Dolby Atmos surround-sound platform, calling it the most significant advancement in home theater in 20 years.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 11, 2014  |  0 comments
Bolstering its dedication to OLED, LG announced two new models, both with Ultra HD resolution and both curved, at 77-inches (available in November at $25,000) and 65-inches (October, at $9,999). The company will also be bringing out a wide selection of new LCD/LED Ultra HD models from 40 inches to 65 inches, with the price for the largest model topping out at $3,500.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Sep 11, 2014  |  0 comments
Listen Audio captured our attention by stating its intention to build the kind of product that "allows the listener to shut off from the world." One such product is the Diffuse, an absorptive panel that takes the form of a modular 2 x 2 foot panel in foam, vinyl, wood, or laminate finishes, starting at $90 for the foam version. It uses differing slot widths and a 3/4-inch air gap to increase bandwidth. It can zap high-frequency flutter echoes but operates down to low frequencies. Benefits: "More stage. The walls seem to push away." Listen also showed the Voice ($3995/each), an in-wall speaker with a 3.5-inch-thick enclosure, 3/4-inch-thick cabinet walls, coaxial drivers, and a 94dB sensitivity rating. It is designed "to compete with the highest-end freestanding two-channel speakers" while also satisfying multichannel and in-wall needs. Listen's Concierge service will dispatch one of its several acoustic design firm partners to the location. Once they determine the specs, the installer comes in and does his work, and then the engineers return to see how the installation worked out and assess the need for tweaks. This is a most impressive company.
Bob Ankosko  |  Sep 10, 2014  |  0 comments
Snowsound USA previewed a patented, variable density acoustic panel that eliminates echos and selectively absorbs low-, mid-, and high-frequency sounds to optimize room acoustics. Inspired by nature, the panels are intended to create a “more peaceful environment” by mimicking the sound absorbing properties of freshly fallen snow. (Everybody’s got an angle…)
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Sep 10, 2014  |  0 comments
Further proving that there’s more volatility in the smart home industry than in a hot air popcorn popper, Leviton Security & Automation (formerly HAI by Leviton) (and, before that, simply HAI) announced on the eve of CEDIA EXPO 2014 that the company had acquired Englewood, CO-based BitWise Controls, LLC. Founded in 2008, BitWise Controls specializes in automation controllers and products designed for the professional and pro-sumer smart home markets. The company’s three automation controllers - the BC1, BC2, and BC4 - are capable of home automation tasks as well as AV system control and offered a less-expensive alternative to systems from companies, such as Control4 and Crestron.

Although not specifically intended for direct consumer purchase and installation, the pricing of the controllers (starting at slightly above $500 for the basic, single-room BC4) also makes them a viable alternative to the gobs of DIY-oriented sub-$300 smart home hubs - none of which are capable of AV system integration. (The Revolv Hub is the only exception to this rule, although its sole AV-control capability involves limited integration with several Sonos components.)

Terms of the deal were not announced. It can be assumed, however, that Leviton did not pay quite as much for BitWise as Google did for Nest ($3.2 billion) earlier this year.

Bob Ankosko  |  Sep 11, 2014  |  First Published: Sep 10, 2014  |  0 comments
DarbeeVision introduced a follow-up to its popular Darblet video enhancer at a Media Preview gathering on the eve of the CEDIA Expo 2014.

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