Tom Norton

Tom Norton  |  Jan 11, 2007  |  2 comments

The Venetian, the new home of the Specialty Audio and Video exhibits, was primarily a two-channel oasis. Here (and below) are two highlights. I didn't get into many of the rooms; if I peeked in and there didn't seem to be screen there, I had to move on, as time was very short and the two-channel exhibits there are being thoroughly covered by our sister publication, <I>Stereophile</I>. But I did check out a few rooms that prior experience suggested might be prime. The VTL-Avalon room was one of them. The system sounded pristine through VTL's vacuum tube electronics and Avalon Acoustics Eidolon Diamond speakers.

Tom Norton  |  Jan 11, 2007  |  1 comments

Here's the gear that drove the system above. The CD player is from DCS.

Tom Norton  |  Jan 11, 2007  |  1 comments

The name may be odd, but the sound from these new Sonus Faber speakers was anything but. It was clean and open, with a beautiful top end from
its dynamic ring radiator driver.

Tom Norton  |  Jan 11, 2007  |  0 comments

TACT, one of the first companies to offer sophisticated room correction, now adds Dynamic Room Correction. It adjusts the equalization to provide optimum response as you change the setting of the volume control. Older audiophiles might think of it as a sophisticated loudness control. The system will be built into the company's two-channel RCS 2.2 XP processor first, but will ultimately find its way into a redesigned surround pre-pro (now on hold pending the arrival of HDMI 1.3). TACT has also improved its user interface, making it faster to arrive at an optimum target curve.

Tom Norton  |  Jan 10, 2007  |  0 comments

The 2007 line of Sherwood Newcastle AV receivers tops out with the R-972 ($1499.95, summer). Offering 100Wx7 into 8 ohms, it also will accept all of the new audio formats directly through its HDMI 1.3 link and decode them internally (rather than relying on the player to first convert them to PCM). Internal Faroudja processing will deinterlace and/or scale all sources to 720p, 1080i, and 1080p, as directed. The unit also includes Audyssey MultEQ XT EQ.

Tom Norton  |  Jan 10, 2007  |  1 comments

There weren't a lot of video projector demonstrations on the show floor at the convention center (booth prices are reportedly up significantly this year, and projector demos appear to gravitate increasingly to the custom install CEDIA EXPO in September). But one of the best demos was put on by Optoma. The projector was the HD81 LV (about $10,000, available late spring). A special version of the current HD81 1920x1080 projector, the new model is similar to the old, but uses a more powerful lamp, a different color wheel, and a different iris. It may also be equipped with an optional anamorphic lens ($12,999 for the HD81 LV projector with lens, $4000 for the lens if bought separately). The lens may also be used with the basic HD81. The HD image from <I>Phantom of the Opera</I>, from Blu-ray, with the anamorphic lens in the system, was stunning.

Tom Norton  |  Jan 10, 2007  |  0 comments

Here's the back of the Meridian G95

Tom Norton  |  Jan 10, 2007  |  0 comments

Polk announced a gaggle of new products, including a redesigned RTi series and 10 new powered subwoofers. Shown here is the line-topping DSW microPro series subs, in 8", 10" and 12" sizes, with the largest priced at $1850. The DSW microPro is said to compensate for room modes without using equalization. How it does this would take more time to explain than a blog provides, but suffice it to say that it involves clever use of inverse phase. Polk also showed the CSW 155 in-wall sub ($1400 with external amp).

Tom Norton  |  Jan 10, 2007  |  0 comments

Onkyo was not (reportedly) at the show, but this prototype AV receiver seen in the DTS booth suggests HDMI 1.3, and the capability to accept native DTS HD Master Audio directly from a player via HDMI (and presumably Dolby TrueHD as well).

Tom Norton  |  Jan 10, 2007  |  4 comments

JVC's new, $6299 DLA-HD1 projector is due to ship in February. This time around, their demo compared it to the new Sony Pearl, with both projectors firing HD source material onto 120" (diagonal) Stewart StudioTek 130 screens. Yes, the JVC did look better, with crisper contrast, darker blacks, and a richer-looking image. JVC claims that their D-ILA imaging chip offers a peak native contrast ratio of 20,000:1, which is why the in-projector contrast is so good. No iris of any sort is used. We don't know how well the Pearl was set up, of course (though the JVC rep did say that the auto iris was engaged). But it was an impressive demo nonetheless.