Many manufacturers would have been happy with product releases equivalent to any one of the bullet-point highlights above, but NAD pulled out all the stops and announced the entire batch all in one go. Most impressive.
But while all of the products noted above have valid and noteworthy talking points, the one that perhaps had the most immediately gripping “Wow!-factor” was the little Viso 1 system. We’ve all seen so-called iPod speakers before, some better than others, but even so the Viso 1 is simply spectacular. Co-designer Paul Barton explained that the Viso 1 features a digital amplifier whose technology is drawn directly from NAD’s big M2 Direct Digital Amp. One interesting feature of the M2 amp modules, Barton pointed out, is that they offer a large number of built-in digital filters that designers can use to apply frequency and phase response shaping as desired or needed. Thus, Barton said with a shy grin, the Viso 1 offer frequency response that measure “flat to within ± 0.5 dB from 50 Hz all the way up to 18 kHz”—results that are shockingly good given the speaker’s size and press. The real proof, of course, is in the sound, and the Viso 1 does not disappoint; based on a brief listen, I felt the Viso 1 was one of the best iPod/Bluetooth speakers I’ve ever heard.
Onkyo’s CEDIA display highlighted three main blocks of products:
• Three top network-enabled A/V receivers, including the TX-NR5009 (MSRP, $2899), TX-NR3009 (MSRP, $2199), and TX-NR1009 (MSRP, $1399).
• A top-tier of Reference Hi-Fi Series stereo components, including the M-5000R stereo power amplifier (MSRP, $2699), the C-7000R audiophile-grade CD player (MSRP, $1699), and the P-3000R stereo preamplifier (MSRP, $1899).
• A trio of Apple iDevice-friendly self-powered speaker systems called the iOnly Play (the ABX-100), the iOnly Stream (the ABX-N300), and the iOnly Bass (the SBX-300).
Unless I am mistaken, I believe The Absolute Sound will be taking a look at some of the Reference Hi-Fi series stereo components in the future, while Playback/The Perfect Vision will be sampling one of the new AVRs—most likely the TX-NR5009 or TX-NR3009. From a purely aesthetic point of view the new network receiver represent a break from past Onkyo design practice, as they sport very large, yet still very simple and sleek chassis and faceplate designs that convey a decidedly upscale vibe. All three of the big TX-NRxxxx models are 9.2-channel receivers, but with expanded features sets appearing in the top two models, including support for Spotify.
Paradigm’s offerings focused on three lines of speakers that have either been newly updated, or recently updated. Among these three are the new Monitor Series 7 models, which I spoke about in a recent blog on AVguide.com and which are now under review by Playback/The Perfect Vision. The core concept behind the Monitor models is to make technologies pioneered for Paradigm’s more expensive Studio speaker range available in a smaller and lower price-point format.
Also highlighted were the sleek Cinema series speakers, which offer a wide range of affordably priced, modular sat/sub system options. The idea behind Cinema models is to offer real Paradigm sound quality at a relatively low price and with very refined “lifestyle” design treatments.
Finally, Paradigm also emphasized its very high-performance, thin-line Millennia LP speakers, which are geared to fill the bill for customers who like the idea of super-slim “flat panel” speakers, but also offer far better performance than is typically the norm for speakers of this genre. Check out our photo of Paradigm’s Erin Phillips, marketing and social media specialist, holding one of the Millennia LP speakers edge-on to the camera so that you can see how this it really is.