The line consists of two floorstanding towers (the LSIM707, $3999.90/pair; and the LSiM705 ($2999.90/pair), a bookshelf monitor (the LSiM703, $1499.90/pair), two center-channel speakers (the LSiM706c, $1199.95/each; and the LSiM704c, $749.95/each), and a surround/rear-channel speaker (the LSiM702F/X, $1499.95/pair).
Pro-Ject products are, as many of our readers know, distributed by Sumiko Audio, which has recently been acquired by the high-end audio-oriented holding company Fine Sounds. Accordingly Proj-Ject was exhibiting as one of the constituent brands represented within the Fine Sounds booth at CEDIA—a booth that incorporated all manner of high-end audio goodies and toys.
For CEDIA, Pro-Ject showed two new digital audio products, the first of which is the Stream Box SE digital media streamer. The Stream Box SE can accept digital audio files from USB memory sticks and USB hard drives, but can also stream content from uPnP or DLNA servers. The device is Bluetooth compatible and can handle “virtually every digital audio format.” In the FLAC mode, the Stream Box is capable of handling files with up to 24-bit resolution and data rates up to 196kHz. The Stream Box also has Internet radio capabilities. Projected prices: about $1000. Availability: 90 days.
Next, Pro-Ject showed its very tiny Media Box—a miniature media player that accepts SD cards and USB sticks, but is limited to basic MP3 files. The Media Box, by the way, is not much larger than a deck of playing cards and is designed to interface with stereo systems via either digital or stereo analog connections. One intended application would be commercial audio applications where the Media Box plus attendant storage device could be used as a simple means of providing an uninterrupted stream of music in, say, restaurants or boutiques. Price: “under $500.” Availability: 90 days.
Significantly, the main product introduced by PSB Speakers at CEDIA wasn’t a loudspeaker; it was a fascinating new headphone called the M4U 2, with a projected price of $400.
Apart from its svelte and elegant-looking industrial design, several other aspects of the M4U 2 are noteworthy. First and foremost, designer Paul Barton pointed out that concepts for voicing the M4U 2 were born out of extensive research into human hearing (and specifically the effects of the outer ear on human hearing) as conducted at the famous NRC acoustics lab in Ottawa, Canada. Barton—who was and is involved in research as well as product design—had direct access to the NRC research data and used what he learned to plot out optimal response curves for the M4U 2. The result, then, is a headphone whose overall tonal balance seems uncannily natural and lifelike.
But Barton’s research didn’t stop with frequency response curves, because he also looked into ergonomic issues (reasoning that comfort—in addition to sound quality—is one of the keys to listener satisfaction). Accordingly, the ear cups of the M4u 2 are oblong, not round as in many designs, and are attached in so-called “gyro-suspended” mounts, which allow the ear cups to swivel freely to achieve an ideal fit. Going even further, Barton designed the M4u 2’s earpads so that they are thicker tin the rear than in the front, so as to accommodate the typical shape of most human heads. Finally, Barton devised a system where the M4U 2’s detachable signal cable can be plugged into connection sockets provided on both the left and right ear cup housings, so that the user can route the cables on whichever side feels more comfortable in a given setting.
The M4U 2 is a self-powered headphone with active noise-cancellation circuitry, yet with an important twist. Unlike any other noise-canceller I have encountered, the M4U 2 allows users to turn on the amplifier section while independently being able to switch the noise cancellation circuit on or off. Thus, users can enjoy the M4U 2 in passive mode (no amp, no noise cancellation), active mode (amp on, noise cancellation off), or noise cancellation mode (amp on and noise cancellation on). This is a brilliant design touch that should appeal to listeners who like the idea of a headphone that does not need an outboard amp, yet who believe—down deep—that noise cancellation almost invariably undercuts sonic clarity and transparency. In short, the M4U 2 is a true “have it your way” design, which I suspect will be a great success in the marketplace.