For CES the British firm Cambridge Audio highlighted one all-new product, the 751 BD 3D-capable Blu-ray/universal player ($1199), and a new product family, the Minx sat/sub speaker system, that had debuted at CEDIA 2010 but that many Cambridge dealers were seeing for the first time at CES.
The 751 BD is impressive on several levels, not the least of which involves its use of an Anagram-device based audiophile 24-bit/192 kHz upsampling DAC section, which leverages technologies draw directly from the firm’s award-winning 840C CD player. What is more, the 3D-capable player provides a Marvell QDE onboard video processor, and can handle just about any disc format you’d care to name: 2D or 3D Blu-ray, DVD Audio/Video, SACD, HDCD, and conventional Redbook CD. More than many competitors, this universal player proudly lets its audiophile roots show through, and at a not-cheap but still very reasonable price.
The Minx system, which I covered extensively in my CEDIA 2010 show report, offer the compact form factor of, say, a Bose Acoustimass system, but makes a conscious effort to provide a much higher standard of sound quality. To this end, Cambridge’s Minx satellites use comparatively exotic NXT-type BMR (Balanced Mode Radiator) drivers, which leverage the same basic technologies as found in Naim Audio’s much more costly high-end Ovator-series loudspeakers. What make NXT BMR drives so conceptually fascinating is that they behave like conventional piston-type drivers over part of the audio range, but then transition to an admittedly unorthodox but highly effective “ripple-mode” of operation as frequencies climb higher. (To picture what’s actually going on, imagine that the driver diaphragm, which looks much like a flat disc, starts to ripple in concentric waves at higher frequencies, so that waves spread from the center of the disk to its rim—almost like waves in the surface of a pond when a stone is thrown in.). The upshot is a light, fast driver that offers good power handling and dynamic response at mid-frequencies, but that also behaves like a light, fast, high-dispersion tweeter at higher frequencies. Pretty cool, no? Minx satellites are offered in two sizes: the single-driver Minx Min 10 and the dual-driver Minx Min 20. To complete the systems, Cambridge offers three sizes of compact subwoofers. 2.1-channel Minx packages start well under $600. Watch for an upcoming The Perfect Vision of a Minx Min 20-based 5.1-channel system.
Baltimore-based Definitive Technology used CES as a vehicle for announcing several new home theater-oriented offerings, including the first in what will be an entirely new family of SuperCube subwoofers. On display at CES was the new SuperCube 2000 subwoofer ($599), which features a 7.5-inch active driver, two 7.5-inch passive radiators, and a 650-watt woofer amplifier. Later in the year, Definitive plans to roll out two larger models: the SuperCube 4000 ($799) and SuperCube 6000 ($999)
Another Definitive CES highlight was the debut of two new ultra-slim form-factor on-wall soundbars: the three-channel XTR-SSA3 ($799), slated for release in July, and the five-channel, surround-capable XTR-SSA5 ($999), also coming in July. Both models leverage the technologies Definitive created for its extremely popular XTR-series on-wall speakers, which are rightly known for delivering a huge, full-bodied sound from their almost impossible slim-looking enclosures.
Giving a forward-looking preview of a product likely to arrive even later in the year, Definitive also announced its intention to build a very ambitious, self-powered, all-in-one XTR-series on-wall system (to be called the XTR-SSA Active system), which will include a self-powered soundbar with three HDMI inputs and one HDMI output, an SP/DIF input, and an analog audio input, plus a wireless sub. The system will provide onboard Dolby Digital decoding, with (possibly) support for other surround sound formats as well. Pricing was not known as of CES, but is projected to be “…above $2000,” which seems reasonable in view of the level of sound quality on offer. Later in the year, Definitive also plans to introduce its least expensive 5.1-channel system ever, the new ProCinema 400 system, which will retail for a modest $599.