By Chris Martens and Arnie Williams
A/V Electronics and Speakers (some highlightsâ€”not an exhaustive listing of all vendors visited).
ANTHEM: Rolled out its Statement D2 V.2 multichannel controller ($7999), which features the firmâ€™s proprietary ARC-1 room-correction EQ system, the latest Dolby/DTS codecs (something that other higher-end controller makers have been slow to add), and more extensive HDMI I/O options. The firmâ€™s more affordable AVM 40 and AV50 get an upgrade, too, since they will now be offered with the firmâ€™s ARC-1 room/speaker EQ system.
Demonstrating that two-channel audio is also still important, Anthem also announced its first-ever stereo integrated amp, simply called the Integrated 225. The Integrated 225 is a high-performance, 225-watt/channel stereo integrated amp, complete with a built-in moving coil/moving magnet phono preamplifier. The Integrated 225 will be priced (value-priced, actually, for what it is) at about $1499.
ARCAM: Our ARCAM briefing was given by Geoff Meads, Brand Manager. They had three new stereo integrated amplifiers on display in the booth: the A18 (50wpc), the A28 (75wpc), and the 138 (105wpc). But the newest product was a premium-priced AVRâ€”the AVR600, featuring HDMI I/O, support for all HD audio formats, a new Dolby game feature, and optional Internet connectivity. This one has been 2.5 years in development, says Meads, and will run $4.5k with Internet features ($4k without).
ARTISON: Artison has long been known for offering home theater speaker solutions where a left/right pair of speaker enclosures deliver three discrete channels (L/C/R) of information, via what Artison terms â€œDualMono Center Channelâ€ technology. Thatâ€™s also true of the firmâ€™s flagship Reference Theater Series speakers, but the big news is not the RTSâ€™s dual-mono center channel feature but rather the radical new drive unit technology used in the speaker. Unlike conventional speakers, which use tweeters, midrange drivers, and woofers, each Reference Theater Series speaker uses so-called â€œline sourceâ€ arrays comprised (depending on the model) of either 40 or 60 strings of tiny 19mm (roughly Â¾-inch) drivers. How is it possible to get meaningful midrange or bass frequencies from such small drivers? The trick is that the drivers offer a phenomenal amount of travel (or fore-and-aft movement) relative to their diametersâ€”up to 8mm (or .314-inch) of travel, to be exact. As a result, the long, vertical strings of drivers can play surprisingly loudly while covering almost the entire audio spectrumâ€”everything from about 80Hz on upâ€”without the need for traditional crossover networks. Below 80Hz, bass material can be handed off to one our more of Artisonâ€™s cool, vibration-cancelling subwoofers, which are offered in booth in-wall and in-room configurations.
ATLANTIC TECHNOLOGY: A briefing was provided by Steve Feinstein, Director of Marketing. They demoed their flagship in-walls, including â€œa passive in-wall subwoofer and flexible, full-range THX speaker for vertical or horizontal mountingâ€¦â€
Coming soon will be the less expensive IWTS-28 sub (at $1100 in December). Also coming will be the SA-180 amp (also in December, we think).
BG RADIA: BGâ€™s big news was the production release of its four-module, Laurie Fincham-designed, vibration-cancelling, THX Ultra2-certified, BGX-4850 in-wall subwoofer ($6995). Although the BG booth environment was terribly noisy, the performance potential of this high-end sub was readily apparent.
Also on display were BGâ€™s Z-92 floorstanders ($2500/pair) and Z-62 L/C/R speakersâ€”both hybrid planar magnetic/dynamic-driver designs. Though itâ€™s not apparent when you first look at the speakers, the dynamic drivers may be just as advanced as planar midrange and tweeter panels are, since the dynamic drivers feature exotic â€œdouble-gap geometryâ€ motor assemblies.
BOSTON ACOUSTICS: The three biggest items from Boston Acoustics at CEDIA were the firmâ€™s new flagship Vista-series loudspeakers, its value-minded Classic-series speakers, and an expansion of the companyâ€™s iPod speaker/tabletop radio lineup.
Vista speaker models, discussed in the â€œGearheadâ€ column of Playback issue 12 (the current issue), feature dramatic-looking, curved wall cabinets, so-called SWB (super wide bandwidth) tweeters that incorporate a distinctive â€œcoupled dual concentric diaphragmâ€ (similar, but not identical to, â€œring radiatorâ€ tweeter designs), and OCCM (organic composite cone material) mid-bass and bass drivers. At the top end of the range, as noted in Playback, is the three-way, triple 6 Â½-inch, floorstanding Vista 336 ($3400/pair). Did we mention that these babies are gorgeous?
Classic speaker models emphasize value and a traditional look, but with their own share of advanced driver technology. Accordingly, Classic models use Kortec soft-dome tweeters and graphite-injected woofers, which in this line are typically housed in ported enclosures. To give some idea of how affordable the Classic models are, note that the flagship Classic 226 floorstanders sell for just $500/pair.
Over the past year Boston Acoustics has been expanding its line of iPod speakers and tabletop radios, and at CEDIA rolled out one of its most affordable iPod speakers yetâ€”the i-DS2 ($180).
BRYSTON: Bryston rolled out several new products at CEDIA, while previewing more. New for CEDIA were the D-130Z ($4395) and D-250Z ($5695) 8-channel, class D power amplifiers. The D-130Z puts out 8x90 watts @ 8 ohms, while the D-250Z delivers 8x150 watts at 8 ohms. Both amps are based the Bruno Putzeys-designed Philips/Hypex UcD class D amplifier modules fed by Bryston-designed linear power supplies.
Also introduced at CEDIA was the new BDA-1 outboard DAC ($1995), based on the DAC section of the critically acclaimed BCD-1 CD player (recently and quite favorably reviewed by Alan Taffel in The Absolute Sound). The BDA-1 is based on Crystal CS-4398 DAC chips.
Previewed at CEDIA was a prototype of Brystonâ€™s impressive new SP3 surround sound processor. Interestingly, Bryston intends to offer three variants of the SP3, including â€œan audio-only version, an audio processing/video switching version, and an audio processing/video processing modelâ€¦â€
B&K: We got demos from B&Kâ€™s Peter Pittner, starting with the firmâ€™s AVR 707 (a full-featured, 7.1-channel AVR priced at $4798). A 5.1-channel model is also available at $4598.
Some of the features of the 707: 14 inputs, 6 HDMI, 8 analog video (we think; your faithful reporter was scribbling awfully fast). Upscales to 1080p (1080i with component). The processor supposedly cleans up noise, cleans up colors and white on black. The 707 also has aspect ratio adjust (zoom of 3 percent; can be set at a 1- or 2-percent default). Also has vertical stretch and built-in calibration features.
B&W: For CEDIA, B&W expanded its family of CM-series loudspeakers (of which the CM1 has been reviewed in The Absolute Sound) by adding the full-sized, three-way CM9 floorstander ($3k/pair), a larger-than-the-CM-1 CM5 standmount monitor ($1.5k/pair), a new CM Center 2 center-channel speaker ($1250 each, and noticeably larger than the original CM Center), and a dedicated ASW 10CM subwoofer ($1500 each).
CAMBRIDGE AUDIO: Cambridge announced a low-cost but very high performance outboard DAC, called the DAC Magic ($399), plus an updated and reputedly much more detailed-sounding second-generation version of its 840A integrated amplifierâ€”now called the 840A V.2 ($1695). The firm also gave a sneak preview of its upcoming 640 BD Blu-ray player, whichâ€”when releasedâ€”is expected to sell for $999.
CANTON: Cantonâ€™s big news for CEDIA was its new Reference 3.2 DC loudspeaker ($16,000/pair), which incorporates an innovative aluminum oxide ceramic tweeter. The tweeter is said to change the character of the speaker, giving it a sound that is at once more detailed, yet also smoother and sweeter than ever before.
Also highlighted at CEDIA was Cantonâ€™s new CD 90 SB â€œthree-in-one Sound Bar LCR speaker systemâ€ ($650). The three-channel, single-enclosure speaker can be matched with existing Canton CD-series surround speakers and subwoofers.
CLASSE: Classe rolled out the final production version of its previously announced, flagship SSP-800 multichannel A/V controller ($8000). Unlike many top-tier controllers, which some pundits have described as â€œprocessing computers that include analog outputs almost as an afterthought,â€ Classe designed the SSP-800 from the ground up as an audiophile-grade multichannel analog preamp to which the firm has added carefully thought-out, high performance A/V processing features. Significantly, Classe has taken pains to make sure the SSP-800 is to some degree â€œfuture proofâ€ by design the controller to allow easy upgrades in the future.