By Chris Martens and Arnie Williams
REQUEST: New at ReQuest is the IMC (intelligent media client). It sits on the network and controls archival and playback. It upscales for playback to 1080p. The GUI is similar to iTunes, according to David Tyo, Inside Sales Manager, and it will sell for $2495.
REVEL: Many readers are familiar with Revelâ€™s value-oriented Concerta-series in-room speakers, but at CEDIA the firm revealed its new Concerta-series on-wall speaker family. The family consists of two surround speakersâ€”the M8 ($250 each) and M10 ($500 each), an L/C/R speaker called the LCR 8 ($750 each), the C10 center channel ($500 each), and a matching B120 subwoofer ($999). At first glance, the speakers look very similar to TSS-4000-series on-wall models form Revelâ€™s sister company Infinity, but closer inspection reveals that while the enclosures may be similar, the drivers in the Concerta on-wall are pure Revel. All drivers in the Concerta on-wall speakers are made of a new MCC (micro ceramic composite) material â€œcreated by anodizing both sides of an aluminum core, yielding added strength and stiffness with virtually no additional weight.â€
RICHARD GRAYâ€™S POWER COMPANY: RGPC highlighted three new components of its range of power conditioning products: a whole house surge suppression system called the HouseGuard ($2195), a 4000-watt 240V/20amp step-down isolation transformer called the SubStation RM Pro ($3995), and an 8-outlet, IP addressable power distribution strip called the Extender IP ($995).
Many surge suppression devices use small-ish disposable/degradable MOV (metal oxide varistors). The HouseGuard also uses MOVs, but not the garden-variety type; instead, the HouseGuard uses a pair of giant, â€œ40mm distribution-grade MOC suppression componentsâ€ rated to protect your home from a surge of up to 140k amps in â€œless than a nanosecondâ€ and to do so as many as 250 times before degradation. The HouseGuard is designed to protect one 200-amp household panel.
ROTEL: Rotel is a conservative company that tends to make careful, evolutionary changes, so itâ€™s a very big deal when the company rolls out an entirely new-from-the-ground up series of products, which is exactly what happened at CEDIA. Rotelâ€™s new 15-series components introduce new technologies and a visually impressive new industrial design motif we think many customers will love (the look is one part Rotel, one part Classe, perhaps one part Krell, and 100 percent appealing).
New models include the RSP-1570 surround sound processor/preamp ($2199), a pair of class D-powered A/V receiversâ€”the 7x100-watt RSX-1560 ($2599) and the 5x100-watt RSX-1550 ($1999), and a quartet of new class D power amplifiersâ€”the 5x250-watt RMB-1575 ($2799), the 5x100-watt RMB-1565 ($1299), the 2x250-watt RB-1572 ($1299) and the 2x100-watt RB-1562 ($799), plus a series of â€œinstallationâ€ amplifiers targeted for custom installation applications.
With this new series, Rotel has come â€œloaded for bear,â€ so to speak, with products that look fresh, offer the latest processing features and Dolby/DTS codecs, plus a new take on Rotelâ€™s traditionally strong emphasis on analog audio performance.
SHERWOOD AUDIO: Jeffrey Hipps, Sherwoodâ€™s Senior VP of Marketing and Product Planning, showed us his firmâ€™s BDP-7003 7.1-channel Blu-ray player ($599.95) and BDP-6003 5.1-channel Blu-ray player ($499.95). They also have a dual-zone 7.1 AVR with HDMI & HD audio for $499.95. The VR-652 is a virtual surround DVD system that costs $349.95.
Over in the sound booth, we heard the Sherwood Newcastle R-972 with Trinnov optimizer. The Trinnov system grew out of a French think tank, and has a way of doing a 3D analysis of the listening room. You spend about three minutes setting up the Trinnov mic in your optimal listening position and then go away for about 24 minutes while it does its thing. The R-972 has a November shipping date and will go for about $1800.
SIMAUDIO: Simaudioâ€™s Costa Koulisakis explained that the firm was showcasing an extremely high-end collection of components (about $40k for all) that included the Mc-8 multichannel power amp, HDS-8 HDMI switcher, CP-8 processor/preamp.
But Koulisakis said that by CES, the firm should have a new integrated amp with CD player thatâ€™s targeted more toward enthusiasts of more moderate means.
SONY: Sony announced a brace of new performance oriented ES-series components including the BDP-S5000ES Blu-ray player ($2000), the BDV-IT1000ES Blu-ray-capable home theater system ($2000), and two new AVRsâ€”the STR-DA5400ES ($2000) and the STR-DA6400ES ($2500). Also mentioned, albeit in passing, was a new SCD-XA5400ES SACD player slated to sell for $1500.
Non-ES-series offerings included the BDV-IS1000 Blur-ray-capable home theater system with S-Air wireless technology ($1000, and previously covered in the â€œGearheadâ€ section of Playback), HomeShare HD modular, multi-room entertainment/intercom/camera systems that use CAT-5 wiring for communications (roughly $1k-$2k/room), and multiple VAIO HDTV PCs (from about $1200 on up).
SUNFIRE: Sunfireâ€™s big news for CEDIA was the release of its new Theater Grand Media Systemâ€”a modular, scalable media server for music and movies. The Theater Grand system is a two-piece package, with one TGM-100 server unit joined with a TGM-HD6 storage array. At present, configurations with 1-6TB of storage capacity are supported, with prices starting at $10,699. Optional TGM-100C client modules enable the server to route A/V content to as many as seven remote locations within the home.
As is so often the case with media servers, the genius is in the graphical user interface, and the Theater Grandâ€™s GUI looks to be a beauty, with clear, intuitive user controls.
TANNOY: On the news front, Tannoy announced that its company will now serve as a distributor in the U.S. of Linn products.
The new Revolution line of signature series speakers was being shown for the first time here ($1500 for the towers, less for other models). Tannoy also offers a SFX 5.1 Home Theater system ($619) that could be a candidate for customers seeking a good, low-cost system.
The firm also has one of those below-the-TV (L/C/R) speakers, called the Arena 500 Highline HT system, which was being shown as part of a 5.1 system that included towers and sats. The complete system was $5900.
THIEL/ZÃ–ET: Thiel has teamed with ZÃ¶et to create a fascinating new high-performance, whole-home audio system where command, control, and audio signals are distributed via Ethernet/CAT5 wiring or via wireless Ethernet interface (for a limited number of channels). For now, the ZÃ¶et system is based on special, self-powered, â€œZÃ¶et-izedâ€ versions of Thielâ€™s versatile SCS4 L/C/R/Surround speaker and SS1 subwoofer (the ZÃ¶et-ized models are called the SCS4D and the SS1D, respectively).
In the ZÃ¶et system, source components are connected to a controller that provides the requisite command & control functions and Ethernet/CAT5 interface. The controller, in turn, can run up to 64 channels-worth of speakers that can be grouped in zones (and given individual channel assignments within those zones), at will. Signals sent to the speakers provide 24-bit/192kHz resolution in the interest of achieving maximum performance (consistent with Thielâ€™s usual, high-end approach to surround sound).
While prices for Thiel/ZÃ¶et systems had not been finalized at CEDIA, a ZÃ¶et spokesman said the target price for a complete 5.1 channel Thiel/ZÃ¶et system would be â€œabout $30k.â€
TORUS POWER: Torus Power is the sister company of Bryston and the firm exhibited a broad range of power conditioner products ranging from relatively small units on up to the huge RM 100 BAL 100 amp, 24 outlet model. As common design themes, virtually all Torus conditioners feature massive toroidal isolation transformers with extremely low output impedance (for unusually high instantaneous current delivery capabilities), Plitron NBT (narrow bandwidth technology filters to attenuate differential- and common-mode noise at frequencies as low as 2kHz, plus fast-acting series mode surge suppression circuitry (said to be superior to traditional MOV-based suppression systems).
TOTEM: Long term readers will know that Totemâ€™s Tribe on-wall speakers were favorably reviewed in our predecessor magazine The Perfect Vision, and now Totem has managed to create Tribe in-wall LCR ($995), in-wall Center/Side ($950), and in-ceiling ($1050) speakers that offer the same sumptuous sound as their on-wall brethren.
VELODYNE: Velodyne launched an impressive array of new subwoofer product lines at CEDIA, includingâ€”in roughly ascending order of price and performanceâ€”the three-model Impact-series family, the four-model DEQ-R-series family, and three-model Optimum-series range.
The Impact family is all about achieving maximum bang for the low-frequency buck in a simple, tastefully finished package. Models include the tiny but mighty Impact Mini ($549), the Impact-10 ($399), and the Impact-12 ($499)
The DEQ-R (digital equalization-remote) models represent a significant step up in performance and feature front-mounted controls with a one-touch, five-band Auto EQ feature that uses an included calibration microphone and the subsâ€™ remote controls. Further, the remote provides four customized presets for movies, jazz/classical, rock/R&B, or games. Models include the DEQ-8R ($599), DEQ-10R ($699), DEQ-12R ($799) and DEQ-15R ($1099).
Stepping even higher up the performance ladder, the Optimum models provide a seven-band, DSP-controlled Auto EQ function, which again uses an included calibration mic and the subsâ€™ remote controls. Optimum drivers feature Kevlar-reinforced resin cones with massive magnet structures and beefy motor assemblies. Available models included the Optimum-8 ($1299), Optimum-10 ($1699), and Optimum-12 ($1899).
WILSON AUDIO: Wilson Audio rolled out the Maxx Series 3 floorstanding speaker ($68K/pair), which leverages everything Wilson has learned in developing the Alexandria X-2 Series 2. In particular, the Maxx 3 features an Alexandria-inspired, two-module, tweeter/midrange â€œhead unitâ€ whose sections are separately adjustable for vertical tilt angles and fore-and-aft propagation delay alignment. While the Alexandria X-2 Series 2 is still the companyâ€™s flagship, a Wilson spokesman said the performance gap between the Alexandria and the new Maxx is noticeably narrower than before (enough so, the spokesman said, that differences might not be obvious unless listeners were able to hear the two models played back-to-back for a direct comparison).
WISDOM AUDIO: Wisdom had its Audyssey/DSP-controlled, tri-amplified, L150i Sage-series in-wall speakers on demonstration, along with the firmâ€™s new in-wall subs, and they produced some of the finest sounds to be heard anywhere at CEDIA. If any in-wall system can ever please hard core audiophiles, this one might just do the job.
YAMAHA: Yamaha introduced three new AVRs, several of which borrow technologies and connectivity concepts from the firmâ€™s flagship RX-Z11 model. The new RX-Z7 ($2700) is a 7x140-watt model that offers HD and Internet radio, Sirius radio-ready features, Bluetooth connectivity, iPod docking features, Rhapsody playback and the ability to connect to Yamaha MusicCast server systems. The RX-V3900 ($1900) is also a 7x140-watt receiver that provides most, though not all, of the RX-Z7â€™s expansive features. Importantly, the RX-V3900 incorporates video processing via an Anchor Bay Technologies processor. For those content with a bit less power and a few less features, the 7x130-watt RX-V1900 sells for $1400.
Yamaha is known for its digital sound projectors (such as the YSP-4000 reviewed in Playback 12), but for those seeking a simpler and less expensive two-box surround sound solution, the firm offers its new YAS-71 Air Surround XTREME system ($600), which consists of a mini sound bar and an associated subwoofer.
Many readers will be familiar with Yamahaâ€™s flagship Soavo-series speakers, but for CEDIA the firm introduced three new and more affordable families of speakers: the NS700 series whose flagship NS-F700 floorstanders sell for $1600/pair, the NS-310 series whose flagship NS-F310 floorstanders sell for $700/pair, and the NS-210 series whose flagship NS-F210 floorstanders sell for $360/pair.
Generating a fair amount of buzz on the Yamaha stand was the full-featured BD-S2900 Blu-ray player ($1200) featuring 12-bit Deep Color support, Bonus View support, the ability to present 50/60Hz video material at film-compatible 24fps rates, 1080p output for DVDs, support for the latest Dolby/DTS codecs, 5.1-channel analog audio outputs, and a very high quality analog audio section.
YBA DESIGN: One of the most fascinating products rolled out at CEDIA was YBA Designâ€™s Encore YS-201($3995)â€”a component that in ever so many ways defies easy categorization. Depending on how you look at it, the YS-201 is A) a WiFi-enabled audio/video media server with either 500GB or 1TB of onboard storage, B) a two-zone AM/FM/RDS stereo receiver, C) a high-end CD player, D) a high-end upscaling DVD player, E) a high-performance 24-bit/192kHz DAC, and F) the hub of an archiving system that is expandable via off-the-shelf, add-on USB storage drives.
But wait; thereâ€™s more. The real draw, apart from all the good stuff mentioned above, is that the Encore YS-201 incorporates one of the prettiest, slickest, and most intuitive Web-enabled user interfaces you could ever hope to see. This meansâ€”you guessed itâ€”that you can control the YS-201 from WiFi-enabled devices (PDAs, iPhones, etc.) that are able to run a Web browser.