Hot on the heels of PSB’s critically acclaimed M4U2 self-powered, noise-cancelling headphone came the new for CEDIA M4U1 headphone ($300), which is essentially a slightly lighter weight, passive version of the M4U2 (click here to read my Playback review of the M4U2). Those of you who have already heard the M4U2 in action might agree that, unlike the majority of active, noise-cancelling ‘phones, the M4U2 sound terrific when its electronics are switched off and the ‘phones are used in purely passive mode. This, then, is precisely how the M4U1 sounds. Interestingly, the M4U1 will be available in two new-for-PSB colors: deep gloss red and a neutral gloss gray. Both are quite attractive.
The Utah-based firm RBH is best known for building high-performance loudspeakers whose driver diaphragms are made of aluminum, but of late Darren Egan and the RBH team have been focusing their efforts on a new earphone called the EP1 ($149). Naturally, the earpiece housings for the EP1 are made from—you guessed it—aluminum, making for a product that is not only attractive but that appears to be quite rugged.
According to Egan, the impetus for developing the EP1 involved hearing a set of classic Etymotic Research ER-4P earphones and finding them quite good, yet desiring earphones whose overall sound would be similar, but with more robust bass output. RBH’s new EP1 is the direct result of a development geared toward producing just such and earphone and one that, happily enough, winds up at about half the price of Etymotic’s ER-4P. Two other focal points for the RBH design team involved comfort and fit and to this end the EP1 comes standard with Comply brand expandable foam ear tips, which feel great.
One of the most clever and versatile stereo components I encountered at CEDIA is the Cala Multi-Source Audio System ($2200) from the German firm T + A. In simple terms, the Cala is an exceptionally full-featured stereo receiver that offers input options galore. To give you an idea of what I mean by “input options galore,” consider this list:
But wait, there’s more. The Cala puts out 55 Wpc at 4 Ohms and provides “DSP controlled sound characteristic,” plus pre-programmed “bass extension and linearization with particular T + A speakers.” Somewhat unusually as stereo receivers go, the Cal also includes a subwoofer output with extensive, user selectable bass management options. Conceivably, the Cala could be used with a wide range of speakers, but it is said to match extremely well with T + A’s similarly styled C Mini mini-monitors ($850/pair), as covered under the Loudspeakers section of this report.