In search of new or recently released home theater audio components, I attended CEDIA Expo 2012, which was held in Indianapolis, IN from September 6-8, and will be preparing a multi-part show report.
Note: To make things easier for online readers, I’m covering manufacturers in alphabetical order. As always, my apologies to any manufacturers whose worthy products I fail to mention here. Enjoy.
Krell is a strong player in both the high-end stereo and home theater universes and it brought several new products catering to both camps for CEDIA 2012. For home theater aficionados, though, the most exciting new Krell product was the upcoming Foundation A/V preamp/processor ($6000). Apart from support for the expected audio CODECS, the Foundation sports a plethora of HDMI ports (ten in, two out), provides RS-232 and Ethernet connectivity, and make provisions for Krell’s proprietary ARES room EQ system.
MartinLogan is perhaps best known for its hybrid electrostatic/dynamic driver loudspeakers, so it is perhaps it is appropriate that the firm brought not one but two hybrid electrostatic center channel speakers to help round out its ESL-series product family: the Motif X center channel ($1895) and the Stage X center channel ($2995). Why offer two conceptually similar models? The simple answer is that the Motif X was designed with on-wall (or at least “near-wall”) applications in mind, while the somewhat larger Stage X is geared for in-room applications where the speaker might be placed several feet from the nearest wall.
Speaking of MartinLogan’s ESL-series speakers, I also got a chance to hear the newest (but perhaps most unsung) model in the ESL lineup: the EFX hybrid electrostatic on-wall speaker ($3095/pair). Last year, I had the chance to review MartinLogan’s terrific ElectroMotion ESL surround system and came away thoroughly impressed by the hybrid electrostatic ElectroMotion ESL floorstander on which that system is based (click here to read my ElectroMotion ESL system review). The new EFX is, in general terms, what you would get if you took the ElectroMotion ESL floorstanders and turned them into a wall mount speaker (which is saying a lot). True, the EFX has slightly less bass reach than the ElectroMotion ESL, but in every other respect—including pinpoint precise imaging—it is very similar. You could, then, build an ultra high-resolution on-wall system by placing a set of EFXs on either side of your flat panel TV, with a Motif X center channel placed above or below the TV, which I’m sure is exactly what MartinLogan has in mind.
For CEDIA, Monitor Audio announced a stylish new sat/sub product family collectively known as the MASS system (Monitor Audio Subwoofer Satellite), which loosely slots in above the firm’s popular and very elegant-looking Radius speaker line. MASS combo’s can be put together for stereo (2.1-channel) or surround (5.1-channel or 7.1-channel applications), with 2.1 channel packages starting at just under $880. The MASS satellite, called the MASS 10, features a quasi-cylindrical enclosure made of a polymer material, with each satellite sporting a 4-inch C-CAM mid/bass driver and a 1-inch C-CAM tweeter. The MASS subwoofer, in turn, features a 10-inch woofer augmented by a passive radiator with a DSP-controlled 220-watt Class D amplifier. MASS systems are bought as product bundles where customers would choose from MASS 2.0 packages (two satellites at $279/pair), MASS 5.0 packages (five satellites at $699/set of five), and then add one or more MASS subs ($599/each). The consensus among the Monitor representatives at CEDIA was the MASS system offered dramatic styling plus useful sonic gains vis-à-vis the well-regarded Radius system.