The third system is a 2.1-channel soundbar/wireless subwoofer package called the Soundtrack system ($799). The soundbar features a total of six active and passive drive units: two 1-inch pure aluminum dome tweeters, two 4.5-inch mid/bass drivers, and two 4-inch passive radiators. The matching slimline subwoofer sports an 8-inch woofer housed in a bass-reflex enclosure along with a 100-watt, DSP-controller Class D amplifier.
All three of these systems will be offered through select Paradigm dealers throughout North America, but can also be ordered directly through the Paradigm SHIFT website: www.paradigm.com/shift
Joining in on the seemingly industry-wide move toward high-quality soundbars (and other on-wall speakers), the Canadian speaker maker PSB offered two new on-wall models as part of its critically acclaimed Imagine-series speakers. The Imagine W2 on-wall speaker ($600/each) is meant to serve as a general purpose L/C/R or surround speaker, and features a driver complement consisting of a single tweeter (patterned after the one used in PSB’s Imagine Mini speaker), two Imagine Mini-style mid/bass drivers, and a pair of passive radiators.
As a possible alternative to using separate L/C/R speakers in the first place, though, PSB also announced a three-channel high performance sound bar called the Imagine W3 ($1800). The W3, which sounds very much like a set of three Imagine Mini mini-monitors performing in unison, offer an elaborate driver array consisting of three Imagine Mini-style tweeters (one for each channel), four Imagine Mini-style mid/bass drivers (one each for the left and right channels plus two for the center channel), plus four passive radiators. Based on a brief listen, I’d say the W3 is right alongside GoldenEar’s new SuperCinema 3D Array in competing for the title as “the world’s most musically satisfying 3-channel soundbar.”
Earlier this year Revel previewed some elements of its comparatively affordable Performa3 speaker family, but as of CEDIA the firm announced that it had finalized designs and specifications for all of the Performa3 models and would begin shipping the speakers in December 2012 with the subwoofers to follow in January 2013. Just for the record, the Performa3 family comprises two floorstanders (the F208 at $5000/pair and F206 at $3500/pair), two monitors (the M106 at $2000/pair and M105 at $1500/pair), two center channels (the C208 at $2000/each and C205 at $1000 each), a surround speaker (the S206 at $1800/pair), and two subwoofers (the B112 at $3000 and B110 at $2000). Revel had the entire Performa3 range on static display at CEDIA, but also had a demo system featuring the flagship F208 floorstander, which sounded very, very promising indeed.
I had a chance to catch up with designer Kevin Voecks and to ask him about the Performa3 range. Voecks explained that, by design, many core elements of the Performa3 sound come quite close to the performance of Revel’s more costly, top-tier Ultima2-series speakers, though he conceded that the Ultima2s are superior in two important areas: lower diffraction and superior treble response (the Ultima2’s feature an exotic Beryllium tweeter that Voecks considers the finest he has yet heard or tested). Even so, the Performa3’s are no performance slouches; in fact, the opposite may be true. Voecks mentioned that in blind listening tests (which Voecks favors as a relatively unbiased means of evaluating sonic performance), a large majority of listeners had picked the F208 over a very famous and exclusive high-end floorstander that sells in the mid-$20k/pair range. If nothing else, Voecks has set Revel’s performance sights extremely high for the Performa3 range.