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.
This is the third and final installment in my CEDIA report for The Perfect Vision.
Note: To make things easier for online readers, I’m covering manufacturers in alphabetical order. As always, my apologies to manufacturers whose worthy products I fail to mention here. Enjoy.
Sherbourn Technologies characterizes itself as a dedicated manufacturer of “professional caliber” audiophile and A/V electronics components, explaining the difference between professional vs. consumer-grade gear as the difference between building products up to a desired specification (which is Sherbourn claims to do) vs. building products down to an intended price. As one upshot of this, Sherbourn products carry an impressive 10-year warranty.
Sherbourn brought an almost dizzying array of components to CEDIA, so for this CEDIA capsule report I’ve elected to focus on two of the newest and most impressive models: the soon-to-be-released PT-7030 home theater preamp/processor ($2999) and the astoundingly powerful PA 7-350 multichannel power amp ($4799).
The PT-7030 is a versatile and decidedly performance-minded 7.1-channel A/V controller with eight stereo analog inputs (7 unbalanced, 1 balanced), one 7.1-channel analog input, eight digital audio inputs (4 optical, 3 coax, and 1 USB), and a full complement of HDMI ports (6 in, 2 out). The controller also sports four stereo analog outputs (1 main, plus 3 remote zones), and two 7.1-channel analog outputs (1 unbalanced and 1 balanced). Technology highlights include twin Cirrus 32-bit dual-core processors “for true 192kHz performance,” a Genesis Torino video processing engine “for true10-vit processing,” DCDi Cinema Format Conversion and Truelife video enhancement functions, and discrete multichannel parametric EQ for precise room correction. In fact, a Sherbourn spokesman told be the long-term intent is for the PT-7030 to support TacT room correction functionality, which will of course need to be set-up and fine-tuned by a custom-installer.
Sherbourn’s PA 7-350 is a massively powerful (7 x 350-watts at 8 Ohms), very wide bandwidth (5 Hz – 150 kHz), high-efficiency, “Soft Switch” Class H multichannel power amplifier that seems reasonably priced for almost shocking amount of horsepower on tap. You might well ask, “How ‘efficient’ could a 7 x 350-watt bruiser of an amp ever be?” The answer, says Sherbourn, is that the amp is so efficient that “the PA 7-350 doesn’t even require a noisy fan to interrupt your blockbuster enjoyment.” The amp sports switch selectable balanced or unbalanced inputs for each channel, and provides dual sets of paralleled speaker terminals for each channel, for facilitate bi-wiring, if desired. Plainly, the Sherbourn guys are on the same page with audiophiles when it comes to small but worthwhile design details.
For CEDIA, Sony expanded its upscale ES-series family of home theater components through the release of two new A/V receivers: the 9 x 130-watt, 9.2-channel STR-DA5800ES ($2099) and the 7 x 100-watt, 7.2-channel STR-DA2800ES ($999). I asked a company spokesman, “What makes them special?” and he cited three subtle but important features, all of which have positive implications for sound quality-minded enthusiasts. First, the models features dedicated HDMI audio channels (enabling users to take advantage of components that provide separate HDMI audio and video output streams). Second, the models feature multiple LAN (local area network) ports specifically optimized for playing digital audio files directly from LAN-attached NAS (network attached storage) drives. Finally, the models use what Sony terms a “Fishbone” grounding scheme said to enhance perceived low-level sonic detail by lowering noise floors.