Like all Wilson Audio Specialties' speakers, the Series 8 redesign of the venerable WATT/Puppy combination is available in flawless, clear-coat automotive finishes. I do wonder, however, how many of the Utah company's customers choose more conservative finishes than those on display at CEDIA. Arrival of a pair of WATT/Puppy 8s in reviewer Wes Phillips' listening room is imminent. What color will they be?
I couldn't resist posting one more photo of Bruce Thigpen's fan-driven infrasonic subwoofer, this time showing the drive-unit in operation. Loaded with an infinite baffle—it is in the next room—it fires into a foam-lined sub-chamber, which low-pass filters the residual fan noise, leaving just the awesome infrasonics to pressurize the room next door. Because the fan is providing the main motive power, just 30W of audio signal was required to create an spl of 115dB at 8Hz!
Quietly tucked at the back of the main hall, Musical Fidelity had a lot of new stuff of great audiophile interest. First off is the new "audio Swiss Army Knife," as JA referred to it in his blog yesterday, the all-in-one, $9000 kW250. But among the other goodies on the Signal Path booth was the X-Package, consisting of the neat little X-RAYv8 24/192 upsampling CD player, the X-T100 60Wpc tube hybrid integrated amp, and the Triple-X power supply which powers both as well as an optional external DAC, tuner, etc. In their compact but non-resonant aluminum casings, this $3000 system was surprisingly potent.
While on-wall/in-wall systems were ubiquitous at CEDIA, the in-room speakers stood out for their imaging and sound quality. Even the tiny Dynaudio 2.1 system consisting of a pair of Contour SR speakers ($2200/pair) coupled with the Sub 250 ($1k) made sounds that many bigger installations would envy. Add another pair and a Contour SC ($1900) to fill out a 5.1 system that can do music as well as movies.
Wendell Diller demos the "just been completed" Magnepan Automated Speaker. Essentially a Maggie MGMC1 ($725) in a wooden frame with a remote-controlled magnetic latch. When you're not using the speakers, they fold flat against the wall, looking like minimalist wall art. When you fire up the hi-fi or HT, click the button and the Automated Speakers spring into position, angling off the walls for best imaging. Price not yet determined.
There are always oases of two-channel audio on the main floor at a CEDIA conference. Boulder Amplifiers were showing their beautiful-looking and equally beautiful-sounding range of solid-state electronics, including their cost-no-object 2000 series components and the more affordable 1000 and 800 series gear. The latter includes the $5k Model 850 200W monoblock (center), seen here framed by company founder Jeff Nelson (left) and marketing exec Rich Maez (right).
Conrad-Johnson's Lew Johnson demos CJ's $7500 MET1 multichannel enhanced triode preamplifier. The twist? It's an analog six-channel preamplifier! It sounded exquisite, whether on two-channel sources or multichannel—only the MET1 can synthesize multichannel from the higher resolution two-channel PCM tracks present on many multichannel DVDs.
Archimedes famously said, "Give me a lever and a place to stand and I can move the world." Quartet Marketing's Stirling Trayle and Composite Products LLC's Gus Malek-Madani take that "place to stand" part seriously. Malek-Madani makes stands from carbon fiber and he's adamanant that metal and glass "are the worst materials for isolation and vibration energy dissipation." His solution? Carbon fiber.
Bolzano Villettri showed its new 3000 series Campanile speakers as a 5.1 system. I was extremely impressed by the $9000/pair BV 3005 Torre, which feature BV's "Roundstrem Technology" that focuses the up-firing and down-firing drivers in the upper and lower cabinets into a 360° soundfield. In a huge convention hallway, the 3005 Torres actually managed to sing. I'd love to hear them under more favorable circumstances.
A speaker brand new to me at THE Show was YG Acoustics. Seen here with his four-way Anat Reference Studio ($60k/pair with a single subwoofer per side) is YG's Yoav Gonczarowksi, who says that he doesn't "voice" his speaker—the perfect speaker shouldn't have a voice but should just reproduce what's on the recording.
CEDIA is an installer's show at its core, so lots of exhibits have nothing to do with audio or video—many are about tools that make the installer's life easier. Some of them are small ideas, such as belt packs to carry cable ties in. Others,like the Little Giant folding ladder are big—and let me tell you, the Little Giants booth was hopping. Why not? It folds up small, and can be used as a straight ladder, step ladder, offset ladder, or staircase ladder.
Canton's chief speaker designer Frank Göbl stands beside Canton's $30,000/pair Vento Reference One DC, a 3.5-way floorstander that's probably going to keep some high-priced speaker builders awake at night.
Eminent Technology’s Bruce Thigpen has always taken an interesting slant on how to design audio products—his air-bearing tonearm was one of the best-sounding back in the day and his push-pull planar magnetic speakers are thought by some to be unbeatable. But at THE Show, held next door to the official CEDIA venue, the Convention Center, in the Denver Athletic Club, Bruce was showing off his infrasonic subwoofer. Yes, that’s a fan, which rotates at a constant 800rpm. The wrinkle is that the audio signal is used to vary the pitch of the fan blades. Feathered with no signal, when driven with audio the twisting blades produce a massive acoustic wave with very little power input. The bandwidth is limited by the fan speed to below 30Hz or so—you have to rotate it faster to reproduce higher frequencies but then its self noise increases rapidly— but it will reproduce frequencies as low as 1Hz with a very high spl.
Jim Shannon and Stirling Trayle of Quartet Marketing pose with the $4200 T+A K1 AV,which combines CD/DVD playback with analog matrix room sound processing, analog preamp duties, an FM tuner, and two channels of 100W power plus one channel of 60W.
I missed a call when I was showering this morning. It was producer Elliot Mazer (right) asking me to visit him at the Music Giants booth, where he and Halcro’s Philip O’Hanlon (left) had something they wanted to me to see (and hear). Music Giants specializes in hi-rez music downloads and Elliot, it turns out, has been spending a lot of time working on transcoding SACD masters to 24/96 or 24/88.2 LPCM for record companies who are starting to realize that they might not ever get back their investment in the new formats from sales of physical discs.