Theta Digital is at last showing the Compli-Blu universal player ($2995), which begins shipping the week after the Show. The successor to the old Compli universal player and Carmen II digital transport, the Compli-Blu can be used either as a digital transport (which is how I intend to use it with my Theta Gen. VIII Series 2 DAC/preamp), or as a stand-alone multi-format player.
The Compli-Blu is derived from the same Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray universal disc player as the new, considerably higher priced Ayre DX-5 Universal Player (approx. $10,000) that Jon Iverson blogs about below. Theta's baby boasts a completely new, linear power supply designed by Dave Reich of Theta and (formerly) Classé fame. Theta has also upgraded the drive mount to cut down on vibration. Other changes are proprietary, to undoubtedly be figured out and blasted all over the Internet by whoever is first to compare both units side-by-side and report on sonic differences.
In development for the Casablanca is the final, long-awaited HDMI 1.3b interface. "We know that HDMI is a flawed technology," says the fabulous Mike Pontelle of Theta and ATI, "with 1.4 already in the developmental stage. People are talking about it, but it isn't yet available. All this confuses the consumer." It also makes lots of sleepless nights for designers trying to retrofit units that weren't conceived when HDMI was in the black hole of some engineer's brain (which is where some in the know thinks it should have remained).