Of all the components to be seen and heard at an audio show or in a dealer's showroom, the most memorable and attention-grabbing are inevitably the super-speakers—bogglingly expensive, filled with cutting-edge engineering and exotic materials, of mammoth size and weight, with full-range reproduction that shakes building foundations and extends far enough up top to disrupt the navigation of bats. Survey the field, and the biggest Wilson, Aln, JMlab-Focal, Burmester, EgglestonWorks, and Nearfield Acoustics models, to name a few, fit that description.
One of the cooler toys being shown at the Westin–St. Francis is the $199 hp digital media receiver en5000. This nifty remote-controlled Ethernet device connects to any TV and stereo in your home and links it to your home computing network. After you've loaded its software onto the network's computers, it will instantaneously communicate with all of them, allowing you to access all digital media contained on any of them. You can create playlists, slideshows, or show movies from, say, the room containing your hi-fi without needing to have a computer in the space at all. This struck us as precisely the sort of product David Hyman was recommending in his keynote address on day one. Best of all, no noisy fans in the listening room!
Polk Audio completely redesigned its popular RTi series of loudspeakers. The RTis occupy the "better" position in Polk's good (R series), better (RTi), best (LSi) hierachy. The refurbished line features new drivers, higher quality cabinets, and handsome cosmetics—including real wood veneers in black oak and cherry.
The first day of the annual Home Entertainment shows is traditionally devoted to "trade" access only—that is to say, set aside for press conferences and dealer demonstrations (ie officially sanctioned schmoozing and cruising).
I'll spare you my thoughts on the matter—they're guessable anyway—and simply say that the war with Iraq has given me and my family the jitters, just as it seems to have done with millions of other people. But rather than giving 10 more dollars to Henkel Consumer Adhesives, my wife and I have taken a different tack: We made up a Road Box. A Road Box is a cardboard box full of things for us to take from our home if we have to leave in a hurry. We keep it near the door that leads to the garage.
Multichannel music is the future. The two-channel reproduction that we have enjoyed for the past four decades is but the first step from monophonic (single-source) sound to true stereophonic reproduction. I intend to preach that to Stereophile readers who believe it and to convert the obstinate objectors.
Audiogon/Videogon.com—the online resource for buying and selling high-end audio and video equipment—has joined forces with Primedia and the Elf Foundation for a charity auction, which will be held at the Home Entertainment 2003 Show in San Francisco, June 6–8, 2003.
During this week's Home Entertainment Expo, high-tech entertainment fans will get to enjoy some of the best audio and video gear to be found on the planet. A few lucky ones will get to take some of it home—free.
All of us at Stereophile were saddened to learn of the death of audio pioneer David Hafler, who died Sunday, May 25 of complications of Parkinson's disease at St. Agnes Hospice in Philadelphia. Hafler was 84.