Stereophile is scheduled for an exclusive one-on-one demo tomorrow with the new Revel loudspeakers, but we couldn't resist tantalizing you with a glimpse of the $22,000/pair Ultima 2 flagship, the Salon2.
JA already blogged about the Ultima Salon2 demo we attended yesterday, but I just had to second his praise with an additional rave: These large speakers are incredibly light on their feet. Yes, the bass was impressive, and, yes, they sounded fabulous on vocals, but for me, it was their ability to change rhythmic directions on a tack-head that was most impressive.
Less flashy than the amplifier internals I blogged about earlier, but still enormously impressive, was this rack of Classé. Classé's Dave Nauber told me it was the first time the company had displayed their curved-profile components in these high-quality racks and that the installers were going nuts over them. They do do a restrained elegance.
While we have been salivating for months in anticipation of the impending release of the floorstander, the CS3.7 that Wes Phillips blogged about on Thursday, Thiel teamed a pair of them with 3 of the new SCS4 small LCR speakers (and a pair of SS-1 subs) in one of the most musical setups at the show. The SCS4 utilizes a single coaxial driver in a remarkably rigid and resonance-free enclosure. The front panel is an aluminum casting and the other panels are doubly-laminated 1" MDF. As a single source, this can be oriented vertically (as shown) or horizontally as a center channel without phase interactions. At only $1000 each, this matched sweetly with the CS3.7s.
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!
REL's new T Line of subwoofers is the first complete line since Sumiko's purchase of REL. The three subs are all dual-cone units with an active downward facing driver and a front-facing passive radiator. Powered, of course, and with the characteristic REL input and filtering arrangements that do not require an electronic crossover or any other insertions in the signal path of the main speakers. The picture shows the biggest of the three, all of which share the same technology, modern design and quality of parts and finish not generally seen at these prices.
PS Audio's Paul McGowan was leaning so comfortably on these nice new AC Power Plants that it wasn't until my second visit that I realized the products carried the Ethereal label, the first fruits of a collaboration between these two companies. In addition to the 1500W Power Plant with its inbuilt harmonic distortion analysers, Paul also has the new surge-protected Power Center tucked under his arm. He looks pretty happy.
Revel main man Kevin Voecks demmed the new four-way Ultima Salon2, previewed yesterday by Wes Phillips, for the Stereophile scribes. It was worth the wait. With all-Mark Levinson electronics, the dem program ranged over many music types, culminating in Little Feat’s “Long Distance Love,” whose awesomely deep low frequencies didn’t faze the speaker’s triple 8” titanium-cone woofers with their edge-wound rubbon voice-coils. Price will be $22k/pair, with availability in early spring ’07.
Neil Sinclair gave me a tour of Theta’s new multi-channel amp, which keeps the signal exclusively in the digital domain from the S/PDIF inputs to the PWM output stage, the latter said to operate at the super-high frequency of 1MHz. Designed by veteran amp engineer Dave Reich, what is in effect a powerDAC—that’s what it says on the output-stage printed circuit boards—will find its way, I hope, into some two-channel products in due course.
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.
Jim Thiel stands between the final prototype of the CD3.7 and the new SCS4, a point source stand mounted two-way with a cast aluminum baffle. Projected price is "under $1000, which seems like a bargain
Polk Audio introduced the $1200/ea. RTS100, "the first in-ceiling speaker to meet THX Ultra2 performance standards." The RTS100 has a 14" diameter enclosure containing dual 5¼" midrange drivers and a 1" Ring Radiator tweeter mounted between them. Polk’s exclusive Sound Shape baffle floats the sound waves toward the listening position for "imaging that seems to hover in front of the listener rather than being localized in the ceiling."
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.