Just a short note to tell you that the smaller brother of the affordably priced but high-performance Pioneer Elite S-1EX loudspeaker that I enjoyed so much last March has made its way to these shores. The S-3EX is slightly shorter and narrower, with 7" woofers in place of its bigger brother's 8" drivers. Retained are the CST Driver technology, the Aramid/Carbon-composite–shell woofers, the clean design and construction and, presumably, all the sound except at subwoofer levels. Not retained is about a third of the cost with the S-3EX estimated at $6000/pair instead of $9000.
Magnepan's Wendell Diller promised to demonstrate "an intriguing solution to the center channel," which was nebulous enough. Imagine my surprise when he demoed his new solution with a stereo! A three channel stereo, true, but a stereo nonetheless.
Furman's Reference line of power conditioners are handsomely packaged and feature packed. The $1499 20A SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator has linear filtering technology, multi-stage power surge suppression, extreme voltage shutdown, a detachable module for telco surge suppression, as well as three pairs of HD ready cable/satellite TVSS isolated F-connectors.
Dynaudio actually had a "production prototype" of its $16,500 Sapphire 30 30th anniversary loudspeaker at CEDIA, seen here photographed by Kal Rubinson. All of the drivers are "Evidence-grade," Michael Manoussellis told us. The drivers are Dynaudio's 1.1" (28mm) soft-dome tweeter, 5.5" (15cm) MSP-cone midrange, and two 8" MSP-cone woofers. The cabinet is faceted, hence the jewel reference. It's pretty dramatic looking. Now we're slavering to hear it.
Linn was showing its new reference standard digital player, the Klimax DS, which it is dubbing "the first authentic hi-fi product to stream digital music over a standard home network." Not impressed? How about this: it is capable of utilizing Linn's 24/96 downloads and, according to Rikke Ravnborg, director of marketing, is sonically superior to Linn's long-term digital reference, the CD-12.
Marantz was showing some heavy metal: Its new line of reference components, which will only be available at select dealers. Shown here are the SA-11S2 SACD player ($6999.99), the SA-7S2 stereo control preamplifier ($7999.99), and the MA-9S2 monoblock power amplifiers ($7999.99 each).
Meridian’s collaboration with Ferrari bore fruit as the F80 CD-Radio. "CD-Radio," by a long shot, is an unworthy designation for such an unusual device. Sure, it is an AM/FM radio of high quality and, yes, it will play CDs and DVDs and do all sorts of other neat things but you can go to www.thef80.com for all that info. What I want to tell you is that this $2999 clock-radio is drop-dead gorgeous and is a serious audio instrument. In a press conference room that I estimate was 25'x50' with 15' ceiling, Meridian's Bob Stuart popped in first one disc and then another to the amazement of the press crew. The f80 really filled that larger-than-domestic and nearly bare room with balanced sound. Now, I am not saying that it will replace a full component system for you or me, but I cannot think of another product that compares with it for size, appearance, or performance.
What Mirage did display for real was the OM-28, their $7500/pair floorstander that boasts a real-size omnipolar titanium-dome tweeter, a 5.25" carbon-fiber midrange driver, and two 8" carbon-fiber woofers. The cabinet is ported with down-firing vents.
MIT's Bruce Brisson was determined to shrink his Multipole technology so that his patented networks did not requite bulky boxes near their cables' termination. Naturally, he thought surface-mount components were the way to go. That was until he began measuring them and discovered that SM components were variable and many didn't measure well.
Similar to the MPC line level terminations are MIT's Multipole In-Wall termination systems, shown here by Kent Loughlin. The five-way binding posts fit into an ordinary on-wall quad box and come in three configurations: 11 pole, 15 pole, and 21 pole network. No soldering required.
All of us have excuses for why we cannot acoustically treat our rooms but a lot of the underlying reason is that many are not convinced that they should make the physical or financial effort. I’ve discovered what I think of as training wheels for room acoustics. Tom Gorzelski of mytheater acoustic panel showed me his simple and inexpensive kits; these are enough to get anyone started. The panels are only 1" thick and, with their polyester filling, light enough to hang with a single nail. Don't expect them to work into the bass, therefore, but Tom acknowledges that they are most effective at 1–2kHz. Also, they come in packages of four 24x40 panels ($120) or two 24x24 panels ($45) because you cannot expect just one to make a difference. Still, hanging a 4pack of the bigger panels should reduce reflections if placed at ear level and, especially, at the first reflection points on the side-walls. It's likely you'll like it enough, perhaps, to do even more.
There was a lot to see in the Lenbrook Group rooms and I was pleased to see that the anticipated T-175 multichannel pre-pro was ready for prime-time. However, the unit that caught my eye was a little stereo unit, the T-715. This trim, $499 beauty has a 25Wpc amp, a CD player, an AM-FM tuner, and a subwoofer output in addition to the usual audio line-level inputs and outputs and headphone jack. It also sports a USB input for playback of MP3s or of anything streaming off the Internet. It's just about the size of a shoebox. Add a pair of small speakers, like PSB's $279/pair Alpha B1s, and you have an ideal and compact second system.