MartinLogan showed some enticing and very reasonably-priced two-ways with real electrostatic drivers. The Purity (left) and the Source (right) are similar in size and appearance (at least so far as the electrostatic elements are concerned), but differ significantly. The Source ($2000/pair) uses an 8” woofer and has a wedge-shaped base that allows you to tilt the entire speaker to suit the needed vertical listening angle. The Purity ($3000/pair) has a pair of 6.5” woofers and a 200W digital amp, which permits it to be driven by a CD player or preamp or, even, by an MP3 player.
That's a pretty snazzy new pre-pro from NAD, the T-175 ($1999). It sports four HDMI inputs, lots of analog and digital audio inputs as well as "legacy" video sources. Of special note is the inclusion of Audyssey MultEQ XT room correction, with a custom response curve option developed with PSB's Paul Barton. In addition, this is one of the first of a new generation of AVRs, pre-pros, and processors that are compatible with the potent Audyssey Pro Audio Calibration intended for professional installation. Others capable of Audyssey Pro include NAD's T775 and T785 AVRs, and Denon's AVR-5805CI, '5308CI, '4308CI and '3808CI AVRs. Also on Audyssey's lists are the Denon AVP1HD pre-pro, the Integra DTC-9.8 and OnkyoPro PR-SC885 pre-pros, the Integra DTR-8.8 AVR, the Crestron Adagio Media System, the Phase Technology dARTS system, and, of course, the Audyssey Sound Equalizer.
Panamax's $2000 MAX 7500 PO is billed as "home theater management." Its 720VA isolation transformer is designed to optimize the performance of digital sources and video displays and isolate them from audio circuitry. It also offers extremely sophisticated ground isolation.Voltage regulation and balanced power are also provided.
Parasound's Richard Schram was delighted to show off the San Francisco company's Model 2100 preamplifier. This $600 preamp is designed for the guy who has a multichannel system—possibly even an expensive one—who feels let down when he listens to his two-channel music.
Pioneer showed a number of interesting new products in two-channel electronics and speakers. but pride of place was ceded to their new flagship A/V receiver, the SC-09TX. This is almost, but not quite, a pair of separates with the 10-channel, ICE-powered class-D amp confined to a chassis separated from the rest of the digital and line-level electronics. The main 7 channels are rated at 200W, operated simultaneously. I thought it notable that the amplifier chassis is configured to be under the main chassis and that indicates that we’ve reached a point where the efficiency of class-D amps allows the power-hungry DSP and video processing to breathe out the top. Fans help, too. Every conceivable input and output is provided including 6 HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs, accommodations for XM, Sirius, and iPod input, and a talented EtherNet link. I show you the back panel to impress you with the connectivity and the distinct chassis for the power amp. The front panel sports a 4" LCD for control and video previewing.
We get a kick out of Paul Barton, so we wandered into PSB's room to see what's new. He was talking to a good-looking man of a certain age (ours, approximately), to whom he introduced us: it was Vance Dickason, the man who wrote the book on designing DIY loudspeakers: The Loudspeaker Design Cookbook.
ReQuest is betting there's a music server in your future, and they're working hard at eliminating any objections you might have about it. In addition to showing off their new S-series components ("S" for "serious sound"), the company introduced a host of widgets, added functions, new remotes, and the Echo, a daily-updated backup drive for your music library.
I decided that since Stereophile only had two show bloggers this year, I would avoid writing about weird custom-install products and home-theater systems. However, rules, as they say, are made to be broken.
Lyngdorf was showing a $16,800 system that incorporated its RoomPerfect digital room correction system, which creates an EQ curve based on measurements taken in seven positions. The result is said to be a sweet spot that is spot-on in one position and "extremely fine" for up to eight target positions.
It was disorienting to arrive in the Denver Convention Center and both have to re-learn where everything is and to try to maintain my bearings on the Show floor. The grid of floor sites is very approximately regular, with each numbered row thickening and thinning to complement its neighbors. At one point, I had let myself be led around to three different booths by a press representative, only to look up and not know which was the front and which was back!