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!
Like all Wilson Audio Specialties' speakers, the Series 8 redesign of the venerable WATT/Puppy combination is available in flawless, clear-coat automotive finishes. I do wonder, however, how many of the Utah company's customers choose more conservative finishes than those on display at CEDIA. Arrival of a pair of WATT/Puppy 8s in reviewer Wes Phillips' listening room is imminent. What color will they be?
There are always oases of two-channel audio on the main floor at a CEDIA conference. Boulder Amplifiers were showing their beautiful-looking and equally beautiful-sounding range of solid-state electronics, including their cost-no-object 2000 series components and the more affordable 1000 and 800 series gear. The latter includes the $5k Model 850 200W monoblock (center), seen here framed by company founder Jeff Nelson (left) and marketing exec Rich Maez (right).
Wendell Diller demos the "just been completed" Magnepan Automated Speaker. Essentially a Maggie MGMC1 ($725) in a wooden frame with a remote-controlled magnetic latch. When you're not using the speakers, they fold flat against the wall, looking like minimalist wall art. When you fire up the hi-fi or HT, click the button and the Automated Speakers spring into position, angling off the walls for best imaging. Price not yet determined.
While on-wall/in-wall systems were ubiquitous at CEDIA, the in-room speakers stood out for their imaging and sound quality. Even the tiny Dynaudio 2.1 system consisting of a pair of Contour SR speakers ($2200/pair) coupled with the Sub 250 ($1k) made sounds that many bigger installations would envy. Add another pair and a Contour SC ($1900) to fill out a 5.1 system that can do music as well as movies.
Quietly tucked at the back of the main hall, Musical Fidelity had a lot of new stuff of great audiophile interest. First off is the new "audio Swiss Army Knife," as JA referred to it in his blog yesterday, the all-in-one, $9000 kW250. But among the other goodies on the Signal Path booth was the X-Package, consisting of the neat little X-RAYv8 24/192 upsampling CD player, the X-T100 60Wpc tube hybrid integrated amp, and the Triple-X power supply which powers both as well as an optional external DAC, tuner, etc. In their compact but non-resonant aluminum casings, this $3000 system was surprisingly potent.
Chord's CEO John Franks (right) and Bluebird Music's Jay Rein (left) regaled me with tales of Chord's Media Engine (price tbd). It includes an Intel Pentium 4 processor and up to 6TB of drive capacity, allowing you to centrally archive pretty much all varieties of CD and DVD formats. Chord promises "studio-quality audio" and "the best image processing technology available."
So what does an audio guy discover at CEDIA? A turntable, of course. At the head of Sumiko's array of Pro-Ject turntables was their most elegant and impressive one yet. The RM-10 looks like a serious and grown-up RM-9 with a platform base and double-thick platter. At $2500, Pro-Ject's most expensive model yet, evoked buy-me-now urges in this lapsed vinyist. I understand that Michael Fremer has a review already in the hopper for our November issue.
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.
Slim Devices' Patrick Cosson and OnPR's Marivi Lerdo-de-Tejada pose with the California company's high-end, $1999 Transporter network music player, after granting me a hands-on session with it. The Transporter's Dynamic Feedback control knob is amazing—choose a function and it becomes a silky-smooth volume pot, an indexed rotary switch, or a velocity-sensitive controller. Better yet, each function feels absolutely "real."
I finally got to see the new Cary Cinema II processor ($3000) that had been whispered about at the 2005 CEDIA. Sleek but prodigious, it has balanced analog and digital inputs in addition to single-ended analog, optical and coaxial digital inputs and a true analog bypass 7.1 input. There's balanced and unbalanced outputs as well as analog/digital outputs for a second zone. But get this: it is also Dolby-HD approved!
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.
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.