CEDIA 2006

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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 19, 2006 5 comments
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!
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 19, 2006 4 comments
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?
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Kalman Rubinson Posted: Sep 17, 2006 2 comments
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.
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Kalman Rubinson Posted: Sep 17, 2006 4 comments
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.
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 16, 2006 Published: Sep 17, 2006 0 comments
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).
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Wes Phillips Posted: Sep 17, 2006 1 comments
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.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Sep 16, 2006 1 comments
File this under Only at CEDIA: Themeaddicts, Inc. is offering a Magic Message Mirror (also available as a talking pirate skull). The MMM looks like an ordinary mirror, but is integrated with your whole home automation system. It can update you on any changes within the system's ability to monitor.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Sep 16, 2006 3 comments
Conrad-Johnson's Lew Johnson demos CJ's $7500 MET1 multichannel enhanced triode preamplifier. The twist? It's an analog six-channel preamplifier! It sounded exquisite, whether on two-channel sources or multichannel—only the MET1 can synthesize multichannel from the higher resolution two-channel PCM tracks present on many multichannel DVDs.
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 16, 2006 0 comments
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.
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Kalman Rubinson Posted: Sep 16, 2006 2 comments
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!
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 16, 2006 1 comments
A speaker brand new to me at THE Show was YG Acoustics. Seen here with his four-way Anat Reference Studio ($60k/pair with a single subwoofer per side) is YG's Yoav Gonczarowksi, who says that he doesn't "voice" his speaker—the perfect speaker shouldn't have a voice but should just reproduce what's on the recording.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Sep 16, 2006 0 comments
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.
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 16, 2006 4 comments
Eminent Technology’s Bruce Thigpen has always taken an interesting slant on how to design audio products—his air-bearing tonearm was one of the best-sounding back in the day and his push-pull planar magnetic speakers are thought by some to be unbeatable. But at THE Show, held next door to the official CEDIA venue, the Convention Center, in the Denver Athletic Club, Bruce was showing off his infrasonic subwoofer. Yes, that’s a fan, which rotates at a constant 800rpm. The wrinkle is that the audio signal is used to vary the pitch of the fan blades. Feathered with no signal, when driven with audio the twisting blades produce a massive acoustic wave with very little power input. The bandwidth is limited by the fan speed to below 30Hz or so—you have to rotate it faster to reproduce higher frequencies but then its self noise increases rapidly— but it will reproduce frequencies as low as 1Hz with a very high spl.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Sep 16, 2006 0 comments
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."
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Wes Phillips Posted: Sep 16, 2006 0 comments
One reason the NAD M5—indeed, all of the Master Series components—sound so good, Mark Stone says, is the gigando special NAD class-A gain modules, which "offer tremendous dynamic headroom and nearly immeasurable distortion." JA is working on a review of the M3 integrated amplifier, which also uses these modules.

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