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?
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!
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.
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).
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.
Archimedes famously said, "Give me a lever and a place to stand and I can move the world." Quartet Marketing's Stirling Trayle and Composite Products LLC's Gus Malek-Madani take that "place to stand" part seriously. Malek-Madani makes stands from carbon fiber and he's adamanant that metal and glass "are the worst materials for isolation and vibration energy dissipation." His solution? Carbon fiber.
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."
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.
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.
Lenbrook Technologies' Mark Stone pops with pride over NAD's Master Series $1799 M5 SACD/CD Player, which employs separate signal paths for CD and SACD. The player's CD resolution is 24-bit, 192kHz. Since it's aimed at audio systems rather than HT applications, the M5 includes comprehensive bass management for multichannel SACDs and front-panel–accessible preset 5.1 speaker configurations.
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.