I missed a call when I was showering this morning. It was producer Elliot Mazer (right) asking me to visit him at the Music Giants booth, where he and Halcro’s Philip O’Hanlon (left) had something they wanted to me to see (and hear). Music Giants specializes in hi-rez music downloads and Elliot, it turns out, has been spending a lot of time working on transcoding SACD masters to 24/96 or 24/88.2 LPCM for record companies who are starting to realize that they might not ever get back their investment in the new formats from sales of physical discs.
The amiable team of industry veterans David Solomon (left) and Jim Spainhour (right) make up Signal Path, who distributes Musical Fidelity products in the US. They are seen here with MF’s new “audio Swiss Army knife,” the kW250, which includes a CD player, an FM tuner, a preamp with an MM phono stage, and a 250Wpc power amplifier for its $9000 price. A digital input on the back takes the feed from your music server and yes, there is a jack for your iPod on the front. "An ‘exit-level’ component," is how Jim describes it, "for the middle-aged music lover who wants system simplicity without sacrificing sound quality."
Athena Technologies has been known for surprisingly high-value speakers tailored for home theater. At CEDIA, they unveiled a new LS Series, with the audiophile's taste in mind. The line features cabinets with curved sides so that the profile tapers at the rear, fiber-glass cones and aluminum-dome tweeters. The top-of-this-line, LS-500B is only $350 each! If the voicing is as stated and the finish quality is as remarkable as the floor samples, this line could have a huge market impact.
REL's new T Line of subwoofers is the first complete line since Sumiko's purchase of REL. The three subs are all dual-cone units with an active downward facing driver and a front-facing passive radiator. Powered, of course, and with the characteristic REL input and filtering arrangements that do not require an electronic crossover or any other insertions in the signal path of the main speakers. The picture shows the biggest of the three, all of which share the same technology, modern design and quality of parts and finish not generally seen at these prices.
Revel main man Kevin Voecks demmed the new four-way Ultima Salon2, previewed yesterday by Wes Phillips, for the Stereophile scribes. It was worth the wait. With all-Mark Levinson electronics, the dem program ranged over many music types, culminating in Little Feat’s “Long Distance Love,” whose awesomely deep low frequencies didn’t faze the speaker’s triple 8” titanium-cone woofers with their edge-wound rubbon voice-coils. Price will be $22k/pair, with availability in early spring ’07.
Sam Feng of Infrant Technologies hefts (barely) the Infrant Repertoire Digital Media Server, a 3TB NAS array designed specifically for high-end music systems. The Infrant contains four Seagate DB35 DynaPlay-enabled hard drives, which means you not only get huge storage capacity, but redundancy as well. Plus, it has a solid aluminum chassis with heat sinks, so no fan noise.
Late in the day at the Show, most glasses were filled or in the process of being emptied. This stack on the BG stand, however, was empty. It had been erected to show that Radia's new 210i Active Subwoofer is almost totally vibration-free in operation. At the time I took this picture, this sub, with its opposed 10" Kevlar drivers and 500w BASH amp was pumping out gobs of bass, cleanly and tightly. I could detect no vibrations at all with my hand. What's the point? Well, you can put something on top of them (vase, planter, cigar humidor!) without exciting spurious vibrations. Heck, you could even put this $1500 sub in a cabinet, if that suits your needs.
For $129.95, the JBL Spyro 2.1 system—available in black, fuschia, or retro blue with chrome highlights, as well as white— hooks up to your MP3 player and provides 6Wpc of neodymium-magnet Odyssey satellite power and 24W of Atlas woofer action. But don’t you just love the stylin’ styling! Not just for Spyro the Dragon gamers.
Here's designer Andrew Welker showing off his new baby floorstander in Mirage's OMD series. The OMD 15 is said to share many of the sonic splendors of the flagship OMD 28 and its general configuration, as well, in a slightly smaller size but at 1/3 the price! At $2500/pair, it offers a 1" titanium-dome HF, a 5.5" titanium-deposit hybrid midrange supplemented by a passive radiator and a 5.5" woofer operating with a down-firing port. In high gloss black, this was simply spiffy.
With David and Sheryl Lee Wilson in Europe for the Milan and London Shows, son Daryl demonstrated for me how the Utah company’s newly redesigned Watch Dog subwoofer doubles as designer seating. The sub is now a more manageable passive design, one third smaller than the original, and is stackable. The Passive Dog can be controlled either by a home theater system’s bass management or, in a music system, by the outboard Watch Controller. This has both balanced and single-ended inputs and outputs, and features versatile high- and low-pass filters.
MartinLogan subwoofers? Yup—although the Kansas company is known as an electrostatic specialist, they've been making subs for a long while. The new $2995 Descent1 seems pretty spiffy, though: Top-mounted control interface (hidden under the logo plate), three rigid-chassis, aluminum-cone drivers, triple-servo monitoring, a sealed cabinet enclosure, and three 250W Vojtko amplifiers.
Polk Audio introduced the $1200/ea. RTS100, "the first in-ceiling speaker to meet THX Ultra2 performance standards." The RTS100 has a 14" diameter enclosure containing dual 5¼" midrange drivers and a 1" Ring Radiator tweeter mounted between them. Polk’s exclusive Sound Shape baffle floats the sound waves toward the listening position for "imaging that seems to hover in front of the listener rather than being localized in the ceiling."
Jim Thiel stands between the final prototype of the CD3.7 and the new SCS4, a point source stand mounted two-way with a cast aluminum baffle. Projected price is "under $1000, which seems like a bargain