Joe Harley was striding around the Denver Convention Center. When we shook hands, he glanced around and said, "Let's go somewhere private." We ducked into an empty demo room and he pulled a few records out of his bag. "Nobody else knows about this, I'm giving you the exclusive."
Look at the picture and tell me that those don’t look like speakers! They are, of course, but they are not intended to be driven by audio signals directly. What subwoofer manufacturer Bag End was demonstrating is a small, active bass trap, the E-Trap, and they are driven by the bass frequencies in the room. Each of these small boxes contains a driver, two microphones, and some pretty snazzy electronics that let the driver cancel the energy at the frequency (or two) of your room’s major mode. Sure, acoustic treatment is generally best, but that can get awfully cumbersome below 100Hz. Adjustments allow you to select frequencies between 20Hz and 65Hz and adjust the amplitude and shape of the cancellation. For critical success, you need to experiment with placement (although that is almost always at a room boundary) and, at the moment, have access to some nice FFT software. Bag End's James Wischmeyer promises that, eventually, some simpler setup software will be provided. Mebbe, but I asked to try one ASAP.
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.
What Mirage did display for real was the OM-28, their $7500/pair floorstander that boasts a real-size omnipolar titanium-dome tweeter, a 5.25" carbon-fiber midrange driver, and two 8" carbon-fiber woofers. The cabinet is ported with down-firing vents.
Dynaudio actually had a "production prototype" of its $16,500 Sapphire 30 30th anniversary loudspeaker at CEDIA, seen here photographed by Kal Rubinson. All of the drivers are "Evidence-grade," Michael Manoussellis told us. The drivers are Dynaudio's 1.1" (28mm) soft-dome tweeter, 5.5" (15cm) MSP-cone midrange, and two 8" MSP-cone woofers. The cabinet is faceted, hence the jewel reference. It's pretty dramatic looking. Now we're slavering to hear it.
McIntosh has introduced a turntable. It has the classic black and blue faceplate, which looked a tad bizarre to these eyes. The platter is "polished, fully-balanced green tint," meaning glass, we presume. The tonearm and cartridge are custom-made by McIntosh. An isolated speed stabilizer drives the precision motor.
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.
Thiel was showing honest-to-God production samples of its CS3.7 ($9900/pair), which has a few cosmetic flourishes I hadn't noticed the times I spotted prototypes at earlier Shows. I could be wrong, but that aluminum cowling looks better-integrated with the body than I recall.