Photographed by Jason Victor Serinus in the Sumiko room on the 35th floor of the Venetian Hotel, this is the prototype of a new flagship speaker from Vienna Acoustics. Its signature elements are an innovative coaxial midrange/tweeter with a flat, reinforced, flat diaphragm for the midrange to eliminate any horn effect on the tweeter dome and an ultra HF unit to optimize polar response in the upper range. Note that the upper enclosure can be aimed to improve imaging.
California company Now Hear This (NHT), which has been around since 1986, has always taken a no-nonsense route based on good engineering principles and innovative thinking. Two of their strikingly good ideas were the use of side-firing woofers, and integrating an active subwoofer with a pair of small monitor speakers. Both philosophies culminated in the Xd series of DSP-EQ'd active loudspeakers, which I had the pleasure of reviewing in the November 2005 issue. My first reaction to the concept was "Why hasn't anyone done this before?" The results completely justified an approach that, I believe, points loudspeaker design in a new direction.
I've been tweaking my weekend multichannel system for years, but with my city system I've kinda faked it. I now realize that I listen more actively to the weekend system, and not only because that's when I have the time for it—the sound of that system is simply more engaging and psychologically immersive. So, with the growth of my library of SACD and DVD-Audio recordings to almost half the size of my CD collection, I told my wife that it was time to transform of "our" city stereo rig into a full-blown multichannel system.
The P-8 ($11,000) is the second of Simaudio's Moon Evolution series that has passed through my system, following on the heels of the Moon Evolution W-8 power amplifier, which I reviewed in March 2006. Fortunately, the P-8's arrival preceded the W-8's departure, so I was able to use them together as well as with other components.
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.
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.
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.
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.