We all recognize that the Super Audio Compact Disc, despite being an almost ideal format for high-resolution audio, has not replaced the "Red Book" CD. However, Sam Tellig's comments in the June and July issues of Stereophile, and Steve Guttenberg's "As We See It" in July, unleashed e-mails urging me to champion multichannel sound (don't I do this already?) and smite the unbelievers (not a chance).
Wilma Cozart Fine died Monday September 21 at age 82. Together with her husband Bob Fine, Cozart was responsible for producing and engineering Mercury's superb-sounding series of "Living Presence" classical recordings in the 1950s and '60s.
Emerging technology was also a theme at this CEDIA, even apart from the various 3D video schemes. RoomEQ is, of course, not a new concept and Audyssey treated us to an introduction and demonstration of their new Subwoofer Equalizer that uses the AudysseyPro software and of DSX, their technology for adding additional channels (for width and height) to the standard 5.1 and 7.1 configurations. I have a Subwoofer Equalizer in house now and hope to report on it shortly. In addition, DSX has made its appearance in a new generation of preamp-processors (and AVRs) from Denon, Onkyo, and Integra, so I am planning on experimenting with that, as well, using one of the new Integra processors, the all-inclusive DHC 80.1 ($2300).
CEDIA Expo 2009 was off and running on Thursday September 10. The two large convention floors in Atlanta are packed with displays and products. The focus, of course, is on video, home theater, home integration and, even, centralized vacuum-cleaning systems. Of greatest interest to audiophiles remains the obvious: we all need loudspeakers! (Well, perhaps not the vacuum cleaner systems.) Unfortunately, the buzz on the floor precludes useful auditions and is so great that even the dedicated sound-rooms suffer from excessive noise. So, you will understand that good looks grab my attention.
HDMI is the invention of the Devil. I grant that the Devil is very smarthe has put on a single cable both hi-rez audio and video, and paid tribute to the gods of industry by incorporating obligatory content protection. However, he has confounded the rest of us by using a connector that, while it relies on friction to maintain physical contact, has so little friction that the cable connector can be easily displaced from or misaligned with the chassis connector. The traditional audiophile predilection for heavy cables is, in this case, actually counterproductiveexerting just a bit of torque on a stiff HDMI cable can be enough to break the connection.
If you have more than six or seven bucks to spend, you might consider the Imagine T floorstanding speaker from PSB Loudspeakers ($2000/pair). A year ago, John Atkinson reviewed PSB's Synchrony One speaker ($4500/pair; Stereophile, April 2008, Vol.31 No.4). The Imagine series is the next line down, and also includes center, surround, and bookshelf models. John Marks flipped over the Imagine B minimonitor in his column in the February 2009 issue.
The first time I ever heard stereo sound, it was in a shop on Manhattan's Radio Row. In addition to the Studer staggered-head tape deck, the system consisted of pairs of McIntosh C8 preamps, MC60 power amps, and monster Bozak B-310 speakers. I can still picture the room and almost hear the sound. I was then an impecunious high-schooler, and while I always strived to buy the best equipment I could afford, I unfortunately was never able to own any of these iconic products. However, when I saw McIntosh's new MC303 three-channel power amp glowing brightly on silent display at the 2008 CEDIA Expo, a light bulb went on over my head: I'd been assessing a series of three-channel and monoblock amps, and the MC303 would fit nicely into my New York City system.
I've been enthusiastically tracking the development of Bel Canto's class-D amplifiers, from their original TriPath-based models to their more recent designs based on Bang & Olufsen's ICEpower modules. With each step, Bel Canto has improved their amps' sound quality and reliability.