Bryston describes its SP2 multichannel preamplifier-processor ($4995) as consisting of a stereo analog preamp with a volume-controlled 5.1-channel analog pass-through plus a full-featured multichannel digital audio processor, and claims that none of those functions compromises any of the others. The analog preamp is fully equivalent in features and performance to their BP26 preamp. The digital processor includes all the latest Dolby Digital, DTS, and THX modes, and is based on Texas Instruments' powerful Aureus DSP chip, which can be updated via an S/PDIF input. The digital and analog sections have independent power supplies, and there are no video inputs or functions other than a control port for the optional, external SPV-1 video switcher.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.