[Community of A/V Enthusiasts]
The last day in CEDIA was a but less busy for me, so I was finally able to see some of the new things I had heard about but hadn't had a chance to see. Paradigm once again was at CEDIA in force with new products. They had a full revision to their popular Monitor line that brought down the tweeter technology from their Studio line into a more affordable package. They also had the first update to their Cinema line of speakers in a decade.
For brand new products, their Shift line of headphones and powered loudspeakers were on display and should be starting to ship to dealers soon. The big announcement was the Anthem M1 mono block amplifier. A Class D design that fits into a 1U rack, the M1 can put out 1,000 watts into 8 ohms and doubles down to 2,000 watts for 4 ohms. An internal heat pipe and external heat sinks keep it cool enough for them to be stacked on top of each other in a rack while still delivery more power than almost any speaker can require. These list for $3,499 and will be shipping very soon.
I also took the time to stop by the sound room for Summit Semiconductor. They were here last year with the Aperion wireless speaker set, which is going to be shipping here very soon. I also visited their headquarters earlier this year to get a full rundown of their technology and a demonstration of the products. Operating in a different frequency band than any other wireless speakers, the Summit Wireless system takes an average user under 30 minutes to hook up as you simply plug the speakers into a power outlet, connect the receiver box, and then the system will configure itself. Speakers from Energy were also on display in the room, though no available date was known for those.
One very nice feature that Summit is working on it a Linux audio driver for their speaker system. Virtually every display that is now shipping uses Linus as their software, including the audio section of the display. What Summit has done is written an ALSA sound driver that display manufacturers can include with their TV, or add on later with a firmware update. Then to add a Summit wireless system you wouldn't not need a separate receiver, but just a USB wireless dongle that will plug into the USB ports of your television. No separate box to add on, no new remote to learn to use, and the TV will automatically detect the new speakers, mute the internal speakers, and route all of the audio towards them. No release date was given for this, but it's one thing I want to see.
I also went by Integra to get some photos of their updated 80.3 processor and their THX approved 50.3 Blu-ray player. We should have our hands on the Blu-ray player soon, and hopefully the processor as well.
After avoiding the lines the first two days, I finally got a demo of the Epson 61000 reflective LCD technology projector. First demoed last year at CEDIA, this year the demonstration was given on a 10' wide Stewart Studiotek 130 screen with an automated masking system. For all of the affordable projectors that I saw, the Epson demo was by far the best. Gregg Loewen did a good job of setting up the demo beforehand and letting us know specific details to look at in the images, and even on a screen that size the projector was putting off 17 ftL of light. A clip from Harry Potter of Voldemort battling Dumbledoor inside the Ministry of Magic looked fantastic, with great shadow detail and depth. Cinemascope material was blown up using an automated zoom memory system, and despite the size I saw no pixel structure from my 14-15' distance from the screen. Epson expects it to finally ship in December of this year for under $5,000 and will include a spare bulb and a Chief Mfg mounting bracket. No 3D, but absolutely wonderful 2D.
After talking to Summit Semiconductor earlier, they said if I wanted a nice wireless solution, I should also check out the DVDO Air solution just across the hall from them. Streaming full bandwidth HDMI video across a room, the Air did a great job sending an image 15' or so across the show floor, depute the horrendous radio frequency traffic that probably would have doomed any demo using the standard 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths. I didn't see a single dropped frame the whole time I was there and would like to give a unit a test to see how well it does in a home environment.
I finally did get a chance to see a SIM2 projector in action as well. The SIM2 demo room featured a DLP projector that was running at 144 frames per second, allowing for three times the regular 24 frames per second for each eye. This gave me a wonderfully bright image that popped out of the screen and from what I could see, free of artifacts or other issues you see on 3D projectors. SIM2 picked some content that I hadn't seen before, including images of the Paris Air Show and a spacewalk, and many images would just pop from the screen and there was a lot of wonderful 3D depth to the image. Easily the brightest and more enjoyable active 3D demonstration I saw at the show, there was none of the eye fatigue that 3D usually causes in me and I could have kept watching the content. Overall a very impressive image.
I'm a big fan of speakers from Martin Logan and dropping by to hear their new Montis did nothing to change that fact. Being driven by a pair of McIntosh 2301 tube mono blocks, the Montis sounded big and open, with no trouble playing back anything from Diana Krall to Nine Inch Nails. Though the tower might look a bit flimsy at first glance, the Martin Logan reps pounded on the panel to show how durable it was, so now I can stop worrying that my son is going to damage the Theos speakers I currently have out in the living room. Martin Logan also had a new Motion speaker in a more standard bookshelf format, as well as a new line of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers featuring the ribbon tweeter they have been using in the Motion line.
After looking around the floor for three days I tried to figure out the best things that I saw at the show. I think the clear overall winner to me was the Elite LCD display. It had black levels that couldn't be beat and a picture that looked amazing, even with the harsh lighting of the show floor. It's one thing that I want to have inside my house now, and I hope that we will get a chance to review one of them soon. In the world of projectors, the Epson 61000 is the display that I would want in my room today. With a 10' masking screen, you are transported into a movie theater without leaving home and it should satisfy almost anyone unless you need to have 3D. I wish that JVC had a different demo setup for their new RS45 projector as it was only shown in an open room on a SI Black Diamond display, which is a great setup for a family room but not the ideal for critical evaluation. I was also very intrigued by the eeColor box from SpectraCal and that we will take a look at to see how well it performs compared to other solutions we have tried.
CEDIA is always a busy and exciting show to cover, and this year was no different. Projectors are starting to hit the level that LCD and Plasma displays hit a couple years ago, where nothing really looks bad, but certain models certainly look much better than others. 3D has also gone from an expensive niche product to something available on a $1,600 projector in just two short years. Now to see what new things are created between now and CES in under 4 months!
One of the more impressive displays I saw at CEDIA this year was from Runco. Last year I missed their 3D demonstration but everyone told me it was the best looking 3D they had seen anywhere, and they were right. On their D-113d dual projector setup, Rio was eye popping and bright in 3D with no crosstalk at all. Much of that was due to their ability to do this as fully passive 3D, but not only was it passive, it was on a totally neutral, 215" Stewart Snomatte 100 screen instead of a specialized silver screen with a really high gain.
The 2D demonstration used a sequence from "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" that was full of detail and amazingly bright, to the tune of 100 foot lamberts! Since this combination puts off over 11,000 lumens, you can fill a screen up to 420" comfortably and still be 3-4 times brighter than the screen at your local cinema! Getting something this bright costs money, and in this case the unit we saw retails for just north of $230,000 fully equipped, but oh boy can you see where that money goes!
Another interesting product from Runco was their LS-100d LED projector. Unlike most projectors, this one is designed to sit right up against the wall either above of below the screen and then projects the 92" image off of a mirror. This lets this projector work in rooms where the layout might interfere (such as my basement, with support beams that hinder projector placement). The image looked great with no geometry issues that I could see. The LS-100d is only 18" deep and lists for $19,995.
Piero already covered the new speakers that KEF had at the show, but another aspect of this was that the blades were being played back through a tower of equipment from Parasound Halo, including their unreleased CD 1 CD Player. Initially shown at CES this year, not too much is known about the player at this point, but you can see both unbalanced and balanced connections coming out from it. If it lives up to the rest of the Halo line, it will certainly punch above it's price class and be another component I will want to add to my rack.
THX was at the show and they were showing their new certified sound bar from Teufel (must play at reference level at 6' in a 2,000 square foot room, so it needs a subwoofer) as well as their media director software. Media Director allows software to include metadata that can let your hardware know the ideal settings for playback of the material. If it uses the Rec. 709 colorspace and a D65 white point, the display can choose the correct display mode automatically. If it is mastered using a different gamma than normal, once again that could be selected by the display, or sports could choose a mode with lower gamma to get rid of annoying shadows on the field that hide players. All of this can be overridden by the user if they want to control it themselves, but for most people that plug-and-play their devices, it could lead to better picture quality on all their material.
Most companies have started doing some sort of cinemascope support on their projectors, either with lens memory or with native cinemascope lenses on their projectors. Because of this most screen companies were showing off solutions to this issue and DaLite was no exception. This screen used the new HD Progressive 1.1 acoustically transparent material that is Joe Kane certified and is installed in their automated masking system. This can automatically adjust the sides to hide the reflective screen when watching smaller images so they are distracting, and allows you to put speakers behind the screen so you feel like you are at the movie theater. Price on this was around $5,000-6,000 depending on size.
MK Sound was back at CEDIA two years ago, resurrected from the dead by a new group of people. This year they had an update of the long respected S-150 studio monitor speaker. With all new midrange and tweeters, the S-150 II should be a nice upgrade for speakers that have been in the systems and mixing rooms of many people for well over a decade. To go along with this were a new line of push-pull subwoofers featuring 8", 10", and 12" woofer pairs. Using a custom designed Class D amp, these subwoofers were said to outperform their previous models by a good margin and will be available in December.
If you want people to come to your booth at CEDIA, having the brand new Ferrari there is a pretty good idea. The Harman Group had a new Ferrari FF in their booth since JBL Professional provides the audio system for the car, and it sounded very good. I just need to figure out how to fit a car seat into the back and I’ve found my new family car I think!
The other main draw at the Harman booth was the new processor from Lexicon. Replacing the MC-12, the MP-20 is a full 12.4 controller that has dropped most analog video inputs for HDMI and if fully balanced on the outputs. It also features their new Quantum Logic room correction that is present in the Ferrari and was very impressive. The front screen is very clean with just a screen and buttons that vary in function based on what is on the screen. With feet removed the preamp will be a 4U device for a rack, and is expected to ship in 2Q of next year, though pricing is TBD.
SIM2 was showing off their new Nero line as part of their 15th Anniversary celebration. The Nero line comes in multiple configurations, and pictured here is the Nero 235 that can display both full resolution 16:9 and 2.35:1 content without an anamorphic lens. Pricing on the Nero line ranges from $19,000 to $40,000. They were also showing their Mico 150 which is an LED based 1080p 3D projector that is liquid cooled, and their Cinema 100 which can pump out 10,000 lumens for when you want to use that 300” screen to show a film to your whole neighborhood.
Mitsubishi had their new HC7800D projector. Using a DC3 DLP chip it does 3D at 1080P and looked very nice on the example I saw. It was very bright, though it was on a 4.9 gain screen, which will really pump up the lumens. Overall it was a very nice image with a lot of pop even in 3D mode and very little crosstalk that I could see.
SpectraCal was at the show with their new CMS box, the eeColor. Unlike most CMS systems which will calibrate the 100% intensity value and assume the rest of the values will fall in line (which they should), the eeColor calibrates Red, Green, and Blue at every 5% intensity, from 0 to 100, for 21 total measurements. This should provide for a very, very accurate result in the end. It doesn't do any scaling or colorspace conversion, but multiple people came to me during the show and said I had to check it out. We should have a unit in soon to evaluate hopefully.
Thursday continued at CEDIA with yet more equipment of course. Sony was showing their 4K projector in their booth and there was a large line to see what everyone was talking about. I caught Spiderman again and once again was blown away by the level of detail that was present. 4K is a far bigger deal than 3D is going to be, but the Sony projector is going to sell for under $25k, so it's also not affordable to most of us quite yet. Their other two new projectors the VPL-VW95ES and 30 were on display. The 30 lists for $3,700 with two pairs of glasses and the emitter included, or $300 less if you have no interest in 3D at all. The 95 is $10,000 and adds lens zoom memory, better light output, and far more. All the projectors should be shipping by the end of the year.
Sony has a pair of new receivers as well, the 5700 and 3700 ES models. They feature a built in Ethernet switch in the rear, as well as a whole new GUI system to make things easier to control. One nice feature that I'm sure we will see catch on is that the receiver itself has Netflix and other online streaming video content built in. Since many people might use the Sony with a projector or other display without streaming content built in, this keeps you from having to add an extra box to the mix. The 5700 will retail for just under $2,000 and will be shipping soon.Right after Sony I got to see my first look at the Sharp/Pioneer joint LCD venture with the new Elite series of LCDs. They had both the 60" and 70" models on display in a room with video running on the 70". The shocking thing was that the 60" model was really turned on, just with a pure black screen but due to the amazing black levels, you just couldn't tell. Watching video on them was a treat with an amazing contrast ratio, no visible LED blooming that I could distinguish, and a brilliant, film-like image. I hope I can afford one for my living room at some point in the future as they are gorgeous.
Pioneer gave me a tour of the rest of their booth after their Elite demonstration. The best thing I heard all day was when I was discussing their Blu-ray players with them. They took our new HDMI Benchmarks to heart and the new line of Blu-ray players features Colorspace selections (RGB, 444 and 422 were there), user adjustable sharpness, user selectable Deep Color, and they will send off full details on what the different picture modes do. Bravo Pioneer! I'd be happy if the HDMI Benchmark wasn't needed in a year because every vendor was as quick and responsive as Pioneer is. They have a new universal player that looks to challenge Oppo for playback. Coming out for $499 later this year, the BDP-53FD is a universal player with a Marvell Qdeo chipset, online streaming support (Netflix, Pandora, Picasa), dual HDMI outputs, and high end construction. I can't wait to get that in for review so we can see how it compares to our reference players.
They also were showing their recently released SC-55 and SC-57 receivers with their own Class D amplifier section (no more licensing ICEpower from B&O) and was promised to get a unit in for review soon as well. Also shown, but without full specs available yet, were networked music players from the Elite line with support for FLAC up to 24/192 as well as almost any format you want, incredibly high end construction, and a nice component size with an LCD on the front showing the currently playing item. Hopefully they will be out this December, though pricing is still not finalized.
I managed to make it to demo the new Panasonic AE7000U projector. Featuring 3D and lens memory, the Panasonic packs a lot of power into a $3,500 MSRP projector. Sitting very close to the screen there was really no screen door effect visible from the LCD panels, but the demo material wasn't very impressive. 3D demos are starting to give me a headache after a full day and their 2D demo material (Astro Boy) looked a bit dull and had frame interpolation turned on so the motion looked synthetic. Overall it was a bit underwhelming after all of the other demos I saw today.
Tomorrow is another full day with Epson, Mitsubishi, SIM2, Runco, Paradigm, Anthem, MK Sound, and more!
Thursday Morning at CEDIA kicked off with an early, 7:30 AM press conference from JVC (west coast writers do not enjoy press conferences at 7:30 EDT). JVC showed off 5 new projectors, starting at $3,500 and going up to $12,000. The big deal was the 4K ability of their top two models, priced at $12,000 and $8,000. The technology they use, called e-Shift, lets them use a 2K DILA chip to display 4K signals on the screen. While at first you might think of wobulation from DLP and worry about a lack of detail, the examples that we saw were fantastic. 4K being projected looked more 3D and real than 3D content does now. While it will take a bit for the content to catch up, 4K is a big deal at the show this year, and it really is amazingly good looking.
Their base $3,500 model, the RS-45, looks to be fantastic for the price. It has a 50,000:1 contrast ratio, lens memory for using a 2.35:1 screen, and 3D support for over $1,000 less than the RS40 last year. As someone that is looking for a projector, this went to the top of my list.
Next I visited Yamaha to see their updated Advantege receivers and Blu-ray players. The A-1010 is a universal Blu-ray player for only $500 that competes with the similar models from Oppo and Cambridge Audio. The Aventege 3010 receiver is their top model and has every input and output you need, but also had a very nice web interface that they were showing off with their iPad. Secrets recently reviewed the 2000 model receiver from Yamaha and enjoyed it, so we will try to get the follow up in as well. You know that we will try to put the Blu-ray player through our new HDMI Benchmark and audio bench testing as soon as we can.
Screen Innovations has been popular with their Black Diamond displays that let you have a projector in rooms where it was never possible before. This year they had two new things to show off: the Black Diamond Stealth and their Zero Edge displays. The Black Diamond Stealth is a ceiling or wall mounted, retractable Black Diamond display that lets you have a projector in a room but keep it hidden away. Their Zero Edge displays were fantastic looking. A very thin edge that makes it look like a flat panel when the projector is turned on. They come assembled like a white board and only weigh around 40 lbs, so they are very easy to mount on the wall and look great.
Samsung had their line of displays on hand, as well as the smallest Blu-ray player I had seen. The nicest feature on the Smart TVs was that you can search across the different streaming services for what you are after. In this demo they looked for Tron Legacy which brought up two options to buy or rent it online, and then the pricing and resolution for each. Much better than trying to remember if you can watch Friday Night Lights on Netflix, or Hulu Plus, or something else.
CEDIA 2011 is in Indianapolis this year and while the show officially opens on Thursday, there were some events on Wednesday. Atlantic Technology was showing off a soundbar using H-PAS technology that has bass response down to 47 Hz.
They had gone from idea to prototype here in just 9 weeks and hope to have it out for Christmas priced around $500-600. Outlaw Audio will also be selling it, and they will license the design to other companies as well. The sound was good for a soundbar with deep bass and a song from Diana Krall was better than expected. Specs are still in flux a bit at this point, but it is something to look forward to.
Very exciting was Sony introducing a new 4K projector, with a price not yet known. The clip of Spiderman that was shown had an amazing amount of detail. I had been unsure about how 4K would look, but this was just fantastic and I can't wait to see more demonstrations of it.
They also were showing their OLED based 3D helmet, which you can see Piero and Sumit using here.
Belkin had an event showing off their wireless HDMI transmitter and receiver for $250 which performed almost flawlessly in the room (I saw one small drop for a fraction of a second during the hour we were there), and is a great solution for when you don't want to run wires.
Also nice was an Ethernet to Wireless N bridge that used USB for power. As almost all TVs have USB ports on them now, and have Ethernet but not WiFi, this is a great option for hooking them up to Wireless without needing a custom WiFi adapter, and not needing an external power brick. It was also very affordable at $79 and has a 2x2 antenna array for up to 300 Mbit/sec N speeds.
We just saw a demo of the JVC 4K projectors which were amazing, and $8000 and $12000 MSRP. They use a pixel shifting technology to pull it off, but up close you could see no pixel structure, and there was an amazing amount of detail. It was almost 3D without needing 3D glasses. They also had a $3,500 projector that has 3D, lens memory, and looked great paired up with a Screen Innovations Black Diamond 2.35:1 screen. The show floor is about to open, so look for more to follow!