CEDIA 2017 Show Report Day 1 Coverage
Sony always holds a press conference the day before the floor opens to introduce their latest home theater and integration products. Three new projectors were the focus this year. Sony is bringing their native 4K SXRD light engine to a new low price point of $4999 with the VPL-VW285ES. It features HDR of course, but no mention was made of its color gamut. Hopefully, it will meet the DCI-P3 spec. The mid-range VPL-VW385ES sells for $7999 and adds auto-calibration to the feature list. At the top is the VPL-VW885ES for $24,999. It has a laser light engine rated for 20,000 hours and loads up on integrator features too. All three displays have HDMI 2.0a inputs with HDCP 2.2 content protection and 18Gbps bandwidth. I’ll be stopping by their booth for a closer look and a demo.
I only had time for a quick drive-by at Sony’s booth. The main attraction was this impressive 77” OLED panel. It uses LG glass along with a screen-transducer feature. Sound literally emanates from the entire surface of the display. Around back is a subwoofer built into the easel-style stand. That piece also hides the inputs beneath a fabric grill. I was able to touch the screen and could easily feel it vibrating, yet picture quality was not impacted. It’s an amazing trick to be sure.
I also managed a few snaps of the projectors I mentioned in my earlier post. Native 4K is now available in the VPL-VW285ES for just $4999. At the high end is the $24,999 VPS-VW885ES. The basic specs are picture as well.
I started my day with an early press conference at LG’s beautifully appointed booth. Their line of OLED panels encompasses 10 models over five series with sizes ranging from 55” to 77”. This year, they’ve added pixel level dimming which means dynamic contrast is even greater than before. It’s part of their Active HDR feature which not only improves the quality of HDR10 content, it can be applied to SDR material as well. And of course, all Ultra HD OLED sets support Dolby Vision which is just starting to appear on UHD Blu-ray releases.
Check out the photos above, note especially in the first one how thin the upper portion of the panel is. You can barely see it against the backdrop (it’s the thin line to the left of the picture).
LG also announced its new partnership with Technicolor, yes, that Technicolor. This ensures that their displays will accurately render 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut.
I saw some cool soundbars displayed with a few sets that integrate nicely with the panel’s aesthetic. Honestly, when a television is that thin, built-in sound makes little sense. Even with LG’s panel transducer feature, where the entire panel becomes a speaker, an external audio system sounds better.
Also hidden on a lower shelf was LG’s new Ultra HD Blu-ray player. I couldn’t find any specs on display but expect it to support HDR10 and Dolby Vision just like the TVs do.
High-end OLEDS are framed by tempered glass which makes them appear to float even when mounted on the wall. I saw a nicely-appointed 77” display that used a large sheet of glass as its stand.
You’ve seen screens from SI and Stewart Filmscreen that feature a super-thin bezel in place of the traditional wide, velvet-covered frame. Stewart takes that design to its natural limit with no bezel whatsoever. It’s called Balon Borderless and comes in sizes up to 16×20 feet. You can hang the screen from cables or mount in on a wall with a stand-out bracket for a cool, floating look. Nearly every material in Stewart’s extensive line can be adapted to it. The example in the photo is obviously a perforated product. It’s an undeniably simple and elegant solution.
I also checked out their ambient light rejecting material called Phantom HALR. It has a gain of 1.0 with a half-gain angle of 30 degrees. It rejects 82% of ambient light not coming from the projector. It’s also available perforated for hidden speaker installations. You can see its light-management properties in the photo where its placed side-by-side with Studiotek 100. Clearly, it’s just the thing for media rooms and viewers who don’t want to sit in total darkness to enjoy a great picture. The last photo is a demo screen with lighting directly above it, pretty impressive!
Epson began its quest to bring projectors into more spaces a few years ago with their High Bright models. It is no longer necessary to devote a light-controlled room to the big-screen experience. With more output, it’s possible for a projected image to compete with some ambient light.
This year, they’ve gone further than ever with an ultra-short throw design, the LS100. While not the first company to market a projector like this, they are the first to deliver serious performance for a reasonable price. You might recall a few displays from SIM2 and Sony that cost well north of $10,000. Epson is selling the LS100 for just $2999. When paired with a screen, the cost isn’t much higher than a large premium flat panel, and you can enjoy an image up to 10 feet diagonal.
The LS100 has a laser light engine which eliminates maintenance and bulb-changes. Service life is rated at 20,000 hours. Output is a generous 4000 lumens and the unit can be placed just inches from the wall. Compare that to the specs and price of a 120-inch flat panel! 3LCD technology means high color brightness and eliminates the rainbow effect some viewers see with DLP displays.
Epson demoed it a room with moderate light from overhead fixtures. The screen was a lenticular design specifically designed for ultra-short throw displays. It only accepts light from a low angle and rejects from nearly all other directions. The picture was quite impressive and easily matched that of an LCD flat panel.
Also new at the show is the Home Cinema 4000. It sports 2200 lumens, lens shift, and 4K enhancement with a pixel-shift feature. It’s in the photos along with the LS100 and the PL Pro Cinema 6040 which is a bit brighter at 2500 lumens.
Sitting outside Epson’s demo theater was a partially-disassembled LS10500 projector. It was so cool to see the light engine out in the open. It’s an amazing piece of technology for sure.
I’ve requested both the LS100 and the Home Cinema 4000 for review and hope to have them in my theater before too long.
Seymour Screen Excellence continues to innovate and set itself apart with several new products showing at the Expo. First up is an amazing new acoustically-transparent material that is a knit fabric rather than the traditional woven textile. You might just be able to see its texture in the photo which I took from about two inches away. It adds .5dB of transparency over its predecessor and eliminates any visible artifacts from the image. I watched an excellent demo of some 4K and HDR material and the screen was completely and totally neutral. If you read my review of the TAM-1 on Secrets, you know that screen already offered fantastic performance both visually and sonically. This new material just ups the bar even further.
Also showing is a new masking system called TRIM. Like TAM-1, it comes in either vertical or horizontal configurations. TRIM is a good deal shallower though, making its installation cleaner and tighter. It can be broken down for shipment which should make things a lot easier for installers and enthusiasts alike. The frame pieces are removable and the whole thing fits in a long cardboard box. When I reviewed the TAM-1, it came in an enormous crate and required Herculean effort just to unpack and install. The TRIM can be assembled in about an hour.
With the proliferation of ultra-short throw projectors in the marketplace, it only makes sense that Seymour would create a material for that purpose. Rather than the lenticular surface favored by some, Seymour is using a Fresnel prism. This removes any visible texture and promises excellent light rejection. The demo I was bright and saturated, impressive considering the harsh overhead lighting in the convention center.
Your eyes do not deceive you, that is indeed a roll-up screen attached to the side of a Volkswagen Bus with suction cups. It’s called Solo and in the words of Skyler Meek, Screen Innovations’ Marketing Director, “it makes the projector an accessory.” This system is extremely versatile. The extruded aluminum case contains a motor drive and a lithium battery so no external power is required. It charges with a magnetic USB cable and is controlled by a small box that enables RF remote functions along with IR and IP integration. Of course, it comes in multiple colors and sizes. The tensioning system is a thin cable that’s nearly invisible.
Also on display is the Transformer masking system. It’s been in the prototype stage for quite a while but is now shipping starting at $18,000. Rather than moving panels in front of the screen, it simply expands horizontally to create any aspect ratio from 1.78 to 2.40:1. The control system integrates with Barco projectors to automatically trigger with changes in content. It’s something I would like to review but I’ll have to travel to SI’s headquarters in Austin, Texas to do it. Stay tuned!
You may know Hisense as a manufacturer of low-priced flat panels that are often found in big-box stores and wholesale clubs. In China however, they have been marketing a premium display they call 4K Smart Laser TV. When I first heard about it, I expected some sort of rear-projection product but it is in fact, an ultra-short throw DLP projector with built-in speakers, bundled with an SI screen and a wireless subwoofer. It also incorporates a streaming interface and a web browser. It’s sold through integrator channels so for $9999, you can have it installed at your house.
It’s just as capable as any modern flat panel with Ultra HD resolution, HDR, and Harmon Kardon speakers. 3000 lumens are provided by a laser light engine rated for 20,000 hours. The only thing I noticed missing from the spec sheet is DCI-P3 color. It’s a Rec.709 display. Control systems are supported by an RS-232 input. And it has built-in Wi-Fi plus Bluetooth. I’m looking forward to reviewing one in the near future.
Among some of the products that Denmark’s Dynaudio was showing here at CEDIA were their Contour line of loudspeakers. Specifically the Contour 60 towers ($10,000.00/pr), Contour 30 towers ($7500.00/pr), Contour 20 Bookshelf Monitors ($5000.00/pr) and the Contour 25C center channel ($3500.00/ea) models. The overall design of this series is understated and gorgeous with top notch driver and crossover components and rigid, overbuilt cabinets. I had a chance to listen to the large Contour 60 at CES and they had a lush, big and effortless sound. The line should be widely available here in the US by November.
Dropped in to visit Emotiva here at CEDIA and they were premiering a full on 7.4.4 Dolby ATMOS theater setup that was controlled by their upcoming RMC-1 Reference Processor. Power was provided by one of Emotiva’s modular XPA power amps configured with 11 channels of amplification. Front channel speakers were composed of the Airmotiv T2 towers and an Airmotiv C2 center. The four surround channels were served by the Airmotiv T1 tower speakers and the over head speakers were unidentified custom models made specifically for this installation. The bass was provided by four Airmotiv S12 subwoofers.
In our demo we were presented with some select Dolby ATMOS encoded samples and clips from the movies Mad Max: Fury Road and In the Heart of the Sea. The overall effect was seamless, immersive and exceedingly impressive. Bass was tight and extremely well controlled, vocals were clear and balanced and the steered effects from around and above us were detailed and enveloping. The two-box solution of the RMC-1 and XPA modular amplifier seemed to be easily in control of everything in this memorable demo. The entire price tag for all the components used in Emotiva’s demo was about $12000.00, out the door. Shipping date for the much anticipated RMC one was quoted as Q-1 2018.
Yamaha was also showing a little affordable 2-channel love at CEDIA by introducing two new stereo receivers. The R-N303 and the R-N803 priced at $299.95 and $799.95 respectively. Both feature phono inputs, optical and coaxial digital inputs, Musicast, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay certification and can decode DSD 5.6Mhz and up to 24bit 192kHz PCM. The R-N303’s amp section is rated at 100 watts/channel into 8 Ohms while the R-N803 is rated at 145 watts/channel into 8 Ohms and adds Yamaha’s YPAO room correction system and Top-ART amplifier design to the feature set. Gotta love the classic styling of these things too!
Here is a demo video of the Yamaha Musicast system, working with Amazon’s Alexa, to control a Disklavier piano.
Continuing on the theme of audio networking, Yamaha was highlighting their “Musicast” streaming capabilities among some new and existing product. Yamaha introduced the WXA-50 and WXC-50 Multicast streaming amplifier and preamplifier, respectively. These stoutly built little devices feature ESS Sabre DACs, can stream and decode up to 24bit 192kHz and DSD 5.6MHz, are Apple AirPlay certified and work with Control4 home automation protocols. The WXA-50 includes 2 x 55 watts of discreet amplification. They can seamlessly communicate with any Yamaha AVENTAGE AVR and also work with Amazon’s Alexa. One of the demos had the system communicating through an Alexa to control one of Yamaha’s Disklavier pianos.
NAD was showing off a bevy of networked devices built around their BluOS control system. They have a number of music players, streaming devices and networked active speakers at a variety of price points. This allows one to create as basic or elaborate a system as is desired and to easily build on it when necessary up to a total of 64 different zones. All NAD’s BluOS products are high-resolution capable, MQA compatable and are able to stream from all the well known cloud-based and internet music services.
NAD also featured the latest versions of their AVRs with MDC (Modular Design Construction). Only a couple of other companies that I’m aware of have tried building fully modular AVRs in the past and they have since abandoned the concept. NAD, however, seems to have perfected their approach and has been making good on providing upgrades to the past couple of generations of their AVRs with updated HDMI and BluOS networked modules, among others. This has the added benefit of making the end-user feel like they’ve made an investment in their home theater versus simply another expense.
NAD’s newest receivers are BluOS and MQA enabled. They are 4K compatible, can decode Dolby ATMOS and feature Dirac LIVE room correction.
French audio company Devialet always makes a bit of a splash at whatever show they appear at and CEDIA was no exception. They were displaying their Phantom Gold active speakers and they had some rather interesting displays in which to do just that. The first video is of an exploded display that animated to show how the bass drivers function. The second video looks to be a 9 channel surround setup comprised of Phantom Golds playing a drum duel between Phil Collins and Chester Thompson. Enjoy.
On the heels of the recently released STR Integrated Amp, Anthem Electronics was introducing a pair of new, 2-channel, STR products. One, a separate digital preamplifier and the other a beefy, Class AB power amp. The STR preamp is a fully balanced design that comes with a MM/MC phono stage installed and full ARC room correction with independent measuring and bass management control/correction for two subwoofers in stereo. All calculation and filtering is done at 32bit 192kHz processing depth. It also features an Asynchronous USB input and XLR outputs for all channels, including the dual subs. The power amp is also a fully balanced, dual mono, Class A/B design with a power rating of 400 watts/channel into 8 Ohms, going to 600w/channel into 4 Ohms with output remaining stable into 2 Ohms, producing 800 watts/channel. The displays on both products feature snazzy TFT video screens to help access menus and show status. Availability should be in November with final pricing set at $3,999.00 for the preamp and $5,999.00 for the amp. I really want to snag review samples of these! Love the styling and the big digital displays.
Co Editor Chris Eberle getting the low down on Epsons LS100
EPSON LS100 $2999
BlueSound pulse sound bar $999
NAD T758 and T777 AVR
Paradigm Decor custom sound bars
Anthem STR Power amplifier and preamplifier
Aaaaaand the sweet MartinLogan demo room
MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 3 channel passive soundbar $999
AudioControl The Director 4840
AudioControl Maestro M5 preamplifier