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CES 2009 Report by Piero Gabucci

I promised myself that I wouldn't talk about the economy and how it relates to the audio/video industry while attending CES 2009. But it was hard to ignore. All the same it was clear that attendance was down - I heard numbers in the 20,000 less visitors. It was obvious in the lines waiting for shuttle busses to and from the hotels and on the show floors whether in the main halls or on the hotel floors. Attendance alone wasn't the only thing missing and despite manufactures doing their best to keep the mood and tempo upbeat many of them merely showed what they had at CEDIA last fall. Some products just realized versions of prototypes. I can't speak for the gadgets or computer parts of the show, but merely in our beloved industry.

Having said all that on a positive note, what has impressed me during this show was the consistent quality from display panels and projectors to amplifiers and speakers - there's a whole lot of good product out there. The traditional gaps in quality are narrower than ever and at affordable prices. The quality of projectors especially has become affordable" what you get for under $3,000 is amazing. I'm sure Ross will have a great year reviewing these.

Not as affordable but well priced…

Although I had heard that Anthem was developing a LCOS projector with JVC, they are now ready in two versions, the $7,499 LTX500 and the $5,499 LTX300. Differences in the models include THX certification and 20,000 additional contrast ratio from 50,000 for the 500 and 30,000 for the 300. I find them very stylish with the red racing stripe and black enclosure. Can't wait to see one in action.

Anthem Projector

Still less affordable yet...

Projectiondesign based in Norway, is known predominately for professionally used projectors, has developed a line more in keeping with the needs of home theater with the DLP Avielo®. Five projectors, four at 1080p with a starting price of $12,000 up to the flagship 3-chip Helios (soon to be reviewed by JJ), is almost $70,000. None especially for color accuracy, the flagship will give superb 300 diagonal images.

Avielo Helios

Paradigm blew me away with a demonstration of their new in-wall subwoofer with integral backbox. Known as the RVC series, included is the X-850 rack-mounted 800 RMS sustained amplifier that can support two RVC 12SQ subs. The reference level unit has two 14 high X 4 wide polypropylene cones facing each other and each individually ported. The enclosure barely moved as it played, and is vibration-free. The RVC 12SQ is $699 with the backbox, and the X-850 is $999.

Playing amazingly and beautifully musical with the in-wall sub was the $159. Atom monitors!

Paradigm

 

Mark Aling

Always gracious showing me around was Mark Aling, Paradigm's marketing manager.

MKSound is back and better than ever. A great demonstration of the new THX Ultra 950 system that fits between the 750 system and the 150, the new 950 has 2-5 ¼ polypropylene woofers and 3-3 pulp cone drivers. Priced about 20% higher than the 750 series which is $999 per pair.

MKSound

McIntosh continues to prepare celebration for its 60 year anniversary with a retro re-issue $15,000 package. Those familiar with the C22 pre amp will recognize the design, although what's inside is modern circuitry. Also included is the MC75 monoblocks, and a signed Ken Kessler book. These will get scooped up with only 60 packages per country will be fabricated in a limited release.

Mac1

 

Mac2

Those that want a complete tuner, McIntosh will be delivering some time in March, the MR88 tuner with AM/FM/XM/HD channels. It will set you back between $4,000 and $4,500.

Mac3

Newcomer to audio is Quoc Nguyenngoe,Co-President of K&Q Sound Genesis, LLC in central New Jersey who was showing his Model 1 speaker and Model 2 tube amplifier. The names aren't very creative from this one time engineer from the famous Bell Labs in New Jersey but the sound was sweet and the speaker is built from solid cheery with an open back, no enclosure, this 3-way design with 1' horn speaker is amazingly simple and priced about $7,800 for the pair.

KQ

 

KQamp

An interesting concept in home speaker design, or should I say installation is called Solid Drive from Induction Dynamics. The SD1 speaker driver which is barely 3.5” diameter, is placed behind the drywall on a mounting plate, completely out of view. It gives a surprisingly decent sound for those decorators who do not want even a speaker grill visible. A powerful magnet converts audio signals to vibrations and the sound is transmitted through the surface.

The whole system includes the driver and mounting brackets, an EQ module and amplifier.

Solid1

Innovation awarded and soon to be published review by yours truly is the Definitive Technology STS SuperTower speaker. Why should I tell you more than you need to know here (so you won't read my review?) but this $3,000 pair of floorspeakers have made an impact since their introduction at Cedia last year. President Sandy Gross has an exceptional winner on his hands.

Def

Always great to see ADA's Albert Langella Chief Design Engineer, CEO and President and Richard Stoerger Vice President and COO who showed me their new theater preamp, the Suite 7.1 and 7.1 HD controller. Richard and I enjoyed watching and listening to a demo comparing lossless audio versus compressed. Pearl Harbor was a perfect choice and anyone hearing that would "never go back" as Richard exudes.

ADA2

 

ADA

Ever since I reviewed the Canton Vento line, I've been anxious to spend time with the Reference line. Shown here is the new Reference 3.2 DC in stunning cherry veneer with a piano gloss finish. This 3-way bass reflex system has 2-8.5' aluminum cone woofers, a 7' midrange driver and a 1' aluminum-oxide-ceramic dome tweeter. Bring it on, for $16,000 per pair.

Canton

I know JJ had been waiting to replace or upgrade his Theta Casablanca for some time before giving up but if he had waited a bit longer, he would have been rewarded with the new Casablanca III with full HDMI 1.3b. Finally high resolution audio such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master and 1080p switching and pass through. Should be out the second quarter of the year.

Theta