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Audio Takes Center Stage at CES

Manufacturers hope that a renewed interest in music, as well as the benefits of Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio, invigorate system sales in 2009.


Robert Archer · January 13, 2009

At CES, the audio community had a sense of cautious optimism as they look at new ways to drive sales.

Manufacturers and vendors are embracing new products, including desktop audio and computer-based systems, and the growing impact of the luxury and Blu-ray markets.

At the show, Bryston and Thiel Audio shared space together through a system that combined Bryston’s new SST2 amplifiers and Thiel’s limited edition CS2.4SE loudspeakers.

Bryston also showed the new cosmetic enhancements to its Torus power conditioners and Thiel ran demonstrations of its Zoet multiroom audio system.

Custom installers interested in learning more about the system can expect the Zoet to be a primary focus for the company at the upcoming Electronic House Expo in Orlando this March.

Wisdom Audio’s new prototype subwoofer, tentatively called the SCS-300, is small enough to slide under a sofa, behind a TV stand and anywhere in between.

The SCS-300 houses two 5-inch by 8-inch woofers and is engineered to produce 115dB at 20Hz.

Paradigm, Aerial Acoustics Impress

Arguably the busiest room in the Venetian belonged to Paradigm.

In its room, the company showed its new Studio speaker line and the new Anthem pre/pro, featuring more HDMI inputs and Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio processing.

Paradigm also showed its Edge 2.1 desktop entertainment system, which features an active speaker system, built-in DVD/CD player, iPod dock, AM/FM tuner and dual alarms.

The unit is expected to ship in about three months for approximately $500.

Boston-based Aerial Acoustics has been quiet for the past couple of years, but the company is back with a new version of its 20T freestanding loudspeaker.

This updated speaker features new drivers and a new crossover design. Aerial says that customers with first generation 20Ts can have the speakers upgraded.

Aerial is also set to introduce the 7C loudspeaker this May for about $7,500. Dealers can look forward to the company’s System 2 speaker system for flat-panel televisions in the near future.

RBH’s 8300-SE/R will be available in a standard and reference level. The reference level will retail for about $8,450 and it will include upgraded drivers and custom veneers.

Based on some listening demos with a variety of content, the 8300-SE/R should be clean, dynamic and smooth. We listened to the speakers using Boulder Electronics with content ranging from Supertramp and Jimi Hendrix to Fleetwood Mac and Derek & the Dominos.

Cary Audio, Definitive Intro New Models

Cary Audio had an active room with components from its Classic and Cinema lines on full display.

The company is also embracing the growing desktop/personal audio market through its Xciter line of products.

Cary showed its Xciter headphone/integrated amp, which uses 6L6 tubes in the driver stage, and is preparing to release a companion digital-to-analog (D/A converter) to enable consumers to use their computers as servers or to improve the sound of older CD and DVD players.

The Xciter line is small, compact, affordable and it combines solid state and tube technologies.

In the world of pure custom installation, Definitive Technology emphasized its Disappearing Speaker products, which provide installers with a choice of round, square and rectangular speakers that fit nearly flush to a wall or ceiling.

SE2 Upgrades ITC; Sumiko Highlights Wolf

SE2 is also trying to meet installer needs through upgrades to its ITC platform.

The company announced that it is now offering a Sony Blu-ray drive and Wadia iPod dock as part of the package.

With these new additions installers can now offer a complete package of Bryston amplification and processing, Transparent Audio power conditioning, Snell speakers, AMX control, Runco video, Wii or Xbox gaming, digital signal path iPod docking and Blu-ray functionality.

The company also announced that the ITC has second zone audio capabilities and remote system support for instant troubleshooting capabilities.

Video wasn’t a major part of the show, but Sumiko highlighted its Wolf Cinema line.

Using a variety of content, including “How the West was Won,” which is in the 2.67:1 aspect ratio, the company demonstrated its ability to handle multiple aspect ratios, as well as different gamma curves through presets, anamorphic lenses and its VariScope technology.

Wolf Cinema’s Jim Burns also detailed the company’s engineering capabilities to ensure proper heat dispensation to enable its projectors run reliably for long periods of time.



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  About the Author

Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob also serves as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons in Haverhill, Mass. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Robert at rarcher@ehpub.com

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