11 Audio Demos That Rocked CEDIA 2017

Sound rooms and other booths at the San Diego Convention Center rocked with options for your next A/V media room or home theater project. We heard great things from MartinLogan, Pro Audio Technology, RBH Sound, Harman, Emotiva and more.


Demo rooms can serve many purposes during a CEDIA show. They can highlight new technology, like Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, 4K Ultra HD, 3D, etc. They allow dealers to get some ideas for demo techniques and movie scenes/music selections to use in their own showrooms. They provide ample reason to rest one’s feet for 10-20 minutes and just be like a prospective client taking in the powerful performances, comparing one system’s products to another.

CEDIA 2017 filled the San Diego Convention Center with dozens of dazzling demos, whether they were held in the sound rooms toward the back of the show floor (by the food and restrooms, at least) or between the main show floor aisles. Booths big (Sony, for instance) and small (Next Level Acoustics still managed to crank up its speakers) alike had impressive A/V to play for attendees.

Below are some impressions from just a small sampling of what CEDIA 2017 A/V manufacturers demonstrated. Click here or on the individual company name for slideshow links for more details about each room/booth.

Devialet – Years ago this French manufacturer brought its gorgeous audio components to CEDIA exemplifying the European flare that such companies make distinct in their design. The rest of the industry is catching on (some U.S. companies have embraced industrial design’s impact, of course, more than others) to the important factor design plays in technology’s acceptance and expectations by custom clientele, and Devialet upped its ante this year with the head-turning Phantom wireless speaker.

DTS – Audio demos were not limited to grand media room setups. DTS gave compelling comparisons of how its Virtual:X processing livens up soundbar playback for content from 2.0 to 11.1 channels.

Emotiva – The brand has long been a favorite for those seeking affordable audiophile quality but made its first CEDIA appearance, under the guidance of longtime industry presence and new VP of global strategy Walter Schofield. He’s been tasked with opening new channels and markets for the Franklin, Tenn.-based company. “We’re trying to control the message, targeting Millennials, Gen Xers who are entering prime home buying time,” he says. “People are focusing on music and home theater again, there are hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts around the country.”

GoldenEar Technology – In what’s become an annual tradition, company founder and president/CEO Sandy Gross took his customary seat at the side of the room, remote in hand, and happily hopped from track to track listening to his system as intently as attendees. A handful of Dolby Atmos demo clips plus a variety of music selections showcased GoldenEar’s new Invisa Signature Point Source models fronting the Atmos configuration.

Harman Luxury Audio Group – Harman and its high-profile Mark Levinson, Revel and Lexicon brands normally take center stage in any CEDIA exhibit the company puts together. This year was no different with new Levinson, Lexicon and lifestyle JBL products taking center stage. The company also was running a high-performance JBL Synthesis demo that always wows show attendees.

Klipsch – A bunch of Dolby Atmos clips showed off the company’s PRO-180 in-ceiling and in-wall speakers’ detailed surround sound, aided by smartphone-configurable subwoofers; plus Reference Premiere Designer on-wall speakers.

MartinLogan – When I walked in, the demo of the company’s massive Neoliths was still toward the beginning of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and as the track hit its famous crescendo chorus the speakers’ dynamics came through loud and clear (despite the lack of head bobbing in the room).

Next Level Acoustics – I’m not sure there were too many people who showed more enthusiasm for audio than Robert Goldman, owner/founder of the Massachusetts-based company. Next Level Acoustics was taking subwoofers to the next level, in particular, with a couple of models that merged form and functionality.

Pro Audio Technology – Pro Audio Technology has enlisted rather large speakers in past CEDIA demos to dole out its pristinely detailed and dynamic sound. This year the same sound was delivered, but the ending had an appealing twist as the lights turned back on and the spotlight revealed new smaller in-wall loudspeakers.

RBH Sound – The Utah-based audio company has been offering expo attendees a strong demo game for years, and did not disappoint in San Diego. Highlighting its two-piece SVT speakers as front left/right speakers, RBH played the always-spectacular Cymatics cut in which the hooded musician pounds all sorts of instruments whose sounds create fun with energy.

Starke Sound – Bob Archer deemed Starke’s award-winning on-wall speaker one of his favorite products of CEDIA 2017. It was easy to see why sitting through Starke’s senses-stimulating demo selections, which used everything from a bar-room dance number to more traditional action scenes.

NEXT: Senior Editor Bob Archer’s Best of CEDIA 2017 Picks