CE Pro editors were out in force at CEDIA 2016, but we can't evaluate products like the integrators who spec and install them for a living. Here are a few insights from dealers who we stopped on the show floor and followed on social media afterwards.
Bose's new Lifestyle 650 home audio system surprised a lot of integrators at CEDIA. One of them, who didn't want to be named because he's a big Sonos dealer, said, “I couldn't get over how much they've improved the platform. … The fit, the finish, the feel, they look serious.”
He says the new little speakers deliver “spacious sound” and strong bass and, of all the compliments, “even the [SoundTouch] app looks respectable.”
Because the system works with legacy Bose gear, “It's worth it to reach out to previous buyers for an upgrade,” the dealer says.
Dallas Dingle of Supercalibrations in Minnesota’s Twin Cities is very discriminating when it comes to A/V. At CEDIA, he checked in on MBL.
“I have been a fan of these speakers for many years,” he says. “It’s unusual to have such excellent stereo sound at CEDIA.”
He concedes, “They are in the astronomically expensive category, but they reproduce so distinctly well they are almost worth it. Being a hi-fi nut I find it is fun just to listen for a few minutes at a show like this.”
Dingle also likes “a product with a story,” so he enjoyed his visit with the folks at Teenage Engineering, which CE Pro discovered before the show.
“These little boxes sound great,” Dingle says. “The guy on the left, Steve Teachout, worked with Canton for many years. The speaker design goes back to 1974 and Stig Carlson, the deceased designer's foundation, had the final say on the final product. Has a warm fuzzy feel to it. I might buy a pair.”
We heard a lot of this: “Make Denver the permanent home for CEDIA.”
+1 on that.
A dealer on RemoteCentral wonders: “The reps are claiming it’s on par (or better than) the OLED. Your thoughts?”
Integrator Mike Bruemmer of Cincinnati’s Mt. Lookout Television and Electronics, agrees with the reps: “Sony Z9D was outstanding. Much better brightness than the OLED. We looked at the Z9 and ran to go look at the G6 [LG OLED]. Z9 is better.”
Sony thrived on the 4K projector front as well, but that story is coming soon …
Crestron did not have an official presence at CEDIA this year, but the company’s home-automation products appeared at several booths including Amazon Alexa and Sonos.
Of all the new control systems integrating with Sonos, Crestron is the only one that embeds the entire Sonos interface in the automation UI.
A Crestron dealer noted, “I saw the Crestron demo with Sonos. There is still some work to go. But one has to start somewhere. They have the link right to the Sonos app from the Crestron panel. Which is obviously a compromise at this point having to flip apps. At this point I would still suggest an Autonomic when doing Crestron systems.”
Incidentally, Autonomic now has a drop-in replacement for Crestron's NSP-1 media streamer in the new eSeries. It's an easy upgrade. Literally, just drop it in.
Once in a while, dealers do talk about education. Here’s one from RemoteCentral: “I thought the best information at the show was the Metra Lunch and Learn presentations on what true 4K signal transmissions mean for us. It ain't good….”
Pro Audio got some love from dealers on RemoteCentral.com. The speaker manufacturer had “a pretty powerful demo,” says one of them. “Agreed, the best sounding system out there IMO. And good people, too,” another dealer replied.
For its demo room at CEDIA, Pro Audio Technology did not go huge on its speaker selection like past years but utilized a mix of SCRS-26im invisible mount speakers up front, SCRS-6im around the sides and rear, and the SCRS-5iw overhead.
One dealer I stopped on the CEDIA show floor had this to say about Coastal Source’s newish Ellipse Bollard outdoor speakers: “Wow!”
He said when he was listening to the demo, “I thought they must be really expensive … and they are. I think someone would spend $5,000 for a pair – maybe a wealthy guy with a pool who wants bragging rights.”
Lance Anderson of Minneapolis-based Admit One told me, “I like the power thing at Middle Atlantic.”
So does CEDIA, which gave the DC power-distribution hub a Best New Product award.
Rich Fregosa, honorary CE Pro editor, was surprised by the audio demo put on by Riva, a mostly-DIY speaker system that is “really cool,” he says.
Riva introduced the WAND series of compact speakers at CEDIA that produce stereo sound from a single box that works at the beach – with an optional battery pack – or in a home theater.
“If you’re out, just flip the switch from ‘home’ to ‘away’” Fregosa says. “The sound coming out of that $299 box … it deserved to be in the high-performance room.”