Subdued is a good word to describe the vibe at this year's CEDIA Expo. The difficult economy has forced some major players, on both the manufacturer and dealer sides, out of the market. Press conferences were all business and zero flash. Companies known for their extravagant booths opted to scale things back this year, and there was certainly more open space on the show floor.
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• Learn about the trends of CEDIA 2012.
With that being said, people also had a sense that the worst may be behind us. CEDIA released key findings from its annual state-of-the-industry survey of CEDIA members, which provided 2011 stats and 2012 predictions. Total revenue for 2011 was about $13.5 to $14.5 billion, about a half billion more than 2010, and survey participants expect a revenue increase of 12 percent in 2012. The average project size and the number of completed projects are also expected to increase in 2012 - positive signs that the industry is moving in a healthy direction.
In the home theater realm, 4K was a hot topic: some projector manufacturers have embraced (mostly scaling) 4K, while others feel it's not yet ready for prime time. LG and Sony demoed 4K TVs, and electronics and source manufacturers showed off products that offer 4K pass-through and/or 4K upscaling.
On the audio side, we saw more products that make use of wireless technology, and several manufacturers showed off in-wall speakers that utilize the same technology found in their high-end free-standing designs. High-end soundbars were also demoed at every turn, and a few companies presented alternatives to the soundbar approach for everyday TV and music playback. For a more in-depth look at CEDIA trends, check out this article by Jerry Del Colliano.
Here's a rundown of the booths we visited and the products we saw:
Paradigm showed off a number of new products that covered the price spectrum. The marquee introduction was the company's new 30th Anniversary Edition Series, featuring the five-driver/three-way Tribute tower ($2,999 each) and two-driver/two-way Inspiration bookshelf speaker ($1,249 each). This is a limited edition series: only 200 Tributes and 300 Inspirations will be manufactured. Paradigm was one of several manufacturers to show off a 2.1-channel system mated with a tiny control box, providing a plug-and-play solution for a secondary audio system or as a substitute for a soundbar. The MilleniaCT ($699, September) includes speakers with adjustable table stands, a subwoofer with a removable floor cradle, a remote control, and a control box that's a perfect visual compliment to the Apple TV (the necessary cables are also included). Other Paradigm highlights were the new Soundtrack System soundbar/wireless sub combo ($799, fall), the H15NC noise-canceling on-ear headphones ($299, November), and the AERA AirPlay Radio ($599, October).
OPPO was kind enough to give us a sneak peek at the much-anticipated follow-ups to the BDP-93 and BDP-95. The new BDP-103 and BDP-105 retain the things we liked about their predecessors, like universal disc playback, dual HDMI outputs, a supplied WiFi dongle, streaming VOD, and balanced stereo outputs on the BDP-95. OPPO has added some interesting new features, such as 4K upscaling and dual HDMI inputs that allow you to upscale other sources before passing them on to your display. The front-panel HDMI input is MHL-compatible and supports the upcoming Roku Stick to add more Web services. The audiophile-oriented BDP-105 will add a USB DAC, and the company has redesigned the innards to get better separation between stereo and multi-channel. OPPO hopes to have both players out by the holiday season. The BDP-103 should be around $499, and the company is aiming for $1,200 for the BDP-105, although no official price has been released.
The new 250-pound CINEMAQUATTRO 4K projector from SIM2 certainly turned some heads. This DLP projector, a collaboration with display developer Christie, uses three 1.38-inch 4K (4,096 x 2160) DLP chipsets, quotes a brightness of up to 20,000 ANSI lumens, comes with multiple lens options, and features a user-replaceable Xenon Bubble Lamp. If you have a 50-foot-wide screen hanging around and $158,000 (plus lens cost) burning a hole in your pocket, this might be just the product for you. It should be available in the fourth quarter, and the cost includes installation by SIM2. The company also introduced the high-brightness SIRIO single-chip DLP projector, an active 3D model that uses dual 350W lamps and has a quoted brightness of 6,000 ANSI lumens. Choose between two different color wheels (SIM2Color or SIM2Shine) and multiple lens options. The SIRIO will carry a price tag of $25,000, plus lens.
Krell showed off two components we first mentioned back at CES: The Phantom III is the company's first stereo preamp with headphone output ($5,500) and an optional digital input module ($1,500). In October, we'll see the S-550i stereo integrated amp, priced at $5,000 and offering 275 watts into 8 ohms and 550 watts into 4 ohms. Krell also previewed the $6,000 Foundation 7.1-channel processor (due in December) and its first on-wall speaker: the $2,750 Modulari Ion is 3.5 inches deep and also due in December.
Fans of the acclaimed Black Diamond ambient-light-rejecting screen material will be happy to learn that Screen Innovations has finally added a motorized version. The aptly named Black Diamond Motorized is available in a wall- or ceiling-mount configuration, in 16:9 sizes from 80 to 110 inches (a 2.35:1 version should be available early next year). SI also debuted the striking second-generation Black Diamond Zero Edge G2, which retains the 10mm bezel of its predecessor, but offers a new frame design to provide better structural support and an integrated LED ambient lighting system that runs around the screen perimeter (up to 256,000 color options are available).
If you're looking for a wireless HDMI solution, the DVDO Air earned both a CE Pro BEST Award and a CustomRetailer EXC!TE Award at CEDIA this year. Based on the WirelessHD standard, the Air ($399, available now) is an in-room solution that can wirelessly transmit 1080p/3D video and 7.1-channel lossless audio over the 60GHz band at a distance up to about 33 feet. DVDO also announced the Quick6 HDMI switch, with six HDMI inputs (two of which support MHL) and two outputs, with Silicon Image's InstaPrevue technology (providing PIP-like display of all connected HDMI sources) and InstaPort fast switching.
Sanus had a wide range of new equipment and accessories on display, from furniture to iPad mounts to super-large-screen TV mounts to skeleton racks. The new Alabaster Collection of preassembled A/V furniture has a more traditional look, constructed of hardwood in a caramel or charcoal finish. The new VLF410 is a Super Slim full-motion wall mount designed to hold TVs up to 84 inches, and several mounts have been redesigned to accommodate panels up to 90 inches. Sanus also introduced new stackable skeleton racks in floor- and wall-mount form, with an optional swing arm accessory; the CFR1615 (15U) and CFR1620 (20U) can be combined to create five different height combinations. Check out Sanus' free Install Tool Kit app for iPad/iPhone, which can help you find the right Sanus TV mount, but also includes a level and a handy installation assistant.
Meridian demoed its new DSP520 active in-wall speaker (price TBD), which is based on the floor-standing M6 introduced back at CES. In typical Meridian fashion, all of the electronics are built directly into the speaker, which uses a wide-range 85mm driver and a 140mm bass driver. The wide-range driver is designed to be more efficient with frequencies of 200Hz and up, and I was impressed with the smooth, clean vocal quality during the demo. The speakers had a great sense of openness and space. The in-wall line will also include the larger DSP630 and the DSW600 in-wall subwoofer. Meridian also showed the standalone Media Source 200 module, which allows you to add another zone to your Meridian Digital Media System for $1,000; the module can sit directly on the DSP520 and hide in your wall. Look for the DSP520 in November.
Read about more products shown at CEDIA 2012 on Page 2.
JVC introduced three new D-ILA projectors that utilize the company's
eShift technology to upscale 2D HD sources to Quad Full HD (or 3840 x
2160). Available in November, the new DLA-X95R ($11,999), DLA-X75R
($7,999), and DLA-X55R ($4,999) employ second-generation eShift2, which
the company says produces an even higher native contrast than we have
enjoyed in previous JVC D-ILA models. A new 1080p model, the DLA-X35,
will also join the line at a price of $3,499. Upgrades across the line
include additional lens memory settings so that you can configure a
no-black-bars 2.35:1 image without an anamorphic lens, a new
illumination system for longer lamp life, a new optical engine for
better 3D performance, and a switch from IR to RF for the active 3D
glasses. On the pro side, JVC plans to release two 4K 84-inch LCD
monitors, the PS-840UD for commercial installations and the RS-840UD for
CEDIA custom installations. These are due in January 2013.
On display in Dynaudio's booth was the Xeo Series of wireless high-end
speakers. All of the necessary electronics are integrated into the Xeo 3
bookshelf ($2,300 per pair) and Xeo 5 tower ($4,500 per pair); all you
have to do is plug them into the wall. The supplied Xeo transmitter
works over a closed 2.4GHz network and has a 50m range; inputs include
RCA, mini-jack, Toslink, and USB. The system is shipping now.
TiVo subscribers might be interested in the company's latest addition:
the new TiVo Stream is a small box that you can add to your TiVo
Premiere DVR in order to stream content to mobile devices. Within your
home, you can stream recorded and "currently recording" content to iOS
devices over your home network. You can also download recorded content
to view outside the home without a network connection, but you can't
stream live programming. Right now, TiVo only offers an iOS app, but the
CEDIA rep said that a free Android app is coming soon.
We got a chance to hear another great-sounding multi-channel demo of
Wisdom's Insight Series planar magnetic speakers in an in-wall
configuration that consisted of the L8i ($5,000 each) in the L/C/R
positions, four P2i surrounds ($1,250 each), and four SCS subwoofers.
The company also demoed a lower-priced ensemble using the P4i ($1,750
each). All of the Insight Series models are scheduled to ship this
month, which is good news for people looking for audiophile in-wall
solutions that are priced more reasonably.
Snap AV is a CEDIA favorite, as they sell very high-value products like Episode Speakers
and Dragonfly screens into the custom install channel. One dealer took us
aside to mention how good the new Episode "Triple 10" subwoofer
compared with his reference JL Audio Fathom. At $995, that's a bold
statement, which we are likely to test in a future review, as Andrew
Robinson uses the more expensive JL in his reference system.
Canton and Audio Pro
Canton showed their current lineup of products from Germany with no new
products, but Audio Pro showed AllRoom Air One. The new speaker is a
single-box $799 wireless (DLNA) and Airplay. It can work with or without
a wireless network, which allows the speaker to create its own network
for Airplay. It also has Android compatibility, as well as subwoofer
outs, digital inputs, USB inputs and analog inputs. The new Audio Pro
speaker is leather-wrapped and comes in white, black or red.
Hot-ticket media server company Dune HD was showing off their Dune HD Max media player
(you can win one this month on HomeTheaterReview.com) as well as an
integrated solution with Vidabox that allows for some pretty slick
cover-flow control of movies and music. For the investment, Dune is
becoming a leader in media server value very quickly.
Da-lite was showing a host of innovative video screen solutions,
including their light-controlled demo of their JKP (Joe Kane) screens,
which report some of the best performance that money can buy at the
reference level of screens. They weren't pushing 4K screens, as that
concept is, respectfully, a little silly, but they were showing some of
the best screen materials out there at a variety of prices, from more
entry-level to the very high end.
RBH speakers were on active display at CEDIA and, to take their 30 wood
finish sales pitch to the next level, the Utah-based speaker company was
showing speakers literally made of stone. These highly inert speakers
had a very distinctive look (meaning they would look at home in Tony
Soprano's house), but aim to sound pretty good. RBH had additional
refinements to their affordable sub-sat speaker systems, including
better-looking finishes and more rounded corners.
SunBrite TV was showing their outdoor TV being literally drenched by a
constant flow of water. These guys love torture-testing televisions.
They didn't take it as far as lighting the set on fire, letting a bear attack it
or shooting the set with a 9mm, but we already covered all of those
scenarios in our review of their top-of-the-line outdoor HDTV.
Sony just introduced an 84-inch 4K (QFHD) LCD TV, the XBR-84X900, which
also offers passive 3D capability, detachable speakers, XR 960
Motionflow technology, Sony Entertainment Network,
and a Simulview function that lets gamers watch two full-screen HD
images. At CEDIA, Sony provided pricing and a release date: $25,000,
November. (While not officially at the show, LG also held a press
conference to give the price/release info for its 84-inch 4K TV, the
84LM9600. It will cost $20,000 and come out in October.) Sony's big
CEDIA-related news was the introduction of two new ES receivers that
sport integrated Control4 home automation technology. The lower-priced
STR-DA2800ES 7.2-channel receiver ($999) provides a DIY solution in
which you can easily add your own basic automation elements, while the
step-up STR-DA5800ES 9.2-channel receiver ($2,100) allows for more
robust features via a certified Control4 installer. Both receivers offer
4K upscaling and pass-through, a four-port Ethernet switch, three HDMI
outputs, Sony Entertainment Network, and more.
Stewart made a number of announcements at CEDIA this year, including the
introduction of a more affordably priced yet still high-performance series called CIMA.
CIMA models are less customizable than other Stewart products: they
come in standard sizes with a choice of two screen materials, and they
are available in fixed-frame, above-ceiling, and below-ceiling
configurations. Stewart also launched the Director's Choice DC-100
screen with a thinner frame structure and full horizontal masking for DC
screens up to 14 feet wide, as well as the new Mystik! self-adhesive
We loved GoldenEar's demo of the SuperCinema 3D Array soundbar ($999)
back at CES, and we loved it again at CEDIA. This L/C/R bar uses six of
GoldenEar's cast-basket bass/midrange drivers and three High-Velocity
Folded Ribbon tweeters, with interaural crosstalk cancellation
technology to help counteract the drivers' proximity to each other. It's
a passive soundbar, which means you need to mate it with an external
amplifier/receiver. I personally prefer the more natural sound of
passive soundbars. For the complete multi-channel experience, you can
add surrounds and a ForceField sub from GoldenEar's line.
While Mark Levinson showed off the 40th Anniversary No 52 Reference
Dual-Monaural Preamplifier first announced at CES (due to arrive in
January 2013), Revel debuted a new lineup of in-wall and in-ceiling
speakers that boast easier installation and a "new value standard" for
Revel. The 2-Series includes seven models that will be available in the
first quarter of 2013. The Revel Perfoma3 Series speakers that caught
our ear at CES will ship in December, and we also heard rumblings that
Revel may announce a partnership with a major auto manufacturer in the
next few weeks. Oh, and we may soon (finally) see a JBL Synthesis
surround sound processor, developed in conjunction with Bryston.
dnp made quite the visual statement with its new ultra-thin screen. The
Supernova Blade is a completely frameless, ultra-thin fixed screen that
uses the ISF-certified Supernova 08-85 material. The Blade is available
in 100-, 110- and 120-inch 16:9 sizes (custom 2.35:1 sizes are also
available). The CEDIA sample hung from suspension cables that come
included in the package, or you can go with the optional wall-mount kit.
dnp also showed off a new high-gain (2.3) material designed to offer
wider off-axis viewing than many high-gain screens.
Polk offers a variety of soundbars in two different groups: the
Component Home Theater line consists of passive soundbars meant to be
mated with a receiver, and the Instant Home Theater line, which is made
up of active soundbars with internal power and processing. Polk gave us a
demo of the new SurroundBar 9000 ($799), which is just 2.25 inches deep
and delivers 45 watts of discrete peak power to each of its eight
drivers (five 2.5-inch midrange drivers and three 0.5-inch silk dome
tweeters) and uses an 80Hz crossover to the 150-watt, eight-inch
wireless sub. The 9000 had excellent dynamic ability and created a
respectably wide soundstage for an all-in-one bar.
In other soundbar news,
Atlantic Technology showed off the PowerBar PB-235, which is touted as
the first "no subwoofer required" soundbar because of its use of
Atlantic Tech's patented H-PAS bass system (indeed, the demo showed that
the bar can go impressively deep). The bar contains power and
processing, with three digital and two analog inputs and Dolby
Digital/DTS decoding. The DSP engine allows for a two-, three-, or
five-channel presentation, easily adjustable using the supplied remote.
Atlantic Tech says that the PB-235 ($899) will be shipping in a matter
Wharfedale introduced two new Ultra Power Cube subwoofers. The UPC-10
sports dual 10-inch woofers and a 500-watt amplifier for $1,599, while
the UPC-8 offers dual eight-inch woofers and a 350-watt amplifier for
$1,199. Both subs have controls for volume, variable low-pass crossover,
crossover slope, phase adjustment, and sound effects mode, all
adjustable via the supplied remote. The subs are available in a variety
of finishes designed to compliment the company's Jade Series, which was
also on display.
Vutec debuted an ultra-thin-frame fixed screen, the SilverStar SSX,
available in various shapes and sizes up to 151 inches. The screen
material is a high-contrast, ambient-light-rejecting material. The new
product that really caught my eye was Vutec's Multi-Vu. At first glance,
it looks like one of Vutec's traditional Theater Art Systems
framed screens. With the press of a button, however, the screen rolls
away to reveal custom TV cabinetry, built to your exact specs based on
the TVs you wish to install. This custom cabinet can support a 16:9
screen size up to 115 inches (114 inches for a 2.35:1 screen), and
horizontal screen masking is also available.
Bowers & Wilkins
On display in B&W's booth was the CI800 Series of high-end in-walls,
which incorporates technologies from the 800 Series Diamond speakers.
The lineup will include the three-way CWM8.3 ($6,000 per pair), the
two-way CWM8.5 ($2,800 per pair), and the in-ceiling CCM8.5 ($4,000 per
pair). All three models will be available in December.
MartinLogan has added two new speakers to its Motion Series - the Motion
30 center channel ($650) and the Motion 15 bookshelf model ($800 per
pair) - that are designed to compliment the Motion 20 and 40
floor-standing speakers and come in three high-gloss finishes: black,
white, or black cherry wood. Also new to the MartinLogan family is the
Dynamo 1500X subwoofer, which combines a 650-watt amp with a 15-inch
woofer. This is the first MartinLogan subwoofer to offer room
correction; the Perfect Bass Kit is sold separately. Finally, the
company also demoed the Motion Vision soundbar, which we recently reviewed.
Epson won't jump into the 4K fray with this year's projector line, but
the company did use the occasion of CEDIA to unveil its new line of 3LCD
1080p projectors. The PowerLite Pro Cinema 6020UB, Home Cinema 5020,
and Home Cinema 3020 offer many of the features found in their
6010/5010/3010 predecessors, with modest improvements in brightness. All
three are active 3D models that come with two pairs of RF 3D glasses
and a new split-screen mode to watch dual full-screen images
simultaneously. As with this year's models, the 5020 and 3020 can be
purchased with an optional WirelessHD kit. Epson did not give exact
prices; instead, we know that the 6020 will be sub-$4,000 (November
release), the 5020 will be sub-$3,000 (October release), and the 3020
will be sub-$2,000 (October release).
Definitive Technology showed off the finalized version of the SoloCinema XTR soundbar
first previewed at CES. This $1,999 bar distinguishes itself by adding
HDMI inputs and outputs and offering advanced processing options like
DTS-HD, Dolby TrueHD, and Dolby Volume, making it more like a receiver
and soundbar in one package. A low-profile wireless subwoofer is
included, and the bar itself is only about 2.4 inches deep. The
SoloCinema XTR should hit stores within a few weeks.
On display in Onkyo's booth were new hi-fi mini systems and tabletop
players. The visual standout was the RBX-500 iLunar tabletop radio
(October, $249), a round design with six full-range speakers designed to
offer a stereo presentation from any direction, as well as a
down-firing sub, Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR support, and an iPod dock. The new
LS3100 EnvisionCinema ($499, November) combines a two-channel speaker
system with a wireless sub, a small 20-watt digital amp, Bluetooth
support, and SRS TruVolume. In the higher-end audio realm, Onkyo also
showed off the A-9050 integrated stereo amp ($499, October), the
PR-SC5509 9.2-channel preamp ($2,499), and PA-MC5501 9-channel amp
Both Denon and Marantz announced new high-end electronics and universal
players. This month, we'll see Marantz's new AV7701 7.2-channel preamp
($1,700) with AirPlay and 4K pass-through/upscaling, followed later in
the year by the UD7007 3D universal player ($1,200). Denon, meanwhile,
will debut this month the flagship AVR-4520CI 9.2-channel receiver
($2,500) with four-zone support, AirPlay, and Audyssey MultEQ XT32,
among many other features. The DBT-3313UDCI universal player ($1,000)
will also arrive this month. Finally, Boston Acoustics showed off new
TVee soundbars, the new MC200 AirPlay speaker ($299), and a new high-end
speaker series. The stylish M Series will include three floor-standers
($1,499 to $2,499 per pair), a bookshelf ($799 per pair), a center
channel ($599), a surround ($748 per pair), and a subwoofer ($1,199).
All of the speakers are available in gloss black with black faux leather
Elite Screens highlighted its new line, Elite Prime Vision, aimed
specifically at the custom-installation market, which includes
aggressively priced products in the fixed-frame, electric wall-ceiling,
and motorized free-standing categories. Part of the new EPV lineup,
AcousticPro-4K is an acoustically transparent screen material with a 1.1
gain and an angular weave optimally designed for a 4K resolution. The
company also introduced the AirFlex5D projector stacking system
(available in October) that precisely aligns the images of multiple
projectors into a single picture for passive 3D applications and
increased brightness. The AirFlex5D's ability to increase brightness up
to four times is ideal for someone who wants a more economical way to
build a very high-brightness projection solution.
Focal and Cambridge Audio
Focal had their Bird speaker
system nicely on display, while also showing their larger Utopia line
of loudspeakers, which didn't shy away from lighting up the vast open
air of their CEDIA booth. Cambridge Audio showed revised versions of
their new line of AV receivers with tank-like build quality. Cambridge's
DAC Magic at $399 is also of note for those looking to get audiophile
performance from new-school, less-than-audiophile products.
Despite the low attendance and lower number of booths,
HomeTheaterReview.com's editorial staff put forth our best efforts to
cover the best the CEDIA 2012 show had to offer. With booths now in
hotel rooms off-site, there is a chance that we may have missed a booth
or two, and for that we apologize; the logistics of any major consumer
electronics show are close to impossible to navigate perfectly.
• Read more original commentary in our Feature News Stories section.
• See more industry trade news from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Learn about the trends of CEDIA 2012.