Phantoms of CEDIA 2008
One thing you run across when you go to a show like CEDIA is gear you can neither explain nor properly cover. A lot of times it is just stuff that is there from a manufacturing partner, or perhaps it is so new that no one knows anything about it. Occasionally there is the odd prototype or something just too new for the marketing people to have time to put together any material. It might be there for pictures and that's about it. Sometimes products are just vaporware, there to draw you in but not in any shape to actually work. These phantom products do deserve a little coverage though, so here it is.
SVS MTS Speakers
We were surprised to walk past a booth with the new(ish) SVS speakers on display. It turns out the company
worked with SVS in some facet of the
manufacture of the speakers. They were showing off a thin, silver amp with a
single blue light and button. The MTS speakers were a bit larger than I
expected with lots of round corners. The center was very tall and wide which
could make for difficult placement in a cabinet (which you should avoid
anyhow). The build quality looked nice though the offset tweeters looked a
little odd. I'd never seen one of the "water heater" subs in person
before. It was a bit shorter and fatter than I'd expected. I'm sure this is a
display that would have excited and frustrated SVS
fans as the speakers were there but there was no one that could tell you
anything about them. Additionally, the small booth size meant that surround demonstrations had the rear drivers a scant 18-inches from your head if you were sitting anywhere but directly in the middle of the listening couch.
RBH Sound New Signature Series?
RBH Sound was showing off a new series of speakers that will eventually be added to their Signature line. In the past, we've always been critical about their cosmetics and it seems they have finally addressed that issue. Great sound and great looks are the fundamental ingredients for highly successful speaker line. Of course marketing helps too, but RBH Sound places more emphasis on the engineering of their products with hopes that they speak for themselves. Considering their products grace many of our reference systems, that does speak volumes. We are looking forward to reviewing this new "slim" line of Signature Series products. Reportedly, these speakers were designed with the European customer in mind since they tend to demand smaller form factors. Well, I guess you can call us European since we like the new look as well.
Artison Art Line Array
The Artison Art series of in-wall line arrays took us by surprise. While it may look like someone had a blow out on tweeters, the Artison Art speakers have half their drivers pointed straight forward and the rest in at an angle to simulate a center channel (something that Artison is known for). At ~$6000, these are definitely going to be an exclusive offering. They aren't on sale yet and probably won't be until after the new year. They were impressive to look at, though and definitely brought a lot of people into the Artison booth.
One thing we come across a lot at a show like CEDIA is distributors. They are there to attract new dealers and mostly have stuff on display that you can find somewhere else. As we were walking past one distributor, we saw one of the new-fangled "glasses-free" Phillips 3-D displays that we've been reading about online. The set was 42" and it retailed for around $10,000 (ouch!) It had a textured finish on the panel which would pretty much make it unusable as a standard display. So far there are only a handful of games that work with it, though Phillips is reportedly making the plug-ins available to game designers as we speak. The demo was of Far Cry, a first person shooter. I played it for a few minutes. There was definitely a "sweet spot" right in front of the display but you could still notice bands of blurriness. Once I started playing, the effect was very nice and ended up working quite well. The real problem was the programming on the game was meant for 2-D so even though the trees were moving at you in 3-D, they still appeared flat. Programmers would need to take this into account in order to make the surfaces round during 3-D play. Oh yeah, and the price would have to come down about 80%.
We already reported on this before though it bears repeating. To not be excited about this product means either you're still holding out hope that HD DVD will make a comeback or you have no idea who Oppo is. Personally, I can't wait to see what price this player comes out at. As far as I can tell, it has everything but DVD-A. If Oppo can release it under $500, you may be looking at a player that will take the Internet by storm. I know I'll be ordering one. What was funny was the lack of fanfare around the player. We actually heard about it from Ara of the HT Guys. DVDO had it tucked around the corner and didn't even have any sort of placard telling you what it was. When asked, they said, "Well, it is our booth, not Oppo's." That may be true, but that player had a lot more drawing power than the hottest booth babe in my opinion. But hey, it is their booth.
We already talked about the SolaraHome tube iPod docks but right next to them was a two channel tube amp. At 50lbs, this is definitely no lightweight. What was really interesting was that it had three different inputs and separate binding posts for 8- and 4-ohm speakers. It was a monster (please don't sue us!) to pick up and should be on sale… er, someday. The one guy that knew anything about the amp wasn't around and no one else seemed to know anything. Since we are Audioholics, all of us are sitting around trying to come up with reasons why we should be the one to review this amp. The real shocker? It sports 60 watts per channel! That will make it compatible with a very wide range of speakers unlike most other single digit tube amp offerings. This one will be one to watch.
There is a few members of the community here who have already had a chance to hear these speakers and they had good things to say about them. I believe it was Mazersteven and Majorloser. They may be able to provide some insight for you. Not sure if Audioholics is planning a review so that might be your best bet. The SVS forums has a lot of talk and reviews on there about these speakers as well.
The speakers that I wish were there were the LTS line. I'm looking forward to seeing what those are all about.