The annual CEDIA (Custom Electronics Design and Installation Assoication) Expo is just around the corner. Each year we head to its crowded convention halls (this year the event is in Denver—Yay) to search out the latest systems for turning your house into an Electronic House. CEDIA Expo is the place to find the best new solutions for home theater, high-end audio, home control/automation and much more.
Like most years, we have a good idea of what we’ll be seeing, but there are always a few surprises. Here our editors share their predictions of what will be hot or what they hope to see in Denver.
Arlen Schweiger, Editor-in-Chief:
Soundbars and Wireless Speakers
CEDIA will be bursting with soundbars and Bluetooth/AirPlay speakers. We’ve already seen this trend take off, but don’t expect it to slow down. Just the opposite –more manufacturers will likely be jumping on the all-in-one speaker solution bandwagon as people continue to ask for simplified, wireless audio products. These speakers offer instant gratification and easy integration into many rooms in the house for boosting your TV’s audio or wirelessly tapping into your stored digital music files and streaming services. With new streaming music options from Apple and Google being added to the fray that includes popular solutions like Spotify, Pandora and TuneIn, there’s likely to be even more demand for ways to blast them into the room rather than just into headphones.
READ: Soundbars: Issues and Installation
It still might be a little too soon for this, but an Expo whose attendance has combined to install thousands of home theaters might be keen on hearing that Dolby’s latest commercial cinema audio upgrade will be heading into the home. Atmos will need the help of some home theater receivers working with Dolby to properly scale down the Atmos technology, which allows for surround effects localized to up to 64 speakers. In recent years we’ve seen “height” channels added to DTS processing (DTS Neo:X) to deliver even greater immersion and sense of depth to home theater surround sound ... and more speakers to install, of course. We could see Dolby Atmos for the home taking a similar route, and perhaps quick-moving companies such as Onkyo, Integra and Pioneer bulking up their A/V receivers even more with this addition, especially as more movies featuring the audio technology are released into commercial cinemas and then onto Blu-ray.
USB DACs and High-Rez Downloads
Higher-resolutions downloads and streaming are making their way into the home video market; higher-resolution audio has already experienced this with a handful of online stores that offer 24-bit downloads. Expect more to step up and challenge HDtracks’s huge slice of the market—N eil Young will need some content assistance if his Pono audiophile download service/music player has any chance of succeeding when it’s launched next year. And for those who don’t want to be limited to purchasing a separate music player like Pono, or say Bryston’s BDP-2 digital music player as a component, we’d expect to see more USB digital-to-analog server products a la Meridian’s Explorer and AudioQuest’s DragonFly hitting the market so people can listen to their high-fidelity downloads on their home stereo systems with the important connection to their PCs or storage drives.
REVIEW: Meridian Explorer DAC
Lisa Montgomery, Contributing Editor:
Lighting control systems are becoming increasing more capable of dimming and brightening LED bulbs, and since LED fixtures can emit all colors of the rainbow, this opens up the opportunity to get amazingly expressive with household lighting. Instead of illuminating a dark corner with standard white light, systems will be also be able to add a touch of blue, red, or whatever color hue seems appropriate. As fixtures themselves become more multifaceted, so should the systems that control them; the CEDIA Expo would be an ideal venue for manufacturers to introduce new features hope manufacturers extend the capabilities of their system to Lighting controls that facilitate special effects through the incorporation of color and intensity blues, purples, reds, greens and other hues.
READ: What Can Your Lights Do?
REVIEW: Philips Hue LED Colored Smart Light System
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