As always, CEDIA 2016 was filled with audio wares to see and hear at every turn, whether they were in the exhibitor booths, show floor Sound Rooms or suites at the adjacent Omni hotel. Here are 21 of some of the brightest audio stars at the Expo.
B&K proves that amplifiers can be discreet with the introduction of its IZA 2.50, which stands for Integrated Zone Amplifier. With 2 x 50 watts, B&K is calling it “the world’s slimmest amplifier” at roughly just two-thirds of an inch deep.
D+M Group continues to beef up its HEOS offerings, which now bear the HS2 tag and boast Bluetooth and high-resolution audio support plus availability in black or white. HEOS is offered in myriad sizes and price points from $199 for the new HEOS 1 (added to the 3, 5 and 7 models) to $699 to enable all sorts of wireless multiroom configurations. Denon’s 9.2-channel AVR-X4300H (pictured) and 11.2-channel AVR-X6300H INCommand Series receivers have HEOS technology baked in. Post CEDIA, Denon announced that it had collaborated with Amazon to integrate Alexa voice control (look for it early 2017).
The company demonstrated how the thousands of precision-drilled holes in the middle of its tiny new extruded aluminum OmniJewel satellite speakers and five-driver center channel help deliver 360-degree spacious audio output. Additionally, QuietPort technology and folded design within the newAcoustimass 300 bass module aid in reducing distortion and increasing clarity of the subwoofer.
Along with boosting its custom channel presence via architectural speaker development with Origin Acoustics, Bang & Olufsen also had its own wares on hand, including the BeoSound 1 and BeoSound 2 products that carry forth the company’s heritage into wireless audio and streaming speakers. The smaller BeoSound 1 can go around the house as a portable speaker, with 16 hours of battery life. Both feature 360-degree sound dispersion, and the company’s unique way of double-tapping the top to switch sources (AirPlay, DLNA, TuneIn, Deezer, etc.) or to have what’s playing on one speaker join what’s playing on one in another zone.
While more than just an audio solution, the Low Profile Wall Cabinet from Salamander Designs targets installations in which space is at a premium but there is a need to deliver audio to a room. The product is part of the company’s Chameleon line, fitting as it can be configured various ways thanks to a customizable extruded aluminum frame. The cabinet depth is just 12 inches, but that’ll often be plenty for fitting in a loudspeaker, often to pair up with a flat-panel TV.
Outdoor loudspeaker specialist NEAR, a division of Bogen Communications, introduced the VM1 and VM2 (which add a “W” or “B” to the end depending on whether you want them in white or black) models that significantly reduce cost of entry into the company’s durable products. They will be available for $299 and $399 per pair, down from NEAR’s previous entry level of products that started at $620/pair. Both feature metal-alloy MLS (magnetic liquid suspension) woofers, 4.5 or 5.25 inch size, respectively, and 1.1-inch titanium-alloy tweeters housed under a powder-coated aluminum grille.
Integra has created a nifty Dolby Atmos/DTS:X solution called the DLB-5, which consists of a soundbar, receiver, and wireless subwoofer. Calling it a 3.1.2 object-based sound setup for rooms that don’t need a full-throttle 5.1.4 or 7.1.4 system, the DLB-5 includes left/center/right drivers for the traditional front stage, plus two upfiring drivers, yielding 50 watts per channel at 4 ohms. The system supports popular streaming services, plus Google Cast, AirPlay, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, and will also soon feature DTS’ Play-Fi wireless audio technology.
One part of an audio system often gets overlooked is AC power. AudioQuest offers a way to ensure that the power to an audio system is clean and free of distortion with its Niagara 5000 Low-Z Power/Noise Dissipation system. It has been designed to lower system line noise and potential distortions, correct current compression, and filter power to its 12 AC outlets.
Dana Innovations brand iPort has seized the opportunity to integrate with Sonos by creating a simple keypad for swiftly clicking through common functions. The mini controller is battery operated, with estimated six months battery life, and runs on low-power Wi-Fi. The Xpress Audio Keypad delivers quick-hit functions such as play/pause; track forward; volume up/down; and “favorites” navigation as another button press scrolls through the next favorite on a user’s list.
Although modestly priced at just over $6,000 for an entire Dolby Atmos system, the setup featuring GoldenEar’s Invisa MPX in-walls, Invisa HTR 7000 in-ceilings, SuperSat 60C center channel and punctuated by the new SuperSub X is able to handle both slamming bass in action movie scenes and warm, nuanced undertones to lush music recordings.
The Harman Luxury Audio Group had plenty on hand among its JBL Synthesis, Mark Levinson, Lexicon and Revel brands, including another awe-inspiring 15.1.10-configuration audio demo. Complementing all the ear candy was the eye candy of JBL Synthesis’ Premium Finish Program for its hefty K2 (shown) and Everest speakers coinciding with the 70th anniversary of JBL this year. They bump the ordinary wood finish price of $44K/pair up to $55K and are custom-built to order for such well-heeled clientele.
Harman Luxury Audio Group’s forthcoming No 519 may lack internal storage, but the component incorporates in Levinson famed build quality CD player, Wi-Fi streaming, DAC capable of double DSD (aiming to add MQA), Bluetooth, USB drive, full color display, volume control, and the capability to be used as a preamp.
Danish manufacturer Dynaudio announced that it will be launching a line of custom products, its Studio Series of in-ceiling and in-wall speakers that are expected to be out in early 2017. The products — which include 6.5-inch and 8-inch ceiling and wall versions ranging from $649 to $999 apiece — feature the company’s MSP (Magnesium Silicate Polymer) cones and aerodynamically formed cast aluminum baskets, as well as a patent-pending, tool-less clip-in easy installation design.
Long a favorite of DIYers but also a regular fixture at the CEDIA Expo, Parts Express’ audio aspirations were flying high with the introduction of the distributor’s in-house brand Dayton Audio’s Hi-Fly line of products. Joining the wireless multiroom audio fray, Hi-Fly includes the WFA28 Premium Wi-Fi Audio Adapter, WF40A Wi-Fi Audio Amplifier, AERO Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Multiroom Speaker, and WF60PA Wi-Fi/Bluetooth 60W Plate Amplifier that allow for either direct playback of wireless music streaming (in the case of AERO) or turning powered speakers or existing stereo systems with passive speakers into streaming-sourced devices.
Wireless audio speakers might be called as such, but don’t forget about the wire to plug them in and power them up. Midlite didn’t, and saw a great opportunity to combine its previous Power Jumper IC in-wall interconnect technology and its Speedport SC mounting solution into a slick way to provide customization of wireless speakers by mounting them to walls. The Power Jumper enables installers to relocate power without requiring an electrician, while the mounting solution is compatible with any ¼-20 mounted speaker fastened (pictured, speakers from Sonos and Yamaha); plus low-voltage such as Cat 5 can be passed through as well.
Shown in prototype form at the CEDIA Expo, Atlantic Tech’s Gate Crasher is named as such because it’s a new market for the audio company. The all-in-one type products cull from Atlantic Tech’s heritage, however, as they come fully loaded with drivers to be a differentiator in the category. Targeted for an April 2017 release, the Gate Crasher is a 2.1-channel speaker that relies upon Google Cast, Bluetooth, and 3.5mm auxiliary input to access music sources aplenty. It features two 1-inch silk dome tweeters, two 3.5-inch midrange drivers, a 4.5-inch bass driver and 4.5-inch passive radiator.
Parasound highlighted its ZoneMaster 4 DAX four-zone DAC, offering more flexible options, better sound, and additional bass extension to multiroom installations of Sonos, Bluesound, HEOS, AirPlay, and others. Featuring 192kHz ESS Sabre DACs, the $995 1U rack component was shown with an array of connections for outputting full-range stereo, high-pass stereo, full-range mono, high-pass mono and low-pass mono/subwoofer. Each zone also has optical and coax inputs, level adjustments for left and right channels and 12V outputs.
While not an audio product per se, this new home theater item can help hide unsightly loudspeakers that might otherwise dominate a front wall and detract from the experience. The company release a fabric that can be cut and stretched around a frame for an easy-to-create faux front wall with a seamless appearance that can at the same time conceal front speakers and subwoofers.