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October 2014

From CEDIA to Stereo Exchange

By Anthony's Blog

Three weeks, Two Shows and so many great new products!

I know, I know…our October blog is late but, between CEDIA, territory visits by FIVE vendors and Stereo Exchange’s in-store HiFi show, it’s been a crazy few weeks! Fortunately, we’ve had the privilege of seeing a host of incredible new products, proof that economic adversity inspires the best manufacturers to outdo themselves…a sort of “HiFi Darwinism.” Naturally, ALL of the best products we’ve seen were authored by SSV vendors, so here goes….

At CEDIA, Leon introduced their “Classic” series of standard-sized, “Off The Rack” products including a pair of LCR Soundbars retailing for $995 and $1,195 including brackets, with a two-day ship time and six-pack discounts. Same “Made in USA” build quality but lower price and (potentially) higher profit margin. So, why would anyone sell Snap AV? (Actually, we’ve got plenty of reasons to not sell Snap…just ask Dylan!)

Dynaudio was demonstrating their next-gen Xeo Wireless Speakers. The completely redesigned Xeo4 and Xeo 6 offer better range, higher performance, improved cosmetics, and a line of accessories which maximize flexibility (including the ability to connect a subwoofer and expand transmitter range.) Even more impressive was Dyn’s “Top-Secret” Focus XD range. Our last CEDIA appointment, Dylan and I were guided to a private hotel room where Dynaudio founder Wilfried Ehrenholz explained the new, DSP-controlled loudspeaker series. Powered, equalized and crossed-over entirely in the digital domain, Focus XD speakers are actually an entire audio system: just feed ‘em a digital datastream! Plunked on either side of a big credenza, these things produced some of the best high end sound Dylan and I have ever heard: transparent, dynamic, incredibly detailed with a wide, startlingly deep soundstage with holographic imaging….at a price that undercuts anything else with true high end pretensions. We can’t wait to receive our final-production rep samples because these just might be game-changers!

Talk about a game-changer: Simaudio’s new 430HA Headphone Amplifier is here!!! Immediately earning its title as The Best Headphone Amp available, the 430HA, when equipped with its optional DAC board, is also a full-functioned digital preamp, thanks to its Evolution Volume Control and Main Outputs. ANYONE who listens to headphones—even customers who already own a high end system—will buy one of these things! The new 380D DAC features DSD and DXD processing and an optional Evolution Volume Control, which transforms the 380 into a state-of-the-art digital preamplifier…and a true high end bargain!

I thought it was a gimmick until I heard it…now I want it! Auro 3D is, to my ears, the most sonically significant advancement in Surround Sound since DTS. Dylan and I were invited to a private demonstration at CEDIA and I was blown away by the palpable soundfield achieved with the use of height and “Voice of God” speakers. Happily, the Datasat RS20i and LS10 will be the first processors to offer Auro 3D, as well as the first to include both Auro AND Dolby’s competing Atmos 3D format. We strongly recommend our Datasat dealers to call their existing theater customers and recommend upgrading their systems to Auro 3D

Best Sound at CEDIA—as well as the longest lines for a demo–was convincingly won by the Wisdom/Datasat demo. With both music and movie software, the 9.4-channel system spanned the extremes of frequency and dynamic range. The sound produced in this room was addictive, as was evidenced by the number of show attendees—myself included—who stood in line three or four times for “Encore” demos.

SurgeX is already renowned for the producing the ONLY power conditioners that completely eliminate spikes and surges, a fact that has made them the “Go-To” product for ”Mission-Critical” commercial projects. Now, with release of Access Manager, SurgeX is poised to dominate the residential market, as well! Several of our top integrators have already shifted their power business to SurgeX…please ask us how SurgeX can improve your installations!