Articles

CES 2011-Full Coverage

ARTICLE INDEX

Introduction to the CES 2011 - Stephen Hornbrook Show Coverage

Oppo BDP-95! this was the only place to see it at CES. can't wait for this beauty.

Toshiba's lineup featured better 3D performance with less cross talk, and lots of network enabled features, including the ability to play movies with just about any codec off a USB stick.  They had a glasses free set as well, but it was not very impressive (NONE of the glasses free sets were good)

smurflady!

Monster had a sweet custom Audi, earbuds galore, and a new iPod dock Speaker system that totally slams. 

Big Brother Fans will understand this..

Mitsibishi was still going with larger size rear projection 3D sets using DLP chips. The demo I saw had very little crosstalk. could have a bit better contrast and brightness thought. 

Energy has a new, affordable sound bar /sub package coming soon, that should actually sound good, unlike some of the cheap options available.  Also a new flagship Veritas on the way that will be the best sounding Energy speaker to date. Design is very clean.

Klipsch was showing off their new Gallery Series, which is a slim wall mount speaker. Lots of versatility, good looks, big sound. They will be available in black or white, with options for screen art to blend into living room decor. The also have a cool wireless sub.

This is wireless device for the Subwoofer. 

I call him Sarlock Winterfire.

MUST BUY

Yes, I watch Attack of the Show and this was an awesome moment for me. My life will never be the same. To even imagine if it were Olivia Munn.. well I say good sir. magical. 

I got to check out the lastest music servers from Olive this morning, and I have to say, I was impressed.  full 24bit 192 FLAC support, easy to use, and great sound. the 06HD does not mess around! fully balanced twin Burr Brown PCM 1792 DACS, ultra low jitter master clock, 2TB hard drive holding about 6000 CD's in lossless FLAC codec, cold plated Neutrik XLR connectors and a high-precision linear power supply. 

They also offer a lower end 03HD and 04HD.

Some shots of the internals..

Panasonic had a gazillion 3D plasmas. The new GT30 and VT30 look incredible. right down to the sleeker cabinet design which is incredibly thin compared to last years model.  3D quality was even better, but overall image quality was just amazing. They had some random booth babes, and quite a few interactive 3D camera/display demos.

COSPLAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Camera Peeps - I tried on a sweet 135mm lens from Canon. droool

Man, this place is a zoo! Got up early this morning and headed over to the Encore Wynn Hotel for an exclusive look at whats ahead from the Samsung LCD panel division.  Samsung has some very cool stuff in the pipeline. 

What you are looking at here is a transparent LCD panel. there is a physical model town sitting in a box behind that display. The effect is very cool, almost like there is a thin film over the window.  The display is also touch sensitve which leads to a very rewarding, interactive experience. pull up the weather, stocks, recipies, or just watch TV. It's different, but very cool and something i wouldnt mind in my kitchen someday.

They were also featuring a new kind of panel, called PLS, which allows for large viewing angles, high resolution (27" model is 16:9 2560x1440) and very low power consumption.

Also using the new PLS technology were some beautiful smaller panels meant for tablets.

On the TV front, Samsung was featuring a new 3D technology using passive glasses and what they call and active retarder. How it works? I'm not sure, but there was a lot less crosstalk and flicker and the 3D passive 3D glasses are cheap. Looked very nice.

The LG Booth was as outrageous as ever. LCD's everywhere. they were handing out passive 3D glasses as you walk in, so that everyone could experience their flicker-free 3D.  I will say, the 3D has definitely improved over last year's model. Less crosstalk, less flicker, sharper, and brighter. 

They even had a non-glasses 3D display using parallax barrier.  It sort of works.  The image wasnt really much sharper than my shaky picture. Also, they were playing Garfield the movie, so -2 points.

84" ultra definition

LG's latest HTIB systems have upgraded speakers, they look very nice.

3D projectors, they had a demo room setup (passive glasses) it looked very good, close to what you see with RealD at the theater.

Expandable wall panels are popular.

Some demos of their LED LCD technology. yay IPS!!

Stay tuned!! more to come


Jim Milton Show Coverage

Look for my updates and pictures as I cover some of the High End audio venues at the Venetian this week.

THURSDAY: Well, here we go...(click on an image and it may get bigger)

Arrived 3:30am Boston time. Initial impression of Vegas? Big...exaggeratedly big...mind boggling big...just really over the top big. And it takes time to get around. Nevermind Manhattan, this commute is tough.

ABOVE: This is why it's called The Venetian. This is the indoor shopping mall. I'd like to have this on my ceiling in my music room. I'll have to settle for my music putting me into my special heaven.

YG Acoustics makes unusual speakers that have garnered accolades. They did sound sweet. YG is not a surround sound company, but if you are looking for a new 2 channel system, you could do much worse than these.

Man, and you thought bi-wiring was the "cat's whiskers"!

FRIDAY:

Spent the morning walking from the Luxor to the Venetian with a stop over at the Bellagio. In English, I walked a few miles. At the Bello, we visited with Olive. The 06HD will set you back about $5K, but it's a smooth operator.

Being able to store hi-rez music and having a handy iPad app. were very cool. They'll pre-load your music (CD) collection for you, too. I was surprised that these units are bigger in real life than I expected. The magazine pictures do not do them justice. They come in silver, also.

Here Robert Kozel (SECRETS)talks with Eric from Olive:

Cary Audio will hopefully be providing some of their ware in the near future. Of special interest was the Cinema 12 which replaces the 11a.

The above amp comes in an automotive (GM) finish of you choice. This was blue, but hot rod red would look sweet. It is about 40 watts triode mode and 60 in ultralinear mode.

Golden Ear Technology: Their designer, Sandy Gross (Polk/Definitive), shared some of his time with me. The Triton Two Towers had exceptional imaging and very deep bass with their 12oo watt built in subs.

These speakers are uniquely shaped and delivered quite a holographic soundstage. Someone from SECRETS will be reviewing these soon as well as their Super Cinema series speakers. Perhaps I will grasp the "long" straw?!

These are the ViolinCello II by Accapella. A wonderful sounding, all horn speaker. Not great for HT, but a 2 channel enthusiast would be happy to hear the details I heard on these today. Wonder what the wife would think of these?

Not to be confused with the Avant Garde Duo (BELOW):

Well, off to the actual convention center...if we start walking now, we should make it by sunset....wish me luck.

LATER that afternoon:

Made it to the convention center and about 130K people were in attendance (that is elbow to elbow and sometimes face). The Asian presence was seen everywhere. Expect a flood of hi-end A/V stuff to start making its way into the US market (tube manufacturers, take notice!) as their stuff starts to catch up with the rest of the world in quality. It will drive down prices of other hi-end gear, you wait and see!

The two things that became very clear on the floor was the explosion of TABLETS and the taking off of the SMART TVs. iPad is still the king with all of the resources their apps bring, but everyone is getting onto the band wagon now. Good for A/V, as the tablet will become the ultimate remote for lighting, sound, video and generally controlling our daily lives.

Gaming is big, as SONY introduced their first 3D games. Kill Zone had wonderful blood splatter in 3D. Earthquake Audio introduced their gaming tactile transducer (BELOW):

For TVs, say goodbye to dumb sets, as Smart (internet connected) TVs are now here. All entertainment, media, sound, video, pictures and gaming are built in. Look for Panasonics new 2011 VT PDP displays with close to Kuros black levels. Samsung has PDPs that are almost as slim as LCD. Beautiful!

More miscellaneous pictures from the Venetian:

ABOVE: About $4K/meter. Hey, why not...it's Italian!

ABOVE: NuForce was there in full force...

BELOW: The Theil SCS4T are on my "to do" list this Spring.

ABOVE: Jones Audio PA-M300 monoblock amplifiers. 300 watts (8 ohms) @ around $10K ea.

Well, I have to leave on Saturday. I am exhausted. (Note to self...next year, don't go if you are coming down with bronchitis). By the end of the second day, you are tired of walking and listening. Most of the speakers all sounded wonderful, but "ear fatigue" prevents any serious evaluating. Still, it is an exciting event and I am thankful for the chance to attend. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas...but not me! Now back to my real job on Monday and prepare for the next major snow storm on Wednesday. Life is never dull...


Adrian Wittenberg Show Coverage

CES 2011 Las Vegas, Nevada

 I haven't been to CES in a couple years but this time around I have been eagerly anticipating what kinds of improvements and innovations we could hope to find from the manufacturers in the coming year. Last year, we were just starting to see 3D displays from Samsung, Panasonic, and Sony but this year most of the manufacturers are implementing 3D technology on the majority of their sets. Samsung for example will feature 3D capability on all but one of their Plasma series of displays and Sony will only offer three LCD's that do not feature 3D. Some people are still holding out before making the call as to if 3D is here to stay but if you are in the market for a TV this year, it is more than likely going to have 3D capability.

There was a lot of energy in the people on the show floor and there was plenty of television coverage on hand.

Microsoft was proud to show off their Kinect motion sensor expansion for the Xbox 360. The woman shown here gave this poor chap a virtual beat down and these gentlemen pictured below were putting up a good fight for the crowds.

A lot of the booths went all out on their demonstrations. Here Canon was doing a demonstration for some of their video equipment using a very elaborate set and colorful costumes. 

One of my first stops for the show was a visit to Sony's private demonstration of their new and magnificent SS-AR1 Loudspeakers. These speakers are crafted from multiple variations of wood. The heavy front baffle is made from maple trees that come from Hokkaido Japan and the specific maple wood they used is described to be very special by Sony. 

Here we can see an interior view of the cabinet which is constructed out of Birch. The cabinet is not glued together and is rather meticuously hand crafted so that the bezels align up perfectly enough to allow the enclosure to stand on its own. Sony designed the drivers used in this loudspeaker and as you can see in the image, midrange/tweeter sections are seperated in the enclosure from the bass section.

The SS-AR1 comes in a piano black finish which is highly reflective and the speakers will list for $27,000 a pair. I heard a short demonstration of them and they sounded astonishing. It was an amazing demonstration because the sound blended into the room extremely well and the dynamic range was exquisite as the music track faded into silence and the end point of the track was almost indistinguishable.

I continued my tour with a visit to Sony's Booth where 3D and internet based content were a major focus in their products. They were doing a 3D demonstration on probably the largest LED screen the world has seen. The demonstration had a few clips of football games shown in 3D. Using the passive glasses that Sony provided I felt that the 3D presentation of the football game gave it depth and dimension that enhanced the viewing experience as I could more easily tell the spatial distances players were from each other or how far the ball was away from a player attempting to catch the ball.

Sony's newer line of LCD displays will feature the X-Reality Pro chip for video processing.

The X-Reality pro is said to be a pixel adaptive processor and makes use of something Sony terms as the "Reality Creation Database" which allows the chip to make intelligent applications of processing to an image. As you can see in the image above where the top image has been processed by the X-Reality Pro and the bottom image has not, there is a significant difference in edge definition as well as the contrast of the image.   

Sony's top of the line XBRHX929 will feature the X-Reality Pro processor. It will be a full array, local dimming panel and range in sizes of 46",55", and 65". The XBRHX929 will feature an enhancement to it's motion flow processing where the panel will quickly flicker off the complete backlit array between original and interpolated frames. This is said to enhance the perception of the motion and make it look smoother without retaining the artificial look that frame interpolation techniques are known to create.

Sony wouldn't be Sony if there weren't some cool innovative products on display. Seen here, the HDR-PJ50V Camcorder features an embedded projector so you can preview your masterpiece on something more than the tiny LCD screen. Light output definitely seemed like it might be an issue, but this still looks like a very convenient feature to have. This particular model will list for around $699 features 1920 x 1080 at 60p, a 220 GB hard drive, and will be available in March.

Here we see Sony's VBP-MA1 portable Blu-ray recorder. This is primarily meant as a way to burn Blu-ray media off of your camcorder or camera, but it can also be used as a Blu-ray burner for your PC as there is USB connections available. You could even use this to transfer VHS to Blu-ray as there is composite inputs on the back. Very nice product that will list for $299 in March.

Samsung had a behemoth of a booth and as I walked past the row of laundry machines and refrigerators I was reminded of the huge success of this Korean based company in reaching the home with a variety of quality products. In this image, we can see a glimpse of the upcoming gourgeous 9500 series LED TV possibly due out in August 2011. This TV's primary feature difference over the 8000 series will be hugeness and an included super cool remote control. Sets will be available at 55", 60", and a whopping 75". I couldn't wrestle a price point out of any Samsung reps so we will have to wait and see on this one.

If there was a buzzword at all the booths that featured 3D displays it would have to be crosstalk. Crosstalk or ghosting occurs when the left eye image is bleeding into the right eye image in a 3D presentation. The result of crosstalk is false edges of an image and an overly annoying and fatiguing viewing experience. I have seen as well as heard of reports of crosstalk on earlier Samsung 3D panels and I can very happily say that the upcoming 7000 and 8000 series of panels has made huge improvements in this problem. Samsung also has made large improvements in the contrast of the 3D image using a feature called 3D auto contrast which applies contrast filtering based on the spatial depth of the object or pixels. 

Smart and stylish would be how I would describe the design of Samsung's new iteration of their 3D glasses. Despite looking pretty cool these glasses are extremely light and as such are very comfortable and far easier to wear for longer periods of time. Thanks goes out to the CES participant who modeled these glasses for this image!

Samsung was also working on making improvements to the depth of black in an image and overall contrast with their micro dimming feature available on the 8000 and 9000 series of panels. There were a couple of disbelievers at the booth that couldn't see the improvements until I reminded them that the off angle viewing experience of an LED is going to give you higher levels for black level. They agreed that when looking straight on at the panel, it looked really good.

Samsung's major push on both Blu-ray players as well as displays was something they called Smart Hub. We have seen internet based features gradually becoming more predominant on Blu-ray players and Samsung goes further by adding their own interface which allows for purchasing of Samsung apps as well as searching for content not only through the internet but also from your own PC content streamed through DLNA.

Samsung was also improving their 3D technology for Plasma displays by implementing phosphors that had a quicker decay time.

Samsung will also be releasing a 3D projector some time in 2011 shown here.

Panasonic was also focusing on 3D technology and content. Panasonic had the benefit of acquiring the engineers from Pioneer who were working on the renowned Kuro displays.

Here Panasonic was demonstrating a 3D interface. This looked very clean through the active 3D glasses and was making use of hand gestures to create a unique new way of navigating through a menu.

In this image Panasonic describes methods they use to improve the 3D experience on their VT30 Plasma by redesigning their panel.

JVC was demonstrating their 3D camcorder. The effect was excellent and the image had a large amount of depth.

JVC is very well known for their projectors but this year we are likely to see some LCD displays from them as well.

Here we see JVC's upcoming 65" Xinema 3D LED LCD display. This unit features an edge lit display with local dimming and is due out in Q4. This display features passive glasses and together with the 3D demonstration produced from a JVC 3D camcorder had an image that produced very little eye strain. I would like to see a 3D movie on this same display to compare the comfort level on the eyes.

JVC had an excellent demonstration of a 2D to 3D image converter. This was one of the best demonstrations for 2D->3D at the show and more can be found out at http://pro.jvc.com/2D3D

JVC's Flagship DLA-X9 3D projector that is the first projector to receive THX's new 3D certification. This projector boasts the highest contrast ratio among JVC's new 3D projectors at 100,000:1. The demonstration that featured this projector was excellent and there was no apparent ghosting issues and the image was extremely sharp and vivid.

LG was another manufacturer that was featuring both active and passive glasses 3D displays. In this image we can see a large portion of their LCD lineup featuring the new Cinema 3D improvements displayed in the slide below.

Panel thickness was still a major focus for LG and as you can see in this image, it's hard to get any better than this.

LG's upcoming PZ950 60" Plasma display. This is one of three LG plasma's that will be certified through THX 3D certification. Features will include a 20pt white balance, LG's software apps, and LG's Magic Motion Remote.

Mitsubishi was on hand to show their upcoming massive 92" 3D DLP display.

Sharp was displaying the latest iterations of their Quattron displays.

Control 4 was demonstrating their total home solution. One of the new features Control 4 was demonstrating was a video wall control application where screens on a wall could be very easily manipulated.

This is probably going to be seen most often in Sports Bars but the Control 4 rep was telling me that he was seeing more people create video walls in their homes or their "man caves". 

Control 4 had some of their newer and cheaper wall mounted touch panels on display. Prices ranged around $599 and up.

Earthquake was showing off their Titan line of loudspeakers and some of their smaller monitor speakers.

Here we can see Earthquake's massive 7 Channel Cinenova Grande amplifier capable of 328 Watts RMS @ 8 Ohm, 600 Watts RMS @ 4 Ohm, and 750 Watts RMS @ 2 Ohm. MSRP $5999.00

Greensound Technology was featuring some very unique glass based speaker designs. MSRP was $17,000 for the pair including a subwoofer. I sincerely hope any owners of these don't have kids.

By the end of the show people took any opportunity they could to get off their feet. This year's CES was huge and there was so much to see that it was truly difficult to see everything.


John E. Johnson, Jr. Show Coverage

At CES 2011, it was pretty much as we expected in terms of products, but what surprised us all was the huge turnout. I haven't seen this many attendees in years. So, if people are now getting back to spending their money on discretionary items like hifi, it means things are looking good for the future.

3-D, of course, was everywhere. The problems are several. One is that HD flat panel displays have come down in price so that those who were waiting for them to be affordable, bought their HDTV in the last year or two. They are not about to toss out that new 55" LCD HDTV just so they can get 3D at twice the price and with very little content. It ain't gonna happen, at least, not in the near future. Secondly, the image quality is not very good. I watched movies and various program material on several brands and models, and I did not see a single one that I thought was as sharp as watching just a standard 2D high def movie or program. This is caused mostly by ghosting, which results from the pixels for one eye not turning off fast enough before the pixels for the other eye are turned on. It results in seeing a small amount of the left eye image in the right eye, and vice versa. It also causes a sparkling sort of effect on random pixels on the screen, since different pixels don't all have to make the same change when going from the left eye image to the right eye image. The third problem is the glasses, but that is already being resolved by offering universal glasses that work with any brand of 3D HDTV, and also, the price is coming down fast. One company is offering a Family Pack of four sets of glasses for $299. That is much more acceptable than the $200/pair price I had been hearing during the latter part of 2010.

And, the glasses are not all big and bulky. There are some very petite models, that are not only small, but fashionable, as shown below in the first photo.

If you want to be "hip" when you are watching 3D TV, there are items like this:

For those of you with iPhones (or other cell phones that accept Blue-Tooth), there are now stereo ear buds with the microphone that communicate wireless to your phone. You can talk to your friends, but also listen to your music with the same ear bud(s), in stereo.

If you are willing to wear full on headphones, a number of companies are now promoting surround sound products like these.

You may remember from our 2010 Awards, we listed some technologies to watch. One was 3D, which I reported on above, and another was switching technologies in amplifiers. A new company called Devialet introduced a new integrated amplifier rated at 240 watts per channel that uses a switching power supply, switching output stages, but a Class A circuit that monitors the output, along with some digital signal processing (DSP). The preamplifier, phono preamplifier, DAC, and power amplifiers are all included in a single chassis, so there is a very short signal path between the various circuits.

There are four output boxes that contain the switching output devices (transistors), two boxes per channel. They interleave the switching to produce a 1.2 MHz switching frequency (read our review on the Mark Levinson No. 53 power amplifiers which also use interleaving). The sound was breathtaking. Of course they were using $50,000 speakers, but a bad amplifier would sound bad through excellent speakers. So, it is as we said previously: switching technology is making big advances. The price of the Devialet D-Premier is $16,000. A photo is shown below, with the amplifier mounted on the wall because it is very thin. I would say it is about the size of a laptop computer.

The show floor in one of the convention center halls is illustrated below in a panorama. Even the first day was crowded, when I took this photo, but day 2 was a zoo.

HD cameras for recording yourself engaged in sports activities were appearing. They are inexpensive and shoot full 1920x1080. You can mount them on your mountain bike handlebars, or on your helmet.

Speaking of cameras, snapshot photographers would not have been disappointed with CES 2011, and as I have mentioned several times over the years, hifi aficionados tend to be also interested in photography. Here is a typical display case with many new models, including D-SLRs. Most new digital snapshot cameras will take videos, and more and more of them will also take high definition video. A few Hollywood directors are actually using these cameras to shoot their movies.

How are we going to get the kids away from their earbuds and iPods playing MP3s when the earbuds are so attractive? There is a real problem too. They play music so loud, they are damaging their hearing, and it is permanent damage.

Even the iPhone cases are gorgeous.

This iPad carrying case was just a bit over the top.

The tablet world (iPad is in this category) is exploding. Apple will have its hands full competing with all the new models we saw at CES 2011. Samsung has a tablet that is about the same size as the iPad, but also has a slide out keyboard, so you can still have full screen images while you type, instead of having to use a keyboard image on the tablet's screen.

This particular one is a prototype that will be marketed by Marvell.

MSI showed flat panel displays with slim computers mounted on the back. This could be a real space saver for those consumers with limited desk real estate. This one sells for $599 in the basic model. I guess about $1,000 with more significant RAM and HD space.

Earthquake Sound showed its new game shaker, which mounts to your chair and the shaking is coordinated with the game you are playing.

Earthquake also displayed their new Cinénova7, which has seven channels at 170 watts per channel. It is $3500, compared to the much more expensive model that puts out a lot more power.

GoldenEar is a new speaker company, headed by Sandy Gross (of Definitive Technology fame). In this photo, he is sitting in the sweet spot and fine tuning the channel balance for their new floor-standing model.

GoldenEar also introduced their 5.1 system, which is of the modular design that is so popular right now.

Paradigm also showed their modular speakers, called the MilleniaOne ($249/each). The small speaker arena is really making headway in producing satisfactory loudness without distortion.

Swan Speakers had a huge display, and these were the smallest ones I could find that they were showing. They have beautiful wood finishes.

Lamm Industries introduced their new ML2.2, which is a Pure Class A tube monoblock power amplifier. They sounded fantastic. The price is $37,190/pair, but you get your money's worth.

The anticipated OPPO BDP-95, which is 3D compatible and has balanced XLR analog outputs for the front two channels, was in a display case at the Marvell booth. It comes on the heels of the BDP-93, which is also 3D compatible. NuForce has produced mod boards that you can use to replace the stock boards in the BDP-93. The mod boards have the same DACs for compatibility, but everything else is redesigned. They will be selling the basic mod board for $400 and the deluxe board will go for $800 (this is in addition to the cost of the player itself). You can replace the boards yourself, or purchase the player from NuForce with the mod boards already installed. A photo of the NuForce board (at the top) and the OPPO BDP-93 board (at the bottom) that would be replaced, is shown below.

All in all, I enjoyed myself in spite of the crowds, and you should be seeing more networking and integration of your audio system with your computer and other electronic devices in your home during the next few years.


Robert Kozel Show Coverage

January 8, 2011 - Day 3 of CES

My last day at CES started with a breakfast hosted by McIntosh. This is the MC452 quad balanced two channel power amplifier. It is rated at 450 watts per channel. The MC452 has integrated handles on the front to help with lifting this beauty. 

Another McIntosh innovation on the MC452 is the speaker binding posts on the rear of the amplifier. When unscrewing the top of the binding post, the cylinder in the center does not move. It is spring loaded to help maintain the proper tension on your speaker wire or cable termination. The connectors are easily the nicest I've seen on an amplifier. McIntosh has filed a patent on the innovation and is planning on keeping these gems for themselves.

This is the MC601 600 watt quad balanced two channel amplifier.

This is the MR87 international AM/FM tuner. Quickly spinning the tuning knob moves the channel indicator across the display. Much to my surprise, instead of stopping at the right hand side, it seamlessly moved back to the left and continued on its way with no hesitation. The MR88 US version offers XM and HD radio as well.

If you look carefully at this new product, you will notice that it is actually a McIntosh clock with the two meters indicating hours and minutes respectively. When the right hand meter hits 60, it moves back to zero and starts its journey once again.

This is a prototype of the McIntosh iSystem. It is designed to be an entry level product in the McIntosh lineup and offer exceptional audio performance from your favorite Apple iProduct. In this demo, an iPad is being used.

You may notice that the iPad is not oriented correctly to align with its interface connector. The reason for that is that there is no connection on the top of the iSystem. There is just a simple stand and tray for your device. McIntosh provides a USB jack on the back of the iSystem so you can simply plug in your device's cable and not worry about connection issues.

The back of the iSystem. Those are bass ports on each side. RCA and balanced interconnects are provided for when you want to expand your system.

If you are wondering where the trademark McIntosh meters are on the iSystem, you have to look no further than the iPod and iPad apps that McIntosh has created. The meters are now created in software! Very cool.

One of the great things about CES is that you can see vendors from all over the world.  I stopped in at Burmester to have a look at their display. Burmester is a German company that engineers luxury audio equipment that is installed in yachts and high end vehicles such as the Porche Cayenne and Panamera. The equipment in the room was beautiful and sounded fabulous. The system on display costs $300K. Burmester builds all the components themselves except for the turntable. Systems can run over $1 million dollars.

My next stop was Martin Logan to see what was new for 2011. These three speakers from left to right are the ElectroMotion ESL, Theos, and the Summit XJR. The Summit is still in prototype and should be available later this year. The Theos and ElectroMotion ESL are available now. Price is expected to be $2K, $5K, and $10K respectively.

The sound from these speakers was huge with an incredible, engaging sound stage. I positively loved them.

I stopped over at PSB Speakers and saw the Imagine Mini monitors. These speakers are $700/pair and were another example of great sound in a very small package.

I headed back over to the convention center and to the adjacent Renaissance hotel to talk with Marantz and Denon. Both of them were showcasing their support for Apple AirPlay. AirPlay allows a user of an iPhone, iPad or iPod to directly stream content from the device to an AirPlay enabled media server, receiver or processor. Here's what the interface looks like on the iPad. By simply selecting an icon, the user is presented with a list of available AirPlay output locations. Simply select the device and music starts to play in that location. Multiple output devices can be selected at the same time so you can play music in your living room or den/bedroom simultaneously. It was great to see Apple and non-Apple products playing together so nicely. 

The Marantz SR7005 receiver and the UD5005 Blu-ray player.

The Marantz PM5004 integrated amplifier and the CD5004 CD player. 

Denon was in the presidential suite at the Renaissance.

Boston Acoustics was also in the Denon suite. They were showing a couple of creative sound bar solutions for users with flat panel displays. The solutions offered wireless subwoofers, audio integration via the display's TosLink output, and the ability to learn the TV's IR volume commands so the average user can operate the TV and the sound bar via just the TV remote. The models were the TVee Model 25 and 30. The sound on the Harry Potter demo was excellent.

Final thoughts on CES 2011

What struck me the most about CES was the sheer magnitude of it all. I have been to Las Vegas many times for conventions in the past, but nothing compared to CES 2011. The enormous international crowds combined with thousands of exhibitors and locations spread throughout the city made it an event I will not soon forget.

From the perspective of products, CES is overwhelming with its diversity. There were exhibitors covering home electronics, phones, appliances, automotive, computer hardware, networking, etc. The list was endless and it would be impossible for anyone to take all of it in.  The crowd at CES was not just spending time looking at new products. There were countless people with "Buyer" tags on their show badges talking to exhibitors and discussing business. If the crowds were any indication, this should be a good year for the economy. Time will tell if all those conversations ultimately turn into real orders.

From the video perspective, it was all about 3D. The HDTVs were larger, thinner and better looking than ever and they all offered 3D.

If you are in the market for a new HDTV, then you have lots of great options to choose from. If you already have an HDTV, then it is probably unlikely that you will run out and discard your investment just for the 3D experience in your living room. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, the industry is all about 3D right now and the manufacturers and Hollywood are spending countless millions to get our attention and our money. It will ultimately be up to the consumer to decide.

From the audio perspective, I was impressed to see the speaker innovation. Manufacturers like Paradigm, GoldenEar Technology, Atlantic Technology, Martin Logan and PSB Speakers were showing off a wide range of speaker technology and systems that continue to enhance how we listen to music. It was great to see companies like McIntosh and Paradigm introducing more reasonably priced audio products so a younger audience can start appreciating high fidelity. I also enjoyed seeing all the Apple iPod and iPad devices being used in many of the demonstrations as control devices for the audio equipment. 

I really enjoyed my first CES and I hope you liked the coverage. 

January 7, 2011 - Day 2 of CES

Day 2 began with a 9:00 AM meeting at the Bellagio Hotel. Sounds simple enough right? Get in a taxi at the Luxor and show up at the hotel for a 9:00 AM meeting. There were no taxis to be found! We tried the monorail at the MGM only to find an incredible line just waiting to get tickets. We retraced our steps and ended up walking all the way down the strip to the Bellagio. Sightseeing was at least a perk at this point not to mention the exercise.

Snow on the mountains in the distance:

New York New York and a Secrets photographer.

Amazing architecture. Those towers are really built to lean that way.

We finally arrived at the Bellagio for a very late meeting with Olive Media Inc. Olive was setup in a beautiful suite in the Bellagio which was easily the nicest venue that I visited during CES.  It was so nice to experience peace and quiet during a demonstration. Olive is a manufacturer of media servers and they have three models in their server lineup:

What surprised me the most upon first glance was just how much bigger they appear in person compared to the pictures on the Olive web site. The Olive 06HD is their latest creation and boasts a substantial audiophile balanced output stage as well as a very large touch screen.

Here's a shot of the internal components in the 06HD:

The servers offer a rich interface that allow you to interact with your media library, and they offer advanced features such as album art sorting, and advanced genre searching that I have not seen in any other solution. They also offer full control from your favorite iPod or iPad device. The Olive servers also support 24 bit high resolution HD audio tracks so you can enjoy the finest recording quality that is available. I have admired the Olive media servers for some time, and hearing the 06HD in person was really a very enjoyable experience. The sound and detail was fantastic and the passion that Olive demonstrated for their products and for music was exceptional. 

We had to say goodbye to the beautiful Bellagio and its lake and continue our walking adventure to the Venetian.

After arriving at the Venetian and waiting over 15 minutes for an elevator to the 29th floor, Jim Milton and I visited with Carey Audio Design which is based in Apex, North Carolina and makes a wide variety of high end audio and video products. On display was the Xciter series Digital to Analog USB convertor (on the top) as well as the new MS-1 media server (on the bottom). The MS-1 is Carey Audio Design's first media server and has support for FLAC, internet radio, 24/96 kHz playback over USB as well as full control from an iPad/iPod/iPhone app.

The SLI-80 is an integrated tube amplifier and is just a beautiful piece of equipment. The amplifier can be custom painted. See Jim Milton's blog for a better picture of the gorgeous blue on this piece.

Carey Audio Design was also showing off their new Cinema 12 series processor. The Cinema 12 supports all the latest digital formats, the latest HDMI 1.4, and boasts a fully balanced design internally. 

New this year are the model 200.2, 7.125 and 7.250 amplifiers which are 200 watt x 2, 125 watt x 7 and 250 watt x 7 respectively.

On display was the new CD 303T SACD Professional Version vacuum tube/solid state selectable SACD player. The player can upsample to 768 kHz and allows for tube exchange via a removable cover.

Over at the Paradigm suite, I found a Signature Sub 1 at the door as well as one of the performance graphs from John Johnson's review.

The D2v and P series amplifier.

The AVM 50v and the MCA series amplifier.

The MRX 300 and 700 series receivers. I will be starting a review on the MRX 700 sometime soon.

I was able to get a preview of the MRX 700 and the Millenia One speakers. Simply fantastic sums it up quite nicely. You have to appreciate that this demo managed to completely take me out of CES mode and allowed me to just sit back and enjoy some music and a clip of Prince of Persia for a few minutes. I was blown away at how good the Millenia One speakers sounded. They sound so much larger than their physical size. The MRX 700 ARC processing was definitely helping to tame the problems in this less than ideal hotel room environment.

Paradigm was also introducing their new Paradigm Shift division. Paradigm Shift will be bringing powered speakers, earbuds,  headphones, and gaming headsets to the market. With a focus on a younger audience, the Paradigm Shift products will introduce users to Paradigm products and Paradigm Shift will be available for order direct from Paradigm and other suppliers via the internet.

The Active Atom powered speaker can be purchased individually or as a pair and even accepts an Airport Express so you can wirelessly transmit your favorite iTunes music from your computer.

I stopped by GoldenEar Technology to see the latest creations from Sandy Gross. Sandy was the co-founder of Polk Audio and Definitive Technology, and from the sound of the Triton Two speakers, he has another success on his hands.

The Triton Two speakers use a High Velocity Folded Ribbon tweeter which moves air by squeezing it with a diaphragm rather than pushing the air like a conventional tweeter. Here's a close-up of the driver.

After lunch, Jim Milton and I regrouped and headed off to the convention center. To say that it was crowded would be an understatement.

There were enormous banners and walls.

There were enormous banners proclaiming enormous 92" displays.

Here's the Mitsubishi 92" DLP television shown against a 46" display size.

Do you remember that 75" display from my CES Press Day coverage?

Do you remember the photos of the show still being constructed less than 24 hours prior to opening? They were now bustling with people and lots of noise.

Here's Jim showing off the Samsung SSG-3700CR 3D glasses. These glasses won a "Best of Innovation" award at the show. They were easily the most comfortable and lightweight active glasses I have tried to date. The batteries were in the ear pieces and they really felt like sports glasses.

The new Samsung display design with the super thin bezel. These panels were gorgeous.

More amazingly thin displays from Sony.

The VT series displays from Panasonic. Gorgeous.

More fun with the Green Hornet car.

The Tron car. Talk about a nightmare to keep clean and scratch free.

Here's a great shot of the theater screen at the Sony booth.

Camera lens anyone?

Here's the Oppo BDP-95 locked under glass at the Marvell booth. Jim and I did our best to get some good shots through all those reflections. Nothing like seeing it in the wild.

CES offers just about everything. Cell phone cases for example.

Really tiny USB sticks surrounding a penny. Just think how many of these we can lose.

Lots of USB 3.0 and related products.

Musicians were in heaven at Gibson guitar.

The Cinenova 7 seven channel amplifier provides 150/250/300 watts x 7 at 8/4/2 ohms respectively.

The iQuake speakers.

The Cinenova Grande 5 channel amplifier.

The ultimate in personal bass for your gaming chair.

The couch potato subwoofer.

The HoLeeS 15" competition subwoofer.

We started the day with travel challenges, so it followed that we should end the day the same way. The bus lines.

We don't get a regular tour bus. We get the Harry Potter style open-air sightseeing version.

Everyone discussed how it felt warm based on what city they lived in. The guy from Minnesota won.

It was cold but we were so happy to be heading for the hotel.

That's it for my day two coverage.

January 6, 2011 - Day 1 of CES

Day 1 at the Venetian began with the highly anticipated NuForce edition of the Oppo BDP-93. NuForce Vice President Casey Ng was very proud to show me the new analog output board that NuForce has created for the BDP-93NE.

The board is a complete replacement for the existing analog output stage in the standard BDP-93. Here's another shot with a lot more fingerprints.

The NuForce BDP-93NE was paired with a pair of Mark & Daniel Fantasia-S speakers. The sound from the demo was simply fantastic. I can just imagine what this would have been like in a proper listening environment without the hotel environment. In case you are wondering, the Fantasia-S speakers have a reference price of $13,800 for the pair. 

The Thiel SCS4T speakers were on display in a very comfortable and plant filled demo room. They sounded great and the room was a much appreciated break from the normal convention room decor.

Jones Audio was showcasing their 300W mono-block amplifiers. The pair sells for approximately $25K.

Many of the vendors were exhibiting in private suites in the Venetian. Imagine getting off of an elevator and finding three long hallways with each room on the floor hosting a different vendor. Now imagine that same thing on multiple floors in the hotel and you get an idea of CES at the Venetian. This is definitely an international show and you find vendors from all over the world.  Here's an example of such a suite with products from Revolver Audio in the UK. These speakers are Revolver Audio's Cygnus series and run $16,000 for the pair.

Here's a look at Sonneteer's Morpheus music center. The Morpheus has a beautiful design and supports playing music from the internet, your home network, and numerous other sources.

Sonneteer is a UK company and will custom craft the aluminum exterior in a wide variety of colors. Take a look at the variety of finishes available on the remote.

Theta Digital was showing off the Theta Casablanca III HDprocessor as well as a prototype of a 7 channel amplifier. Theta is offering a trade-in program for existing owners of the Theta Casablanca I and II series processors. This program simplifies an otherwise complicated upgrade process and offers owner's a chance to upgrade to Theta's latest technology.

This really cool looking device is the Cantata music center which comes from Resolution Audio. The Cantata chassis is made from a solid block of aluminum. The device houses a slot-loading compact disc drive and supports USB and network playback. The Cantata also supports integration of your iTunes library. 

Here's an inside look at the Cantata.

Here's a look at Rogue Audio's tube power amplifier. Rogue Audio was demonstrating an entire two-channel solution including Rogue Audio Cronos Magnum amplifier, Magnepan 1.7 loudspeakers, SOTA Comet turntable, Soundsmith Boheme cartridge, and JPS labs cables for $6,750.

Onkyo was showcasing their reference series two channel audio gear. 

The Onkyo reference series equipment was very well finished with excellent case construction.

Here's an exploded view of the inside of the Onkyo TX-NR5007 receiver. What an incredible array of electronics and brands that goes into one of these devices.

Onkyo was also demonstrating DTS NEO:X processing. This new format from DTS introduces front width and height speakers for a more immersive experience. The processing will be available on Onkyo receivers later this year.

The last item of the day was a demonstration of the Atlantic Technology AT-1 loudspeakers. The AT-1 utilizes a patent-pending H-PAS bass system (Hybrid Pressure Acceleration System) which delivered exceptional bass response in our demonstration. The AT-1 are modestly sized speakers and yet the bass response was so palpable that you might suspect that a subwoofer was hiding behind the curtain. The midrange was excellent and it was a real pleasure to not only hear a great pair of speakers, but to also appreciate that this is a technology advancement that will be making its way into other products through the licensing of the H-PAS technology. We are definitely going to be asking for a pair of AT-1 speakers for review.

That's it for my day one coverage at the Venetian.

January 5, 2011 - CES Press Day

After a long day of travel, I finally arrived in Las Vegas for my first CES. Today was CES Press day which featured press conferences from many of the major vendors such as Samsung, Panasonic and Sony just to name a few.

Being my first CES, I was looking forward to seeing some of these marketing presentations to hear the announcements first hand and just to enjoy the show.  Thanks to travel delays, I had already missed out on the Sharp and Samsung press conferences. 

I finally arrived at the Venetian and was simply amazed at the amount of press in the conference center.

The press room was already packed with reporters and bloggers.

Many people were just finding comfortable spaces in the halls to work.

I picked up my press credentials and was off to the Panasonic press conference at 3:00 pm or so I thought.  This was the line to get into the room.

I was about 20 people away from getting in the door when the Venetian staff closed the doors due to reaching the maximum allowed room capacity.  This was really disappointing since there were so many people who were turned away.

I decided a change of plans was in order so I headed down to the Las Vegas Convention Center determined to not be shut out of the Sony press conference.

I was thankful that the frenzied crowd of the Venetian hadn't quite made it to the convention center yet.  That will happen tomorrow.  This wasn't to say that the convention center didn't have its own challenges.  You might think that all the booths would be ready to go considering this is the largest convention of its kind in Vegas and it starts Thursday morning.  At 4:00 PM on Wednesday, this gives you just a sense of how much work had yet to take place to make CES a reality.

If I could only get this 75 inch display back on the plane!

I was successful in getting to the Sony press conference and was rewarded by a very professional marketing presentation and quite a show. The Sony booth was packed with hundreds of press professionals.

A large portion of the Sony booth had been arranged as an auditorium facing an enormous screen.

Sony then presented a collection of 3D graphics, landscapes, sporting events, city skylines, concert shots of Shakira and Avril Lavigne, and a preview of the Green Hornet.

Once the intro was completed, the back wall opened and a car rotated onto the stage.

The car was from the Green Hornet movie and Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, and Sir Howard Stringer, the Chairman, CEO, and President of Sony Corporation of America, stepped out of the vehicle. Sir Howard left his 3D glasses on for the first part of his speech and seemed a bit like Jack Nicholson with his trademark sunglasses.

Sony's message was heavily weighted on 3D.  They highlighted a new marketing campaign simply called "Sony - TV Redefined".  They discussed numerous products with the intended goal of allowing a user to get personal with 3D.  For example, use a 3D camera to film your child's soccer game and then easily share that content with family and friends. They also highlighted the impact of 3D on gaming.

Sony also discussed a new cable channel called 3net which promises to bring 3D content to viewers on a continuous basis.  They also discussed another online streaming service called Qriocity (pronounced curiosity), which has already launched in Europe and the US.

The press conference wrapped up with a Cirque de Soleil performance from the cast of Viva Elvis which definitely got the crowd's attention. 

That's it for today. More coverage tomorrow as things really get started.

Our team coverage of the 2011 International Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas starts tomorrow.

This is my first time at CES and I will be focusing on the vendors exhibiting at the Venetian. Check back for pictures and updates throughout the week.


Stephen Hornbrook - Final Impressions

Now that I have returned home, i can finally look back at everything I saw in Vegas. Where as the 2010 show was all about new innovative 3D products, 2011 was all about iterative products. I did not see anything conceptually new on the main show floor. All the major AV companies attempted to show off glasses free 3D displays, but I personally felt those were just a joke. Otherwise everything was just new and revised. But one thing is for sure, all the HDTV's were better. 3D quality was much improved since last year, offering much less crosstalk and flicker.  I still love the Panasonic plasma's and the new GT30 and VT30 models are gorgeous. I think it is by far the best cabinet design to date on a Panny.  The Samsung and Sony models looked great, but LG offers some of the best calibration tools available. Also LG took a more costly (for them) approach to 3D with passive 3D glasses. This technology is more expensive to integrate into a display than the active shutter technology.  But it looked great and allows for cheap glasses. So at least everyone at your superbowl party can enjoy 3D. 

If you will be in the market for a new TV this year, you will have plenty to look forward to. Image quality has never been better. 

Wireless technology for DLNA or Apple's AirPlay is quickly becoming a standard in TV's, Blu-ray players, and receivers. Why you need it in every device is beyond me, but its a wonderful feature as most people have broadband internet. 

below are a few more pictures I took.

Samsung Booth

SONY BOOTH

..can't wait for Uncharted 3! looked really good in 3D

Killzone 3 looked cool as well. 

Some other stuff from the show..