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Show Report

HE 2005 - New York, New York

April 28 - May 1, 2005

Page 1

 

The annual Home Entertainment Show in New York City, specifically the Hilton on 6th Avenue in Manhattan, took place over the last weekend in April. Opening day was reserved for the press only, and we were treated to the entire show all to ourselves before the public crowds made it almost impossible to spend any quality time.

This year’s show brought very few surprises, other than the fact that it was predominately a 2-channel audio show. The top floors 9 and 10 were almost exclusively for the audiophile, save a few such as Yamaha and Aperion.

The two main floors had more home theater setups from the likes of Paradigm, Outlaw, and Polk Audio, and the impressive Cinepro blasting all those within 100 feet with 5000 watts at reference level 75 dB.

Outlaw impressively demonstrated a pair of $599 LFM-1 subwoofers in their theater presentation along with introducing the very interesting 990 Preamp/Processor priced at $1,099. A 7.1 channel processor, it features automatic speaker set-up and calibration, with upgradeable firmware and software.

Yamaha, one of the few rooms set up for surround sound, demonstrated their new YSP-1 $1,499 single unit speaker. With 42 drivers, including a pair of 4” woofers, the intention is to use the side walls for the multi-channel experience. Does it work? Yes.

There are always new and interesting products and with the popularity of I-pod and MP3, (yep, still hot), designers are looking for ways to play music from your computer.

Cinepro’s amplifiers and 7.2 package was by far the most powerful setup there, with the Micon Audio Evo-2 home theater system valued at $75,000. This was truly an experience, with sound pressures traveling through us during a demo from the movie The Hulk.

Samsung Electronics and Microsoft’s opening press conference announced their alliance to develop HD gaming, along with showing off their latest displays. Samsung stated their continued partnership with Microsoft specifically for the new X-box HD due out later this year.

Naim Audio caught my home theater eye with a very modern designed surround sound package called the n-series. Mini-monitors on curved aluminum stands compliment the 350 watt subwoofer. The n-sats (monitors) are $1,350 per/pair, while the center n-cent is $950, and the n-sub is $2,850.

Naim was also showing their compliment of very modern, clean line designs for CD players, DVD player, and power amplifiers.


 

Trying to get into a Paradigm demonstration was like scoring tickets to a hot Broadway show, and deservedly so. Partnered with their NYC area retailer 6th Avenue, they continue to impress crowds with the likes of the Anthem Statement D1 processor and P5 amplifier coupled with their Signature line of speakers.
   
Yamaha also caught my eye with their new RX-V4600 receiver at a cool $1,799.95. With two supplied remotes, and a set-up microphone, as well as HDMI, this unit is THX certified.
Some of the best two-channel audio I heard came from Von Schweikert Audio VR-4SR Generation IV speakers. A two-piece stacked system, the VR sells for $7,995 per/pair. If you choose more exotic woods such as Indonesian Sycamore or African Ebony, this raises the price to $10,000 per/pair.
Mark Levinson’s surprising presentation of the Burwen Bobcat Windows Media Player 10 plug-in was impressively auditioned. At $1,500, the Bobcat comes with software and an outboard DAC, and plays CD, DVD, and MP3 all from your computer. Richard Burwen, Levinson went on to explain, was his mentor. The software includes 18 presets and the music playback was not MP3 quality; it was so much better.
Sonneteer out of England also dabbles in wire-free technology, playing music from your computer via the BardUSB. You put a USB port thumb-drive in your computer, and the BardOne Rx transmitter attached to your amplifier, and you’re in business. Also new, is the independent amplifier that plugs into a wall socket, and which receives wireless signals to then power your speakers. This package will set you back around $1,250.
Polk Audio introduced three new in-wall subwoofers with dedicated power amplifiers, meant to compliment their popular line of in-wall speakers.
The Polk in-wall subs range in price from $1,260 through $1,500.
Included are the CSW-88, the CSW-100, and the CSW-200.
Polk also introduced the I-Sonic entertainment system (it looks like a wave radio to me), that features among other things, an HD Radio tuner. It plays DVDs, CDs, also brings in AM/FM signals. Due out in September, it will sell for $599.
Video performance enhancement was also in vogue from companies like Algolith showing their very popular Mosquito Noise Reducer which now has HDMI connections, and the newer Dragonfly with HQV processing.
Algolith was demonstrated with the equally impressive Balanced Audio Technology array of tube amps, CD transport, and amplifiers. Shown are the VK-150SE Mono power amplifiers at $8,500/each. It features the 6H30 super tube, and I was very impressed.
Kaleidescape blew the group away with their newest entertainment server system. With a minimum investment of $22,500, you can store and recall hundreds of DVDs from a remarkable menu.
 
Totem’s stylistic demonstration room included the remarkable sounding Rainmaker bookshelf speakers, MSRP $950/pair, and the very elegant sounding Mani-2, MSRP $4,595 on the heaviest speaker stands (also made by Totem) you’ll ever see. Totem impresses with monitor speakers delivering down to 40 Hz.
Focal.JMlab showed off, and I mean showed off, what I thought was the best sounding speaker at the show, the astounding Nova Utopia Signature priced at $37,500. A 4-way bass reflex floor standing speaker, this impressive unit dips down to 16 Hz (-6dB), with a nominal impedance of 8 ohms. Shown is the equally impressive Alto Utopia Signature at MSRP $18,500. With frequency response between 30 Hz-40 kHz, the loudspeaker features an 11” woofer driver and a beryllium cone tweeter.
RCA, one of the few display manufacturers showing plasma and LCD panels, had some very slick designed units. “It’s all about design,” I’m told, as the plasma and LCD market is saturated.
Moscode is back with their new true hybrid 200 WPC at 4 ohms tube/solid state amplifier. The front door flips down for easy tube replacement. At $4,995 the 401HR stereo amplifier is not only eye-catching, but sounded excellent.
The front panel flips down to reveal the tubes.
Analysis Audio was showing one of their four designs for Planar-Ribbons, the Omega series with a frequency response from 22 Hz - 20 kHz. These 4 Ohm, 86 dB sensitivity speakers stood 66” tall. They created a lot of interest, as these very transparent speakers sell for $14,900 per pair.
Aural Acoustics' new Aural Model B, MSRP $4,500 impressed me with the design. Listening to these floor-standers that range from 33 Hz - 25 kHz gave me pause.
Music Hall was showing the understated Maverick SACD player, MSRP $1,500 with upsampling chip. Also shown is the Maven stereo receiver with upsampling and video switching, which is priced at $1,500. At up to 100 WPC, these units seemed reasonably priced considering the company of very expensive equipment at the show.
I’ve been interested in the $3,995 Stello SP200 from April Music since I saw the prototype at last year's show. The SP200 is a multi-channel preamp/processor that decodes all current surround formats.
With no video switcher, which April Music feels affects sonic quality, the unit includes both balanced and unbalanced inputs/and the same for multi-channel outputs.
Rogue Audio also caught my eye with some well priced units, for example the Cronus Titan series integrated amplifier at $1,795 shown with the optional grille on. It has four line-level inputs, produces 55 WPC.
Equally impressive was the Atlas from Rogue Audio. Still pushing 55 WPC, this single input unit includes 4 and 8 ohm taps. It’s priced at $1,395.

 

   

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