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At CEDIA, High-Performance Audio Comes In Loud And Clear

Denver — Home systems requiring professional installation are the stock-in-trade of CEDIA Expo attendees, but they’re also coming to the show to hear the latest in high-performance audio.

Showgoers will find compact powered subs, in-room speakers, passive and active soundbars, under-TV speakers, Wi-Fi speakers, stand-alone high-resolution audio DACs, integrated amp/DACs and more.

Here at the show, Artison is launching its first freestanding subwoofer, AudioControl is unveiling a slim DAC/amp that fits behind a TV, and Bryston is launching a component-style digital music player.

For their part, Mass Fidelity is unveiling a Bluetooth DAC, and Lyngdorf Audio is showing a high-resolution DAC/amplifier. A variety of new McIntosh products include a dedicated headphone amp, an integrated audio system, and a 1TB multizone music server.

Sony and Yamaha will show new active soundbars, and Yamaha is showing its first under-TV speaker.

On top of that:

* Monitor Audio is expanding its selection of passive three-channel soundbars and Wi-Fi speakers.

* Parasound is bringing an improved DAC/headphone amp, a prototype of its first integrated amp/DAC, and its first 12-channel multizone amplifier in years.

* And compact size and big sound are the theme of a host of subwoofer launches, including a trio of models from Proficient, three from Sunfire, and a model each from Procella and Artison.

Here’s what you’ll hear:

Artison: Known for high-performance speakers that attach to flat-panel TVs, Artison will unveil its first freestanding subwoofer, the 300-watt RCC Nano 1. It features dual active 6.5-inch long-throw aluminum drivers that deliver the piston area of an 8-inch woofer. The enclosure measures 7.5 by 8 by 9 inches, including feet and grille, and it’s made of thin and rigid aluminum in black or white. It comes with variable crossovers. Fourth-quarter shipments at $899 MAP are planned. A compatible wireless transmitter retails for $99 MAP.

AudioControl:  The Bijou 600 slim TV and zone amplifier/DAC features rack-mountable 1U chassis that can sit behind a flat-panel TV, in an audio rack, or elsewhere in the house. It’s designed to enhance TV-speaker or soundbar sound, add multiroom audio to additional zones, improve the audio performance of wireless multiroom-audio systems, and improve gaming and other audio-system requirements. It measures 8.5 by 7.5 by 1.7 inches.

 Source selection, volume functions, and AccuBass equalization can be controlled via included remote control or via home-automation systems.

 The Bijou 600 features switchable inputs (analog, coaxial, and optical), high-performance Wolfson DAC, 2×100-watt output at 8 ohms, 2×200 watts at 4 ohms, and bridging capability to act as a 400-watt mono amp stable to 3.6 ohms. Bass management features include a subwoofer out and selectable high- and low-pass crossovers.

Also, the company is showing its recently released top-end preamp/surround processor, the Maestro M8 at a suggested $8,900. Compared with its predecessor, it adds an HDBaseT option, 4K Ultra HD pass-through and upscaling, seven vs. five HDMI inputs, and balanced inputs not available on its predecessor. It also features more HDMI inputs.

Bryston: The $1,795-suggested BDP-1USB component-style digital music player digital is priced lower than the $2,995 BDP-2 because it is USB-only, eliminating the need for an audiophile-grade sound card, the company said. It’s intended for consumers whose DACs feature only a USB input or for consumers for whom a USB connection is their best-sounding option to connect a digital music source, the company said.

The component comes with four USB inputs/outputs, Ethernet port, UPnP and DLNA. It can be controlled from any web browser, including browsers on mobile devices, through an improved UI. It manages music libraries with up to 30,000 tracks stored on a local USB drive or a network-attached storage (NAS) device. It decodes high-resolution music formats up to 192kHz/24-bit resolution. Supported formats include DSD over PCM (DoP) with compatible DACs, FLAC, Apple Lossless, WAV and MP3. Other features include gapless playback.

Lyngdorf Audio: The TDAI-2170 fully digital integrated stereo amplifier incorporates 170-watt amp said to offer true digital amplification because DACs aren’t used. It also comes with inputs supporting up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM audio, proprietary RoomPerfect room correction, and upgrade modules to add HDMI 1.4 input/output or USB audio. With HDMI or USB modules installed, the TDAI-2170 handles both DSD (Direct Stream Digital) and DXD (Direct eXtreme Digital) formats. The USB input also accepts PCM up to 32 bits and 384kHz. Coaxial inputs handle up to 192/24 PCM, and optical inputs handle up to 96/24 PCM. The HDMI input supports 192/24 two-channel PCM but also passes through HD video signals to a connected TV. HDMI audio return channel is also supported.

An optional high-end ADC (analog to digital converter) is also available to supplement the standard analog inputs.

 Price depending on configuration ranges from $3,999 to $4,999. It is shipping.

Mass Fidelity: The Canadian start-up plans fourth-quarter availability of the $599-suggested Bluetooth DAC to add Bluetooth reception to existing audio systems. Made from machined aerospace-grade aluminum, the device features 24-bit Burr-Brown DAC, 24-bit Cirrus Logic digital audio processor with 128dB dynamic range and 0.0001 percent THD, and AptX and AAC decoders.

 It’s equipped with a 24-bit/48kHz digital output to connect to another DAC.

 Other key features include Party Pairing, making it quicker and easier to switch between paired Bluetooth devices, and Turbo Pairing to speed up re-pairing time.

Monitor Audio: The company is expanding its selection of passive three-channel soundbars and Wi-Fi speakers. The brand is imported by Kevro International.

 The Wi-Fi-equipped Airstream S200 single-chassis tabletop stereo speaker, due in September at a suggested $400, will be the company’s smallest Wi-Fi streaming speaker at 10.8 by 43.4 by 5.4 inches. It will join the S300 tabletop stereo speaker, $499-suggested Airstream A100 streamer/amplifier, and $1,599 Airstream-equipped ABS-2 three-way soundbar.

 The 65-watt wall-mountable S200 also features Bluetooth with AptX and plays music in the ALAC (Apple Lossless) and FLAC file formats. Users can also plug in an Apple mobile device to the product’s USB port to play back device-stored music and charge it.

 The two new SB soundbars ship in December at $750 and $900 to expand the three-channel passive-soundbar lineup. The SB-2 is suitable for 50- to 60-inch displays, and the SB-3 in intended for displays of 60 inches or larger.

 A continuing passive LCR in the Radius family is not as wide as the SB models.

 Both new bars feature three separate driver arrays for the left, center and right channels. The SB-2 features 4-inch midbass driver, 1-inch horn-loaded tweeter, and a sealed bass radiator for each channel. The SB-3 adds dual bass drivers and dual bass radiators to the center channel to boost output and power handling for center-channel dialog.

Paradigm: The new Prestige series, shipping in the fourth quarter, consist of three floorstanding speakers, two center channels, one surround speaker, and a bookshelf speaker position in the mid- to high-end range of the company’s selection. They’re promoted as delivering “astonishing performance at an incredible value.”

All feature a new look with clean, sharp lines and incorporate new technologies, including a perforated phase-aligned tweeter screen that protects the proprietary dome tweeter and acts as a phase plug to deliver “smoother frequency response and incredible detail,” the company said.

The hand-built speakers, which use drivers built in-house, feature real-wood walnut-veneer cabinets in multiple premium-grade finishes.

 The Prestige products will not immediately replace any existing lines.

Phase Technology: The MSE Audio brand will demonstrate its new Darts 660-series home-theater speakers, which are sold as a complete speaker system with DSP amplifier that incorporates room correction and digital crossover functions. The new models offer increased performance over prior models with higher peak output and power handling. The DP4000 amplifier offers increased dynamic power over the company’s former Darts amp, providing up to 250 watts per channel and 16-channel capacity.

Pricing on Darts 660-series home-theater systems ranges from $27,775 to $34,100.

Each Darts series of speakers is available in freestanding, custom-box and in-wall configurations.

An updated Darts 525 series starts at $17,050 and also features higher peak output and power handling.

Procella: The $899-each two-way P5 and the $2,699 P12 powered sub are the company’s smallest and least expensive models to date. They ship in September in black and white and will be displayed by the brand’s importer, Sound Developments.

 The speakers were designed to deliver comparable performance to the company’s larger, higher power speakers for smaller rooms and more modest budgets.

The compact P5 features a pro audio 5.25-inch woofer and a 1-inch high-frequency pro compression driver mounted on a Procella-designed constant directivity waveguide for high output levels and sonic accuracy. The P5’s new constant-directivity waveguide produces a circular radiation pattern of 80 degrees above 2.2KHz, enabling users to achieve excellent performance with the speaker mounted in vertical or horizontal orientation, the company said. The dispersion pattern also makes it suitable for mounting on the ceiling for use as height channels in Atmos and Auro-3D Audio home theaters, the company said.

The P12 sub measures 17.3 inches by 22.8 inches by 7.9 inches without grille. The cabinet packs a 12-inch long-throw professional driver with 65mm voice coil, an integrated 350-watt class D amplifier delivers a total of 350 watts to produce a maximum output of 116 dB at 50 Hz, with extension to well below 25Hz.

Proficient: Three new compact subwoofers with Class D amps feature down-firing passive radiators to deliver higher output and deeper bass. They produce up to 10dB more output than the previous Proficient line.

The subs are the FS8 8-inch sub at $400 MAP, the FS10 10-inch sub at $500 MAP and the FS12 12-inch sub at $600 MAP. All three models ship in February.

A key improvement is the use of Class D amps to deliver 200 to 300 watts RMS power, depending on the model, while running cool without large heat sinks. Also new is a down-firing passive radiator.

The $400 FS8 8-inch sub features 8-inch front-firing woofer, 8-inch passive radiator, 200-watt RMS Class D amp, and frequency response of 32Hz to 150Hz. Cabinet size is 13.63 by 11.75 by 12.5 inches. The $500 FS10 features 10-inch woofer and passive radiator, 250-watt amp, and frequency response of 30Hz to 150Hz. Its cabinet is 15.13 by 13.25 by 14 inches. And the $600 FS12 features 12-inch drivers, 300-watt amp, and frequency response of 28Hz to 150Hz. Dimensions are 16.6 by 14.5 by 15.5 inches.

Sony: The company will display a new premium soundbar, its first high-resolution Walkman portable audio player for the U.S. market, and an over-ear headphone pair capable of reproducing the resolution of high-res music files.

Also new will be new ES-series A/V receivers, which will be Sony’s first AVRs with HDCP2.2 copy protection on HDMI 2.0 outputs. The new AVRs will also offer more custom-installation features than before. AVR details were unavailable.

The new soundbar is the $999-unilateral HT-ST5, which ships in September to bolster the company’s presence in premium soundbars. It joins the $1,299-unliateral HT-ST7 launched a year ago to push the soundbar line above the then-current top price of $449.

The latest model features HDMI 2.0 inputs and output like other Sony soundbars.

Both soundbars feature nine speakers, a wireless subwoofer, and 7.1 discrete channels. The configuration combines with proprietary S Force Pro Front Surround technology to expand the sound stage horizontally and vertically and deliver discrete surround effects without surround speakers.

The new model is slightly smaller with slightly smaller drivers and 380 watts of total power instead of 450 watts.

Both models feature three HDMI inputs, one HDMI output with audio return channel, two optical inputs, one analog in, Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master decoding, Bluetooth with NFC, and Bluetooth standby, which lets a user open the Bluetooth app on their already paired smartphone, press the soundbar’s name appearing on the device screen, and wake up the soundbar and switch it to Bluetooth input.

Sunfire: The Core Brands brand plans fall delivery of its XTEQ subwoofers, which are smaller and pack more power than their predecessors.

The line consists of three models that deliver up to 3,000 watts of bass from 16-100Hz using diametrically opposing drivers, one active and one passive radiator. The drivers of the 8-inch XTEQ8, 10-inch XTEQ10 and 12-inch XTEQ12 are housed in enclosures said to be barely bigger than the size of the woofer diameter. The XTEQ12 measures 13.5 inches square.

The trio will retail for $1,500, $1,750 and $2,000, respectively. Each features Sunfire’s Tracking Down Converter amplifier design.

Yamaha: Yamaha will bring its previously announced Dolby Atmos A/V receivers, but showgoers will also get a chance to see the company’s first under-TV speaker, two new active soundbars and four new stereo integrated amplifiers.