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Object-Based Objects Of Audio Lust Abound At CEDIA Expo

DaVinci Group,Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based surround were among the brightest stars in the audio constellation at the CEDIA Expo.

At least six companies – Anthem, Arcam, AudioControl, DataSat, Indy Audio Labs, and Sony – unveiled their first A/V receivers or A/V processors with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, the latter available mainly as a firmware upgrades at a later date.

Two companies – SpeakerCraft and Triad Speakers – unveiled the industry’s first in-wall Atmos elevation speakers, which sit atop in-wall L-R speakers to bounce height-channel information off the ceiling.

And the selection of in-room Atmos-enabled cabinet speakers grew with the launch of the first models from NHT and an expanded selection from Triad Speakers.

New products for installed multiroom-audio systems and home theaters were also unveiled.

Here’s what electronic systems contractors found:

Arcam: The U.K.-based hi-fi company unveiled its first two AVRs with Dolby Atmos object-based surround, DTS:X upgradability, HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 copy protection.

Arcam’s two AVRs, marketed in the U.S. by The Sound Organisation, are the $6,000 AVR850 and $3,400 AVR550. Both are 7.1-channel models shipping late November. They will be joined by a new two-channel stereo receiver, the $3,600 SR250. It also features HDR-capable HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 copy protection but lacks surround processing. It also ships late November.

The products were displayed at the Sound Organisation’s Dallas offices during the Expo.

Though the two AVRs feature seven-channel amps, they process up to 7.1.4 Atmos soundtracks and accept outboard amplifiers to reproduce all 11.1 channels.

The two AVRs also feature seven HDMI 2.0a inputs, all with HDCP 2.2 copy protection. Two main-room HDMI outputs are available for a projector and for a flat-panel display. Both AVRs also feature second-zone HDMI output. Both networked models feature DLNA, Spotify Connect, and IR, IP and RS-232 integration into home-control systems.

DaVinci Group: A series of updated in-ceiling speakers under the Vanguard Dynamics brand features driver upgrades and add company’s “edgeless design” with thin bezel and thin magnetically attached grilles. The 6½-inch two-way models are the $179-suggested EDC- 600, $219-suggested EDC-601, and $249 EDC-602. They ship in the first quarter.

Indy Audio Labs: The company unveiled its first electronic component with Atmos and DTS:X decoding. The Acurus ACT4 AVP, shipping in six weeks at a suggested $8,499, supports Dolby Atmos in up to 7.1.4 and 9.1.2 speaker configurations. It ships out of the box with DTS:X decoder without a need for a later firmware update.

NHT: The company’s new Media series includes a slender three-way tower and a two-way satellite on-wall/tabletop speaker, both with built-in up-firing drivers to deliver the height channels of Dolby Atmos.

The series also includes the Dolby Atmos Mini speaker module, whose up-firing driver adds height channels to an existing speaker system when two modules are placed on top of existing left-right speakers or on a media cabinet.

Rounding out the line: a shallow-depth center channel, which can be wall-mounted or placed on a table, and a compact 300-watt 10-inch subwoofer. The towers will sell for $1,400 per pair, the satellites at $550 per pair, and Atmos Mini at a targeted $100 each.

Pioneer: Pioneer brought a two-channel stereo receiver back to its Elite series. The networked high-resolution SXN30 will be available late December or in January at an estimated suggested retail of $599. It will be Pioneer’s first stereo receiver in the Elite series in about four or five years. Pioneer’s mainstream receiver series also lacks a stereo receiver.

The two-zone 2×80-watt receiver plays back all the latest music sources, including high-resolution audio downloads up to 192/24 and up to 5.6MHz DSD. The component features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth with aptX, DLNA, Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn Internet radio, Slacker and Deezer. High-res 192/24 files can be streamed via Wi-Fi depending on network traffic, and DSD can be streamed via an Ethernet connection. Music from a USB stick or USB hard drive can also be played, though only up to CD resolution.

For multiroom applications, the receiver features Speaker A-B switch and second- zone preout.

Russound: The company expanded its selection of streaming-media components with a single-zone XSource and four-zone XZone4.

The XSource is a single-zone preamp/streamer that can be connected to AVRs or used in a multizone-audio equipment rack. In the equipment rack, four of the quarter-rack-width components can be placed side by side to add four independent zones of streaming music to a multizone-audio system. It works with Russound’s current and previous-generation multizone-audio controllers.

XSource, due at year’s end at an unannounced price, connects to a network via Ethernet to stream Cloud-based music services. It also connects to USB sticks and USB hard drives to stream their content around the house. Other features include DLNA, AirPlay, and support for high-resolution audio.

The XZone4 four-zone streamer/amplifier incorporates four separate streamers and an 8×30-watt amplifier to deliver four independent zones of streaming music to rooms with in-ceiling or in-wall speakers. Up to four can be used to deliver 16 zones of amplified streaming music.

Sony: The company’s first AVR with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and HDMI 2.0a is the $2,799 ES series ZA5000E. DTS:X will likely be available through a firmware upgrade.

The AVR passes through BT 2084/2086 HDR video and BT.2020 wide-color-gamut video. The receiver becomes the highest price AVR in the ES series, surpassing the current top-end model’s $1,699 price point.

The 9×130-watt AVR, due in the spring, supports 11-channel Atmos and DTS:X when a two-channel amp is added to it. It also supports 4K 60fps (4:4:4) video passthrough and distributes 4K video and multichannel audio simultaneously to two zones.

Other key features include eight-port Ethernet hub, two Power over Ethernet (PoE) ports, and a new speaker-relocation feature that uses DSP to reposition speakers to optimal locations.

Other ES AVRs feature HDMI 2.0 connections that can’t be firmware- upgraded to 2.0a, the company said.

SpeakerCraft: One of the industry’s first in-wall Dolby Atmos elevation speakers can be mated with the first two in-wall speakers in the brand’s top-end AIM Series 2 line of architectural speakers, which currently consist of in-ceiling speakers. The module features angled-up drivers to bounce height information off the ceiling.

The module can be placed immediately above an AIM in-wall speaker and covered with a single narrow-bezel grille to create the appearance of a single narrow- width speaker.

The module and in-wall AIM speakers will be available late in the first half of 2016. Pricing wasn’t released, but the in-ceiling AIM speakers are priced from $500 to $900 each.

Triad Speakers: A prototype in-wall Dolby Atmos height-channel speaker, called the InWall Height Module, was unusual in that it incorporates a pivoting ribbon tweeter. The tweeter can be pivoted up and down and to the left and right so that the sound reflected off the ceiling arrives right in front of the listening position.

To help installers pivot the tweeter to its optimum position, the tweeter baffle features a battery-powered laser. When a mirror is held up against the ceiling, the laser reflects off the mirror to show where the sound waves would arrive relative to the listening position. The pivoting tweeters will give installers more flexibility in choosing installation locations, said marketing director Paul Teixeira.

The speaker matches the width of other Triad in-wall speakers and can be mounted right above those speakers. A single grille will be available to cover both speakers to make it appear like only one speaker is in the wall. The speaker can also be mounted on the wall. Pricing wasn’t disclosed.

Also new: the company’s’ first two Atmos height-channel modules, which are designed for placement on top of a consumers’ existing left-right speakers or on a shelf up to five feet away from the speakers.