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Stereophile Show
Home Entertainment 2005
Hi-Fi and Home Theater Event

Thursday
Page 1

  The first of today's press conferences was held by Peter Weedfald who was touting the benefits of Microsoft and Samsung. Specifically, their partnering with Microsoft and high definition (HD) formats -- both audio and video. As the HD platforms increase in quality, the entry price for consumers is also dropping as the popularity grows. He also thanked the 3G (and Cingular/T-Mobile) for raising wireless bandwidth, thereby making "the pipe" larger so more data can be delivered. This brings us to Smart Phones that use various Windows mobile platforms.

Since many readers are familiar, i myself am a techno-weenie. As such i can attest to the benefits of having the ability to use my cellular phone for not just e-mail and text messaging, but to also surf the Internet. Soon you will easily be able to enjoy all your favorite Internet websites anywhere you go as they are delivered to your color screen phone. So those of you who enjoy reading print magazines 'in the John' will easily do the same with Enjoy the Music.com™. Yes, you can read our magazine on today's Internet-ready phones, though imagine surfing the Internet at a much faster rate you probably have today. High speed Internet, fully mobile, always on... 

Getting back to Samsung and Microsoft, the next generation X-Box video game console will include Samsung's GDDR3k, 512MB video graphics card. Peter Weedfald claimed it is the fastest video graphic unit to date. Bottom line... technology alliances. When Microsoft launches the next generation X-Box, retail stores will be using Samsung 23-inch, 12ms video switching speed HD video units. Samsung invested $3.1 billion to insure progress in their products. On top of this, Microsoft and Samsung are giving away $2 million in hardware and software to various schools (elementary through high school).

During the question and answer session, a point was made that Samsung has always offered hardware that is open formats. In a sense it was a stab (and rightly so in this writer's opining) about Sony continually releasing proprietary formats. Such formats (SACD, Elcasette, Memory card, MiniDisc, etc) can confuse customers, limit customer's choices, and simply put, are inappropriate for the health of the industry.

 

Next press event was Polk Audio touting HD radio and its benefits. This is not XM satellite radio or the like, this is terrestrial broadcasting received in basically the same way people receive AM/FM radio today. The benefits include multicasting, meaning that not only could you enjoy 98.1, there could be 98.1-A, -B, etc. Therefore a single station could offer multiple channels within a single basic frequency, but the 'catch' is that only a limited amount of allocated bandwidth (150kbs) is available. This means the more sub-channels a radio station employs the less bandwidth is available per each one... and the lower the sound quality potential. In the end the best music fidelity potential is claimed to be near CD quality sound and that text can be displayed on the receiver such as song title, band name, weather, etc.

Polk Audio announced their new <cough> Wave Radio <cough> I-Sonic Entertainment System ($599) table radio. Unique features include HD FM/AM radio, DVD player (DVD, MP3, CD, etc.), has video outs, XM ready, dual alarm clock, 2 auxiliary inputs, and variable audio preamp output. Naturally the unit will also include Polk's I-Sonic audio effect that is said to produce 360-degree sound with a pair of loudspeakers.

 

Straightwire's new Virtuoso R ($799 for 1 meter) provides 6 channels of line-level audio transfer. The wire itself is silver plated copper with dual coax design for 100% shielding. This cable can easily handle multi-channel analog audio such as DVD-Audio.

 

Acoustic Research has released their own Digital MediaBridge ($349) that allows ease of access to virtually all audio and video formats and sends them wirelessly through your home. It works in concert with a Windows 2000/XP computer equipped with a network card. Connections include composite, S-Video, component and DVI-D for video, and analog stereo plus digital coax (RCA) and optical (TOSlink). The basic premise is the ability to send the entertainment media from your computer to any location within your home wirelessly.

 

Bösendorfer's main system featured two grand pianos in the entranceway! Being a world-recognized piano manufacturer, they can enjoy such things. As for their line of loudspeakers that were first announced worldwide on Enjoy the Music.com™ Frankfurt show years ago and only now reaching American shores, the main system features their VC7 ($22,000) enjoys steel driver baskets, air-gapped fused magnets, Kevlar voice coil mounts and carbon fiber/Alaskan hemp diaphragms. Ok, enough with the technical stuff, the system sounds quite good. Other parts of the system include...

 

As for the front-end of the system, Acoustic Solid Small Royal turntable with Rega RB250 tonearm ($2,995, reviewed here) and Art Audio's Vinyl Reference phonostage ($3,995, reviewed here). This is the same front end used in my personal home system!

 

Art Audio electronics was employed throughout. My camera could not help but focus on the Art Audio Adagio monoblock amplifier ($20,000) that has a pair of KR Audio T-100 tubes produce 40 watts of high-current driving power.

 

Lamm Industries had a pair Vitavox cornerhorn two-way loudspeakers of being driven by their ML2.1 monoblock amplifiers ($29,290). Simplicity in visuals conceals some very high-end inner-workings. While a pair of Russian 6C33C-B produce 18 watts, a 12ax7, 6N6P, 5651, and 6AK5 round out the tube compliment. In fact our very own senior editor Dick Olsher reviewed Lamm's LP2 phono preamplifier (click here) and LL2 (Deluxe) line level preamplifier (click here).

 

The Digital Audio Lounge featured XM and their not yet released XM2go ($299 with home and car kit). Advantages over my home it includes recording 5 hours of music, programmability, and is battery powered.

 

Avatar Acoustics' Ascendo floorstanding loudspeaker ($25,000) had very fast, clean upper frequencies with their ribbon tweeter. In fact the entire tweeter section is adjustable to time align it with the lower frequency drivers. This over 200 lbs beauty's modular design, both mechanical and electrical decoupling, and specially dampened woofer.

 

Kaledeidescape specializes in home entertainment servers. Basically store your videos and TV programs, with audio coming on line soon as the usual licensing take hold.

 

Click here to see page 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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