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 Home Entertainment 2004
Hi-Fi and Home Theater Event

Back In The New York Groove
Part II
By Chris Boylan
Click here to e-mail reviewer


  Up on the 4th floor, New York City high end audio and home theater dealer Harvey Electronics showcased a fine home theater system featuring Martin Logan loudspeakers and McIntosh electronics.  As usual, this pairing sounded great on home theater and music-only material, and the HD picture coming from a D-VHS copy of "Fifth Element" (the powerful "Diva" scene) looked crystal clear, except for one visible drop-out in the five minute demo (which is, alas, common to D-VHS, based on my own brief experience owning a JVC D-Theater D-VHS deck). 

McIntosh/Martin Logan system, courtesy of Harvey Electronics
Local high-end dealer Harvey Electronics showcased
McIntosh electronics and Martin-Logan loudspeakers.

In-Wall Speakers, and Other Dirty Tricks

Next door, Joseph Audio showcased their new RM55LE ($12,500/pr.), which are nestled in the higher end of Joseph's line, between the RM33 and the top of the line Pearls. As in previous years, The Joseph speakers were powered by Manley's excellent 250 wpc. mono-blocks... Or were they?  In fact, Jeff Joseph pulled a fast one on us.  Not only was he not using the Manley 250 amps, he wasn't even playing the RM55s!  In a trick that harkened back to the Bose Acoustimass demos of the 1980s, Jeff walked over to the curtains and revealed that we were actually listening to his new "Insider" in-wall speakers ($2,000/pr.) powered by the diminutive Manley Stingray 40 Watts/Channel integrated amp ($2,250).  I wish I could tell you I saw right through this little ploy, but frankly, he got me.  

Jeff Joseph reveals his Insider In-Wall Speaker
Jeff Joseph proudly reveals his in-wall speaker, The Insider.

Of course, when he actually switched on the RM55s and bigger Manley amps, the difference in detail and low bass extension was immediately evident.  But these little in-wall speakers certainly held their own, and would make an excellent choice if your specific requirements dictate that speakers are better heard than seen. As for the real RM55LEs, they carry on in the tradition of their big sisters, the Pearls -- the extended bass of a dedicated sub and pinpoint imaging of a good set of mini-monitors. Had there been a "best in show" vote this year, I'm sure this system would have been a contender.

Manley Labs 250 monoblocks and Stingray integrated amplifier
Manley Labs 250 monoblocks (rear) and Stingray integrated amplifier
(front top) were a great match for the Joseph loudspeakers... as usual.


The Real Reason For No "Best In Show" Vote This Year?

Speaking of "Best In Show," I was curious as to why there were no voting cards this year for attendees to vote for their favorite systems.  Joseph revealed a tale of favoritism and political influence that some of his unnamed competition has apparently garnered with the show hosts, Primedia.  A Primedia publisher had apparently gotten complaints from Joseph's competition that they were unhappy that Joseph kept winning "best in show" year after year.  So, said publisher took Jeff out to lunch, bought him a nice meal and broke the bad news: "Sorry, no voting this year."  True or not, it's unfortunate that attendees were not able to express their votes for their favorites this year, and I hope Primedia reconsiders this decision in the future.

Down the hall from Joseph was mbl, who showcased their new SACD/CD player the model 1532 ($8,000, available June, 2004).  I love the look of the mbl gear.  It always reminds me of some 50's SciFi movies... but in a good way.

mbl gear, including new 1532 sacd/cd player
Distinctive styling makes mbl stand out in a crowd.

Cinepro chose a different approach to attract listeners to its home theater demo.  Attractive booth babes (works every time... at least on me).  In addition to the lovely spokesmodels, their demo featured all Cinepro electronics and loudspeakers.  At levels that far exceeded "Dolby Reference," the Cinepro folks showed an entertaining clip from the film "Underworld."  Two words come to mind - visceral impact.  You could feel this demo in your guts.  And I have to say I did not notice a lot of strain or distortion.  Had I stayed in the room any longer, I fear I would have lost some high frequency hearing, but if you're looking for gut-wrenching punch, this is the place.

Cinepro Evolution Series Home Theater Loudspeakers
Cinepro's Evolution Series home theater loudspeakers play loud... REALLY loud.

Cinepro's Evolution series 7.1 channel speaker system cost around $19,500 including two 15 inch subwoofers, front left, right, center and four surround speakers.  For electronics they had their Reference 4K6 Mk. 4 SE ($8,795) and 3K6 Mk. 4 ($5,795) - 6 channels each, 475 WPC and 450 WPC respectively (the 4K6 supports peaks of over 1,000 Watts Per Channel, according to the Cinepro rep.), and their DTC10 preamp/processor was driving the bus ($6,000 - not yet available).

Cinepro Electronics
Cinepro's Multi-Channel amplifiers and processor -
more watts than anyone could ever possibly need?

What's New from the Outlaws?

Outlaw displayed sneak previews of three different pieces of gear at the show this year, all slated for production before the end of 2004. First up is the Model 1070, a home theater receiver packing 65 Watts X 7 channels, all of the expected surround processing modes (including Dolby PLIIx),

Outlaw - sneak peeks
Outlaw sneak peaks - (left to right), 1070 home theater receiver, RR2150 retro
stereo receiver with MM/MC phono stage and model 790 seven channel power amp.

Outlaw's demo system included only current production pieces -- the model 950 preamp/processor (see full review here), the model 770 amplifier (200 WPC X7) driving Vifa loudspeakers that are currently only available in Europe plus 3, count em THREE of Outlaw's new LFM-1 subwoofers ($579 each).  Outlaw's Peter Tribeman suggested that most folks would be perfectly happy with one, or at most two LFM-1s, but in order to make the best of a hotel room where all 40 people in the room expect to get the same balanced sound, they felt three subs would be the most prudent move.  Video duty was handled by a Dwin HD2 DLP projector firing at a Stewart screen.  Although I'm unfamiliar with the Vifa speakers, I can say the demos were well-balanced and the low-end packed a wallop with excellent extension.  I may have to take a closer listen to these little subs because they sounded very promising, particularly for the price.


We're Putting The Band Back Together...

I have to say, Delphi and XM have done a fine job entertaining us this year.  After a two-hour open bar on Thursday to announce their teeny-tiny new ROADY2 XM satellite tuner module, Delphi and XM also sponsored a great concert on Friday to benefit the ELF Foundation.   The Elf Foundation builds "Rooms of Magic" - custom theaters in children's hospitals across the country, so that sick kids and their families can enjoy a couple of hours of entertainment during potentially trying times.

The benefit concert featured singers Carla Lother, Nicole Henry and Joan Osborne as well as a crack band of studio/session players known for this gig as the "New York All Stars" and led by saxophonist/conductor Tom Scott.  Tom's band included bass-player Will Lee (from the "Late Night with David Letterman" band), and horn players Tom "Bones" Malone and Lou "Blue Lou" Marini, both from the Blues Brothers band, among other talented performers.  

Joan Osboarne belting out some original tunes and some Motown
Singer/songwriter Joan Osborne belted out a few Motown
classics as well as some originals but, oddly, not "One Of Us" -
the enormously popular single that put her on the map.

Joan Osboarne belting out some original tunes and some Motown
The backing band stole the show.  Pictured here is the horn section, featuring
Tom "Bones" Malone (far left), "Blue Lou" Marini (center) and Tom Scott (far right).


Click here for for Part III including my votes for "best in show."

Why not start at the beginning (Part I) or check out our complete show coverage for Home Entertainment 2004?


Click here to see a
complete listing of show exhibitors.

Click here to see our 2003 show coverage.












































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