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The best new home theater gear and demos at CEDIA EXPO 2016

We attended CEDIA EXPO 2016 in Dallas, TX. EXPO is an industry tradeshow for the home electronics industry, which covers everything from home automation through networking to home theater and distributed audio.

This blog post reveals some of the cool things that caught our eye (and ear) this year!

Electronics

ATI showed their new N-Core Class D amplifiers, available in 200W / 8 ohms with 2 through 8 channels and 400W / 8 ohms versions in 2 through 4 channels. These amps use the N-Core 500 modules from Hypex together with a classic ATI linear power supply. Pricing is great, with 2 channel 200W running $1,895 and a 8 channel version running $3,995.

Sony had their UBP-X1000ES UHD Blu-Ray player on display. I believe the price was $800.

Denon showed the first AVR with 11 amplified channels, the AVR-X6300H. All the current AVRs are 9 amplified channels maximum, with the need to add 2 outboard channels for Atmos. Interestingly Denon & Marantz are following Yamaha’s lead, and are incorporating streaming music services into their AVRs. D&M’s version is called HEOS.

Denon AVRX6300H

Storm Audio exhibited with the 16 (ISP-3D.16) and 32 channel pre-pros. The products seem well conceived, with an onboard web server allowing remote setup and monitoring, but they don’t have a US distributor yet. Pricing appears lower than Datasat and Trinnov, with the 16 channel version being around 11k we believe. Room EQ is currently digital parametric, but apparently forthcoming is a version of the room correction used by Barco IOSONO.

Stewart showed the Phantom High Ambient Light Rejecting  (HALR) screen, which is the first such screen available on the market that can come acoustically transparent via perforation.

Stewart Phantom HALR micro-perforated
Stewart Phantom HALR micro-perforated

Stewart screen materials
Stewart’s new Phantom HALR next to the Firehawk material

Speakers

JBL Synthesis had a demo of their new 4367 “passive M2” and SCL-3 / SCL-4 in walls. This was the best “immersive” demo at the show. The sound was smooth and clean with excellent surround effect localization and envelopment.

JBL Synthesis SCL-4
JBL Synthesis SCL-3

JBL Synthesis SCL-3
JBL Synthesis SCL-4

 JL Audio showed a new aggressively priced in-wall subwoofer using an 8″ driver. The in-wall cabinet is engineered much like their existing IWS subwoofer. The amp is a 1U rack mount that provides 300W per enclosure and includes the excellent DARO equalization. The sub is available in two versions, the IWS-SYS-108 (one enclosure, one 300W amp) and the IWS-SYS-208 (one enclosure, one 600W amp). Pricing mentioned at the show was $2k for the 108 and $3k for the 208. There are very few high quality in wall subs on the market, so having these additional options is awesome!

Ascendo Immersive Audio‘s demo was very good, probably our second favorite at the show.  Audiophile quality with plenty of dynamics. Quite often you’ll find the more dynamic speakers lose some ability to resolve low level detail…but not here. Ascendo is not well known in the US, being a German speaker company without an importer. Their approach is technologically interesting, using active speakers with AVB technology. Pricing is not confirmed in the US but pricing with ~20% tax in Euros was around 4-5k per speaker.

Ascendo Immersive Audio CCRM12
Ascendo Immersive Audio CCRM12

The Alcons Audio demo was very interesting. It was conducted very loudly, above reference level, but the speakers showed no strain. The sound was incredibly dynamic (probably the most impressive dynamics we’ve ever heard) but seemed to be lacking immersiveness and something about the mid-range was slightly off. This may be related to the choice of LCRs – they were using the CR3, which is a massive three way. Certainly a brand to watch.

KEF showed the CI-5160REF-THX, which is an in-wall version of their REF5 loudspeaker. Pricing was set at $10k each (!).

KEF CI-5160REF THX
KEF CI-5160REF THX

Video

JVC showed their new $35k 4K 3,000 lumen DLA-Z1 laser projector. The image looked decent, but we saw some unexpected video noise (which may have been the content shown, rather than the projector) and slightly raised black levels.

Digital Projection had two very aggressively priced 4K laser projectors with massive amounts of light output. The 3 chip Highlite Laser with 12,000 (!) lumens at $45k and the 1 chip E-Vision with 8000 lumens at $20k.

DPI  Highlite 4K laser
DPI Highlite 3 chip DLP 4K laser

DPI E-Vision 4K laser DLP
DPI E-Vision 4K laser DLP

Epson showed the Home Cinema 5040UB and Pro Cinema 6040 projectors with powered optics, which stretch down in price to under $3k! There were also two high output laser illuminated projectors, the Pro L1405W with 8,000 lumens at $13k and the Pro L1505 with 12,000 lumens at $22k.

Accessories

There were a few HDMI over fiber extenders at the show that we noticed, including Liberty Cable’s DL-FHD which is 18 Gbps capable. The cool thing about this extender is that it can you can use field terminated fiber. No more HDMI cables with captive ends that are impossible to troubleshoot if they go wrong!

Liberty UHD over fiber optic HDMI extenders
Liberty UHD over fiber optic HDMI extenders

Middle Atlantic, our go-to company for racks showed their new mounts, the VDM series. They had motion, tilt and fixed mounts on display. Quite exciting for us, because we’ve had real trouble finding good  motion mounts recently for the larger TVs now on the market (many manufacturers have not updated their products since the days when 55″ was a big TV).

We also saw the Future Automation Mounts, which we are going to switch to for all future mounts wherever possible. These things are on a completely different level to all the generic TV mounts out there, and not that much more expensive.

Future Automation SB55
Future Automation SB55 “service mount”

3 thoughts on “The best new home theater gear and demos at CEDIA EXPO 2016”

  1. Nice summary. You accidentally switched the captions for the JBL inwalls though. The SCL-3 is the square enclosure with dual 5.25″ drivers and the SCL-4 is the rectangular one with the single 7″.

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