Two Speakers Technology for Surround (Front & Back) – Niroson Cinema, together with Tokyo-based Mechanical Research Corp. and MartinLogan speakers, have developed a system that stuffs six or seven speakers into two separate enclosures (front and back) to simplify the setup of surround sound systems. Designed to reduce speaker clutter in home theater systems, the speakers use patented DSP algorithms and proprietary driver placement to create what the companies call a “broad and detailed” experience of high-fidelity multichannel music from SACD players and HT soundtracks. (This is similar to the pseudo-surround speaker bars which several manufacturers offer, but using a second one in the rear.) A powered subwoofer is also part of the system, so we are really talking about three, not two speakers. Each of the main cabinets feature separate left, center and right speaker complements, each powered independently. Two drivers fire off to the side at an angle while the center driver fires forward. (News to us that there is now a center channel in the rear.) The rear cabinet is placed behind the listeners high up on the wall and firing down, or it can be placed on the floor, firing up. Niroson contends that less than 10% of DVD and Blu-ray decks feed 5.1 surround speaker systems. They blame the difficulty of finding space for six speaker cabinets, and that if space is available some speakers might have to be placed in spots yielding a less-than-optimal experience. The technology can also be used in enclosed speakers, in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, in large TV displays, and in cars.
Most Expensive Car Audio System – Rogue Acoustics has unveiled their premiere car audio system, the RA:1K. While customizable, most system will consist of nine or ten drivers: four tweeters, four midrange, and one or two subwoofers. These will be supported with up to six amps capable of only .0008% harmonic distortion at 100 watts and a S/N radio higher than 115dB. The central amp will include a cellular connection allowing Rogue technicians to remotely tune the system or disable it if it is stolen. The system can diagnose itself and, if necessary, automatically request a service appointment be scheduled. The most basic version can be purchased for $72,000, but if all the bells and whistles are included it may total over $300,000. Prior to the Rogue system, the most expensive car audio system was Critical Mass’ CES5.1 Electrostatic Surround Sound System, which used 12 relatively small electrostatic speakers—three at each of four seats, with a pair of rear speakers and a subwoofer in the back of the car. Only ten of these systems were installed at $259,000 each.
Pure’s Jongo Modular Speaker – The latest to jump on the multi-room speaker bandwagon is Pure, with their Jongo S340B, which looks like an ordinary small satellite speaker and comes in several colors. It houses four tweeters pointing out in every direction plus an upward-firing subwoofer. Its 360-degree music experience is managed with an app (for both iOS and Android) from one’s smartphone or tablet. A rechargeable battery lasts for ten hours of music playback. There are options for selecting mono, stereo or two-tweeter playback. Connectivity includes Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB and the common auxiliary mini-plug input.
Meridian Digital Media System – Meridian Audio’s Media Core 200 Digital Media System forms a complete high-performance digital media system with the capacity to store entire music collections. It requires only the user’s choice of a network-based controller to perform, including Meridian’s app for iPad or iPhone, apps for PCs or Macs, or a Meridian controller. At its heart is a new 1TB drive which stores around 2000 CD albums in pristine lossless quality for graphical and touch-screen access via the Meridian interface. It is extremely simple to connect and set up, and it can quickly import your existing digital music library. Fanless operation means it can be located within your listening area. SRP is $4000.
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