As usual, there are many things to see and listen to at CEDIA 2015, which kicked off today in Dallas, TX. That said, here are 5 picks for must-see audio and video gear on the show floor.
1. Sony 4K UltraHD Projector with HDR Capability
The VPL-VW665ES projector is a native 4K projector with SXRD panels, Sony's proprietary TRILUMINOS engine, Motionflow picture technology, and built-in RF 3D transmitters. To be fully UHD-compliant, it includes HDMI 2.0a connectivity with HDCP 2.2 compliance and long-lasting lamps for up to 6,000 hours of performance under normal mode (believe me, it's bright enough you don't need the bright mode). In addition, the VPL-VW665ES offers HDR (high dynamic range) support and features a 300,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. Pricing is estimated at US$14,000. Sony's 20-minute demo featuring both this new projector and new receiver (which also made the list) is worth the wait to see, showcasing Atmos, DTS:X, a 4K TV show, and HDR.
2. Anthem MRX AV Receivers with Dolby Atmos & DTS:X
After a couple of years experimenting with a "for the masses" receiver line up, Canadian audio company Anthem showcased its new MRX 1120, an 11.1-channel receiver with integrated support for up to 7.1.4 systems. The new series incorporates HDMI 2.0a connections with 4K HDR and HDCP 2.2 compliancy. Built-in Dolby Atmos and future DTS:X support are also included, along with DTS Play-Fi connectivity for wireless music streaming. Pricing is estimated at US$3,500. If 5.1.4 meets your needs, Anthem also announced the MRX 720 at an estimated MSRP of US$2,500. Both receivers, of course, come equipped with the highly acclaimed Anthem Room Correction.
3. MartinLogan Motion AFX Dolby Atmos-Enabled Speaker Module
With the bombardment of immersive audio from both Dolby and DTS, it is only logical for more manufacturers to offer solutions for immersive audio. MartinLogan has revealed its latest speaker, the Motion AFX, which is designed to sit atop other speakers, adding a height layer of sound. The speaker features a 0.75-inch aluminum dome tweeter and 5.25-inch polypropylene cone bass/midrange driver. Using Dolby Atmos-enabled technology, the drivers are angled upward, allowing them to bounce sound off the ceiling to create overhead audio. It can sit on top of the Motion 15, 20, 35XT, 40 and 60XT MartinLogan speakers, or other brands of speakers that have a flat top. It is expected to launch in November for an estimated price of US$600/pr.
4. Sony STR-ZA5000ES Flagship Receiver
The STR-ZA5000ES is Sony's first ES receiver to offer Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support. With its built-in 130 watts x 9-channel receiver, additional amplifiers can be added to offer support for up to 11.1 channels to accommodate 7.1.4 immersive audio configuration. Dolby Atmos compatibility is built-in and DTS:X will be supported through a firmware upgrade. Likewise, the receiver includes HDCP 2.2-compliant HDMI 2.0a connections and can support High-Res audio, 4K Ultra HD sources, HDR, and even the BT.2020 wide colour gamut standard. DSP technology, a high performance 32-bit floating point processor, and Sony's latest D.C.A.C. EX tech are incorporated as well. It is expected to start shipping in April 2016 for a suggested retail price of US$2,800.
5. MStar Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD TV SoCs
With the slew of upcoming UHD Blu-ray titles, broadcast, and on-demand titles to be released in 4K resolution and High Dynamic Range, a more affordable processing solution that can be applied on any display is needed. By creating a Silicon on Chip solution, Mstar technology will be adopted by SoC giants such as Mediatek, RealTek and HiSilicon. The choice of using Dolby Vision technology, in my opinion, is a logical one as Dolby Vision is an end-to-end video technology that uses HDR and wide colour gamuts to create and display content with superior brightness, contrast, and pop. Dolby Vision VS10 also has the benefit of being a universal HDR playback solution, allowing the tech to support Dolby Vision content and other HDR profiles based on the SMPTE ST 2084 standard. Furthermore, Dolby Vision had signed an agreement with multiple vendors such as Warner Bros., VUDU, Netflix, and the UltraHD Blu-ray Forum to ensure that there is enough content out there for the Dolby Vision HDR standard to be used. Canadian cable companies Bell and Rogers will follow suit in January 2016 to stream sport channels and on-demand movies on CraveTV and Shomi, respectively, in UHD HDR.
Worthy Mention: No Region Coding for UltraHD Blu-ray Discs
As someone whose shiny-disc affliction started during the LaserDisc age, this is truly a great news. During the LaserDisc days, you could buy any disc from anywhere in the world to be played back anywhere in the world. This fun was immediately stopped when DVD was divided into six regions (seven if you include the airline-playback-only discs) and somewhat alleviated when Blu-ray was "only" divided into three zones. Movie collectors worldwide can rejoice, as the UltraHD Blu-ray Forum announced that there will be no more region/zone coding for any UltraHD Blu-ray release. November 2015 cannot come soon enough.
Sony STR-ZA5000ES Flagship Receiver