During our third day walking the CES show floor, we came across plenty more AV goodies that excite us about what's to come for 2019.
The PSB Alpha, shown above, marks a new beginning. The original alpha series products were extremely popular during their introduction more than a decade ago. The combination of affordable pricing without sonic compromise has made this series legendary. But this year, PSB has reintroduced the Alpha series with many improvements.
The new woofers employ dual layer voice coils with powerful magnet structures to provide low distortion and high output levels. The cones are made from a special textured polypropylene compound that prevents cone breakup and extends frequency response for a smooth integration to the tweeter. The tweeter, meanwhile, is ferrofluid cooled and features a Neodymium magnet for high sensitivity and power handling. A wave guide on the front helps match the response of the tweeter near the crossover point with the woofer for a seamless transition. Interestingly, the tweeter is placed below the woofer on some models, which provides a uniform sound field whether the listener is seated or standing.
A complex 4th-order Acoustic Linkwitz-Riley crossover is used for this series. This is highly unusual for speakers at such affordable price points.
Each model of the new Alpha series uses a unique combination of wall thickness and bracing in the cabinet to control resonances and provide a perfect platform for the drive units.
The demo conducted by Paul Barton sure sounded like a winner. I smell a review coming up.
Monoprice's Monolith line-up of low-priced power amplifiers and THX-certified subwoofers have shaken things up. And now, the company has introduced a 16-channel processor complete with Dirac calibration engine, balanced pre-outs on every channel, and an AES/EBU input for professional-grade 2-channel digital audio. The price: US$4000.
While the price can no longer be considered "budget," the HTP-1 is still a whole lot more affordable when compared with a processor of the same features and caliber. It sells for 80% of the price of its nearest competition, but with a much richer feature set. This processor also includes a touch panel at the front so you don't need to turn on your display in order to set up this 7.3.6 processor.
It also includes a parametric EQ, which I love, Amazon Alexa (which I extensively use at home), and the latest version of AKM DAC (a DAC manufacturer that is prominently used by recording studios worldwide).
The other product that caught my eye on the third day of the show was the THX-certified sealed subwoofer from the company. I always prefer a sealed enclosure over ported due to its overall accuracy, finding it to be far less boomy, but with a lot more kick.
Available in 10", 12" and 15" variants, the price of US$499, US$799, and US$1,299 are budget friendly, especially when you consider the THX certification (THX Ultra for the 15" version).
Crosley was showcasing a new jukebox. Yes, an actual vinyl playing jukebox. Of course, like any Crosley product, nostalgia is the selling point. However, this is a piece of nostalgia that does not cost an arm and a leg for what it is. You can load up to albums or singles to be then played by the machine. Don't expect audiophile playback quality, but if you want to relive the old days (my late grandfather used to own a Wurlitzer) or just have a vinyl changer to play background music, this is the answer to your prayers. At $13,000, it's actually decently priced.
Not everyone can install ceiling speakers, especially when they rent or live in a condo. What should one do if he/she wants to experience Dolby Atmos? The Onkyo X-SR494 5.2.2 receiver provides an answer.
When playing a Dolby format, the new Dolby Atmos Height Virtualizer creates a virtual surround and height effect from traditional speaker layouts without employing additional surround or height speakers. Similarly, DTS Virtual:X creates a 3D sound-field through any speaker layout without surround or height speaker connection.
The 3D sound virtualization creates a spatial sound-field from as few as 2.1 channels. Another new features of this model is DSP-based Vocal Enhancer, which lets users raise or lower vocal frequencies to clarify movie or TV dialog via the receiver's remote or front button.
I listened to the demo and while it can not truly replace a true Atmos set up, it works rather well for settings where a true Atmos set-up isn't feasible.