Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association
Report By Bill Gaw
reporter by clicking here
At the DTS demonstration, again their was no sound except for the DTS barker explaining the future wonders of home audio from the high definition disc. Unhappily, of six DTS standards that can be used, five are of lower bit rates than DVD-A or SACD, neither of which is in the high definition disc standards. Only one, their Master Audio grade, which does top out at 24 megabits per second, at 24/96 8 channel or 24/192 2 channel, will only be available in hardware in the distant future, and one will need both a new disc player and pre-pro to obtain it, and only through the new HDMI 1.3 standard connection or decoded in the player. Also, mastering of even the highest bit rate Master level can be done at lower bit rates to save space without the knowledge of the purchaser. Caveat Emptor. While there have been announcements that there will be software in the near future having both DTS Master Audio and Dolby True HD on them, they wonít be playable for a while in these configurations, and the vast majority of the titles will be movies or previously released rock concerts.
There were a few bright lights for us though. First, APC, who produces the S-15 Home Theater Power Conditioner discussed in my regular column at
AA Chapter 82, has come out with some new toys. First, they took some of my recommendations made about their S-15 unit and have included them on their new S-20. The S-20 will now put out
25 percent more power and has significantly more headroom for those who need it, and allows computer control of its functions. The boards and backup batteries for controlling voltage variation are otherwise the same so its ability to control AC nasties should be equivalent to the S-15 that Iíve found to be the best conditioner Iíve heard.
Mike Schenk, a high end audio guy with tube equipment, one of their product managers, also discussed with me their new H line of equipment, two of which are being evaluated by me now. The H-15ís have a smaller chassis because they donít have built in battery backup, but rather use auto-formers to control voltage swings, and the circuit boards are the same as the S series. So far, they are working wonders in my system, and at $399 each are a steal. More in my next column. Are they as good as the S-series? Visit my column
within the October issue of the Enjoy the Music.comģ
So what was the other bright light. Across from the CEDIA convention was a big black sign announcing that THE
S.H.O.W. was in town up the street at the Denver Athletic Center. For the unenlightened, this is an organization set up several years ago by some members of the high end community who found that the
C.E.S. at their Las Vegas show were marginalizing the high end part and charging exorbitant rates for poor demo rooms. And here they were, so over I flew. Unhappily there were only seven demonstration rooms present. Guess the other high end companies had realized in the past that they were fighting a losing battle coming to CEDIA. Happily several of the products demonstrated are possible advances in high end audio.
The biggest possible advancement as far as Iím concerned was found in the AUDYSSEY room, where Mike Thurresson presented their new concept in room and speaker correction. They have devised a digital correction system for both frequency and time distortions which will ameliorate sound anomalies in a large area of the listening room rather than just in a small sweet spot. They even claim that the sweet spot sounds even better when a large area is evaluated and adjusted by their process. Donít understand how this is done as with my high school PSC Physics background, standing waves are different depending on your room position, and thus decreasing or increasing frequency anomalies should be only correctible for a point in the room, but both inventors are far ahead of me in physics, and the demonstration did clearly show a significant improvement not only in frequency anomalies right up into the midrange, but also in soundfield holography and clarity, not only in the sweet spot but also in several other listening positions.
The process not only corrects anomalies in the room, but also those in the speaker crossovers and also will time align the speakers and suggest the correct crossover for a separate subwoofer or woofers.
The theory behind it comes from Professors Kyriakaks and Tomlinson Holman( as in THX and Apt-Holman preamps), and has been picked up by several receiver manufacturers, including Denon, as their processing chip for room correction. Unhappily, as yet no high end pre-pro or preamp manufacturer has stepped up to the plate to include it in their products.
Thus the company has come out with their own unit, shown below with Professors Holman and
It has 8 channels of correction, all with analog single ended RCA inputs and outputs, as most home theaters will be 7.1 in the future and no as yet designed pre-pro or receiver will output the digital breakdown of the Dolby or DTS or DVD-A channels. Thus there is an extra A/D and D/A conversion with extra interconnects which is a possible problem for the high end, but the converters are 24/96, the best Burr-Brown chips, and the room correction may be sufficient to overcome this extra conversion. Happily there is a bypass switch on the front of the unit which allows the analog signal to pass through one relay and the extra interconnect without digital conversion, but the room acoustics and time constraints were such that there was no way to tell how pure this was.
They did take two of my suggestions to heart. First, the processor chip can take in digital data, so they may be willing to add a SPDIF digital input for 2 channel which could feed directly off of your CD, SACD, or DVD-A player for two channel playback with room and speaker correction for 2 channels. Second, they are planning on coming out with a balanced unit in the future.
At present they are selling these only through their trained dealers who use a specially calibrated microphone, computer and software to take the room readings and store the ideal configuration to the unit. Unhappily, at present, only one set of data may be stored, rather than two or three for different frequency corrections that could be of help with different recordings. Also, they wonít sell the setup equipment to non-dealers so we tweakers wonít be able to play with the possible perturbations of room correction. Happily the price of the unit is only $2500 for eight channels plus the cost for the dealer to do the correction. Unhappily, if you buy new or even move your speakers, youíll have to have them back for a reanalysis. Once they have the balanced unit theyíve promised to have one sent to me for evaluation so stand by.
By the way, the system found in the receivers at present is not of the same quality as this unit, so donít replace your high end equipment with a cheap receiver to try it out.
YG Acoustics, along with Delta Sigma, an Italian company, had a very good sounding room. I actually went in there because I had been to the YG demonstration in Munich 2 years ago, and had picked up one of their demo discs which had 5 great demonstration tracks but had lent it out and lost it. Anyway, they have a new line of speakers which are made of solid aluminum and titanium cabinets with modified Scanspeak drivers which sounded phenomenal. While the room would not support deep bass, the mids and highs and soundstage were the best heard at the show, but at their price of $60,000 to 100,000 were out of my price range. Besides, they probably wouldnít sound that great with my low power amps.
Viper Reference Speakers with Plinus Audio amplification and Nordost also had an excellent sounding room, and were even using classical SACD recordings for demonstrating.
They also had a Kuzma Stabi S / Stogi S combo turntable that fed the brand new Plinius Koru Phono stage ($2195).
Further along the corridor, I could feel gut-wrenching bass coming from the depths of the Earth. It actually felt like an Earthquake was beginning. What was being demonstrated was a new invention of Bruce Thigpen of Eminent Technology, his TRW-17 Infrasonic Rotary Woofer. I had seen a picture of this thing months ago, but thought at the time that it was an April Fools joke. The unit looks like a rotary fan connected to a large motor on a wooden base with a crossover unit that is placed in a
large (meaning small room sized) fiberglass filled box in the attic or basement, crawl space, etc. to absorb the backwave and high frequency fan sounds. Too bad as the fan could double as a cooling system for you equipment. The motor turns the fan blades at a continuous rate, and the blades are connected to a moveable arm which is attached to the drive mechanism of a woofer. As the drive mechanism is stimulated the fan blades change angle at the frequency rate, more or less just like blades on a propeller, which produces the sound. This unit will produce the frequency band from 1 (thatís one)
Hz to 20Hz at 120dB levels with less than 3dB. distortion.
So who needs it? Actually for the high end, it could give more sonic accuracy as background noise in concert halls picked up by microphones and our ears always includes this infrasonic information from the hall heating systems, traffic noise, etc., which we normally perceive at live concerts without realizing it. While its real function is with video, where Foley stages quite often place infrasonic frequencies into their sound reproduction, especially crashes, plane takeoffs and flyovers, etc.
This particular unit costs $20,000 plus installation, plus the 200 watt amplifier it will need. While most of us probably donít need this unit, he is designing others with different frequency ranges which can be used both in home systems and cars. Time will tell whether his newest invention will be as well received as his superb panel speakers.
The problem I have with it is that years ago, the army experimented with using infrasonic waves in the 2
Hz to 4 Hz range to disable an enemy by churning their bowels. They gave up on it realizing that the backwave is just as strong as the front one, thus causing problems, including internal organ damage in their own troops. So buyer beware unless you have a problem with constipation.
Now I and the wife are off for a weekís tour of Colorado. Hope the weather holds out. I hear they can get snow in the mountains in September.