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Soundbars, Tabletop Speakers Abound at CEDIA EXPO 2012

Soundbars continued to have a prominent presence at this year’s CEDIA EXPO, a sign that integrators and consumers have warmed up to the category.

The Paradigm Shift Series Soundtrack system includes a six-driver soundbar and a compact, wireless (with wired option) subwoofer.Soundbars continued to have a prominent presence at this year’s CEDIA EXPO, a sign that integrators and consumers have warmed up to the category. There were also a range of new tabletop or bookshelf-style speakers on display by audio manufacturers, as well as various “not a soundbar” audio consoles, a new subcategory meant to assuage the hi-fi capability concerns some still harbor about the traditional soundbars. Here’s a rundown of some of these products introduced in Indianapolis.

Artison replaced its current passive threechannel soundbar with three new models designed for TVs with thinner displays. The soundbars, comprising the Studio series, are 2.25-inches-deep and positioned as offering both aesthetics and performance. They are the Studio 39, Studio 46, and Studio 55.

Boston Acoustics’ M series of highperformance speakers is a completely new line consisting of six models: the MSub subwoofer, M Center center-channel speaker, M25 bookshelf speaker, the M250, the M340, and the M350 floorstanding speakers. All but the subwoofer are two-way models. The new models add extendedbandwidth tweeters and feature Lo-Q cabinet construction to minimize cabinet interference.

Yamaha’s YSP-4300 digital sound projectorGoldenEar’s first soundbar is the passive, threechannel SuperCinema 3D Array. The company’s highest powered active sub, the ForceField 5, ships in December. The soundbar measures 49 inches wide by 4.75 inches tall by 2.5 inches deep. It’s designed to minimize inter-aural crosstalk in the 150Hz to 2,000-Hz range to improve front-stage width and depth beyond what three separate-but-closely-spaced speakers can deliver, the company said.

SpeakerCraft’s CS3 TV speaker, an under-TV sound system features Bluetooth connectivity, builtin subwoofers, and DSP technology housed in one sleek cabinet. These include two 5.25-inch longthrow subwoofers; four 2.5-inch midranges and two 1-inch soft dome tweeters, with midrange-tweetermidrange positioning for optimum imaging. Ample power is provided by four 20W (RMS) amplifiers. This bi-amplified configuration provides 80W RMS (total). 20 The other pair of amps delivers 20W for the mid-ranges and tweeters.

AudioXperts 4TV Model 5122The new Timbre Series bookshelf speakers from Leon uses a reflective coupled chamber for low frequency extension while providing a more rigid suspension to support the full range sound delivered by the woven cone woofers in these ported cabinets. The Ti400-X-A features a 4-inch midrange woofer and cloth-dome tweeter while the TiUltima utilizes a 5-inch reference-grade woofer and referencegrade tweeter.

KEF launched its first powered speakers with USB connection to PCs, Apple iOS devices, and Android devices to play back music. The X300A two-way speaker pair is said to perform as well as professional studio monitors, thanks to biamplification, use of Class AB audiophile-grade amps, 96kHz/24-bit USB input, and KEF’s proprietary Uni-Q driver array.

Martin Logan’s Motion 15 bookshelf speakersThe Kevro-marketed British speaker brand Monitor Audio showed its first home theater speaker package, the MASS, which is a 5.1 system consisting of five curved satellite speakers and a curved active subwoofer. The company also is also showing its first desktop computer speakers, the WS100 2.0, which feature wireless technology to stream music from a wireless USB dongle plugged in a computer.

Paradigm expanded its Paradigm Shift series of products targeted to personal-audio users and gamers with its first soundbar, first AirPlay speaker, and a new multimedia speaker. The Soundtrack System includes a 6-driver soundbar and a compact, wireless (with wired option) subwoofer. Other features include bass/midrange drivers, two passive radiators and two high frequency drivers. There are 4.5- inch bass midrange drivers and 4-inch passive radiators that are a mineral filled polypropylene delivering a low mass, high-stiffness cone composition. The two high-frequency drivers feature 1-inch satin-anodized pure-aluminum dome tweeters. Passive radiators promote extended lower frequencies.

NAD expanded its Viso series of docking speakers with the Viso 1 AP, which is the company’s first tabletop speaker with Apple AirPlay. The speaker also features Wi-Fi, stereo Bluetooth with the aptX codec, and rear USB port for charging and streaming music directly from iOS devices.

Polk Audio’s SurroundBar 5000 employs the apt-X codec in conjunction with Bluetooth connectivity. The SurroundBar 5000 measures 31 inches wide and 2.25 inches deep, with a 6.5-inch wireless subwoofer. It is designed for adding a robust surround sound experience to mid-sized displays, but the SurroundBar 5000 IHT is adept with stereo personal music players.

Speakercraft’s CS3 TV speakerPolk also demoed the SurroundBar 9000 “instant home theater” (IHT) at CEDIA EXPO, delivering component-caliber 3D audio surround sound while maintaining a sleek, low-profile design and easy setup. The SurroundBar 9000 IHT is self-powered, delivering 45W of discrete peak power to each of its eight drivers.

PSB Speakers’ first active speaker outside of subwoofers is the Alpha PS1, which is designed as a desktop audio system with enough power for a small- to medium-size room.

Proficient Audio Systems released the MaxTV, a one-piece stereo speaker system designed for placement under a flat panel TV. At four inches high, MaxTV slips easily under a flat panel TV. MaxTV has four channels of amplification powering two downfiring 5.25-inch subwoofers, four 2.5-inch midrange drivers of two one-inch soft dome tweeters. It also streams music off any smartphone, tablet, or computer via Bluetooth.

Leon’s Timbre Series bookshelf speakersStartup AudioXperts has introduced the 4TV home entertainment consoles, designed to fit directly under the TV, or on top of a furniture cabinet below a wall hung TV set. Unlike traditional soundbars and conventional surround sound systems, which are typically fixed into place, the 4TV console’s built-in swivel base can rotate the console and television to the preferred listening and viewing angle.

Yamaha’s YSP-4300 and YSP-3300 digital sound projectors connect directly to TVs to deliver 7.1-channel audio. They incorporate the company’s proprietary YSP front surround sound technology, which creates sound beams that are bounced off walls to deliver side and rear audio content, and 130W wireless active subwoofers. The YSP-4300 adds a front panel USB port for audio playback from a variety of devices, as well as an FM tuner.

Martin Logan’s Motion 15 bookshelf and Motion 30 center channel join the recently launched Motion 20 and 40 floorstanding speakers as part of a plan to remake the Motion series, which are priced less than the company’s electrostatic speakers. Motion 15 and 30 speakers combine highexcursion, black aluminum cone woofers and low-turbulence, rearfiring, bass ports. The Motion 15 speakers feature a single 5.25-inch driver; Motion 30 speakers feature dual 5.5-inch drivers.

Lindsey Adler is associate editor of Residential Systems, Systems Contractor News, and Healthcare AV.