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Sep232016

Podcast #758: CEDIA 2016

Each year CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association) holds an event where the industry gathers to show off their wares. It is akin to a mini-CES, but also for many of us represents a best of CES of sorts. When we’ve been to attend the show, we tend to enjoy it more than CES. It takes the parts of CES that we are interested in and compresses it down to a more manageable show. We didn’t go this year but that won’t stop us from talking about some of the products we think are interesting. This year the show was from September 13-17 in Dallas, TX.

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CEDIA 2016

Each year CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association) holds an event where the industry gathers to show off their wares. It is akin to a mini-CES, but also for many of us represents a best of CES of sorts. When we’ve been to attend the show, we tend to enjoy it more than CES. It takes the parts of CES that we are interested in and compresses it down to a more manageable show. We didn’t go this year but that won’t stop us from talking about some of the products we think are interesting. This year the show was from September 13-17 in Dallas, TX.


High-Def Digest: Top Six Highlights from CEDIA 2016

Sony UBP-X1000ES

Sony has their first entry into the world of Ultra HD Blu-ray players. But there is catch, this ES model is only for integrators. Even so, it's a pretty clear view of what we can expect when the consumer version is finally announced. The Ultra HD Blu-ray was just one part of Sony's booth, but, at least for this event, Sony made it clear that HDR is an important focus in the current line, both in the Master Drive TVs and in projectors like the VPL-VW5000ES.


KEF Blade Two

With good reason, most of the serious audio demonstrations at CEDIA 2016 required at the least a demonstration enclosure, and at the most indulgent, a suite. The KEF Blade Two, however, stood in a pair right in the open middle of the KEF booth. That stereo image, produced by two Blade Twos running off of a Hegel H360 (and networked FLAC tracks), was so poised in the din of the convention center and the booth, I had trouble even thinking of places in homes and well, luxury hotels, that wouldn't be made better with a pair of the large but not intimidating speakers. Naturally, the rest of the booth, which housed gems like the KEF Ci Series, had that kid in a toy store feel.


LG Signature OLED77G6P

Not only is the OLED65G6P basically breathe-taking in that undeniable beauty time of way, but the undeniability applies to both the picture and form. And here, in mid-to-late 2016, what could LG do to top this show-stopper? That would be to debut a 77" version. This new model exudes the same lines, but in a greater size more apropos of in-home cinema. The reason I say that now is a good time to make the trek to see the Signature line is that the 77" (and its even bigger $20k price tag) is already ready at certain showrooms in the States.


Modulus Media Hub

The Modulus Media Hub promises a lot, including DVD and Blu-ray archiving, a wealth of streaming service support, a base 6TB capacity with external expansion, 4K support, remote media access, and a DVR capability that applies to everything (including streaming). But what struck me is that the Modulus has the hardware (apparently) to also host Ultra HD Blu-rays. Unfortunately, that particular capability is not a certainty.



CEDIA: Seven Trends We’ve Seen at CEDIA 2016

(we will discuss 4 of them…)

Voice is the New Mouse and/or Swipe

Given the Friday Keynote and a number of CEDIA Talks, it was easy to predict VUI would be a pretty hot topic. But as more and more manufacturers in the CEDIA channel explore integrating some manner of voice control into their products – from whole-home audio to security systems – it’s pretty clear that the entire industry’s betting on the next step in computer interaction.


Everybody’s at the Table

OK, maybe it’s not quite time to dump the term “DIY” yet – but seeing products that are pitched directly to the consumer side-by-side with pro models is an incredibly interesting trend. Back to VUI – yeah, you can buy your own interface device, but that same technology is going into gear used in big integration projects. It seems that there’s a parallel development at work — and a realization that as a broader spectrum of the populace gets really interested in this stuff, that rising tide will lift every boat.


The Home Needs an IT Pro

We’ve heard more stats about the Internet of Things than devices that are actually on the Internet of Things. Alright, that’s a total exaggeration, but still – the challenges that the IoT is presenting when it comes to interoperability, security, and network troubleshooting will translate into ever larger opportunities for that less-than-artful acronym “RMR.”


Speakers Should Either Be Gorgeous or Invisible

Not a new trend per se, but the difference between the “buried in the sheetrock and still sounds amazing” and the speaker-as-sculpture philosophy really struck your humble scribe over the last few days. Both the aural effects of the invisible speakers and the visual impact from those who treat this gear as high-end design has been jaw-dropping.



CE Pro: Editor’s Pick: 12 Great New Products from CEDIA 2016

Stewart Filmscreen Phantom HALR Screen

The top manufacturer in CE Pro’s Brand Analysis in the screen category reinforced its standing with its Phantom HALR black screen. Available in sizes up to 40 x 90 feet, with specification options for rollable installations, and acoustically transparent applications, dealers can use it for residential and commercial jobs. The Phantom produced stunning images on the show floor and its brightly lit aisles. Running a demo with Digital Projection, Stewart says it measured a contrast ratio on the floor of 90:1 and the black-and-white video with the screen looked incredible with no hint of color shift.


Meyer Sound Demo

Over in the world of pro sound, Meyer Sound is a benchmark brand of speakers . About 10 years ago the company migrated into the movie post-production category branching out from its roots as a sound reinforcement company and quickly established itself as a go-to brand. Now it’s coming into the residential market and it's bringing the same level of quality. Working with the Dallas-based dealer Elliston Systems, Meyer partnered with Barco, Vutec and Keith Yates Design to deliver one of the best demos ever produced at a trade show.


Barco Thor Projector

Another benchmark manufacturer coming from the pro market and into the residential field is Barco. Showing its state-of-the-art Thor 6P laser 4K projector, you could say Barco’s Thor dropped the hammer on the competition. Showing a mix of content that included 4K HDR, the Thor provided one of the best demos I've seen at a CEDIA show. Barco even realized the importance of audio with home theater and didn’t cut corners with the audio portion of its demo.


Autonomic MMS-1e Whole-House Music Player

Streamlining the size and installation process for dealers, Autonomic introduced MMS-1e Whole-House Music Player and M-120e 4-zone amplifier. These products provide dealers with all of the familiar functions that have made Autonomic a top provider of whole-house audio systems with the simplified connectivity of its eAudioCast audio-over-Ethernet technology. The MMS-1e provides a choice of audio output formats, Wi-Fi support, control system integration, plus the company’s great user interface. The MMS-1e carries an MSRP of just $995.


Origin Acoustics B&O Partnership

Jeremy Burkhardt has demonstrated once again that he is an industry leader. Combining his company’s engineering prowess with the famous industrial design of Bang & Olufsen (B&O), Origin announced a partnership with B&O in which jointly developed products will be available in 700 B&O store locations. Select B&O products will be available to Origin dealers. Unlike the trend to hide architectural speakers, the point of the Origin and B&O collaboration is to show these speakers, which feature B&O’s famous industrial design.


Digital Projection (DP) e-Vision 4K Laser

DP annually makes my best product lists for good reason: the company designs great performing products. The e-Vision 4K Laser is designed to balance performance and cost considerations and it meets all of its objectives. The 8,000-lumen projector provides a lamp life of 20,000 hours and 4K compatibility through the new TI 0.66 DLP chip for a reasonable price of $19,999. I was impressed with the e-Vision 4K Laser’s bright and punchy, noise-free highly detailed UltraHD images during the company’s demo.


Epson LS10500 Projector

Epson showcased its LS10500 in a great demo. The new LS10500 provides a lamp life of 30,000 hours, HDR compatibility and 1,500 lumens of color brightness and 1,500 lumens of white brightness. While not a true 4K projector in that it is not a native 4K solution, the LS10500 still delivers a vivid, detailed image that is impossible to match at its price point of $7,999 while accepting Ultra HD signals.


Phase Technology CI-130 In-Wall Loudspeaker

Showing again that it engineers some of the industry’s best “secrets,” the company was showing its new IW-210 in-wall sub and its CI-130 in-wall speakers. This hybrid sealed-box design features a unique design that employs foam holes to allow the speaker to defeat some of the common limitations of architectural products. The CI-130 with the IW-210 produced a huge soundstage that was dynamic and seamless in its sonic integration.


Sony UBP-X1000ES Ultra Blu-ray Disc Player

It would be an understatement to say that Sony crushed CEDIA 2016. The popular electronics company just about stole the show with the introduction of its new Z-series Ultra HD televisions, new ES A/V receivers, and its UBP-X1000ES UltraHD Blu-ray disc player. Checking in at an approximate price point of $900, it’s safe to say the Ultra HD Blu-ray disc category is now validated. Arguably the most anticipated product at the entire show, it offers HDR compatibility, as well as the ability to play DVD-Audio, DVD video, CDs, SACDs, Blu-ray discs, 3D Blu-ray discs and BD-ROMs. It also offers streaming services such as Amazon and YouTube as well as Dolby Atmos compatibility.


RBH Sound SV 6500 Signature Reference Speaker

RBH’s lead engineer Shane Rich quietly designs some of the best speakers on the market. Showing his design talent Rich redesigned its Signature Reference speaker to include Air Motion Tweeters (AMT). As always RBH delivers some of CEDIA’s best demos and CEDIA 2016 didn’t disappoint with a surround clip from Eric Clapton’s “Crossroads” shows and the musicianship of Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes and Susan Tedeschi. Highlighting its surround system was the Signature Reference SV-6500 R floorstanding speaker.



CE Pro: What Dealers Say about CEDIA 2016

Bose Lifestyle 650

Bose's new Lifestyle 650 home audio system surprised a lot of integrators at CEDIA. One of them, who didn't want to be named because he's a big Sonos dealer, said, "I couldn't get over how much they've improved the platform. ... The fit, the finish, the feel, they look serious." He says the new little speakers deliver "spacious sound" and strong bass and, of all the compliments, "even the [SoundTouch] app looks respectable."


Sony Z-Series displays

Check social media. Seems everyone took a picture in front of this 100-inch Z-Series display from Sony. One dealer says "It's as good as it gets." It seemed most dealers were impressed with Sony’s new Z-Series (Z9D) displays. At the booth it was noted that the 100-incher was only $60,000 – or half the price of Vizio’s 120-inch TV. A dealer on RemoteCentral wonders: “The reps are claiming it’s on par (or better than) the OLED. Your thoughts?”

Integrator Mike Bruemmer of Cincinnati’s Mt. Lookout Television and Electronics, agrees with the reps: “Sony Z9D was outstanding. Much better brightness than the OLED. We looked at the Z9 and ran to go look at the G6 [LG OLED]. Z9 is better.” Sony thrived on the 4K projector front as well.


Crestron

Crestron did not have an official presence at CEDIA this year, but the company’s home-automation products appeared at several booths including Amazon Alexa and Sonos. Of all the new control systems integrating with Sonos, Crestron is the only one that embeds the entire Sonos interface in the automation UI.

A Crestron dealer noted, “I saw the Crestron demo with Sonos. There is still some work to go. But one has to start somewhere. They have the link right to the Sonos app from the Crestron panel. Which is obviously a compromise at this point having to flip apps. At this point I would still suggest an Autonomic when doing Crestron systems.”



Residential Systems: Real Audio Video VR: My CEDIA 2016 Game Changer

REAL Audio Video is a top design and integration firm that has been doing ultra-high-end installs for more than 18 years. REAL partnered with another Utah based company, Fractal Mob, to create its new Private Cinema previsualization software, which was demonstrated at CEDIA for the first time. This previs software is not only incredibly innovative, but also potentially game changing in its use of virtual reality for aiding in the pre-sale and design of high end theaters.

The two firms worked closely together on the project with REAL acting as technical consultants and providing Fractal with the floorplans, elevations, and reference photos to recreate the room in VR. By using virtual reality, REAL wants to let customers “walk through” their new theater space “before a single nail is driven.”

For the demo, Fractal Mob took 4K VR scans of one of REAL’s actual, already constructed theater designs. As the firm didn’t have access to the actual room, they had to build everything from scratch—speakers, chairs, projector, room, textures, etc.—as if it didn’t exist in real life, or exactly as it would be as if someone was previsualizing a room that had yet to be built.

After the modeling is complete, the software lets you walk around and explore every inch of the room. The resulting image quality is nearly photo realistic, and in fact is limited by the current hardware limitations in VR rendering and will only improve as computing hardware catches up.

Once inside the virtual space, you can walk up to walls and see the micro detail and texture in the fabric and the grain of the wood and quality of the millwork. Sconces gently bathe the sidewalls in light, the intensity and brightness changing as you walk up to them. Look back into the projector room and you see lens flare that changes based on the projected image and where you’re standing in the room. There are even micro dust particles floating through the air in the light path of the projector. Kneel down and examine the carpet.

Sit in different points in the room and see exactly how big—or small—your intended screen size looks. No more will the question, “Will 120 inches be too big from this seating position?” be a theoretical one. Now you can sit the client in the front row, the middle row, the back row and let them see exactly how big the screen will look at all seating locations. Same with seating. How will four seats look in a row? Put yourself in the space and see exactly how wide the pathways are. Or if the first row is low enough to not have sightline issues.

Even more amazing—and educational—the audio tracks your position in the room, letting you move in and out of room modes so a customer can experience exactly what is happening with the audio and why the need for multiple subs and room correction—my friend Adam’s specialty—is so crucial. While the VR demo video is playing, the audio also tracks as you turn your head as you turn from side to side, moving the stereo image position. Amazing.




 

 

 

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