TIP# 21:

Usually this space is reserved for tips on how to better utilize your audio/video components. However with the year’s largest consumer electronics show just finished in Las Vegas this last week, we thought you might be interested a little insight into what trends and new products are on the horizon in audio/video.

The general mood at the show was upbeat and positive. This is in contrast to recent previous years which could have been categorized as conservative … to say the least. Home Theatre has finally come into its own, with most manufacturers showing something that would integrate with audio/video. Even very high end manufacturers, who previously had shown only exotic two channel systems (including MIRAGE), now demonstrated their hardware in a surround system exclusively.

Mirage’s theatre consisted of m1si main speakers ($7000/pr) M3si rears ($3500/pr) Mcsi center ($700 ea.) and THREE new bipolar subwoofers called BPS210 ($ t.b.a.). One thousand watts per channel and a big screen TV with a line doubler completed one of the most impressive sights and sounds of the show. Prototypes of a new bipolar effect speaker with wall mounting hardware were also shown, pricing was not available, however they will not be expensive. Mirage seemed to be one of the most R & D oriented manufacturers, announcing that they had 44 experimental projects on the go, of which the new BPS210 and bipolar effect speakers were just two!

Mirage, along with others have been hard at work for years on a project called “Athena”, to create a self equalizing, powered, pure digital and possibly wireless loudspeaker. It is one of the most costly and ambitious projects ever undertaken in audio and has become a bit of a holy grail, in that many manufacturers have tried and many have been mortally wounded in the attempt. Mirage made it clear that they will not follow in the path of others who pursued the revolutionary speaker at the expense of all else. Since they have such a large R & D base from which to draw, the news that they would de-emphasize Athena in favor of 42 other projects was good news indeed.

Monster Cable held “A Monster Evening” in a 300 seat hall. The high-end cable manufacturer officially announced that Lucasfilm had granted them an exclusive license for their cable which will now become their reference standard for Pro and Home Theatre. Monster’s existing cable line will be augmented with the new line of “THX” certified cables. After the announcement the band, Tower of Power, brought the house down. Monster hasn’t forgotten that music is our purpose for being here.

Nakamichi also had some interesting news. Their patented 7 CD player quick change mechanism, exclusive to them and licensed to high end US manufacturer Macintosh, is being sought after by no less than four electronic giants. Nakamichi, the inventor of the photo electric cell, is not a large manufacturer of retail goods as it is heavily involved in the research, design, and manufacture of exotic test equipment. However, Nakamichi’s reputation in consumer electronics as a technological leader began with tape decks and power amps, and now continues to turn heads in high quality Multi CD players.

Yamaha’s show revealed the company’s continuing focus on Home Theatre will continue, with line changes that are evolutionary, not revolutionary in nature. Since their DSP processors are the undisputed leaders in affordable pro-logic amplification they have elected to leave well enough alone and not change to much there. They will offer two new tape decks, one with Dolby S which looks interesting. Two subwoofers with updated styling, replacing their two least expensive models, are due out by the end of March. They will look more like their more expensive siblings, without any loss in power or features. The philosophy seems to be, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!