Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

September 26-28, 2013

All prices in US dollars unless indicated otherwise

Up Close and Personal -- A New Show-Coverage Approach for CEDIA Expo 2013

I'm writing this article before CEDIA Expo 2013 begins, but it won't be published until after it's over. That's because it describes the new approach we plan to take with this event insofar as our coverage goes, but we want it to appear as the very last article in the section listing, since we want people to read it first to understand why we covered this show the way we did (the way our sites list articles, the last published is the first to show in any section).

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Audio Research SP20 Preamplifier

Audio Research's marketing director, Brandon Lauer, told us what we think is a little-known fact, or at least something we didn't know: despite the company having been in business for more than 40 years, there's never been a headphone jack on any of their preamplifiers. Until now.

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Bryston A1 Loudspeaker

Bryston's VP of marketing, James Tanner (shown in photo below), was laughing as we approached him. When we asked why, he said that a customer had just asked him if Bryston still made amplifiers!

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JL Audio E-Sub e112 Subwoofer

Ask us who makes the best subwoofers in the world, and the number of companies we'd name would be less than five. Of that select group, JL Audio would be high on the list.

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Sonus Faber Olympica Center Loudspeaker

When the Sonus Faber company debuted the new Olympica-series speakers at Munich's High End event last May, there was nothing but praise for the way the line looked -- thoroughly modern, but at the same time retaining the classic, luxurious appearance that the brand has long been known for. But among the group of three speakers that they showed there -- the I, a stand-mounted design, plus the II and III, which are both floorstanders -- there was one thing conspicuously absent: a center-channel speaker. For those who listen to only stereo, that didn't matter. But for those who wanted to set up a full surround-sound-type rig, its absence meant a lot.

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Anthem MRX 710 A/V Receiver

A few years ago when Anthem first introduced their MRX receiver, which included the 300, 500, and 700 models, they had a clear vision of what they needed to be about: affordably priced with sufficient features and, most importantly, the superb sound quality that the company has been long known for. That approach worked not only with consumers but also with critics, who were able to comfortably recommend the line based on those merits, as well as buy the products for themselves -- the SoundStage! Network's Wes Marshall, Jason Thorpe, and Vince Hanada all own Anthem receivers.

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Focal Aria 936 Loudspeaker

Over the years we've seen loudspeakers with drivers made out of many materials, but not a single one has had cones made from flax! That's now changed with Focal's new Aria 900-series speakers, which have innovative flax-based driver cones. Surprisingly, they are also fairly affordable -- the entry-level bookshelf-type 906 sells for $1499 USD per pair, while the top-of-the-line 948 floorstander sells for $4999 per pair.

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NAD Viso HP50 Headphones

You'd think that after more than 40 years of designing loudspeakers and being recognized as the grandfather of the Canadian loudspeaker industry, not to mention receiving countless industry awards over the last few decades, designer Paul Barton would decide to take it easy -- you know, rest on his laurels. But he isn't. In the last few years, Paul, who founded PSB in 1972, has created some of his best loudspeaker designs yet, and he's now honing his skills in another area: headphone design.

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Definitive Technology Mythos ST-L Loudspeaker

The Definitive Technology Mythos ST loudspeaker, which debuted in about 2007 and sold for about $4000 USD per pair, was a groundbreaking design. What made it special was that it married a slender, décor-friendly appearance with audiophile-grade sound quality. As one of our writers once said, "It's the loudspeaker that could get most audiophiles back into the living room." It could also deliver bass weight that was well beyond its small size. Definitive Technology followed up the Mythos ST with the Mythos STS, which was basically a smaller version of the ST that sold for $1000 per pair less. Numerous SoundStage! Network writers have owned, or still own, ST or STS speakers, and there's been nothing but praise for them.

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Monitor Audio Silver 8 Loudspeaker

Monitor Audio's director of sales and marketing, Alex Brady (below), is brimming with excitement whenever he speaks -- and he has good reason to be. He's been with the UK-based company since the '90s, but these days he's witnessing the release of some of the best products the company has ever made.

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Totem Acoustic Kin Sub Subwoofer

Talk to Totem Acoustic's founder, Vince Bruzzese (shown below), for a few moments and you know you've found someone who follows his own path. Visit his company's booth at CEDIA Expo and you know that he instills these ideals in everyone else who works with him. Whether you're talking about the flamboyant, cutting-edge displays or the products themselves, there's no one else out there doing quite what they do -- but I'm sure there are some who wish they could, because they seem so darn successful.

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Cambridge Audio Aero 6 Loudspeaker

Cambridge Audio's new Aero-series speakers are affordable and interesting. The core speakers in the line are the Aero 2 bookshelf model and the Aero 6 floorstander, which sell in the United States for $549 and $1099 per pair, respectively. Fleshing out the Aero line are the 5 center-channel ($449), 3 surround ($549 per pair), and 9 subwoofer ($899).

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Cambridge Audio Azur 851D Digital Preamplifier/DAC

Cambridge Audio is a UK-based firm that's made quite a splash in the market by offering well-built, technically advanced products at affordable prices. Vince Hanada reviewed their Stream Magic 6 last November in SoundStage! Hi-Fi and was so impressed by it that it received Reviewers' Choice and Product of the Year awards.

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