Things to Do In Denver…At The CEDIA EXPO 2013!

The 84" Planar 4k Ultra-Res Display can display 4 separate source images!

The 84″ Planar 4k Ultra-Res Display can display 4 separate source images!

Things were definitely not dead in Denver last month during the CEDIA Expo.  CEDIA is the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association, and the Expo is the leading trade show for the custom residential electronics field.  The show was held in Denver from September 25-28, 2013.  I attended the Expo along with Elite Media Solutions owner Brian Gibson and Sean Farrell, one of our service and installation technicians.

According to CEDIA, there were more than 470 exhibitors and 17,900 attendees representing 84 countries. Although not as large as the Consumer Electronics Show, it’s specifically geared towards custom home electronics dealers and showcases products from audio, video, computer networking, lighting, automated window treatments, A/V specific furniture such as seating and cabinets, and home automation and control manufacturers. It’s a good opportunity for dealers to interact with manufacturers and their representatives, attend training classes, and keep up with the latest product offerings.

On our first day in Colorado prior to the start of the Expo, we enjoyed a little sightseeing outside the city, and visited the Red Rocks Concert Pavilion and some friends in Evergreen, CO.   While in Evergreen, we even saw a large bear run across the road!    We went to a Colorado Rockies vs. Red Sox baseball game, which our Red Sox won.   It was funny how a Rockies fan was telling me how cool their ballpark was because they have an old-style scoreboard with people inside that move the numbers manually.   Wow!   I wonder where they go that idea?   Partied a little with the nice folks from Sonos, and heard some good music. Oh, and we ate too much.

So what were the trends and products at the CEDIA Expo that caught my eye?

  • Savant Systems announced several new controllers, including a new system bundle that will make their technology available at a competitive price point, sort of a Savant starter package that still offers a lot of bang for the buck.  Savant, located in Hyannis, MA, also introduced a number of additions to their smart lighting control products.    To see more about Savant’s lighting control options, click here for a short video from Savant, filmed at the CEDIA Expo.
  • Stewart Filmscreens – One of the coolest demos I saw was at the Stewart Filmscreen booth, specifically showcasing the Director’s Choice 100 screen system.   This screen is a true “shape-shifter” and allows an amazing amount of flexibility with the well-designed masking options, and up to a 14 foot wide image!   Lately there has been news about IMAX home theaters at prices in the 2 million dollar minimum range.  For that price, you end up with many limitations ranging from content availability to requiring a massive amount of space – not to mention the cash.  At $50k, this Stewart Director’s Choice Screen is a bargain for those desiring a spectacular theater with unmatched flexibility.    Even after adding other top-notch components,  a homeowner will spend a fraction of what an IMAX home theater will cost, and have many more ways to enjoy the investment.      Click here to see a short video of a demo on the Director’s Choice Screen.
  • Sonance Loudspeakers – Sonance has been our “go to” company for in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, and their line of outdoor speakers including the Sonnarray and the Landscape Series are nothing short of amazing.    The Sonance booth was rocking and showing off their new and improved in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, along with their re-designed invisible series that are installed completely in a wall, and then plastered over.    The first time I heard these speakers, I was prepared to be unimpressed, but I was wrong.   The performance and engineering of Sonance products is impressive, and we’ll be upgrading some of our showroom speakers to the newer Sonance models in the near future.   Interested in learning a little more about the invisible series speakers?  Just click here for a video from the Expo showcasing these hi-tech and hi-performing speakers from Sonance.
  • Yamaha Corporation introduced the CX-A5000 and the MX-A5000, separate pre-amplifier and amplifier, respectively.   I checked out both of these units and listened to them as well.   The build-quality seemed great and they sounded fantastic.  This would be a great step-up for a system from an all-in-one audio visual receiver.   Separates have many benefits, as explained in this short video from the Yamaha booth at CEDIA!   I’m going to try to be extra good for the rest of this year so Santa will bring me this set-up.
  • KEF Loudspeakers – Regular readers of the Elite Media Solutions website and blog know we are fans of KEF Loudspeakers.   KEF had a great booth, and probably the most comfortable floor, which is always a welcome after being on your feet for many days in a row.   KEF was demonstrating a number of their products, including their amazing M500 headphones.   After listening to these headphones, we immediately bought a case of them for the store!   KEF was also playing their new in-wall series of speakers boasting aluminum fronts, THX Certification, and the well-regarded Uni-Q driver.   KEF’s line of CI (custom installation) speakers was also impressive, and we’ve enjoyed the sound and build-quality of the KEF products for years and they continue to impress.   Here is a video courtesy of Rave Publications featuring Johann form KEF doing a walk through of some of the highlights at the KEF booth.  
  • Planar showed a brand-new 84″ Ultra-Res (4k ultra-high definition display) that looked fantastic, and allows the proud owner to show up to four different images at once!    Some of the models offer touch screen capability, and 3D content is handled without a problem.   This was probably the coolest display at CEDIA in my opinion  Planar has been around since 1983, and although not quite a household name, they make great products.  Come on in to Elite Media Solutions in Wellesley, MA to see this amazing display.  We ordered two at the show, and they should be arriving soon.   To schedule a demo, just call Steve at (781) 237-2929, but for now you can check out this video on the Planar Ultra-Res thanks to Rave Publications shot at CEDIA.

I could go on about the CEDIA 2013 Expo, as their was a lot of great stuff to see.  I didn’t even get to the cool shading and draperies displayed by QMotion and MechoShade, and some of the new video projectors, so I will lover those in future posts.   Other interesting products I saw were from JVC, Sony (new 4k displays), and some nice new cabinets and seating from our friends at Salamander Designs.    Bose and Sonos booths were also busy with activity.

So, thank you Denver and CEDIA for a good show.   See you in 2014!

If you would like information on any of the products covered in this post, or any thing else, please just get in touch with Elite Media Solutions of Wellesley, MA.   We provide custom video, music, home networks and wi-fi, automated shades and drapes, lighting control, and home automation and control throughout Massachusetts, including the Needham, Dover, Sherborn, Weston, Wayland, Natick, Newton, Bedford, Brookline, Boston, Norfolk, Medfield, Walpole, Canton, Westwood, Hingham, Cape Cod, Stow, Concord, Lincoln, and Acton areas.



The Seura booth at the CEDIA Expo 2013, makers of high-end displays for indoors and out


The Denver Convention Center – CEDIA Expo 2013 – our only cloudy day


Revel Performa Series speakers at the CEDIA Expo! You can hear these at our store in Wellesley, MA.




Keeping it Reel: Sound City Film Review

sound-city-f3a03baa9c650c6338a8fa8b51331094Sound City is a 2013 documentary produced and directed by Dave Grohl of Nirvana and later The Foo Fighters.   It’s his first film, and tells the story of Sound City, a recording studio in LA that operated from 1969 to 2011.  The film is about much more than the history of the recording studio however.   As a musician and a fan of a number of the musicians and bands featured in the movie, I absolutely loved it.  Anyone that cares about how music is created and then captured, and how it is important to keep the human element at the forefront of creativity should be moved by this film.  For those of you not sure why you should trust my opinion, it was well-received by real movie critics!

The history of the recording studio is astounding, even more so if you’re a music fan.  A long list of  iconic albums were recorded there over several decades.  Located in an alley in Van Nuys, CA, the studio was dumpy and some artists stayed away because of it.  The first tracks recorded on site were by Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.   A short time later, they met Mick Fleetwood at the studio who searching for a replacement guitar player, and formed a little band called Fleetwood Mac.  The list of artists that created great music at Sound City is a ‘Who’s Who” of rock and roll, including Tom Petty, Grateful Dead, Foreigner, Elton John, Neil Young, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Rick Springfield, Santana, Pat Benatar, and Johnny Cash.

What was the secret sauce of Sound City?

The movie focuses on the analog recording console at Sound City, designed by Rupert Neve from England. The Neve 8028 Console was an enormous investment, but proved well-worth it.  Rupert Neve’s design and use of specific electronic components made for a killer recording console that was a large part of the magic.  Rupert Neve is the man.  The board was considered to be especially adept at recording amazing drum sounds, something not easy to accomplish and even more difficult in 1970.   Rupert’s company is still in business, now in Texas, and he continues to make some of the finest analog recording equipment in the world.  Although his name is unknown to most, Rupert is pure genius and considered to be one of the most important people in the history of audio.  The Neve website is interesting, and I love the quote on the main page.  Click here to visit the Neve website.

Besides the recording console, the film features entertaining snippets from the staff at Sound City and interesting information about the acoustical properties of the recording studio, but this is good stuff and not technical at all for those thinking the movie is only for music and sound geeks. Interestingly, the properties of the main studio should not have have resulted in a great room for recording, but it just was and nobody really knew why.   The preferred method to record at Sound City was to put talented people together in a large room, and then capture the magic on analog tape.  Of course, many variables come together to make great records, including talented musicians, producers, and expert sound engineers.   Interestingly, there was no shortage of these things at other studios, so something really must have been special about Sound City.

Continue reading