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Hey Guys,

Finally rested enough to put up a lil CES report for you...but before I begin, I want to make absolutely sure of a few things, so there is no confusion later.

Even if you don’t read any of the words later, please read this:

1. Anything I write, unless I mention it was a direct quote or paraphrase from someone working there, is JUST MY OPINION. Not to be mistaken with facts. :) Also I am doing a lot of this from memory, which can be sketchy, so if I miss represent something, and you know for a fact that it’s wrong, please don’t hesitate and correct me. But just remember I am not trying to skew anything intentionally :)

2. I run a business, so my priorities when it comes to selecting gear are a bit different than many DIYers and consumers. For example, I will always value reliability and customer support over outright performance...just keep that in mind :)

3. Remember that my main priority at CES is to meet and talk with manufacturers that I already represent. Followed by checking out a few brands that I pre-selected to maybe think about bringing on board, So there will be plenty of interesting stuff and booths that I either did not go to, or just mentions in a passing paragraph or two. I simple did not have time to see everything. And of course, more attention will be given to the stuff that I already carry.

4. Reiterate the first point, what I mention is PURELY my opinion, and often, you will see me say "but I will reserve judgment until I get to actually play with the unit" so please don’t take some of my initial impressions as how I think it’s going to be, or worse, how YOU think it’s going to be.



I tried getting as many pics as I could, but keeping in mind that I was there for business, a lot of times I started chatting with the reps and forgot to snap anything until later. :)
 

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So let’s get started.


Alpine:

Alpine was sort of a mixed bag for me, some neat stuff, and some disappointing stuff. First of all, since I am sure a lot of people want to know, I will clear the air right away. I have no idea when the H800 is coming out, and what the final specs are, I was specifically told that right now, the best bet is that "according to the website, release date is April."
But it was displayed in the booth:


I met up with Jim Walter, who ran me through Alpine's new line of subwoofers, which unfortunately I forgot to snap some pics of. But they look pretty promising and a good upgrade from the previous generation. more output and better sq are promised of course, the one thing I do remember is that some of the subs iirc had groves on the bottom of the motor next to the vent so you can butt the structure right up against a piece of mdf or wall and not have to worry about blocking the vent.

They also showed off a line of 8" double din screen pieces. Which basically involves a standard double din chassis, with an 8" screen that is a bit taller top to bottom than the normal 7". The bottom bit overhangs. The screens look fantastic, better than the normal screens, and the navigation is a HUGE improvement over the current generation, but I am a bit unsure of just how many cars you can do these in and still maintain a clean look:





The PDX5, which did not change initially with the rest of the PDX line, is finally updated to the new spec after a coupla years. This new model is the same size and quite powerful as you can see in the pics. I was mentioned there are some internal improvements, but I can’t remember any of that :)



My bud Gary Bell, one of the most talented installers in the business, built this car in the Alpine booth, on initial glance, it looks relatively simple, but the more I looked at it, the more details I noticed, and then I was told that the top part, which looks to be lit, is NOT lit at all, but rather manipulation of ambient light reflecting across chrome paint and other touches which makes it look lit...I was blown away and will be asking Gary for some more details soon! :)



One thing I was very disappointed in was the continued downward trend of the Alpine single din HUs..When the 117 came out to replace the 9887, it no longer had the ability to handle a fully active front stage. Now it has been replaced by the CDA138, in terms of sq, no features were added, except now it looks even cheaper:



Again, just my opinion...
 

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Pioneer:

I didn’t really get a chance to look at pioneer in detail. I know a lot of you wanted to know more about app radio, sorry, it won’t be from me. I didn’t really pay any attention to it and there was always a line in front of those displays. I took pics of the new top line of single din head units from pioneer, the 9400. I think the overall design is much better than before, but the multi-function knob, while very easy to use due to its shape, reminds me of the knobs from an old chest of drawers:



Chris Yato's Lexus GS is of course, amazing, the entire amp rack motorizes out and lights up...fit and finish is just....:eek: typical of any of Chris' work:





Oh and I asked about the release date of the PRS P80 and was told by someone there that it’s "February".
 

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Arc Audio:


Obviously, the big thing here is the PS8 Processor. So before any other rumors start, I want to make sure I state this VERY clearly.

The PS8, tentatively, will be available mid/late April. Announcement on its release will come out. Do not jump to conclusions and do not think it’s definite. Until you hear it from Fred himself, don’t believe any other rumors regarding its release date.

As for its specs, I am sure that’s already discussed to death here, so I won’t get into it, just took a pic of the banner:




I like its design, and the multicolored DRC looks very nice. But I will reserve any and all judgment on it until it is released and I get to install it into a customer’s vehicle.

I listened to Fred's Saturn and as usually, it was good. A bit brighter than my usual taste and I wish the midbass was turned up more, but I think for competition it may be very very tough to beat. Here is the PS8 prototype in Fred's Trunk:



Here are some of the displays from Arc, the second pic shows the relatively newly released black series of speakers and subs:






Also at the ARC booth was my favorite demo vehicle of the entire CES from a fabrication/design standpoint. The G8 done by my good friend Jon Webb of Performance Audio in Vegas...the lines were so clean and classy, just really love it! Something I wish I can do if I had the talent. :) And it sounded very clean as well, not a full blown sq car of course, but the impact and overall tonality was very nice. Main show case was the trunk:









 

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JL Audio

I hopped over to JL and Manville kindly gave me a rundown of the new stuff...the things I paid the most attention to was the new subs. The TW5 line is unchanged, here is the 13tw5:



But there is now a lower line thin sub, the TW3...I could be wrong here, but I THINK Manville said the tw3 doesn’t give up any output to the tw5...but anyway, for my style of installation, more skinny subs are always welcome:



Also new and improved are the W1 and W6 line:





Again, being that I am not an engineer, I didn’t care or remember much of the specs, I am sure those can be found online elsewhere and readily discussed. In the end, as I am sure all of you know, everyone claims their updates are for better sound, more sq, more spl, more durability etc. ...I always reserve my full judgment after I get to install them with my own hands :)


Oxygen Audio:

While wondering around I found something pretty neat at the Oxygen Audio booth. A small I think British? Company? It’s a headunit with an integrated iPhone cradle that pops out and extends, tilts and rotates. It has a full array of RCA outputs in the back, and basically, you pop in your iPhone and it acts as your headunit, it has a FM booster so radio comes in via apps on your iPhone. And when you need to use it for navigation, you can pull it out and manipulate it for a better viewing angle. I think this may be a pretty good lil piece of those who aren’t big into car audio but just want a more permanent and easier to use iPod solution. I was told that new models are coming out for other makes of phones. And pricing is very reasonable at around the $300 range retail:





This was a similar idea but separated:

 

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Directus:

Stopped by Directus Nav to say hi and checked out the new navigation equipped mirror from them, this is the next level up from the TD43 I reviewed last year: Directus TD43TOUCH GPS Review - Navigation Reviews - Car Audio and Electronics

It has a MUCH faster (I think 2x at least) processor, better graphics, and it works with their prodigy ONE series of interfaces, which opens up a ton of expansion possibilities:
PRODIGY ONE UNIVERSAL INTEGRATION | Directusnav – Total Vehicle Technologies



PG/Orion:

Also while walking around I took pics of some new PG amps and a new HCCA amp from Orion, didn’t stop to talk to anyone...I do like the design of these new amps, but a bit worried about their quality. Having a HCCA that looks similar to the original yet being a class D to me is kinda disappointing:








Sony:

Stopped by Sony mainly because people asked me to check out the in dash Blu-ray player, to see if anything has changed; but sadly, they didn’t display it, though the rep their said it was still available. I took a few pics of their new smart phone interfaces which allow you to run the apps through their Hus...as is the new trend these days:






Hybrid Audio

I took a listen to Scott's G35, with no tweeters and just L4s molded into the sail panel. of course it was excellent, stage was really high and wide, and tonality was excellent, impact from his kick mounted 8" and the quad of 6" subs were also quite awesome. Unfortunately, all I took was this picture of the headunit: :)

 

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Rockford Fosgate:

I went over to RF's place at the Palms mainly wanting to check out the 3sixty.3, but actually got caught up with something else entirely.

They were giving demos on the 360.3 but I didn’t have time to pay much close attention to it. I am sure someone else did and can do a much better job of it than me. my biggest concerns about the unit was that it was still noisy and had issues with its poor output impedance...from what I gathered, that may not yet have been addressed, but hopefully when its released in a few month, that will not be the case anymore. ..again, I am not for sure on this. Release date is a few months away from what I gather.

But anyway, the one thing I want to focus on was RF's newly designed top of the range component set. This is a surprise considering that RF was never known as a top line sq speaker manufacturer.

I can’t remember the name of this set actually lol, but it had some pretty interesting features and look like very few other speakers out there. The cone, as I was told, is something called liquid crystal polymer, with a copper phase plug. On the back end, the speaker has two opposing Neo magnets, with copper fins to dissipate heat, there are also poles that appear to be just structural items but apparently are magnetized also. The tweeters are of a ring radiator design and the crossover block is quite massive as you see in the pics. The one unique thing about it is that you can hook up this xover to power and via a remote, control various settings on it instead of having to run to the back of the car where you mounted it to play with knobs switches or jumpers.

Again, I won’t put forth any judgment on it until I get to play with one, and this thing interests me enough to want to give it a shot. The designer of the set, is also the man responsible for the original Eton based diamond audio HEX drivers, which gives me a lot of hope for their performance.

But in the meantime, this set should be on your radar...retail is around $2000, but I am sure when it becomes available to purchase alacarte, you can just get the raw drivers sans the big xover for much less:






Elettromedia:

I checked out the new stuff from Elettromedia on Wednesday before dinner, and I am sure you will hear this time and again, the Bit-tune is probably the most interesting piece of kit. Again, I am not going to get into much detail on the unit because I am sure others have been discussing it already. I do think it’s a very cool unit because you can hook it up with a laptop and have yourself an OEM signal tool to analyze all your future installs.



I also spotted this gigantic sub in the corner, anyone wanna tell me more about it? :)

 

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Morel:

Morel was a brand that has long been near and dear to my heart, it was one of the original speakers that I heard that made me get into the sq side of things. And after a lil delay, the new speakers are finally coming on line. Simply put, the two major areas of improvements are slightly more detail and sparkle on the top end, and much improved midbass. Anyone who has experiences with Morel will probably agree those two areas is key. Again, I won’t pass any kind of judgment on them until get to play with the new stuff directly.

Here are some of the improved drivers.

The Hybrid and the Integra ovation line has now merged. The key here is that the new Hybrid ovation tweeter is now based on the tweeter that was part of the Elate line, the MT23, and the tweeter that used to be part of the HO line, the MT22, has now gone to the Virtus line, which replaces the Dotech line. In other words, they each received the tweeter from previously the line above:



This is the new Elate line, using an improved tweeter as well. Also all the passive xover networks were redesigned u single Zobel networks and have no resistors inline with the tweeter signal.



One really neat thing from Morel is their new grilles. yes, grilles. :) how it was explained to me is that traditionally, the speaker grilles have identically sized holes. this means that it creates a "horn loading" effect only across a single freq range. So, their newly design grilles features a very unique pattern filled with holes of different sizes and shapes. The claim here is that it makes the grilles virtually transparent from an acoustic standpoint, and makes an audible different as well. Again, reserved judgment but they look very cool :)



The new Supremo line, note that the midbass grill also has the same features as above:



There will be just one Supremo tweeter, the new Piccolo, and here it is:



The subs remain unchanged.

Now, I didn’t focus on any of the lower line stuff, because traditionally, I never really sold any of it. But then my friend Casey Thorson grabbed me and told me to take a listen to his Jetta.

This turned out to be one of the most unexpected and spectacular demo experiences I have EVER had at CES.

This isn’t because his car had the best overall SQ ever; rather, it’s because it is a very simple build with very little acoustical treatment, using MIDLINE components and features ZERO eq adjustments.

I will get more details on this install later but the car is a MKV Jetta

the front stage is the new Virtus 6.5" three way set. This replaces the Dotech ovation set and is in the LOWER HALF of the Morel hierarchy. Below the Supremo, the Elate and the Hybrid Ovation.

the 6.5" midbass are in sealed kick panels, and dash pods facing on axis houses the small dome midrange and tweeter(tweeter is a variation of the MT22 which used to come with the Hybrid Ovation). Signal source is a P9 combo, three Genesis Dual Monos (tweeter, midbass and sub) and one dual mono extreme (midrange) runs the system. The sub is a side mounted, single 10" Primo, the ENTRY level line.

Anyway, I went through my own demo CD and was just blown away by the overall tonality and imaging, despite having dash pods that are well inboard from the pillars, the width, on many songs, extended past the pillars. The stage is nice and high yet still maintains depth.

I paid special attention to the high frequencies and it indeed sounds like there is a bit more detail to them. but really, what impressed me the most was the midbass output, it was very accurate and very strong. you really feel it in your check when they go off. Overall tonality is still very smooth and balanced, but just with a hint of edginess up top.

Then Casey popped in the track that some people refer to as the "speaker killer". It’s that big Taiko Drums track that many of you know.

OMG! :eek::eek::eek:

we had the thing cranked to max volume, the impact of the drums were sickening, yet no sign of the speakers distorting or bottoming out, and the single entry level 10" provided quite an amazing amount of output, giving my hair quite a buzzing. I had him shut off the sub so I can listen to just the midbass, and again, any fears about Morels not having midbass output, I think is history. VERY VERY impressive.

I just can’t get over how good the car sounds having a mid-level product and no eel tuning...

The Virtus should be available by march and the newly improved Hybrid, Elate and Supremo line should be available a month or two after that. I highly recommend you check em out.

To be honest, I was far more impressed with the Jetta than the home audio demo I received in their suite.
 

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ORCA - Mosconi/Illusion/Focal

There was some exciting news at Mosconi.

I am sure everyone wants to know about the new 6to8 DSP...well, it is out and available, with more coming (more on this later)

A few new lines of amplifiers will reshape the order of things.

The Mosconi AS line and the Gladen ONE series will continue relatively unchanged into the future.

Now there is a Mosconi Gladen ZERO series of amps, which sits at the top of the food chain (other than the halo class A) Think of it as the AS line on roids, cleaner, stronger more reserve capacitance, just overall the next level up. Cosmetically, they come in a brushed aluminum finish only, are a bit wider front to back, and have mesh grilles under the vents for the fans. In terms of performance and price point, similar to other highest line euro amps...except still with the classy cosmetic and ease of tuning factor as the AS line.

two models are available now, here they are top and bottom sandwiching the class a, two more models will come online next year.




The X-ion series will be replaced by this line, I can’t actually remember what it’s called, but they have a different silvery finish on them and a few internal improvements. But general layout remains the same.



At the bottom of the order is he new M-line. A budget minded series of amps costing no more than 300 bucks or so. what I REALLY like about these amps is their design. to me they look much more expensive than they are. with alternating tiles that are brushed aluminum and titanium finish. I think I wouldn’t hesitate to use these for my budget minded customers.



you can also order replacement tiles to make your amp all aluminum finish or all titanium finish, or anything in between. here is one of the replacement alum tires sitting on top of the amp:




After a relatively lengthy delay, the newly redesign illusion audio line will be available very shortly. Cosmetically they look similar to the old illusion line, but the midbasses will feature much stronger output and impact as I am told. The tweeter here on the top range Carbon line, is some sort of copper diaphragm.



and the midline Lucent set has a soft dome tweeter:



I heard them on the sound board, and I can tell the Carbon has more sizzle on top, I will again wait for a real install before I give me impression on how they will sound in a car. :) But I have always been a big fan of illusion and hopefully, these new drivers will rekindle my love for the brand name.

Over at the focal booth, I listened to a variety of speakers, but focused mainly on the Utopia 165W-RC, this is a lower line utopia BE set retailing at around 2k that bridges the gap between the K2p line and the normal No.6 line. Looks as wonderful as the normal BE, on the board they sounded wonderful, but we will see how they do in the real world environment.

I have no doubt they will be great drivers having had experiences with the normal Be line...so now you guys can get into a BE for much much less than before :)

 

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So finally, back to the 6to8 DSP.

here is what was waiting for me when I arrived home last night :)

I put it next to a lip balm for size comparison.

I will be installing it into a customer’s car in a coupla weeks and will give you my full impression then. but I love its finish, its small size and expansion capability. the GUI is a bit complex and unpolished but all the functions are there...and hopefully that will be improved in time.

For me as an installer, my biggest thing about a processor is: noise/tuning performance and reliability. I don’t need the fanciest GUI, the coolest heatsink, or the highest of the high numerical data performance. A processor that has a highest spec on paper in certain categories, but is prone to noise, breakdowns and throwing hissy fits just won’t do.

anyway, check back with me 3 weeks or so and I should have an initial real world review of the unit up by then :) but I am hopeful since I have had such good experiences with their amps.





 

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Zapco:

I only cared about two things at zapco, the new dsp and the new dc reference amps. I saw both. the biggest change really is no more simblink, everything now is rca based. Which saddens me a lil. No longer are they all discrete DSP on every channel, but instead, a new dsp that is multi-channel in one board.

The overall GUI still looks similar with a few small parameter changes.

I am a bit concerned about the much lower pricing on the DSP-Z8 and what it means for possible performance...but again, absolutely no judgment until I get to play with them. It would be a hoot if it has similar performance as the 6 but with 8 channels and a much lower price tag.

the Zapco DC amps still look like before except rca jacks in place of simblink.

the DSP-Z8 should be available by March or April as I am told, followed by the DC amps a month or so later.



So that’s basically it for me...

if I remember something else I will post it...in the meantime, here are some various pics of the show that I snapped:









 

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I really like those M Line amps from Mosconi and the new Morel stuff looks very nice too, I may try to put together a system later this year using the Virtus speakers and Primo subs with those M Line amps and a 6to8 dsp.
 

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Bing....Thanks for all the time and effort that went into this thread, job well done

What would we do without you?
 

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Bing Nice job,
Please let me know what you think of the 6to8 I may be running a Mosconi setup in my new car.

also a quick correction and a bit or info on Scott's G35
Audio System
L3se (250hz-18.5k roll-off)
L8se (200hz-40hz Bandpass in kicks vented into the fender area)
(4) ISW6 Imagine Subwoofers (6th order Bandpass enclosure)
(6) JL Audio HD750/1 amps (one per driver & a pair for the subs)
McIntosh MX5000 head unit
Black box of DR.B Audio Worx


>My CES 2012 pix<
 

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Great thread, Bing!

That alpine 8" deck doesn't look as bad as the press releases show. The gui looks much better.

I wish more of these companies with new DSP's would release a demo version of their GUI so the customer could get a chance to play with it and see what it's like first hand. Until then, pictures of a screen will have to do. :(
 
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