2014 CEDIA Expo Preview
By Chris Heinonen on
The 2014 CEDIA Expo starts today, September 10th in Denver, Colorado with a press preview day. The show floor opens on Thursday morning and there is a lot of excitement about what is going to be on the floor. There are quite a few things we know are going to be out in force, along with the usual surprises.
Dolby Atmos was announced this summer and it will be everywhere at the show. There are 15 different companies doing demos of it on the show floor according to Dolby so it will be easy to hear. Now that we know that the most recent Transformers movie, out on Blu-ray at the end of September, will be the first Atmos title it really is go-time for it.
Also interesting is that Vudu will support Dolby Atmos over streaming. Since lossless audio formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD never gained streaming traction, the inclusion of Atmos with streaming is surprising to me. Perhaps everyone thinks it will make more of an impact for the average listener than lossless audio can? With the more challenging speaker requirements it has, it is going to be interesting to see if Atmos catches on with the average consumer.
Whole Home Audio
IFA last week in Berlin showed that Whole Home Audio is the new Headphones. Everyone wants to get involved and have a product. An area that Sonos has basically dominated for years now sees every major company jumping in. LG, Samsung, Bose, Monster, Definitive Technology, Polk Audio, Denon, and more have announced or are shipping systems.
An interesting solution comes from WiSA, the Wireless Speaker Association. They have been showing off lossless, wireless surround sound systems for a few years now and are going to show an update that also does multiple zones around the house for whole home audio. Unlike every other product here, WiSA operates on a very different wireless frequency making it less prone to interference than those that use the 2.4GHz spectrum.
With all of these solutions, it will really come down to who can play back all your music, from all your sources, and make it easy to do. Sonos has a huge head start on everyone so I expect it to take a year or two for someone to completely catch up, but competition is always good to have.
CEDIA is really where projectors come out. A few show up at CES, but most of the new models are introduced at CEDIA. Usually JVC gets everything started with an early morning breakfast, but this year there isn’t one and rumor is there are no new JVC models. Sony introduced a new, more affordable 4K projector at IFA last week that I imagine will be their main attraction at the show here. I’ve been a huge fan of their 40ES and 55ES models so hopefully this 4K one offers even better performance.
Epson, according to the AVS Forums (and now posted at Big Picture, Big Sound), is rumors to have a laser-based projector on display. They have been showing an LCOS-type projector for years but never have been able to get it to market. It has always looked fantastic in person so the fact that I can’t get one in real life has always been sad. Lasers have typically had issues with light output, or a very spiky gamut, but recently companies have gotten around this by using extra phosphors with the laser. If Epson could pair these two technologies it really might have a unique projector on the market with dark blacks and incredibly long life.
CEDIA often deals with more custom install and in-wall speakers, but other speakers make an appearance as well. Paradigm is teasing a new model that I am very interested to hear. I’ve listened to, and loved, their Signature line and have their Millennia Ones in my living room system as well.
Dolby Atmos speaker modules are being shown from KEF, Triad, Pioneer, Atlantic Technology, and many more. Since most people won’t install in-ceiling speakers, these will all bounce sounds off the ceiling to mimic an in-ceiling model. It seems like these will do best with regular flat ceilings and not a cathedral ceiling or something else, but we will have to test it at home to find out for sure.
While Home Automation is now taking over Lowes and Home Depot, it has been at CEDIA for years. Control4, Crestron, Savant, and more are all here showing off everything you can do. From thermostats to blinds, if you can control it someone at CEDIA will offer it. One vender even wanted me to come by this week and see their app-controlled sprinkler system
The downside here is that most of these are custom installer only. As awesome as I think my Control4 system is, you can’t run out and buy one to do it yourself. More and more of this control is trickling down to consumer level products, so CEDIA gives us a preview of what is coming.
CEDIA also has plenty of surprises in store for us. I always find the technical tools, from calibration hardware to acoustic measurements, to be interesting. Perhaps someone will have a new screen technology or soundbar that does something unexpected? In just a couple of days we will know for sure. I’ll be posting updates as I visit people, and try to post daily wrap-up articles as I can.