CE Week NYC: Setting Up

It was very hot and humid in New York City yesterday…thankfully, I was inside the Altman Building Gallery space setting up the room for the CE Week demos and presentations. The space is large…about 45 x 40 with a lot of HVAC and curved brickwork on the ceiling. It was built in 1896 as a “carriage house” and has a large opening in the ceiling where they would raise and lower horses to the street level. It’s closed off now but I couldn’t help thinking how this very space was now decked out with six ultra high-definition televisions sets including the latest high dynamic range sets from Samsung and a top-of-the line 5.1 high-resolution audio setup.

The guys from Lenbrook were there as I arrived and already had the speakers and electronics out of the boxes. They graciously supplied four PSB T3 Floor-standing Tower Speakers (in beautiful cherry!), a PSB C3 Center Channel and a PSB Subseries 300 Subwoofer. It would have been better if all of the speakers were identical but we needed to go with the horizontal center channel to accommodate the line of four UHD video screens that are being used during the TV Shootout. The front left and right towers are strategically placed between the middle two 85″ screens.

The electronics were setup on a table to the right side of the room. I brought an Oppo BDP-103 (which matches the four Oppo BDP-103s that Robert Zohn of Value Electronics brought along for use in the shootout), an NAD M17 Preamp/Processor, and an NAD M27 7-channel Power Amp. My good friend Greg at DH Labs custom built interconnects and speaker cables. This equipment features balanced connections and we used short XLR cables between the preamp and amp. The speaker cables were constructed with spade lugs on both ends. John Siau from Benchmark changed my mind about using lugs over bananas in Chicago. They just work better.

Initially, we placed the speakers in a 20-foot radius circle. The hope was to have as large an area as possible for attendees. But the sound of my immersive surround mixes was too diffuse so we tightened the circle to 15-feet. This is the same size that we used in Chicago. The sound is really good!

In a room full of high-end television geeks including executives from Samsung, and LG and Joe Kane, the king of video monitors, when I cranked up the audio in full 5.1 surround they all stood in the center of the space and listened intently. I spoke with a very senior guy from Samsung about connecting after the show. He was very impressed. “I’ve never heard anything sound like this before,” was what he shared with his colleague. He wished that his Samsung audio person were there to experience it. That’s why I do these events, you never know who you’re going to meet.

It was a long day of setup and tweaking. In fact, when I left at about 9:30 last night the video calibration guys were still tweaking presets for the shootout. Over the 11 years that Robert has hosted this event, it’s gotten very competitive. The big CE manufacturers from Japan and South Korea are making sure there sets are performing at their best.

See you tomorrow…got to run to the show. David Chesky and I are on a panel at 12 noon.


Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

6 thoughts on “CE Week NYC: Setting Up

  • Yes, I have attended most of the shootouts and am looking forward to all the fun Thursday. Say hello to Robery and Dave McKenzie for me.

  • Patrick J Sandham

    Costed out your system at Crutchfields – it came to $27,048.92. I’ll need to wait ’till payday…

    • In the scheme of high-end audio gear that’s not bad. But still a major chunk of money.

  • “The big CE manufacturers from Japan and South Korea are making sure there sets are performing at their best.”

    What a shame that there are no longer any US manufacturers left to participate in these shootouts. ;-(

  • Mark –

    Regarding your comment –

    “John Siau from Benchmark changed my mind about using lugs over bananas in Chicago. They just work better.”

    What do you mean by “they just work better”?

    • Here’s John’s explanation…

      I recommend locking banana plugs. The non-locking (spring finger) banana plugs do not work well. Spades are OK but they are somewhat inconsistent. The surface of the binding post where the spades connect can become contaminated and this often raises the resistance of the connection. Binding posts often come from the factory with contamination from the manufacturing process and this can affect the quality of the connections made with spade lugs. Contamination can also build up over time. The spades provide very little contact wiping action when they are inserted. In contrast, the locking banana plugs tend the clean the contact area as they are inserted.

      We have seen cases where the distortion across a binding post to spade lug connection exceeds the distortion produced by the entire AHB2 power amplifier. Non-locking banana plugs are worse and they almost always produce more distortion than the AHB2. The locking banana plugs provide a connection that is good enough to measure the performance of the AHB2.

      The SpeakON connectors on the AHB2 provide the best connection. We sell SpeakON to locking banana plug cables and SpeakON to SpeakON cables. We do not sell cables with spade lugs or non-locking banana plugs (due to the performance issues described above).


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