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.