I spent my first day at CES visiting the exhibits at the Venetian Hotel, the best place for stereo components and high-end gear. Exhibitors are placing a renewed emphasis on more affordable high-performance speakers and 2.1 channel sound. Affordability is certainly a matter of opinion, but when Martin Logan introduces a pair of bookshelf speakers, the Motion LX16 with a ribbon tweeter for $799/pair, audiophiles pay attention. Better still, a pair of Martin Logan Electro Motion ESL speakers with legendary electrostatic drivers for $2000/pair. Both were on active display at the show and I can't wait to review them.
Speaker manufacturers are also promoting 2.1 channel sound. Many people prefer a simpler, less complex sound system for music, movies and TV and 2.1 channels is the way to do it. Cambridge Audio is showing its Minx system, a 2.1 channel satellite speaker solution with a choice of one or two cube-style speakers and three subwoofer models. Prices start in the $500 range for a 2.1 channel system. Focal speakers is showing its Bird Series, three bookshelf or wall mountable speakers combined with an amplifier that has a built in subwoofer. Really. The subwoofer is built into the amp. I look forward to hearing that. More to come from CES later. Be sure to visit the home theater site with Robert Silva, About.com Guide to Home Theater.