New Equipment Overview: Spring 2022

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Despite a lingering labor shortage and supply chain disruptions, which continue to plague industries across the board, new product launches seem to be holding up as we enter the blooming month of May. New arrivals include a polished take on an affordable speaker from a classic high-end brand, reasonably priced turntables from a company that knows how to spin vinyl, and subwoofers designed to disappear into your walls…but we want to share a few snippets of recent news first.

Florida International Audio Expo (formerly Florida Audio Expo) organizers have announced that the show will return to Tampa in February 2023, after what will be a two-year hiatus due to a pandemic. Although it’s still early, the show is set to take place at the Embassy Suites by Hilton (an hour’s drive from Walt Disney World) with 12 floors of exhibits dedicated to high-performance audio gear of all kinds. The details are here.

Meanwhile, Stewart Filmscreen, the California-based company that has been manufacturing high-performance projection screens since Hollywood’s golden age, announced its acquisition by private equity group Shackleton Equity Partners. The company will retain its manufacturing facilities and continue to be managed by its current management team in Torrance, according to press reports, but owner and manager Mary Stewart will step down from her role.

Founded in 1947, Stewart Filmscreen has received two Oscars and certifications from THX and the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF). The company said CEPro demand for its products has more than doubled over the past year, making this transaction a significant step in increasing manufacturing capacity, suggesting that a much-needed cash injection may be on the way.

Now on to the gear…

Magnepan increases the resolution of its entry-level LRS

More than 50 years after founder Jim Winey developed an improved version of the electrostatic loudspeaker he dubbed the Magneplanar, the Minnesota-based Magnepan is still heavily featured in gaming audio, offering a full range of loudspeakers based on that original design, including a price tag of $38,000/flagship pair. The company’s latest project involves a “hi-res update” to its entry-level LRS, a planar magnetic panel loudspeaker which, like all “Maggies”, is dipole in nature and radiates the sound of front and back. In his 2020 review, sound and imageMichael Trei of Michael Trei called LRS “a must-have entry drug into the world of high-performance audio”, capable of delivering a “level of musical nirvana far beyond what its $650 price tag would suggest” .

Short for Little Ribbon Speaker, the new LRS+ ($995/pair) lacks trim and is about an inch narrower than its predecessor, according to longtime marketing manager Wendell Diller. Otherwise, it looks identical to its predecessor, measuring 4 feet tall, 13 inches wide, and just an inch thick. (Photo shows LRS because photography of LRS+ was not yet available.) The difference between LRS and LRS+ is improved sound quality – what Diller calls “top-to-bottom resolution improvements that can be both measured and heard. And he is quick to point out that the secret behind these sound improvements will remain exactly that.

“We were out of stock by about 5 months on the LRS when the LRS+ was introduced,” Diller notes, adding that customers now have the option of ordering the LRS or LRS+ through Magnepan or their nearest retailer. close (the price is the same). For more information, visit magnepan.com.

Pro-Ject deploys phono preamps and new turntables

Turntable specialist Pro-Ject struts their stuff with an ambitious range of new gear including two phono preamps and four turntables, three of which are part of a new affordable range.

The new E1 series includes three versions of the E1 turntable, which boasts a “true sub-platter design” with a low-mass synthetic main platter that rests on a high-density resin belt-driven sub-platter: base E1 model ($349), the E1 Phono SB ($399), which features a built-in phono preamp, and the E1 BT ($499), which features a built-in phono preamp and Bluetooth transmitter to Connect wirelessly to Bluetooth-enabled soundbars, A/V receivers and speakers.

All models feature an 8.6-inch aluminum tonearm fitted with a factory-aligned Ortofon OM 5e phono cartridge and a polished stainless steel spindle that spins in a low-frequency brass bearing well. friction. The E1 Series main bearing assembly is mounted in a medium density fiberboard (MDF) base and wrapped in one of three durable finishes: gloss black, satin white or satin walnut.

Moving up a few notches on the performance scale, the new X8 Evolution (shown in the opening photo) has been adapted from Pro-Ject’s considerably more expensive Xtension 9/10 models and features an aluminum platter “perfectly balanced” with TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) damping. The platter is partially supported by opposing neodymium magnets (to decrease the load on the main bearing) and works in concert with an inverted ceramic ball bearing designed to maintain smooth and stable rotations.

The X8 features a one-piece 9-inch carbon fiber tonearm and includes a semi-balanced 5P DIN-RCA phono cable. Its heavy MDF frame rests on height-adjustable dampened aluminum insulating feet. Trim options are the same as the E1 models. Pricing is $2,499 without a cartridge or $2,699 with a factory installed Sumiko Blue Point No.3 phono cartridge.

All four decks are designed and manufactured in the EU and include a removable acrylic dust cover.

Rounding out Pro-Ject’s new offerings are the Phono Box S3 B ($499) and Phono Box DS3 B ($799, shown in the opening photo). The two external phono preamps are housed in a steel/aluminum chassis offered in black or silver and offer the choice of standard RCA or balanced XLR inputs and outputs. They also include a subsonic filter (18dB/octave at 20Hz) and support both moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) phono configurations with dual mono circuitry and a fully balanced discrete gain stage.

The S3 B has knobs on its front panel with four settings for input gain and capacitance and five settings for input impedance. The DS3 B step-up adds two additional gain settings and the choice of fixed (47k ohms) and variable (10-1000 ohms) input impedance, the latter controlled by a knob on the front panel. Wooden side panels are available as an option.

Pro-Ject products are distributed in the United States by Sumiko. For more information, visit projectusa.com.

Monoprice introduces the first in-wall subwoofer

Monoprice shows no signs of letting up with the continued expansion of its popular Monolith line of affordable AV equipment. The latest addition bolsters the subwoofer range with the brand’s first subwoofers designed for wall or ceiling mounting.

The M-IWSUB8 ($400) places a single 8-inch polypropylene woofer in a shallow frame designed to fit between standard 16-inch center studs with sturdy mounting tabs that ease installation by locking the frame in place. The M-IWSUB82 ($600) deploys two of the same 8-inch drivers to achieve higher sound pressure levels (SPL).

Both models are designed to suit retrofit or new construction installations and have a nominal frequency response of 36-200Hz ±3dB with a high sensitivity specification of 91dB (1W/1m) for a easy pairing with a variety of amplifiers. Additional specifications include a nominal impedance of 4 ohms and a fixed crossover of 120 Hz (12 dB/octave). Spring-loaded terminals are supplied with a paintable white grille cover that attaches magnetically to the mounting frame.

With the grilles in place in a finished installation, the M-IWSUB8 measures 13.3 inches high and 11.9 inches wide; the dual-driver M-IWSUB82 is 21.3 inches high and 11.7 inches wide. For more information, visit monoprice.com.

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