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CI EXPO 2015 Industry Insider Report

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It’s Thursday and the first week of November. Hardly the time of year one would expect a Consumer Electronics Show, yet last month in Texas CEDIA1 (Custom Installation Design and Installation Association) held the CEDIA EXPO, which is one of the big shows for the Custom Installation section of the Audio Industry. The CEDIA Expo is where installers, custom home integrators and media go to learn about some of the coolest new inovations for the custom home theater and home automation.

The Expo was divided up into four sections. First was a static display section that consisted of tables full of the latest and greatest in custom install products. The Second was active Audio displays. The third was Projection Alley, which showed off two-piece projection TVs. And the last was training. I will comment on two in this article, the static displays and the Projection Alley. I didn’t have the opportunity to attend any training, and had time for one of the active audio display rooms.

There were many new products shown for streaming audio to multiple areas in your home. Sonos was at the forefront of this technology and now several companies including Denon, Marantz and DTS have entered the market with improved technology. I will talk about a few examples shown. There have also been advances in video technology, in specifically an increasing number of products showing 4K advancements. In the last part of this article I will discuss the projectors that were on display for the show.

Ok enough of that for now, let’s talk about what I saw in the main area of the show.

After registering and getting my badge, bag and lunch ticket I proceeded into the show. The first product line was The Davinci Group, in which Jeff Francisco was presenting the latest CI speakers. He use to be VP of product development for Speakercraft (one of my favorite custom installation speaker lines). He pointed out some of the unique features, for example their technique of zinc plating their grills prior to their being powder coated. Their Dual VC ceiling speakers are also unique as they are the only company that uses a Dual VC tweeter in their design, which makes for a more phase correct product.


Some of you will know the name JL Labs, which is noted for their supper high-end subs at appropriately high prices. Jim Knight of Redwood Marketing was showing JL’s new Domino 108, their first woofer at a far more affordable $800. What you see here is the new a massive 8″ driver mounted on a cast aluminum bezel that utilizes a minimal baffle design to allow smoother performance. I look forward to actually hearing it in the future.

JL-Labs-(2)JL Labs

Denon and Marantz have a new 8 Zone 8 source Heos product that is expandable to 64 zones. All wireless. Eat your heart out Sonos.

Heos-(1) Heos-(2)

And now for something completely different! Q Motion was showing a new innovative shade system. All you need to do is install the bracket and mount the shade and you’re done. Everything is built into the screen roller itself. Very slick for your home theater black out curtains.

Next to them was Master Dynamic Headphones. These are a Chinese made headphone built with real lambskin and all metal housings. Very cool! I would not have guessed they were Chinese.

Master-Dynamics-(1)Master Dynamics

The next table was showing something I have to admit I had no experience in: Wilson Pro. They build 3G and 4G boosters for home and commercial cell phones. They claim that once installed, you have fewer dropped calls and faster data transfers on 4G networks.

Wilson-Pro-(1)Wilson Pro

Ultra HD IP was showing products that put 4K content onto your network. The Transmitter and Receiver cost $600 each.

Ultra-HD-IP-(1)Ultra HD IP

Remember Infinity? Cary Christie, Arnie Nudell, and John Ulrick founded Infinity Systems more than 25 years ago, and Cary Christie founded Artisan Speakers. They were showing their new Back Pack, which is a product that fits on the back of a flat screen TV and has three active channels and a WISA enabled wireless capability for 2 pair of surrounds and 2 subs, plus High Res Audio.

Parasound was showing HINT, their new integrated amp. I am a huge fan of John Curl and Parasound. This integrated amp offers 160W/ch of outstanding performance, with the capability of marrying analog and digital all in one package. Parasound uses ESS Sabre DACs, a nice sounding phono preamp, and an adjustable subwoofer output.



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