Pro AV and home cinema collide

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, ISE is the show where AV gets very serious indeed. Steve May reports from a bustling Barcelona

Pro AV and home cinema collide

INTEGRATED SYSTEMS EUROPE, or ISE, celebrated its 20th anniversary in style this year, at its (relatively) new home of the Fira de Barcelona Gran Via. The exhibition, co-managed by the AVIXA and CEDIA trade bodies and offering a mix of professional AV, high-end home cinema and smart home control, pulled in its largest ever crowd, attracting 73,891 attendees from 162 countries. It also hosted its largest number of exhibitors, 1,408 in total, packing a quartet of huge hangers with the latest in advanced display tech and immersive audio.

On the instruction of HCC’s Ed, I toured the halls, took in the demos (Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning – Part One and old favourite A Star is Born seemed popular), and tried not to get lost…


An audio brand best known for its concert sound systems, L-Acoustics took the wraps off a new line at ISE very much designed for the home.

Its Xi Series are ‘short-throw’ loudspeakers for media rooms and other space-limited environments, and can be used indoors or out as they have IP55 certification. The range launched with two models, the X8i and X6i. Both feature coaxial arrays with a 1.5in HF compression driver within a 6in (X6i) or 8in (X8i) bass/mid unit, in a ported, bass reflex cabinet.

The speakers are engineered to work with or without a subwoofer, with a specific crossover setting in L-Acoustics’ rack amplification trading some SPL ability for a lower frequency reach. They’re also designed to be mounted either horizontally or vertically, on-wall or on-ceiling. A pair of the X8is running on L-Acoustics’ stand impressed with vocal clarity and a weighty sense of presence. They’re definitely worth looking out for.


Meridian does soundbars? Kind of. The high-end hi-fi outfit unveiled an on-wall ‘media mounting solution’ for its architectural loudspeaker line at the show. This custom wooden frame supports a 65in TV (on an articulated mount for quick installation and easy access to its rear panel) but also conceals a Meridian architectural loudspeaker, in this case a DSP520.2.

Part of Meridian’s Select Service, this on-wall furniture is distinguished by an acoustically

Pro AV and home cinema collide
Pro AV and home cinema collide

optimised slatted wood grille. Shown at ISE in solid walnut, it will also be available in light oak, or a painted finish, when it launches later this year.

With the DSP520.2 speaker wall-mounted, there’s no need to use a back box, which is handy if you want to avoid chopping into walls. The unit can also accommodate Meridian’s larger DSP640.2 and DSP750 models, and comes flat-packed to reduce shipping costs.


If you’re hunting for a pair of loudspeakers to partner your transparent OLED TV (which were, after all, the talk of CES earlier this year), then Waterfall has you covered with its new Niagara XT1 floorstanders.

Pro AV and home cinema collide
Pro AV and home cinema collide

Meridian (above) showed off its new on-wall speaker/screen mounts plus DSP9 floorstanders, while L Acoustics (above left) launched the Xi series

Pro AV and home cinema collide

Standing around a metre tall, these extraordinary loudspeakers (pictured above) feature the French marque’s signature high-density glass construction, and are equipped with two 6in bass/mid drivers below a distinctive solid wood horn framing a silk dome tweeter. Waterfall says its tweeters are matched, making each speaker pair unique in their own right. The milled aluminium base of the XT1, wrapped in Nappa leather, features an 8.25in passive radiator for extra bass refinement.

In full flight there seemed no shortage of fine detail to the Niagara XT1’s sound. You might say it made quite a splash.


A new Eco Display range on show at ISE from Vestel, the Turkish electronics giant which produces Toshiba and JVC TVs amongst others, claims to cut power consumption of a typical 500-nit commercial display by up to 80 per cent. For commercial venues, which typically run many multiples of displays, this would lead to significant savings. And the hope, as always, is that such tech will come down the road to consumer models at some point.


Sonos came to ISE to emphasise its home cinema credentials, demoing both a full-on home theatre

Pro AV and home cinema collide

Sonos’s Era 300 Atmos speaker, in exploded form

Pro AV and home cinema collide

Sony (top) introduced new Crystal LED displays and a smart Flux stand; Vestel touted its energy-efficient Eco Display series

system and architectural passive loudspeakers to partner its rack-friendly two-channel Amp model.

New at the show was an 8in in-ceiling speaker. Available in black or white, it will join its 6in stablemate around June, and sell for £ a pair. These models are all designed by Sonos, but are actually made by custom install specialist Sonance.

For the Dolby Atmos home cinema demo, the company ran a system comprising an Arc soundbar, two Gen 3 Subs and a pair of Era 300 speakers at the rear, and it certainly provided an immersive listening experience. The Era 300, which has drivers directing sound left, right, forward and upward, makes for a particularly good rear/height speaker.

If anything the provision of two subwoofers was a little optimistic for the size of the demo room, but I was enjoying Puss in Boots: The Last Wish too much to be overly concerned.


Sony went big on Crystal LED at ISE, most literally with the unveiling of a spectacular 220in CH-series display. New Verona CLED models also provided the backdrop for a virtual production studio on its booth. These direct view panels incorporate a host of advancements suited for virtual production, including Deep Black and Anti-Reflection Surface treatments to make them less prone to contrast loss caused by studio lighting.

To simplify the installation of its large CLED panels, Sony also unveiled Crystal LED Flux, a stylish stand to be easily wheeled in and out of boardrooms. We can’t help thinking even a non-mobile version would pair well with its consumer flatscreens.


To demonstrate the latest thinking in terms of immersive sound system calibration, and its own multi-subwoofer ‘WaveForming’ technology, Trinnov set up a 13.1.6 channel array using loudspeakers and (14) subwoofers from Krix, in a pop-up theatre room complete with tiered seating. Driving this impressive system were the company’s Altitude processor and Amplitude power amps.

Yep, that’s one of the Cars movies playing on LG’s Magnit Micro LED TV (top); Samsung also used Micro LED panels (aka The Wall) to frame its stand

Pro AV and home cinema collide
Pro AV and home cinema collide

Founded in July 2014, 7Review is a free audio resource for beginners, and we're dedicated to helping you create the ultimate movie-watching experience right at home. We pull insights from top audio magazines and trusted industry sources to bring you well-researched, reliable reviews and tips. Whether you're a home cinema pro or just starting out, we aim to give you the info you need to make the best choices for your setup.

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