While CEDIA is full of established brands occupying giant booths, it is also a show where you’ll find startups that target specific needs with dedication. The drive to succeed fuels competition, and Next Level Acoustics showed up at CEDIA ready to rumble. The company, started by AVS Forum Blu-ray reviewer Lee Weber, was exhibiting at CEDIA for the first time, and I liked what it was up to.
At CEDIA 2017, custom soundbars were definitely a thing. No longer restricted to the high-end custom shops such as James Loudspeakers, numerous companies let you order a (passive) soundbar at a custom length and in a custom finish. To that end, Next Level Acoustics was showing its Fusion Reference soundbar, which is available either flat, or curved depending on your TV type.
Lee was at the Next Level Acoustics booth and both queued up the demos plus discussed the products. As I listened to “24K Magic” by Tony Modicano, I duly noted the soundbar had much more in common with real speakers—in terms of capability—than what you usually call a “soundbar.” And when Lee mentioned he has built a custom unit for a 120″ screen, I understood exactly what the Fusion Reference is all about: Actually hiding a traditional speaker system in a soundbar form factor. In other words, these ARE real speakers.
You want specs? You got ’em. The Fusion Reference is a sealed 3-way design. It relies on three silk-dome tweeters plus six 5.5″ woven-fiber mid/woofers for a frequency response of 44 Hz to 20 kHz. Rated sensitivity is 92 dB/W/m and this is a 4-ohm (nominal) device that’s rated to take up to 350 watts of power.
As you might imagine, if you power a Fusion Reference with a good AVR and add a competent sub, you’re going to be rocking the house in no time at all. Of course, being a CI product you have to call for an estimate to get a price, but one of Next Level Acoustics’ goals is to provide superior performance for the dollar.