Originally Posted by Steve Bruzonsky
This AM I called Mike Pontelle, VP Sales and Marketing for Amplifier Technologies, Inc. which has owned Theta Digital since about Nov. last year.
I last talked with Mike last November, when he confirmed ATI's purchase of Theta Digital from Neil Sinclair, and when he said that the new Theta would invest and infuse $$ and push ahead to make upgrading the Casablanca 3 for HDMI audio a priority - but they would have to determine whether to do for HDMI audio and video an external box or internally upgrade the CB3, they couldn't determine or promise yet whether an upgrade would be available for existing Casablanca owners, etc.
Keep in mind that ATI is as good an audio video and home theater company as it gets. They manufacture components, primarily amplifiers, for lotsa other companies. ATI has an outstanding reputation. Morris Kessler has owned ATI since “the beginning of time” and continues to actively run his company. ATI has financial resources far beyond that of mortal men such as Theta Digital’s former owner, Neil Sinclair.
When I talked to Mike last November, I realized that he, on behalf of ATI, was necessarily conservative in what he was telling me. This only continues to bespeak highly of Mike and ATI.
Now almost ¾ of a year has gone by since I last talked to Mike, or really anyone on behalf of Theta Digital to find out what is going on. I knew that the new Theta Digital needed time to sort all of this out. And my conversation with Mike shows that the new Theta Digital is fast proceeding down the right path to encourage former, current and new potential Theta owners to buy Theta.
This AM, Mike advised of the following planned to be at CEDIA (availability dates to be determined):
1. He confirmed that the Generation VIII DAC, new improved version, is available, and that there is also an upgrade going to be available for a real reasonable cost (I think others have posted the upgrade is $1,500. They have also said the new DAC is even much better than the prior one. WOW!). (Note that this DAC does not accept HDMI audio, but traditional connections including digital coaxial, balanced and toslink.)
2. Theta is working full speed on the Valis surround processor. Apparently the chip maker lined up last year is kaput, so Theta had to work hard to line up a new chip maker, which is done. The Valis will be at CEDIA. It will have HDMI for audio and video, not 1.3, but either 1.1 or 1.2. (So functionally, I would think it should work for HD DVD and Blu Ray no different than the HDMI Lexicon and Halcro surround processors already out). It will only do 5.1 channels.
3. A Dreadnaught upgrade with new output transistors with thermal tracking, so the amp won’t get as hot.
4. Last, but not least. HA! Yes, the new Casablanca will be the very first high end surround processor to have HDMI 1.3 audio and video. Using the existing CB3 chassis. No reason why the Six Shooter also can’t be used with this. The new Casablanca will decode the new high resolution Blu Ray (& HD DVD now defunct) audio formats internally into its DACs (I didn’t discuss with specificity which DACs, but its obvious that at minimum the Xtreme and Superior II DACs will work with this). The original CB3 software programmers and Momentum Data Systems are doing the software/firmware upgrade. Mike was really enthusiastic about this. I explained to him that we had heard different things in past months at AVS, re an external HDMI box that might not even tie into the Theta CB3 internal DACs, that perhaps Theta would simply abandon the CB platform as too expensive and obsolete (like the Bland has been saying for years). But no, Theta is going “full speed ahead”. As Captain Picard of Star Trek would say “Engage”. And Mike added that once the new Casablanca is available, that Theta plans to do an upgrade and determine the upgrade price.
Mike also mentioned that Theta is working on a Blu Ray player but this won't be at CEDIA, it will be further down the line, and they are finding this a more difficult and expensive project than one might expect!!!@@@
Gee, and I thought my home theater system upgraded in the past year was done.
Here's what I've done:
From April to June 2007, I abandoned my ten year old Aerial 10Ts (4) for Aerial 9s (keeping Aerial CC5 and Aerial SW12 subs (3)).
About July 2007, I abandoned my ten year old Bryston 7B monoblocks (5) for
Theta Enterprise monoblocks, each with dual Reich binding posts, and by October I got the special Cardas paddle lugs (way more surface area than spades), with Granite Audio 8 guage 2 runs for each speaker/amp combo.
That audio signal communicates in "spades" (actually, in "paddles").
(Thanks to Craig Shumer, Theatermax, for the great half price special, now long over, on the Enterprises so I could afford them.)
Result: Musically, system, which Mike Parker and Mark Haflich proclaimed as the best home theater/audio combined system they had heard, was now much better, much more liquid, dynamic, real!!!
From March to May2008, I upgraded the video side. Sim2 C3X 1080, Stewart CineV 2.35 1.3 gain Studiotek curved screen (40' radius) with drop down side masking to 2.35, 127" wide for 2.35 (and higher aspect ratios), 96" wide for 16:9, Cineslide and ISCO III, Lumagen Radiance & Zektor HDMI switcher, replaced prior HD-XA1 HD DVD player with Integra HD DVD player, added Panasonic 30K blu ray player, and added Integra DTC 9.8 preamp/processor for HDMI high resolution audio from high definition disc players. Which go along with my Theta CB3 and Six Shooter. ISFed by Michael Hamilton. (Thanks to my Sim2 dealer Mark Haflich for getting me all the forgoing goodies at a great price.)
The new Casablanca will be the "coup d'etat"!!!