LATEST ADDITIONS

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John Sciacca Posted: Jan 06, 2014 0 comments
Dish President and CEO, Joe Clayton, kicked off the company’s press event by welcoming the crowds to “part three of DISH’s transformation.”

Building on the success of its Hopper and Joey multi-room DVR system, DISH announced several significant upgrades to the system today. Where the previous Hopper system was capable of recording three programs at once – or up to six when using the PrimeTime Anytime feature – the new SuperJoey will record a breakthrough eight shows at once! (Any four shows plus the four major broadcast networks when using PrimeTime Anytime, or the five network tuners recording/watching any five shows from any network.)

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 06, 2014 0 comments
LG isn’t just talking HDTV picture quality this year. Like other manufacturers, it’s now it’s into everything but the kitchen sink—actually they may be into that as well. In any event, if you can plug it in or it runs on batteries, LG probably makes it.

Even in TV, various forms of Smart TV and how they can light up your life are front and center this year with every TV maker. But quality HDTV and Ultra HD are my beats today and I’m sticking to them.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 06, 2014 0 comments
My brain was still pondering whether I'd like to text my fridge about the availability of beer when LG showed a handful of audio-for-video products. Of the most interest was the LAB540W SoundPlate. As you can see, it's less than 40mm thick and designed to serve as both base and sound reinforcement for 32- to 55-inch TVs. It includes 320 watts spread over 4.1 channels, Smart TV functionality, built-in Blu-ray player, and speaks both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Also shown were two soundbars, NB5540 and NB3740, the first of which is similarly equipped in channels and power. And there were the NP8740 and NP8540 multi-room speaker systems, which operate by 2.4GHz mesh networking and speak both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Shipping and pricing was not mentioned at the event or on the web press release. One more interesting tidbit: Harman Kardon helped tune up the audio on LG's 4K 2014 TV line.
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SV Staff Posted: Jan 03, 2014 0 comments
The world’s largest showcase of consumer technology is upon us. The 2014 International CES opens in Las Vegas on Tuesday, January 7 and runs through Friday, January 10 but our pre-show coverage kicks off on Monday with the latest news from LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and a number of other companies making announcements on the eve of the show.
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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Jan 03, 2014 1 comments
You’re going to find this hard to believe, but even I make mistakes. I cover this stuff for a living, and in my personal tech life I screwed up some things in 2013.

I’d like to think I can learn from my mistakes, and like any “teaching moment,” I figured I’d share a few of these semi-painful revelations in the hopes you won’t suffer the same fates.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 03, 2014 4 comments
For some, tower speakers are an article of faith. Many audiophiles wouldn't consider going without them—either folded into a 5.1+ system or as a standalone two-channel system. For some of those listeners, owning a pair of towers is the right decision, and I wouldn't be foolhardy enough to try talking them out of it. But for others, floorstanding speakers are just one option among many, and not necessarily the best one. In some primary systems, smaller-scale monitors or satellites would be more appropriate; for some secondary systems, soundbars or standalone audio products make more sense. As I discussed in a previous blog, choice of speaker size depends on both needs and personalities.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 02, 2014 0 comments

Performa3 F208 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

B112 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $13,300 (with stands)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb overall performance
Impeccable fit and finish
Effective subwoofer EQ
Minus
Complex subwoofer EQ setup

THE VERDICT
While not inexpensive, the Performa3s can challenge anything out there on either music or movies, and likely come out in front.

Has it really been six years since I last reviewed a Revel speaker system? It has. That system, anchored at the front by the Ultima2 Studio2s, is still available—but combined with a five-star dinner for two, it will cost you around $40,000. Although I imagine its sales have met expectations, I suspect that system isn’t exactly flying out the doors at Fred’s High-Ende Audio Shoppe.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Jan 02, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $7,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb sonics from high-resolution digital sources
Substantial amplifier power
Unusual looks; fine finish quality
Minus
No headphone or other additional outputs
Un-ergonomic remote controller

THE VERDICT
Reference-quality sound from hi-rez music files made simple—at a reference-grade price.

What form will the Audiophile System of the Future take? It’s an open question, though it’s a pretty fair bet that the pallet-loads of tube power amps and skyscraper speakers of the high end’s golden age will not return any time soon. One proposed answer, from Wadia Digital, is the Intuition 01 power DAC, a swoopily formed oblong that incorporates very substantial two-channel amplification (190 watts x 2 into 8 ohms, rated), highly sophisticated digital-to-analog conversion facilities, and basic input-selection and volume controls.

David Vaughn Posted: Jan 02, 2014 9 comments

CX-A5000 Surround Processor
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
MX-A5000 Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE CX-A5000, $3,000; MX-A5000, $3,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Audiophile pre/pro sound quality
Impeccable build quality
Apple AirPlay support
Minus
Amp performance merely competent
Limited network interface

THE VERDICT
Yamaha’s new pre/pro is a surefire contender, though its matching 11-channel amplifier wasn’t quite the same caliber.

If you’re in the market for a new AVR, you can spend countless hours researching all of the various manufacturers’ Websites and, when all is said and done, still have 20 or more models to choose from that have all the bells and whistles you want. The same can’t be said for the surround processor market, which is extremely limited by comparison.

Most companies offer only one model—if that—and it’s generally a reconstruction of their flagship AVR minus the amp section. Don’t expect a discounted price, though; with such a limited audience for pre/pros, you can expect to pay top dollar even when the amps are absent. That said, this isn’t such a bad deal because you can then choose an amplifier that mates well with your particular speakers. Furthermore, by having the electronically noisy amps in a separate enclosure, energized by their own dedicated power supply, you can theoretically enjoy improved audio quality. Of course, you also get an increased footprint in your rack with additional black boxes. The quest for audio nirvana certainly isn’t easy.

Mike Mettler Posted: Jan 02, 2014 1 comments
Performance
Sound
Finally seeing a stateside release after being available internationally for over a year, Privateering, Mark Knopfler’s seventh solo offering (and first double album of all-original material) is a showcase of Americana, as innately authentic as anything produced by any artist born on U.S. soil. Somewhere, Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, John Lee Hooker, and Muddy Waters are all picking, grinning, and haw-haw-hawing their collective approval. (Me, I suspect Knopfler was spiritually born on the Mississippi Delta and then transplanted to the moors of his native Scotland.)

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