Q I am planning to buy a 2.1-channel soundbar and have noticed many are only capable of decoding standard Dolby Digital soundtracks. However, one 2.1-channel model I looked at, Sony's HT-NT5, supports Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-HD High Resolution, DTS ES, and DTS 96/24. What is the advantage of a 2.1 channel soundbar being able to decode multiple multichannel audio formats? —Joe Pop
Mathias Johansson, CEO and co-founder of Sweden’s Dirac Research, has devoted his professional life to developing technologies that improve sound quality—whether that sound is music heard over headphones or car speakers, or an intricate Dolby Atmos soundtrack played over a high-end home theater system. “Our passion is to invent new sound technologies that offer a better sound experience regardless of the sound system,” he says. “We want to be a quality seal for good sound, and we want to achieve this through scientific methods.” If the accolades the Dirac Live room-correction system has garnered among enthusiasts is any measure, Johansson is not only on the right path to elevating sound quality but making tangible progress.
The glory days of the battleship USS Missouri (the actual ship is shown above) began in World War II, peaking on her deck in Tokyo Bay as the Japanese signed the surrender documents. It’s now a museum piece, but (according to this film, but far from reality) still fueled, armed, and ready to go with a skeleton crew at a moment’s notice.
Adoption of newer connected home solutions is still at the early adopter phase, according to a recent survey by Gartner, Inc. The survey, of nearly 10,000 online respondents in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia during the second half of 2016, found that only about 10 percent of households currently have connected home solutions.
AT A GLANCE Plus
Fine, handmade build
Very, very comfortable
New-gen balanced cable may not fit current headphone amps/sources
Sony has a long history of making reference-quality headphones, starting with the limited-edition MDR-R10. That was in 1989—and at $2,500, it was the most expensive headphone in the world. A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with an MDR-R10, and it was the most beautiful-sounding headphone I’d ever heard. No wonder the cognoscenti dubbed it the Stradivarius of headphones and scooped them all up years ago. MDR-R10s rarely come up for sale, but when they do, they go for at least $6,000!
AT A GLANCE Plus
Solid as a brick build quality
Handles ultra-high resolution 768-kHz/32-bit PCM, and DSD native (up to 22.4 MHz) files
Variety of single-ended
and balanced headphone outputs
Not the most transparent sounding headphone amp
The Sony TA-ZH1ES is beautifully designed and built, though it doesn’t quite bring the MDR-Z1R headphone to its full potential.
Not content with just launching a new flagship headphone in the MDR-Z1R, Sony simultaneously launched the TA-ZH1ES headphone amplifier/DAC; like the MDR-Z1R, it’s intended to be a statement of Sony’s best technology.