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Al Griffin Posted: Jun 04, 2014 0 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I want to get better sound when watching movies on my new Panasonic ZT60 plasma TV. (I stream a lot of Netflix and Vudu via the Panasonic’s built-in apps.) To that end, I recently bought a small stereo setup: an NAD C326BEE integrated amp, a Musical Fidelity V90 DAC, and a pair of Monitor Audio Apex 10 speakers. The only way to connect the TV to my audio system is by using an optical digital output from the Panasonic to the DAC, which then connects to one of the NAD’s stereo RCA inputs. Here’s the problem I’ve been having: When I watch Netflix or Vudu, I hear nothing but static noise coming from the speakers, though the sound is fine when I watch DirecTV (I have my satellite receiver connected directly to the TV via HDMI). This noise went away when I switched from 5.1 to 2.0 audio in Netflix, but I don’t get the same option for Vudu. I’m kinda stumped at this point. Shouldn’t the Musical Fidelity DAC automatically dumb down 5.1 signals to stereo? Is there another possible configuration that can solve my problem? —Gilbert Solis / via e-mail

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Al Griffin Posted: May 26, 2014 7 comments
How Important Is a Receiver’s Power Output in 7-Channel Mode? Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I love Sound & Vision’s reviews for the objective bench tests, though the results often don’t seem to sync up with the reviewer’s opinions. I’m looking to replace my damaged but terrific sounding Pioneer A/V receiver with a Yamaha RX-V773. The RX-V773 and its siblings get stellar reviews, but they exhibit a huge power drop-off when driving five or seven channels compared with their two-channel measurements. Pioneer’s VSX-52 receiver delivers around three times the power as the Yamahas into seven channels, though this doesn’t seem to make a difference in the subjective part of the review. Here’s my question: Is a receiver’s power output in seven-channel mode not an important factor when it comes to sound quality? Just looking at test results, I would have expected the Yamahas to get a poor rating for sound, but their reviews are consistently excellent on that point. &mash;Jonty Rees / Austin, TX

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Al Griffin Posted: May 22, 2014 4 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q My system consists of Aerial speakers, a Rotel 5 x 100 watt amp, a Marantz AV-7701 pre/pro and a Panasonic Blu-ray player. All my music is stored on a Mac computer and streamed to an Apple TV which is connected by an optical cable to the processor. The sound with movies is fine, but digital music lacks detail and has no WOW to it. My car’s Krell audio system sounds far superior in comparison. All music files on my Mac are in 16-bit WAV format. What am I missing? —Roland Bertha / South Florida

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Al Griffin Posted: May 15, 2014 3 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I’ve owned two high-end plasma HDTVs, but recently purchased a new LCD UHDTV (Samsung HU8550). Watching Blu-rays on the new set using an Oppo player and Onkyo NR929 AVR, I am seeing something disconcerting that I never noticed before with the plasmas: Whenever there’s a fade-to-black transition between movie scenes, the screen abruptly goes black for about 1-2 seconds in the middle of the transition/edit. Is this sort of thing typical for LED-backlit LCD TVs? It ruins the viewing experience for me. —Richard Rife via email

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Al Griffin Posted: May 12, 2014 2 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I was thinking of buying a Sony XBR-65HX950 3D LCD HDTV based on Sound & Vision ’s positive review of that set. [Editor’s note: We actually reviewed the smaller XBR-55HX950.] However, I see plenty of ticked-off people on Amazon complaining about banding issues with that model. Do you consider banding a factory defect or just a quirk that has to be accepted with LCD technology? —Mike Cahan / via e-mail

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Al Griffin Posted: May 08, 2014 0 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I plan to buy a Pioneer BDR-XU03 Blu-ray burner for my iMac. I'd also like to connect it to the HDTV in my family room for watching movies. Is there such a thing as a USB to HDMI converter? If not, do you have any other suggestions? —Kendall Knights via email

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Al Griffin Posted: Apr 30, 2014 3 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I have an old Harman Kardon receiver that has served me well for several years and would like to continue using it. Do you have any suggestions for a way I could stream audio from my computer (primarily from iTunes and Spotify) to my receiver over Wi-Fi? —Doug Burton / via e-mail

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Al Griffin Posted: Apr 17, 2014 5 comments
Q I am in the market for a new 3D player and have been looking at the Oppo 103 and 103D.  But the various online forums I’ve visited all say that there is hardly any picture quality difference between the Oppos and other Blu-ray players like those from Sony and Panasonic. Is that true? —Joe Montanez / via email
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Al Griffin Posted: Apr 14, 2014 3 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

QI have an Oppo BDP-105 Blu-ray player, a Marantz AV7701 preamp, five Marantz monoblock amps, and Definitive Technology speakers. Given the rave reviews of the Oppo player’s built-in DACs, how would you recommend I set my system up to optimize sound quality? Should I bypass my preamp and hook the Oppo up directly to my monoblock amps, or should I use an HDMI connection to run everything through the Marantz? —Dick Costello / via e-mail

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Al Griffin Posted: Apr 09, 2014 Published: Apr 10, 2014 1 comments
Q I used Windows Media Player to rip and archive my collection of roughly 2,000 CDs in WMA Lossless format. I chose that format because I believed it would capture a bit-perfect copy of my CD as well as retain important metadata like album and song titles.

Here's my dilemma: I am learning the hard way that WMA-L does not enjoy widespread support. I recently returned a NAD network player because, while it did play the lossless WAV files in my collection, it down-rezzed WMA-L ones to 192 kbps. Now here’s my question: Is there a way to convert my files to a different format while preserving the lossless audio quality and metadata, or have I made a terrible mistake in wasting countless hours ripping so many CDs to a useless format? —Carlos Lobo / Hawthorn Woods, IL

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Al Griffin Posted: Apr 03, 2014 7 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I just bought an Oppo BDP-103 universal player and am connecting it to a Marantz AV7005 pre/pro. How do I make sure the signal gets through when playing SACDs? Use the analog RCA outputs, or can HDMI handle it? —Mike Groft / via e-mail

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Al Griffin Posted: Mar 27, 2014 3 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q If I download 24-bit high-res music from an online source such as HDtracks.com, can I then burn it to a blank DVD and play it on the DVD-Audio player in my home theater system? It sucks that you can no longer buy DVD-Audio discs, but I was hoping to get DVD-Audio-like performance using this method. —Rick Cooper

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Al Griffin Posted: Mar 20, 2014 4 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I would like to get my feet wet with high-res audio, but don’t want to make a huge hardware investment. I’ve found some 192/24 tracks I’d like to buy from HDTracks.com. What would be the next step after I download these in ALAC format to my MacBook Air? Can I play them via my Mac’s optical output to the optical input on my preamp-processor (Emotiva UMC-1)? Can I stream them to said pre-pro via Apple TV or Airplay? Since the UMC-1 doesn’t have a USB input, do I need to buy a Dragonfly DAC or something like that? How about a USB headphone amp?  I obviously want a hardware setup that preserves the highest resolution. —Steve Burbidge / Minneapolis, MN

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Al Griffin Posted: Mar 17, 2014 6 comments
The effects of dynamic volume control are illustrated in this diagram from Audyssey.

Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q When watching a movie, I often have to turn the volume up to hear the dialogue but then find that the action scenes are too loud and have to turn it down again. My speakers are all from the same product line, so I know they are meant to play well together. I also use the automatic room correction on my Pioneer VSX-914-K AV receiver to adjust levels and distances for the speakers. Is the volume issue due to the way movies are mixed these days? —Ricky Meadows / via e-mail Ricky Meadows / via e-mail

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Al Griffin Posted: Mar 13, 2014 4 comments
Q I'm looking for a way to play two-channel music via iTunes AirPlay streaming through my Pioneer SC-57 receiver while watching muted sports on my plasma TV, which doesn’t have ARC. All my HDMI sources currently go into the receiver, with a single HDMI output to the TV. Is there a way to set up a second zone on the SC-57? Some other simple solution that I'm missing? —Jason Karley / via email

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