LATEST ADDITIONS

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: May 18, 2015 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $249

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Smooth tonal balance
Euro design flair
Minus
High-ish head-clamping pressure

THE VERDICT
Focal’s latest-generation headphone strikes a keen balance of resolution and a sweet tonal balance.

Here we go again. That’s what I remember thinking when I heard that Focal, France’s largest speaker manufacturer, was going to start making headphones. After Beats by Dre opened the floodgates, a number of speaker and electronics companies that never made headphones started jumping into the market. We all know about Bower & Wilkins and Klipsch, but then there was KEF, NAD, Polk, PSB, RBH, and more—so when Focal joined the pack a few years ago, it wasn’t a shocker. Thing is, making great speakers is a completely different skill set than crafting headphones. After all, speakers “play” the room; headphones only have to make your ears happy. Apparently, that’s harder than it seems.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: May 18, 2015 0 comments
Proving once again that size does matter, a home theater setup based on floorstanding tower speakers—like the ones featured in our recent “Top 10 Tower Speakers: Under $3,000” list—was the hands-down favorite in last week’s poll.
Leslie Shapiro Posted: May 18, 2015 2 comments
Rdio isn’t new to the highly competitive streaming music market, but they just announced a new price structure that’s garnering some big interest in the music industry. Aiming for the cost-conscious consumer, Rdio has initiated a plan that’s just $3.99 per month, Rdio Select, for an ad-free experience with unlimited skips and 25 downloads. This makes it the cheapest commercial-free subscription streaming service. How does that compare to what they’ve offered before, and why should we care?

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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: May 15, 2015 13 comments
I have seen Mad Max, and I have an opinion on it.

I also don’t like to give away anything in movie reviews. So if you click to the next page, the first part will be a spoiler free paragraph on what I think. Then the trailer. Below the trailer THERE BE SPOILERS. You are warned!

Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 14, 2015 2 comments

Prestige 15B Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Seismic 110 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $6,145

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Advanced driver designs
Fine-grained, transparent, dynamic playback
Compact but powerful subwoofer
Minus
Boxy, non-curved enclosures

THE VERDICT
Paradigm’s Prestige series speakers and Seismic 110 sub employ unusual driver design to achieve remarkable transparency and punch.

As I sat down to write this review of the Paradigm Prestige speaker system, I couldn’t get a seemingly unrelated subject—the Pono hate—out of my head. No joke, folks: I sat at the keyboard for hours mulling it over. What chance did I have to convince readers that a $6,145 speaker system is worth hearing when a $400 music player is greeted with language like “don’t buy” and “snake oil”?

OK, I know I’m preaching to the converted. You probably wouldn’t be reading Sound & Vision if you weren’t open to the idea that a well-designed speaker system has the power to bring you closer to music. That’s what the Paradigms did for me when I informally played a few recent additions to my high-resolution music library (more on them later). I felt as if a curtain had been lifted and music was in the room with me—not just recorded music, but music.

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Fred Kaplan Posted: May 14, 2015 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Don’t Look Now is a weirdly captivating creep-show of a movie: dark, vaguely Gothic, crudely energetic, occasionally ridiculous—in short, it resembles a lot of other films directed by Nicolas Roeg in the ’70s (Performance, Walkabout, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Bad Timing). This one’s about an artistic couple, living (inexplicably) in a huge house on a huge estate, whose daughter drowns in a nearby pond; the couple takes solace in Venice, where he has a job restoring an old church; she meets two old sisters, one of whom—the blind one—sees the spirit of the daughter, and many other hobgoblins, too; meanwhile, it turns out that the husband has a bit of a sixth sense as well; trouble, chaos, and the cruel hand of fate ensue.
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Josef Krebs Posted: May 14, 2015 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
In films like La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element, and The Messenger, director Luc Besson presents the mysterious transformation of unthinking, undeveloped, unambitious girls into educated, sophisticated, strong females. He also includes large dollops of action, striking visuals, and sound that deliver boffo home theater.
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Bob Ankosko Posted: May 14, 2015 2 comments
Speaker designer extraordinaire, Andrew Jones, who left Pioneer in the wake of the recent merger with Onkyo to join the German speaker company ELAC, has not been sitting idle.

The 89-year-old German-based speaker company announced yesterday that it is returning to the U.S. market with a new affordable line of speakers designed by Jones. Dubbed ELAC Debut, the eight-model series will include bookshelf, floorstanding, center-channel, and Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers along with three powered subwoofers.

ELAC is unveiling the speakers at The Home Entertainment Show Newport in Irvine, CA May 29-31.

A 17-year Pioneer veteran, Jones was the driving force behind a number of affordable home theater speakers, including the Dolby Atmos-enabled SP-EBS73-LR speaker system, a 2015 Sound & Vision Top Pick. Jones was also chief speaker engineer at Pioneer’s high-end speaker company, TAD, and held positions at KEF and Infinity prior to Pioneer.

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Mike Mettler Posted: May 13, 2015 1 comments
How does he do it? How does the eternal Beach Boy Brian Wilson keep composing all-new harmonically gorgeous and sonically seductive pocket symphonies (as he likes to call them), 50-plus years into his career? The answer, he says, is quite simple: “I know in my head — in my brain — how to do it.” Wilson’s marvelous brain has dreamt up scores of timeless classics, such as the instantly hummable singalongs “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “California Girls,” and “Love and Mercy” (to name but a few), and he’s just added 16 more gems to his storied canon on the Deluxe Edition of his 11th solo album, No Pier Pressure (Capitol). The angelic choral joy of “This Beautiful Day,” the pop confection perfection of “Saturday Night” — which features Wilson blissfully trading lead vocals with Nate Ruess of fun. — and the jaunty nautical shanty “Sail Away,” the latter a reunion with onetime Beach Boys bandmates Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, all reinforce the fact Wilson remains very much in touch with his beautiful muse. Wilson, 73, and I recently discussed some of his production benchmarks, the difference between inspiration and influence, and what he thinks sounds the best on radio. God only knows — when it comes to six decades and counting of creating the soundtrack for an endless summer, Wilson continues to put forth nothing but good vibrations.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 13, 2015 1 comments
In its 2015 Broadband Progress Report, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to change the definition of broadband from 4 to 25 Mbps for downloads and from 1 to 3 Mbps for uploads.

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