In case you're just joining us, there's a whole new world of entertainment material to be enjoyed in your living room, beyond what you'll find in your DVD rack or emanating from your cable/satellite feed. Many folks like me are amassing quite a large collection of music, videos, and photos on the PC, and that there Internet has a lot to offer, too. The convergence of PC and home theater is certainly nothing new, but, until now, this union has been attainable only through a series of clever add-ons (not the first marriage to benefit from the use of electric appliances). What if the connection to the computer—and its many perks—was an integral part of your home theater gear, and it was wireless to boot?
Ah, it seems like only yesterday that we reviewed the first DVD player that upconverted the video signal to 720p or 1080i. It was the defining feature in last year's first-generation players. Now, as second-generation models are announced, manufacturers are already asking upconversion to share the spotlight with other features like DVD recording, DVD/VHS combo drives, and high-resolution audio playback. Sony's first entry into the upconverting category is the DVP-NS975V, which adds SACD playback without adding much to the bottom line.
This combo unit lets you copy VHS tapes to DVD (and vice versa) and watch either format from a single device.
Panasonic is among the many manufacturers that now make combo VHS/DVD recorders; one of their current models is the DMR-E75V. This unit includes a VHS hi-fi VCR and a DVD drive that records on DVD-RAM and DVD-R discs (but not on DVD-RW), and it plays these formats, as well as DVD-Video, CD, CD-R/-RW (recorded with either normal CD or MP3 audio), and videoCD. It can even play DVD-Audio discs, but it only outputs two channels. I found out that playing DVD-Audio involves some sort of downmixing, but I was unable to get any more specific details of the process.
Although they're best known as a loudspeaker manufacturer for the audio enthusiast, Dynaudio also has a commanding presence in professional audio. Their Dynaudio Acoustics subsidiary is highly regarded by many people in leading recording studios. It is in these circles where I first came to know and gain an appreciation for the brand.
There is a reason why we say a display product's color temperature should be 6500 kelvins. There is a reason why we say color points are "off." There is a reason video has set parameters that define what it is supposed to look like. The reason is that people a lot smarter than us figured out what looks the best and wrote down what a display should do to look that way.
Turn on, tune in, strap down.
I was standing in an area of last year's Home Entertainment Show in New York that had no demonstration rooms anywhere nearby. It started with a boom and a rumble, like the gathering of a distant but powerful storm. It wasn't enough to shake me yet, but it was enough to grab my attention. Then came another boom, another rumble, and enough curiosity that I felt compelled to find a tactful way out of my conversation and make my way toward this growing intensity. Not only could I feel the floor moving under my feet as I got closer, but I even started to believe I was seeing Sheetrock flakes on the floor, steadily gathering into a distinct trail. Soon enough, the rattling of the walls, the low-frequency energy waves hammering my senses, and the shaken but excited looks of people coming the other way told me I had arrived. MiCon Audio, the door announced. Curious, I thought—or tried to think, before another sortie ripped out from inside—and a belief that the door might literally be blown off its hinges began to monopolize my thoughts. Finally, the door opened, and the answer to all of the riddles awaited me inside—but, for that, you'll have to read on.
As Scott Wilkinson and I stood in line at Kennedy airport last week for a taxi to take us to the Hilton Hotel for Home Entertainment 2005, Scott noted that the Hilton was on the Avenue of the Americas. I told him not to tell the cabbie that; he'll think we're tourists. For a New Yorker, the Avenue of the Americas is simply 6th Avenue. They didn't rename 6th Avenue The Avenue of Home Entertainment for the show, but there's always next year.
Although many manufacturers claim their products are revolutionary, the truth is that most audio/video components are fairly generic. DVD players, surround receivers, and even speakers tend to be interchangeable parts of your system. It's rare - very rare - that a truly unique product comes along, one that radically departs from the norm.
Don't buy this receiver if you have a bad back, a rickety rack, or a bulging credit limit. Because Denon's latest flagship, the AVR-5805, is as tall as many receivers are deep, as deep as many are wide, as heavy as a pair of many other flagship models - and as expensive as a two-year-old Kia.