In case you didn't believe we were serious about dedicating more of our pages to the overriding reality of home theater—the necessity of individual components coming together to form a cohesive system—we offer exhibit B, our new Spotlight System review. Exhibit A, for those keeping score, is our Hook Me Up column: Sometimes it includes reviews, and sometimes it doesn't, but it always keeps an eye on system issues, especially connections. This new column contains all of the elements of a standard gear review, with the notable exception of being focused on a system, rather than individual components.
The audio portion of the <I>47th Annual Grammy Awards</I>, held on Sunday, February 13, 2005, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, has been called the most complex of all the annual award shows, and with good reason: Virtually all music during the show was performed live. The only exceptions were the clips played as the nominees were announced and as the winners walked on and off the stage.
<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/headshot150.tjn.jpg" WIDTH=150 HEIGHT=194 HSPACE=6 VSPACE=4 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT><I>The Oscars are coming! The Oscars are coming! Which films are worthy contenders? Which will make good DVDs?</I>
On February 7, 2005, Sony hosted a party to celebrate the grand opening of their new Design Center in Los Angeles, which joins several other such centers located around the world. With around 14,000 square feet of floor space, the Design Center is divided into several sections, including a large open work space with desks and movable dividers as well as several simulated living areas to see how new product designs fit into normal rooms.
Now this is what we call a deal. With JBL's new Cinema Vision system, you get a 7.1-channel loudspeaker package, a 50-inch plasma HD monitor, and an A/V system controller that includes a five-disc DVD-Audio/-Video changer, a surround receiver, and a digital amplifier. The 16:9 monitor works with the A/V controller to automatically display any video source in widescreen mode. The A/V controller has a rated power output of 100 watts times seven, and the JBL Digital Link maintains all-digital audio and video signal paths. Each speaker uses multiple 5.5-inch woofers, along with a 0.75-inch titanium-laminate dome tweeter. The Cinema Vision is available as a system only, for $15,000.
(516) 496-3400 www.jbl.com
DVD: The Grudge—Columbia TriStar
Since I didn't see this in the theater, I'm gonna have to assume that the audio on my disc wasn't screwed up and that the noise that's supposed to be terrifying the characters in the movie (and by association the viewer) as it signals the "Grudge" is approaching really does sound a lot like "creaaaaakkkkkkkkkk." Yep, kind of like a door hinge that needs to be oiled. It's just, not exactly terror inducing, at all—not even in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Overall, though, this film does compensate for weird plot twists and creaking noises with a decent-sounding DVD. Check out chapter 23 for a good dose of the nice horror movie soundtrack interlaced with the sound of splashing and the cries of that creepy little boy.
For a company that recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, Harman Kardon looks maahvelous. Consider the sleek industrial design of the company's new AVR-series receivers. With minimalist gloss-black front panels and distinctive, ring-shaped, blue-illuminated volume controls, these components look both strikingly modern and a tad retro—an appropriate synthesis coming from the company that introduced the world's first receiver back in 1954.
<I>Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci. Directed by Peter Chelsom. Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic). 106 minutes. 2004. Dolby Digital 5.1 (English and French). Miramax 39202. PG-13. $29.99.</I>