While large Japanese electronic firms have always raced neck and neck to bring consumers all the latest features in surround-processor technology, smaller "high-end" manufacturers on this side of the Pacific seem less inclined to frequent the bleeding edge. Bucking the trend is Canadian manufacturer Classé, whose newest surround processor is as full-featuredly up-to-the-acronym as Tokyo's finest. The SSP-60's multichannel analog inputs are de rigueur for reproducing discrete SACD and DVD-Audio surround formats, while the inclusion of both Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS Neo:6 will breathe new life into your 2-channel movie and music collections.
<I>Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Pryce. Directed by Gore Verbinski. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (anamorphic). Two discs. 143 minutes. 2003. Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French), DTS 5.1. Buena Vista Home Video 002543. PG-13. $29.99.</I>
Five years ago, Panasonic produced the very first DTV receiver set-top box. All of the company's succeeding generations of these products have been among the best. The latest incarnation, the surprisingly small and inexpensive TU-DST52, is no exception.
Consumer confession: A little more than three years ago, I bought my first DVD player for $300. It was a basic player in a nondescript black box with none of the now-standard features like progressive-scan video and component video outputs. It couldn't even read recordable CDs.
Let's say you have around $2,500 to spend on a new high-definition widescreen television monitor. If you plan to put it in a small room, you'd be hard pressed to do better than the Sony KV-34XBR910 34-inch direct-view set that we reviewed in the November 2003 issue of Home Theater. In a big room, however, you need a big screen, and most big-screen HDTVs are more costly than your budget will allow.
A receiver that listens to the room sounds better.
Home theater has its sweet spots. In the surround sound arena, the slickest compromise between "in a box" basics and "cost no object" indulgences would have to be the $999 A/V receiver. History tells us that Yamaha has a long track record of hitting this target with one best-selling model after another. So the RX-V2400 comes with a distinguished pedigree—and THX Select certification—even without the ground-breaking addition of automatic equalization. There's nothing new in the concept of using equalization to correct flaws in room acoustics. Custom installers have been using carefully tweaked EQ for years. What's new is that the idea has trickled down from custom home theaters to bleeding-edge preamp/processors to the humble receiver.
The loudspeaker system for anyone who's ever considered installing a Murphy bed.
If Magnepan has a company motto, it might be something along the lines of, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." For more than 30 years, this Minnesota company has been busy making its Magneplanar loudspeakers for those audiophiles who care more about great sound than they do about owning the latest candidate for loudspeaker of the month. Magnepan rarely introduces a new model; when they do, it's generally just another evolutionary step in their continual refinement of the planar magnetic approach that they use in all of their products. This conservatism breeds long-term customer loyalty, and Magnepan invariably trumps other high-end manufacturers in the areas of customer satisfaction and repeat business.
Digital Light Procesing (DLP) and Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) may be the hottest buzzwords in video projection technology, but old-fashioned Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) still have room to grow.
Always seeking cost-effective improvements in home theater sound, Norwood, MA-based Atlantic Technology has introduced a subwoofer controller that the manufacturer claims "can dramatically improve the sound quality of any subwoofer by fine-tuning its interaction with the acoustic characteristics of the listening room."
Perpetually on the cutting edge of technology, Meridian Audio Limited plans to make a big push with its new "G Series" home theater components at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show. The Huntingdon, UK- and Atlanta, GA-based company also plans to ratchet up its support for the DVD-Audio format.