Q I own a Marantz NR1606 Dolby Atmos/DTS:X-enabled AV receiver, a Roku 4 streamer, a Samsung Ultra HD Blu-ray player, and a Samsung JS8500 Ultra HDTV. Which of these devices will deliver the best audio and video performance for streaming? —Richard Wahlstrom
These days, even the most seasoned recording artists find it difficult to gain traction with their new material. Case in point: U2, whose deeply personal 2014 release Songs of Innocence fell by the wayside with the listening public, likely due in large part to the instant backlash the band faced when the album suddenly appeared as an automatic download in everyone’s personal iTunes library without warning that September. Much collective online hand-wringing occurred until Apple acquiesced and shared instructions for how people could permanently remove the “offending” files. (Why getting any type of new music legitimately for free was such a problem for consumers used to downloading songs without paying for them continues to mystify me, but that’s another story for another time.)
My first encounter with B&W’s coveted 800 Series speakers is ingrained in my memory. It was the summer of 1981 and a musician friend invited me over to see and hear his newly acquired pair of 801s. As I entered the rehearsal space in his finished basement, I remember thinking how unusual they looked compared with my boxy Fishers. Minutes later I was sinking into a cushy chair at the apex of a triangle formed with the speakers, listening to the White album feeling that I had somehow been transported into the studio during the making of a great album. The sound was authentic. I felt closer to the music—music that was very special to me. Today, more than three decades after John Bowers proudly unveiled the original 801 in 1979, B&W has reinvented its flagship under the aegis of Martial Rousseau, head of research. Here Rousseau shares the story behind the remaking an iconic speaker.
With time- and place-shifting now entitlements of our on-demand culture, it’s no surprise that cable companies have been countering cord-cutters by extending the viewing rights of subscribers to their phones and tablets.
Nestled among the rolling estates of northcentral New Jersey is a recently completed 22,000-square-foot mansion on 11 acres that represents the height of luxury. Among the usual features associated with such homes—the large and well-appointed kitchen with industrial-grade appliances, the sprawling master suite with grand bath and giant hisand-hers walk-in closets, the fully equipped gym area, the climate-controlled wine cellar, the multi-bay garage complex stocked with one or more exotic cars, the attached pool and cabana, and, of course, the dedicated home theater—is the extraordinary media/entertainment space you see here. Dubbed the Sports Room by the homeowner, it’s one of the still rare examples of a commercial video wall used in a residential application, and it is indeed the ultimate game day oasis.
QI’m looking for a playback system that can rip, convert, and store my Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, CDs, and SACD/DVD-Audio discs in a format that preserves their high resolution and multichannel sound. I’ve looked at HTPCs and multi-bay drives but am having trouble finding a solution that’s affordable. Do you have any suggestions? —Stephen Romanelli / via e-mail
It’s a presidential election year in the United States (did you catch the debate last night?), and some of us are unhappy with our electoral choices. But things could be worse—much worse. Take the old Soviet Union, for example. Choices in this totalitarian state were extremely limited, to say the least. During elections, there was one name on the ballot, and the candidate received 99 percent of the vote. On the bright side, the comrades, at least the subversive ones, had bone records.