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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Nov 14, 2014 3 comments

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, I bought one of the Development Kits for the Oculus Rift VR headset. It was a bit of a hassle to get running (and still is), but when you do… damn.

One of the standout games that currently works (more or less) with the Rift, is the new Alien Isolation, a sort of survival/horror/action game set in the Alien universe.

My advice to anyone trying this combo: wear diapers.

Here’s why.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 14, 2014 4 comments

Studio 230 Speaker System
Build Quality
Studio SUB 250P Subwoofer
Build Quality
PRICE $1,630

Efficient, high output
Vocal clarity and defined soundfield
Affordable price
Thin, accentuated top end
Best at low-to-moderate volumes

Although their bright voicing may not be for everyone, the JBL Studio 2 speakers combine high efficiency with excellent detail retrieval.

What if the solution to room-interaction problems resided in your loudspeakers? Wouldn’t that be a great alternative to the ills of receiver-based room correction systems? Those are some potentially interesting questions posed by JBL’s Studio 2 series.

For starters, who needs room correction anyway? Well, when it’s hard to catch the dialogue, and imaging smears all over the place, the room correction program in your A/V receiver can mitigate those problems (depending on the receiver and the room). But quite often, it also introduces new artifacts and errors. For my own part, in my own room, I find that many room correction systems thin out the overall tonal balance and induce fatigue. That’s why some audiophiles shun room correction and choose to live with the acoustic character of their room, for better or worse—usually both.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 14, 2014 Published: Nov 12, 2014 8 comments
Editor's note: This story has been updated.

Samsung and LG will end production of plasma TVs at the end of November signaling the death knell for a TV technology that has been the darling of video enthusiasts for more than a decade. Though plasma’s black-level performance has made it a perennial critic’s favorite, sales have dwindled in recent years.

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SV Staff Posted: Nov 13, 2014 205 comments
Register to win a pair of Vanatoo Transparent One Speakers (MSRP $499.00) we are giving away.

According to the company:

"The Vanatoo Transparent One powered speakers set a new price/performance benchmark in the audiophile world. They produce unexpectedly great sound quality (honest, tight bass down to 48Hz!) from small bookshelf speakers that give you a lot of flexibility in how you use them. They are equally at home as a desktop audio system, a music streaming solution for a room where you want music but not stacks of equipment, or as a compact system you take with you on your weekend getaways."

[This Sweepstakes is now closed.]

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Nov 13, 2014 2 comments
Just what the world needs—another Bluetooth speaker. Must be a couple thousand of them on the market by now, and from what we can tell, a good many of ’em pretty much, well, suck. But a few things about the Core caught our eye. For starters, it costs $599—pret-ty darn steep in a market dominated by sub-$100 “wireless wonders”—and it’s designed by Mass Fidelity, a Canadian startup that impressed us with its Relay Bluetooth receiver (Sound & Vision, February/March 2014).
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 13, 2014 0 comments
Thawed in the modern day at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger and revealed to the world to be as brave as ever in The Avengers, World War II hero Cap (Chris Evans) is now working for S.H.I.E.L.D., the super-secret, super-powerful organization of good guys. But his Greatest Generation standards of right and wrong are often a square peg in the round hole of our post-9/11 world. Case in point, the launch of a new ultimate weapon calls into question the meaning of freedom, security, and whether one must be sacrificed to preserve the other.
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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 13, 2014 8 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at

Q Back in the days of VHS, movies were formatted to fit 4:3 aspect ratio TV screens. Why can't widescreen movies on Blu-ray be formatted to fit today’s 16:9 TV screens? I don't like to use my player’s zoom function to remove black letterbox bars; it degrades the picture.—Alfred Escoto

Al Griffin Posted: Nov 12, 2014 3 comments
PRICE $2,200

Impressive black depth and uniformity
Excellent color
Good set of streaming options
Low-glare screen

Picture processing adds edge-enhancement, noise
Poor handling of images with film grain
Washed-out-looking highlights

Vizio’s P-Series comes with a full-array LED backlight and 4K Netflix streaming, but its performance is marred by overly aggressive video processing.

Editor’s Note: This review has been updated following a recent firmware revision. Please see postscript at the end of the review.

Vizio is known for making TVs that consistently beat the competition on price—often by a significant margin. In some cases the performance of Vizio’s sets also ends up being equal to or better than the competition, though the company’s track record on that count isn’t as consistent. The last two Vizio HDTVs Sound&Vision tested, the 2014 entry-level E- and step-up M-series models, delivered very good performance at an affordable price. Now the company’s P Series, its first UHDTVs for 2014, have hit the street. It should come as no surprise that the price here is nice: the 65-inch P652ui-B2 model I tested lists for $2,200. But does Vizio’s budget bigscreen UHDTV continue the company’s streak of high performance/low cost? Let’s take a look.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 12, 2014 6 comments
Last Thursday Sharp Electronics introduced its latest Ultra HDTVs, along with a Wireless High Resolution Audio Player, at the Video & Audio Center in Santa Monica, CA.

The new AQUOS 4K UD27 lineup, available now, consists of two LCD models: the 70-inch LC-70UD27U ($3,600) and the 60-inch LC-60UD27U ($3,200)...

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Mike Mettler Posted: Nov 12, 2014 0 comments
Bruce Hornsby could never be accused of being an artist who rests on his laurels. "I’m such a different musician in every way than I was 20 years ago," he admits. Prime evidence of the master pianist's ongoing creative evolution can be found all over the double-disc Solo Concerts (Vanguard), where Hornsby explores a variety of styles from behind the keyboard: everything from blues ’n’ boogie to New Orleans funk to the tenets of modern classical music. He also recasts the character of some of his best-known songs, such as turning "The Valley Road" into a blues vamp and giving "Mandolin Rain" an indelible bluegrass stamp. Here, Hornsby, 59, and I discuss how he "makes friends" with new pianos, when and when not to use reverb, and his philosophy of A/B'ing to find the proper live SQ baseline. Pushing the creative envelope — that's just the way it is with Bruce Hornsby, and we hope it's something that never changes.


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