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Al Griffin Posted: Jan 16, 2014 0 comments
Q Sony has produced some Blu-ray discs that are mastered at 4K resolution and have an expanded color gamut called xvYCC. Is this the same thing as Deep Color or the DCI color space on Panasonic Plasma TVs?  Also, do I need to calibrate my TV for xvYCC, Deep Color, or DCI instead of the Rec. 709 color space to see expanded color with these discs?— William Lee via email
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Al Griffin Posted: Jan 02, 2014 0 comments
Q I’m looking to buy a new receiver and was checking out Yamaha’s RX-A1030. A problem with that unit, however, is that it doesn’t appear to route signals from an optical digital input to its second-zone output—a feature that I require. (Other than that, the RX-A1030 has everything I need.) Is there another option on the market that can do this? Researching receiver specs is very tiring because specific info is hard to find. —Pete via email
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Al Griffin Posted: Dec 30, 2013 2 comments
Q My Panasonic DMP-BDT500 Blu-ray player has four 192-kHz/32-bit Burr-Brown DACs. To take full advantage of these, should I use analog RCA cables to connect the player to my Denon AV receiver? I would only use an analog connection to the receiver’s CD input for music and would still use an HDMI hookup so that the Denon could decode high-resolution soundtracks on Blu-ray.—Paolo Fiorentino via e-mail
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Al Griffin Posted: Dec 26, 2013 4 comments
Q My Onkyo HTS-S5400 home theater system has a front USB input where I plug in my iPhone to play music. I recently bought a new Sony Xperia L Android smartphone, however, and would like to use that for music playback instead. The Onkyo’s manual says the USB input is for iPhone/iPod playback only. Is there any special cable or app that I can use to play music through the system with my Android phone? —Mila Arasu via email
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Al Griffin Posted: Dec 19, 2013 0 comments
Q I just bought a Sharp HDTV from Best Buy. When watching a dark scene from the TV series Grimm that I recorded with my DirecTV DVR, horrible black splotches suddenly appeared on the screen. Is this problem fixable?—Darryl Cameron via email
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Al Griffin Posted: Dec 17, 2013 3 comments
Q How much amplifier power is too much power? My speakers have a 75-to-100-watt RMS power rating and are connected to an entry-level Yamaha receiver, so it’s safe to say they aren’t being pushed anywhere near their potential. I plan to upgrade to separates in the near future, however, and need to know how powerful an amp I should buy. Should I go with too much amp (200 watts RMS per channel), or just enough (125 watts RMS per channel)? —Audiophile Noob via e-mail
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Al Griffin Posted: Dec 12, 2013 8 comments
Q What are the pros and cons of having a 2013 Panasonic plasma TV such as the TC-P55VT60 professionally calibrated? And what should I look for in a calibrator? —Scott Oakley / via email

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Al Griffin Posted: Dec 10, 2013 0 comments
Q My friend uses an iPod touch to stream Pandora Internet Radio over a speaker system at his outdoor tiki bar but is having a problem with some songs playing louder than others. I have gone into his iPod’s General Settings menu and activated the Sound Check button, but that feature only seems to work for tracks played in iTunes. Is there an in-line device with 3.5mm connectors that can hook up to the iPod’s headphone jack to level the audio output?—J. Glemming / Calabash, NC
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Al Griffin Posted: Dec 03, 2013 8 comments
Q I’m wondering about the best setup to stream music from my computer. I currently use an Apple TV connected to an Onkyo receiver to stream Apple Lossless files from my Mac via AirPlay. Is there a better way? Should I add an outboard DAC or switch to a different network streaming device? —Rafael Cremonese / via e-mail
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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 28, 2013 1 comments
Q I’m in the market to buy a new receiver. The speakers I’m using are powered models that I plug directly into the back of the receiver. My question: Will it hurt or decrease the life of the speakers if I instead plug them into a regular AC outlet on my wall? New receivers I’ve checked out with features that I like do not provide AC outlets. —Bill Major / via email

You won't be hurting or decreasing the life of your powered speakers by plugging them into a regular wall AC outlet. Instead, you’ll be helping them.

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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 25, 2013 1 comments
Q Why at this time of near-perfect plasma TVs are there no sets available in the 65-to-85-inch range? I would like to consider one of the new Panasonic or Samsung models for my home theater but require a set with a screen size larger than 65 inches.—Steve Stolte / Cedar Rapids, IA
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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 21, 2013 1 comments
Q I have been reading A/V magazines for years, as well as conducting my own research, and am still a little confused about how to select the right amplifier to use with MartinLogan electrostatic speakers. The literature I’ve read clearly indicates that the ohm rating of a receiver is just as important, or more so, than its wattage per channel when considering an A/V receiver to pair with speakers. Does the ohm rating of MartinLogan electrostatic speakers make them incompatible with typical AVRs?
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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 14, 2013 2 comments
Q Can a videogame be played on a TV that’s set to the THX Movie mode rather than Game mode? What’s the difference? —Michael McGehee / Macon, Georgia

A The THX Movie mode on THX Certified displays is, in the company’s own words, a preset with “specific settings for gamma, color point, luminance, overscan, and other settings...intended to provide the optimum settings for playback of movie titles, but can be used for viewing other content as well.” In case there’s any lingering question here, “other content” would include videogames. But before you grab your controller, let’s review the pros and cons of using a TV’s Game mode.

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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 11, 2013 2 comments
Q How big a subwoofer would I need to produce good home theater-quality bass in a 3,100-cubic-foot room? Would the Hsu VTF-15H be up to the job, or is there a better choice in my target price range (around $1,000)? —Steven Winter / via e-mail
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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 07, 2013 4 comments
Q Can you explain what it is about an asynchronous USB DAC input on a receiver that would enable it to sound superior to an Ethernet connection streaming the same file over a home network? —Chris Hebner / Delano, MN

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