A/V VETERAN

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 19, 2015 2 comments
A bit of an eclectic mix this time around with two topics, the first somewhat controversial, the second a useful (I hope) tip.

Elsewhere on this site, and in our June Q&A column, we recommended using the same amplifier power for the front, surround and height speakers in an Atmos setup. I don’t entirely agree, though my personal experience with Atmos is limited so far to trade demos and theatrical presentations. Most Atmos-ready AVRs will, of course, have matched power—that’s just the nature of the beasts. But if you have a pre-pro and, say, 200Wpc amps driving the front speakers, do you really need 200Wpc on the other six (for 5.1.4 Atmos) “full range” surround and height channels?

One consideration here is the sensitivity of the surround and height speakers...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 05, 2015 3 comments
The history of audio and video, both in the movie theater and at home, has been a back and forth tug of war for decades. Stereo, for example, started in the theater and was only adapted to the home much later (a couple of decades later if you count Disney’s Fantasia as the multichannel theatrical milestone. But a small bump in the road they called World War II delayed the widespread theatrical adoption of multichannel audio, and therefore the impetus for home stereo, for years).

Digital projection also appeared first in the movie theater, followed soon afterword by affordable digital displays for the home. But as each trickle down from theater to home enhanced the home experience and therefore threatened the viability of movie houses, theaters and studios moved to counteract the threat. That gave us today’s enhanced (or at least louder!) multichannel surround theater sound, vibrating seats, widescreen films, high resolution digital projection, and last but least, 3D.

The best movie theaters are now equipped with every trick in the AV book...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 21, 2015 7 comments
Moving is never fun, and my move from southern California to northwest Florida was particularly challenging. The packing and unpacking were chores I don’t wish on anyone, though the actual transportation from point A to (a distant) point B was, thankfully, relatively uneventful. Some of you may be faced with a similar situation, as spring is invariably the busiest moving season. For the AV fan, with a likely collection of valued components and program software, it can be particularly traumatic.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 07, 2015 3 comments
Last week Samsung held a launch party for its new SUHD Ultra HDTVs (forgive the redundancy!) in New York City. They kindly flew me from my new digs in northwest Florida to attend. New York based S&&V Editor Rob Sabin was there also, along with most of the consumer electronics press.

Two of the new Samsung SUHD LCD sets are the first consumer sets to support the new high dynamic range (HDR) technology that, along with a wider color gamut, a deeper color bit depth, and (of course) 4K resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels) are all central to a complete picture of what Ultra HD is all about...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 24, 2015 9 comments
A recent article in the trade publication CE Pro surveyed several industry experts on the material they recommended to check out your subwoofer. I’ve now lost the article in preparing for my cross-country move—almost complete except for the small detail about getting the household furniture and goods delivered! But I do have some ideas of my own which may or may not overlap with that now missing article. I’ll concentrate here on movie soundtracks, in which the benefits of a subwoofer will be most obvious even with the largest main L/R speakers most listeners are likely to be using.
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Tom Norton Posted: Mar 12, 2015 Published: Mar 10, 2015 3 comments
Mark Fleischmann’s recent blog on ways to improve your system’s audio inspired me to do something similar for video. Of course you, the loyal readers of Sound & Vision already know much of this. But for those who don’t, or for (welcome) newbies, those who are helping friends avoid common mistakes, it’s useful to periodically emphasize that there’s more to getting you money’s worth from a flat screen set than merely plunking it down in what may at first appear to be the best location and turning it on. Getting your HDTV to sing is serious business. Here, of course, I’m referring primarily to flat screen sets; a projector with a screen is, in many ways, a different topic.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 26, 2015 1 comments
I lived in the Los Angeles area on two occasions prior to the most recent 14.5 years, each time long enough for me to recognize the superiority of its best movie houses. When I moved from Los Angeles to Santa Fe in 1990 to work for Stereophile, I often vacationed back in LA just to see movies there. Santa Fe’s theaters at the time were depressing at best, and nearby Albuquerque wasn’t much better. In a week in LA I might see 7-8 movies (on one occasion I recall seeing 10!), enough to satisfy my appetite for at least a few months.

These trips continued, and even escalated to twice a year after I began supplementing my writing for Stereophile with major work on the Stereophile Guide to Home Theater...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 17, 2015 3 comments
The communication advancements of the past few years have made it possible to do some types of work—such as evaluating AV gear and writing about it—from almost anywhere. So I’ve picked up stakes and moved from sunny Southern California to a far less crowded burgh along the Florida panhandle’s Gulf coast.

It wasn’t an easy decision, and a major move after 14 years in one place is worse than having major dental surgery (and far more costly!).

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 27, 2015 1 comments
The 2015 International CES is over, but the melody lingers on. The big news in video, of course, is that Ultra HD is coming to us like a great singer who is pushed out on stage knowing the tune but not the lyrics. The result might be a stirring vocalization of “Over the Rainbow,” but the only words the singer can think of are the lyrics to “Does Your Chewing Gum Loose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight.”

In short, most (but not all) of the sets launched at the show still feature only one of the important features of Ultra HD: 4K resolution...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 23, 2014 4 comments
(Mildly revised)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Papa was puzzled, but he didn’t grouse.

The toys weren’t assembled, the hour was late And Ma was exhausted, her patience not great.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds While visions of video games danced in their heads.
And with Ma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap We were far from enjoying a long winter's nap.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 09, 2014 0 comments
Somewhere in the dim past I wrote a blog on whether or not you might want to work with a custom installer in designing and building setting up your home theater or media room. In a random search through my computer files (as messy as any physical file system on the planet!) on a different subject I came across it again. It appears to have been written for one of the newsletter in the now defunct Stereophile Guide to Home Theater/Ultimate AV. In the hope that it might be as pertinent now as it was then (given a significant update), here it is again...
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 25, 2014 3 comments
Movie time has been in short supply at chez TJN recently. My home theater system is packed up for a pending long distance move. I’m down to a modest two-channel setup (Onkyo AVR, Revel Concerta M20 bookshelf speakers, no sub, flat screen HDTV) in my much smaller family room. Potential buyers can now see the former home theater as the living/dining space it’s supposed to be.

The HDTV in this smaller system...

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 12, 2014 0 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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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 22, 2014 0 comments
The annual Rocky Mountain Audio Fest was held in early October in the Marriott Hotel at the Denver Tech Center. For at least the past 10 years this has been the biggest of the many audio shows now jostling for position around the U.S. Depending on who you ask, the Newport Beach (CA) show, held in June, is nipping at its heels but isn’t quite there yet.

Manufacturers (not to mention the press) must be tearing what’s left of their hair out trying to support all these shows, which now include RMAF, Newport, (northern) California, Chicago, New York City, Washington D.C., and Toronto. Let me know if I’ve missed one! And this doesn’t even include the trade-only CES (and, for some, CEDIA EXPO). For small manufacturers this is a major expense, and many of them only attend one or two. If they support two, it’s most likely they’ll include RMAF and CES).

Unlike many present-day audiophiles I keep one foot in the audio/video world of home theater and surround sound and the other in the 2-channel world of high-end audio. I regret that multichannel, even for music alone, remains anathema to many audio fans. As for film sound, for many that’s clearly the spawn of the devil...

Tom Norton Posted: Oct 19, 2014 2 comments
Panasonic launched its new flagship 4K Ultra HD sets, the 65-inch TC-65AX900 and the 85-inch TC-85AX850, at a press event in Los Angeles last Thursday. The two models are similar in many ways, including their Ultra HD capabilities, THX certification, HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2connectivity, and H.265 (HEVC) decoding, which is planned for upcoming 4K source material, but not yet universally used in the limited consumer 4K material presently available) The TVs also incorporate Panasonic’s quad-core, Pro5 processor for their “Beyond Smart” feature set.

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