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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 08, 2012 0 comments
URC was showing off the company’s long-awaited DMS-AV Network Home Theater Amplifier that takes a 125-watt x 7 AVR with boatloads of inputs and features and marries it to a URC Total Control-based whole-home music distribution system. The DMS-AV connects to the homeowner’s LAN and can handle up to 32 streaming audio sources. You can even digitally stream the analog output from a turntable to any of the connected zone amplifiers in the home. URC says the DMS-AV is finally shipping with an MSRP of $1,499.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jul 11, 2006 0 comments
Gefen's new analog-to-digital video scaler takes the VGA output from a single analog video source, such as a computer's analog video output or a DVD player's component video output, and scales it to 1280 x 1024 (for computers) or 1080i (for HDTVs). The input resolution is automatically detected while the output resolution and refresh rate can be selected through the unit's on-screen display menu or front panel push buttons. As a result, the company says, installation can be accomplished "in seconds." (That seems a bit optimistic, unless they're talking about double or maybe even triple digits. But we get the point.)
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 27, 2005 0 comments
High-end home theater owners may already be familiar with Silicon Optix, Inc. The company's Image AnyPlace video scaler provides a great deal of flexibility for installers when choosing where to locate a front-projection monitor in relation to the screen. The scaler's Image Geometry Correction circuitry adjusts the image for off-axis projection in two dimensions (two-dimensional Keystone Correction), so for nightmare-installation rooms the projector may be mounted at the top, bottom, or either side of the projection screen. The scaler also makes it possible to project images onto cylindrical, spherical, or completely irregularly shaped objects. (Imagine the thrill of watching movies on the top of your brother-in-law's shiny bald head.)
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 26, 2008 0 comments
Hide your credit cards now before it's too late.

My son, Nick, recently attended an engineering weekend for high-school seniors at a nearby university. After splitting into teams, the attendees competed in several engineering challenges, one of which was to build a contraption made from a meager assortment of supplied materials (including an Alka-Seltzer tablet) that would move a small toy car across a pan of water.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 20, 2012 0 comments
Price: $3,499 At A Glance: Automatic speaker discovery and channel assignment • Uncompressed 24-bit wireless digital audio • No AVR needed

Not long ago, FedEx deposited a 7.1channel HTIB from Aperion Audio outside my door. It’s not really fair to call it a home theater in a box because the system actually comes in seven boxes and sells for $3,499. But since it includes source switching and amplification, it technically qualifies as an HTIB, albeit a rather unusual one. Aperion Audio prefers the term preconfigured home theater system. Normally, setting up this sort of home theater package would entail speaker wires crisscrossing the floor accompanied by the requisite grumbling, stripping of wires, and fumbling with speaker terminals. In this case, though, the Aperion speakers—a pair of towers, a center channel, a subwoofer, and two pair of satellite speakers—come out of their boxes, get placed in their appropriate spots in the room, have each one’s power cord plugged into the nearest AC outlet…and that’s it.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Apr 07, 2014 0 comments
I spent a tense 30 minutes the other night huddled on the floor in the hallway outside my father’s hospital room. The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for the area, and the hospital had gone into “Weather Plan 2” mode. Everyone in the building—even the patients who couldn’t get out of bed—had to gather in the hallways. My father was one of those temporarily bed-ridden patients, and I’m sure that the mind-twisting aftereffects of anesthesia coupled with post-op morphine made the hurried, bumpy rush from his room to a hall full of two dozen other patients seem even more surreal than it was for me. It became even more surreal after all the patients were returned to their rooms following an “all clear” announcement when, within minutes, the whole process was repeated (albeit with significantly more grumbling from the patients and staff.)

As I was busily texting and tweeting about the collective predicament we were in (it’s actually not true that I caused a small riot when I ran through the hallway yelling “Morphine for all!”), the flickering of the hallway lights during the height of the storm started me thinking about how incredibly dependent we are on technology - technology that most of us take totally for granted until it doesn’t work anymore...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 23, 2010 0 comments
T he rest of the industry may not be ready to abandon dome tweeters, but Sandy Gross and his new company, GoldenEar Technology, are using accordion-like High-Velocity Folded Ribbon (HVFR) high-frequency drivers in place of the ubiquitous domes found in 90-some-odd percent of the speakers currently on the market. The HVFR drivers work in a manner similar to an accordion and generate sound by squeezing a folded diaphragm from the sides rather than in an up-and-down motion. The result is a dramatically open, sublime sound free of any listening fatigue you might get from a lesser, standard driver – at least, that’s what I heard in the GoldenEar Technology booth earlier this morning. The HVFR tweeters are in the $1,249/ea floor-standing Triton Two Towers, the$499/ea SuperSat satellites , and the $249/ea SuperSat 50 satellites. GoldenEar Technology is also introducing a pair of powered subwoofers (ForceField 3 - $499, ForceField 4 - $699).
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 04, 2008 0 comments
The fine art of disguise.

No one likes to look at speakers. (You and I don’t count.) Thus the quest by many manufacturers to find the Holy Grail of speakers: the totally invisible wall-o’-sound. Unfortunately, the invisible stuff I’ve seen so far has been pretty uninspiring and by no means anything you could call close to high performance. At present, short of an acoustic miracle, we’re stuck with speakers that are going to be seen, be they in-wall, on-wall, floorstanding, or whatever.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 28, 2011 0 comments
Build Quality
Price: $6,003 At A Glance: Discrete center-channel drivers built into main speakers • Grilles custom-sized to match flat panel • Can also be mounted on the wall

One of the more interesting things I overheard during this year’s CEDIA Expo in Indianapolis was an offhanded comment that “the sound quality of TVs today is worse than it was with TVs 20 years ago.” Think about that for a minute. A new, George Jetson–style, 50-inch flat-panel HDTV hanging on the wall makes one of those old, 50-inch, three-CRT, rear-projection (analog) TVs look like something even Fred Flintstone would pass on. But put those two sets side by side, close your eyes, and give a good, long listen to a movie, a football game, or even the nightly news running on each one of them. Despite the 20 years of technological “improvements” between them, my highly educated (I am a professional, after all) guess is that most people will pick that hulking behemoth 50-inch console rear-projection TV as the one they’d rather have if sound quality were the only concern.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 08, 2010 0 comments
Price: $1,100 At A Glance: Built-in keyhole brackets • Triple-voice-coil side-firing surround drivers • World’s first seven-channel soundbar

Seven Channels Plus

When you hear that we can now add a seven-channel soundbar to the list of the many technological wonders in the world today, your first inclination might be to ask, “Dude, it’s a flippin’ soundbar. What’s the point?” And I might respond, “Uh, marketing?” So you can imagine that when the new Atlantic Technology FS-7.0—the world’s first seven-channel soundbar—arrived, I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic to set it up. After all, I would need to remove my current in-wall center-channel speaker, replace it with a blank panel on which to mount the new all-in-one system, and then run seven speaker wires across the floor. I don’t know whether it was the titillation that comes with undressing a new piece of gear or the surreptitious sniffing of Styrofoam packaging, but for some reason, I began to warm up to the idea of a seven-channel soundbar. After all, I’ve never known Atlantic Technology to be the kind of company that would do something simply because it would make good copy in an ad, so the thing just might sound good. If nothing else, it certainly would have plenty of cool drivers scattered all over the cabinet and lots of settings to fiddle with.