Michael Fremer

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Michael Fremer Posted: May 18, 2012 13 comments
Do you dream in surround sound? Since you’re reading this magazine, the answer is probably yes. Psychiatrists say dreaming is good for you. Thumb through any issue of Home Theater and you’re more likely than not to encounter components, systems, and lavish, dedicated rooms equipped with the latest 4K projectors and high-powered, surround-sound systems that most of us can only dream about.
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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 28, 2002 0 comments

Until recently, plasma display technology has been more of a conceptual thrill than anything most serious videophiles would relish making the centerpiece of a home theater. True, thin is sexy, and, as they say, you can never be too thin or too sexy. But gray and washed-out is not sexy. Nor is mediocre resolution, that glazed look plasma displays often exhibit, or the high price of admission.

Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 03, 2005 0 comments

Form factor fueled the development of Hitachi's new line of handsome, black-lacquer-finished LCD RPTVs. Hitachi's focus-group research told them that consumers clamor for plasma more for the thin form factor than for the picture quality. But high plasma prices inhibit sales, so the company decided to take advantage of one of its core competencies&mdash;lens technology&mdash;to build a microdisplay that <I>looked</I> like a plasma but was priced within reach of a larger group of consumers.

Michael Fremer Posted: Jun 19, 2003 0 comments

Judging by mainstream press coverage, you'd think plasma display devices were taking over the market. "Plasma" is the buzzword, even among consumers whose only sighting of a plasma screen was an airport "Arrivals and Departures" display. And that's about all that the pathetic $3000 (add $160 for delivery), 42-inch, standard-definition models being sold today to unwary, buzzword-bitten consumers are good for.

Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 14, 2005 0 comments

Who do you think benefits most from corporate investments in technological research and development: so-called "early adopters" or average consumers? After I reviewed Infinity's top-of-the-line, high-performance Prelude MTS speakers a few years ago for <I>Stereophile</I> (Joel Brinkley reviewed the 5.1 version in <I>The Stereophile Guide to Home Theater</I>), I would have concluded "early adopters." But after spending a few months with the relatively inexpensive Beta ensemble, which is based on the driver technology developed for the Prelude MTS, I think mainstream consumers gain the most and they get it at near Wal-Mart prices.

Michael Fremer Posted: Nov 27, 2013 6 comments
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE 2,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
HDBaseT audio/video via CAT5e/6
4K upconversion and passthrough
Feature packed and futureproof
Minus
Lackluster sonics

THE VERDICT
The futureproof, feature-packed, and easy-to-operate midline DHC-60.5 is a custom installer’s dream, but it falls short on sound quality.

Integra’s new THX Ultra2 Plus–certified DHC-60.5 A/V controller—one of the first to offer HDBaseT connectivity—is clearly intended for the custom install market. But with its generous feature array and ease of operability, the $2,000 midline offering will no doubt also attract its share of retail consumers.

Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 15, 2004 0 comments

JVC's first foray into fixed-pixel, rear-projection TVs a few years back was a big, embarrassing disappointment. The D'Ahlia, as the product was called, was introduced at a gala Times Square press extravaganza. The sets on display used Direct-drive Image Light Amplifier (D-ILA) technology, JVC's variant of liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS).

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jun 17, 2002 0 comments

Kenwood's entry in the category of top-shelf A/V receivers is the Sovereign VR-5900&mdash;a curvaceous, feature-packed powerhouse combining a user-friendly operating system, THX Ultra certification with all attendant processing facilities, Dolby Digital EX, matrixed and discrete DTS ES, HDCD decoding, and enough digital and analog inputs and outputs (including 2-zone operation) to satisfy almost any videophile's needs. It even includes a moving-magnet phono stage (but laserdisc aficionados will have to add an outboard RF demodulator).

Michael Fremer Posted: Mar 13, 2014 8 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $6,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb sonics High build quality No widgets, gimmicks, or extraneous features
Minus
No widgets, gimmicks, or extraneous features Klunky OS, incomplete instructions, non-backlit remote

THE VERDICT
Krell’s aptly named, sonically sophisticated Foundation counters a foolish industry trend toward sacrificing sound quality for useless and/or redundant features.

We live in a bizarre world where automobile commercials tout peripheral accessories while omitting mention of engines, transmissions, and brakes. What’s more important: Stopping distance or voice-activated Bluetooth?

So it’s not surprising that in much of today’s home theater electronics, sound quality takes a backseat to features and widgets. Backseat? In some, sound quality doesn’t even go along for the ride.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Apr 10, 2005 Published: Apr 11, 2005 0 comments

That last cell phone you bought&mdash;the one with the nearly telephone book-sized instruction manual&mdash;did you take the time to read through the tome completely, learning every function and programming feature before using it to actually make phone calls? Products are becoming so over-engineered and laden with features and functions, most of us merely skim the surface of the ones we buy, often remaining content with just getting the thing to actually function as intended.

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