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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 16, 2013 0 comments
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It’s not exactly a secret that Sony Pictures produced a fabulously successful trilogy of Spider-man films from 2002 to 2007. All three were directed by Sam Raimi and starred Tobey Maguire as the resident arachnid. Though the last of the three laid something of a critical egg, it was nevertheless a golden one at the box office. The Amazing Spider-Man is not a sequel but instead a complete reboot, origin story and all. Clearly, Sony was hoping to re-invigorate the franchise. Judging from its commercial success, I’d say it succeeded.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 01, 2008 8 comments

A recent article on the <I>Electronic House</I> website offered three reasons to avoid jumping onto the Blu-ray bandwagon—at least for now. One of the arguments&#151;that Blu-ray quality is still inconsistent&#151;read as follows:

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 19, 2011 0 comments
Blu is a companion to Linda, and the two are inseparable. But when Brazilian ornithologist Tulio shows up, Linda learns that Blu is the only male blue macaw in existence and must mate to save the species. Linda reluctantly agrees, and she, Blu, and Tulio set off to Rio de Janeiro. This leads to events Linda never dreamed of back home in Moose Lake, Minnesocold. And when birdnappers, together with a particularly nasty jailbird, enter Blu’s world, his adventures parallel hers.

Produced by Blue Sky Studios, the computer animation house behind the successful Ice Age franchise, Rio’s story line doesn’t feel all that promising at first. But it grows on you. While 2011 hasn’t yet equaled 2010 for potential entries in the animation hall of fame, a chameleon, a panda, and now a macaw are more than enough to keep the current golden age of computer animation firing on all cylinders.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 08, 2013 0 comments
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When boogeyman Pitch Black schemes to plant fearsome nightmares into the minds and hearts of children throughout the world, it falls on the Guardians to derail his plans. When they attempt to convince Jack Frost, a free-spirit prankster, to join them, he agrees only when things turn truly grim.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 14, 2009 0 comments

YG Acoustics claims to make the best speakers in the world. While there are plenty of challengers for that throne, they certainly are some of the most expensive. The big
YG Acoustics Anat Reference II Professional loudspeakers ($107,000/pair) were as imposing physically as their price might you to believe in two rooms at the show. But they didn't quite do it for me in either room, considering their cost. I was much more impressed by the smaller Kipod Studios (shown in black in the photo) at a mere $38,000/pair, though the room they shared with their big brother was too big and too lively. Throw in three of the Kipod modules (the two-way that sits on top of the pyramidal subwoofer) for $8500 each and you have a full surround package for $63,500&#151;plus your choice of subwoofer, of course. The calling card of both YG speakers, apart from quality drivers and crossovers, is their solid aluminum cabinets, said to virtually eliminate unwanted resonances.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 14, 2009 0 comments

At the opposite extreme are the Sony SS-AR1 speakers, shown in the middle of the photo (the larger speaker on the left is a JBL). The SS-AR1s are not yet available in the U.S., but likely to cost $20,000/pair if and when they are brought in. They sounded excellent in the Kimber Kable room, where Roy Kimber was playing his impressive IsoMike multichannel recordings (the only multichannel music to be heard at the show). The brochure on the speakers talks a lot about using the wood from maple trees grown in the cold northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, harvested in November when the grain is tightest. Combine that with the birch plywood from Finland and you get a "reverberation with a beautiful northern-European ambience." OK. In any event, the midrange and tweeter also appear to be of Scandinavian origin—likely made by the same Scan-speak that energizes the YG Acoustics speakers.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 14, 2009 1 comments

If I had to give a prize for the best sound at the show, it would be a toss-up between the Wilson Sasha W/Ps tied to Ayre electronics, discussed earlier, and the PMC MB2XBDi speakers (shown here) driven by Bryston electronics. Apart from room bass mode issues that all manufacturers had to deal with, the PMCs were superb. They were far too big for the space, designed as they are for professional applications. But the top modules of the towers are available separately (known as the MB2i), offering a more domesticated appearance for $21,000/pair. I didn't catch the price of the add-on bottom subwoofer modules, but am reasonably certain that for home use a duet (or, for home theater, a quintet) of MB2is will be a better fit&#151;supplemented by a more conventional and inconspicuous subwoofer or two positioned where they minimize room interactions (co-locating the subwoofers with the main speakers almost never gives the best results).

So went RMAF 2009. The show also offered a wide selection of interesting and informative seminars, with presenters from the two major high-end, mainly two-channel audio print publications, <I>Stereophile</I> and <I>The Absolute Sound</I>, and others as well. If you missed the show this year, a 2010 edition is currently planned for next fall.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 14, 2009 1 comments

If the Vivid Giyas make you think of the B&W Nautilus speakers, that's because the same cabinet designer was involved. The Giyas will set you back $58,000/pair, not including, of course, the Luxman electronics and source driving them here, and the Synergistic actively shielded cables (don't ask) tying it all together.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 14, 2009 0 comments

Attention, Wilson Audio Alexandra and MAXX owners, your center channel speaker has arrived and your checkbook is about to take another hit. I didn’t catch the price of the new Polaris, due in 2010, and it wasn't on site. I found out about it only through a lonely printed handout sitting on a side table. The photo here is from the Wilson website. The speaker is far larger than the picture might suggests, and if it's designed to match those two…um…puppies, you can bet it will be a cost-no-object design. My guess is that you just might be able to bring home a <I>pair</I> of the new Sasha W/Ps for less.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 14, 2009 0 comments

You may not have heard of Bamberg Audio, out of Fishers, Indiana, but you might in the future. The company's Series 5 TMW offers a lot of value in this intriguing and fine-sounding $8300 package. The top modules are available separately, making them more or less suitable for surround and center channel duties.

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