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Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 17, 2014 1 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
In 1969, Americans first went to the moon. The challenges were daunting, including finding and training the men who would make those early, dangerous, pioneering probes into near-earth space—men who had, in the words of the Thomas Wolfe book on which this 1983 movie was based, “the right stuff.”

This is the compelling story of those first Mercury astronauts, who paved the way for that “One giant leap for mankind” moment. It’s also the story of uber test pilot Chuck Yeager—never an astronaut but the first man to break the sound barrier.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 11, 2014 12 comments
I recently completed a review of The Right Stuff on Blu-ray, which will appear in an upcoming issue of Sound & Vision as well as on this website. Since space is limited in my print review, I've decided to dedicate this blog to how I evaluated the 96kHz audio offered on the disc.

Last year, Dolby announced a new variation on its TrueHD audio codec for Blu-ray, a process that uses 96kHz upsampling of the. Its purpose is to eliminate some common digital artifacts (see Geoff Morrison's article for a more detailed explanation of how this works).

The process has only been used to date, however, on a few releases. The Right Stuff, originally released on Blu-ray in November 2013, was supposed to be one them. Through a mastering error, however, the process was not engaged. Now, two months later, Warner Brothers has re-released the film with the 96kHz upsampled soundtrack.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 20, 2006 0 comments

In mid-2005 the average selling price of a 50" plasma display began its yearlong plunge from over $5,000 to a June 2006 average of just above $3,000. The number of sets sold at the new prices more than tripled, even accounting for the traditionally hot fall (2005) selling season.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 22, 2006 3 comments

It was the most ambitious do-it-yourself carpentry work I've done in five years, ever since I covered the windows in my home theater studio to shut out the light and minimize extraneous outside sounds. The latest project involved building a false wall directly in front of an existing wall, not only to conveniently hang an expected ongoing parade of flat panel displays coming in for review, but also to facilitate a planned series of on-wall speaker reviews. There's no question that on-wall speakers are a significant trend, and one that we can't continue to ignore here at <I>Ultimate AV</I>. As for in-walls, well, that's a project for the future.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 20, 2013 0 comments
I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore. Follow the yellow brick road. And your little dog, too! I’m melting! Ding dong the witch is dead. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

The Wizard of Oz has likely contributed as much to the American lexicon as anything prior to Star Trek. (Just kidding— though “I’m giving ‘er all she’s got, Capt’n, He’s dead, Jim, Engage, Fascinating, Make it so, and I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer” do have their loyal fans.) The movie wasn’t a huge hit when it first opened in 1939, but it made up for it years later, particularly starting in the 1950s when it became an annual TV event.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 07, 2004 0 comments

The Dreadnaught (reviewed in our Oct-ober 2000 issue) was the first power amplifier from Theta Digital, a company previously known for its D/A converters, CD and DVD transports, and surround processors. But it wasn't to be the last. The Dreadnaught II is now a member of a growing family of Theta amplifiers&mdash;the premier multichannel design in a line that also includes high-end monoblocks.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 11, 2011 1 comments
The new Thiel floorstanding SCS4T (about $3700/pair), mentioned again further down in this report, is a modest speaker by Thiel standards. The single coaxial driver has the advantage of coincidence. That is, the tweeter is mounted coaxially with the woofer, so the two drive units do not produce comb filtering dips in the speaker's response at off axis angles. Coaxial drivers are also used in more upmarket models from Thiel, and also by KEF and Tannoy, but otherwise are relatively rare.

Yes, I heard more dramatically impressive sound at the show, but the Thiel room, one of the first I visited, sounded so honest and right that for me it represented the sort of value that most of the higher-end products could not manage. Of course, a pair of Thiel subwoofers were helping it along in the deep bass!

And unlike nearly all of the speakers heard at the Venetian, the SCS4T is ready for home theater. The older, stand-mount SCS4 (about $2400/pair, available in singles) should be a good match. It uses the same coaxial driver and can be used as a matching center channel, even mounted on its side (a trick that other non-coaxial 2-way speakers cannot do without sonic consequences.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 20, 2010 0 comments
In a daylong event last week, THX Ltd. and LG Electronics brought a number of journalists to its San Mateo, California headquarters. The main feature was the showing of the documentary Camera Man: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff from independent filmmaker Craig McCall, but THX also took the opportunity to bring us up to date on its THX certification program, including its work with LG on the latter's LCD and plasma sets.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 08, 2000 0 comments

N<I>arrated by Kenneth Branagh. Series producer: Tim Haines. Producer: Jasper James. Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Surround. Two discs. 230 minutes. 1999. BBC Video (distributed by CBS). CBS Fox Video 2000040. NR. $34.98.</I>

Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 13, 2002 0 comments

When I reviewed Toshiba's TW40X81, the smallest (40-inch) RPTV in Toshiba's first full line of HDTV-ready sets, I raved about its picture quality (SGHT, March/April 2000). I was so taken with it, in fact, that I bought the review sample. I still use it, but a lot of video displays have bobbed under the bridge since then, and Toshiba is now two generations beyond that earlier design. The company's smallest rear-projection set is now the 42-inch-diagonal 42H81. But the 50H81, at 50 diagonal inches, is only slightly more expensive, and has the advantage of a significantly larger picture in a still (relatively) manageable cabinet. Like all HDTV-ready sets, it can display hi-def broadcasts, but only with an optional, outboard HD tuner.

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