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Bob Ankosko

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 10, 2014 0 comments
French speaker company Focal made its entry into the burgeoning soundbar market at 2014 CES with the clever two-piece Dimension system, comprising a parallelogram-shaped soundbar and optional matching subwoofer. The slender soundbar, which is only 3 inches deep and made of aluminum, can be used alone and mounted to the wall (bracket included) or mated with the 4.5-inch-deep “vibration-free” subwoofer to form a TV platform. Both pieces are 61 inches wide, making them appropriate for use with screens 50 inches or larger.

The soundbar plays down to 50 Hz and uses five, “ultra-flat” 4-inch drivers to keep the enclosure depth to a minimum. Highlights include “acoustic integration” settings to optimize performance and two HDMI jacks plus optical and analog inputs. The subwoofer, with two elliptical woofers in a push-pull configuration, is rated down to 30 Hz. A built-in six-channel amplifier delivers 450 watts of system power.

The Dimension soundbar is expected to sell for $1,400 when it becomes available later this year; the companion subwoofer will sell for $500.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: May 24, 2012 7 comments
Stunning or strange? One of these words is likely to come to mind when you first lay eyes on the 101 X-treme speaker system, the flagship of MBL’s Reference Line. And what a system it is, handmade to order in Germany and comprising a pair of approximately 6-foot-tall towers, each of which supports two utterly unconventional driver arrays in an open frame, and two subwoofer towers, each comprised of six 12-inch woofers, a crossover, and an amplifier broken into three ported birch and aluminum boxes that can be stacked or laid side by side as needed. (No lows left behind.)
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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
Harman Kardon, the company that brought us the world’s first audio receiver nearly 60 years ago, unveiled two affordable, forward-looking A/V receivers at CES. Both models have wireless connectivity via AirPlay, Wi-Fi and DLNA and include a vTuner for access to thousands of Internet Radio stations. Other common highlights include 4K upscaling for all inputs, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, multizone capability for simultaneously playing two audio sources in two rooms, an eco-friendly digital-power supply, Harman’s EzSet/EQ system and multiple HDMI inputs, including those for 3D playback, CEC and Deep Color.

The 7.1-channel AVR 2700 ($799) is rated to deliver 100 watts per channel, while the 7.2-channel AVR 3700 ($999) is rated at 125 watts per channel and provides two subwoofer outputs and a remote control for the second zone.

Both models are slated to hit stores over the next couple months and are compatible with Harman's free remote control app for Apple and Android mobile devices.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Nov 27, 2012 4 comments
Barrister-turned-speaker-maker David Hart had the human ear in mind when he designed this unique speaker—but I see a giant molar turned on its side. I’ll let you decide what to make of it and whether it’s worth the asking price of $64,000 per pair in bronze, $300,000 in silver, or upwards of $5 million in gold (shown). Why so expensive? Remarkably, the 28-inch-tall cabinet is cast in solid bronze, silver, or gold, which explains the 110-pound weight (in bronze). Add to that the 200 hours it takes to cast and hand-finish each pair at Hart’s factory on Isle of Wight.
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Bob Ankosko Posted: Sep 05, 2012 1 comments
“Make it disappear” is a common refrain in the world of custom-installed home theater systems where speakers are routinely concealed in walls and ceilings.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
HiFiMan is introducing two in-ear headphones aimed at “audiophiles on the go” and a high-performance portable music player at CES. The RE-600 “Songbird” ($399) and RE-400 “Waterline” ($99) earphones use custom-designed Titanium-coated drivers, neodymium magnets and premium cabling. Both are due out in the coming weeks.

The flagship HM-901 music player ($999) is slimmer than previous models, has a simplified user interface, and accepts most lossless audio formats, including Apple lossless. It uses 32-bit DAC chips and accommodates 24-bit/192 kHz upsampling. The player will be available in March with an optional $399 docking station to follow in April.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Sep 05, 2012 1 comments
Cary Audio has made a distinguished contribution to the headphone craze sweeping across the consumer electronics industry with the HH-1 headphone amp. Introduced at CEDIA Expo, the amp is designed and built in the U.S. and teams a tube preamp stage with a solid-state MOSFET output stage, chosen for its tube-like sonic characteristics. Featuring Class A operation at all output levels and a 30-second muting circuit to prevent annoying turn-on pops, the amp sports a pair of RCA inputs with loop-through outputs and is designed to drive headphones with impedances between 30 and 600 ohms. Price: $1,595.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 08, 2013 2 comments
Samsung helped usher in a new era of television on the eve of CES 2013 with the announcement of two next-generation TVs: the super-sleek 85-inch S9 Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV, boasting four times the resolution of today’s 1080p sets, and the 55-inch F9500 OLED TV with a Multi-View feature that enables two people to watch different programs simultaneously from the same screen. Pricing and availability was not announced for either model.

The S9 (shown) boasts a striking design with a screen that appears to float within a frame. Highlights include “extremely high contrast ratio,” a proprietary upscaling engine that converts high-def images to UHD quality, and a 1.35 GHz quad-core processor that’s more than three times faster than last year’s processor for improved content/app multitasking. The set has enhanced voice and gesture control and uses a new version of Samsung’s Smart Hub interface with five content discovery panels that appear onscreen as thumbnail images.

At the heart of the F9500 OLED TV are self-emitting red, green and blue sub-pixels that eliminate the need for backlighting, which is said to ensure absolute blacks and pure whites with no motion blur. The Multi-View feature is enabled by special 3D glasses with built-in speakers that deliver a personalized audio experience. The set also uses a quad-core processor and the updated Smart Hub interface.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 07, 2014 0 comments
Hisense is not exactly a household brand but the Chinese-based company came out swinging at a pre-CES press conference touting aggressive plans to grow its business in the U.S. and become one of the world’s top three TV manufacturers. The company, which opened a U.S.-based subsidiary in Atlanta more than a decade ago, sells boatloads of TVs, refrigerators, air conditioners, and other products through Walmart, Best Buy, hhgregg, and Costco.com. In TV alone, it produces more than 10 million sets a year globally.

Hisense executives are counting on the new Android-powered H7 VIDAA series smart televisions to meet their goals.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Sep 07, 2012 0 comments
Home-automation stalwart Crestron is demonstrating at CEDIA Expo a Near Field Communication (NFC)-based technology called airConnect that enables homeowners to trigger personal control settings for a home theater system and other devices connected to a central control system by simply holding an NFC-enabled smartphone close to an NFC tag in the room. The tag can be programmed to initiate any number of activities or automated routines, such as turning on system components, closing motorized shades, lowering a projector screen and launching a control app on the phone. The NFC tags, which are 1-inch, paper-thin squares, can be embedded in convenient locations, such as behind a wall keypad. A number of Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices are NFC-enabled and Crestron says it will support iPhone and iPad as soon as they incorporate NFC technology.

Crestron is also demonstrating enhanced AirPlay functionality for its Sonnex multiroom audio system, which allows you to stream audio from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac PC to any room in the house without having to switch audio sources. Hit play and the system detects audio signals and automatically switches to the AirPlay source. The Sonnex system incorporates high-performance digital audio processing, full matrix switching and high-powered amplification.

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