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Bob Ankosko Posted: Sep 27, 2013 0 comments
If the bright red leather and distinctive stitching reminds you of an exotic car, it’s no accident. First Impressions Theme Theaters, the Miami-based architectural design firm specializing in home theater, custom built the $3,500 theater seat for the owner of one of the most stunning cars on the planet, the Ferrari 458 Italia. Note the carbon-fiber cup holders. Oh, and around back there’s even a tool pouch.
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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jul 29, 2015 1 comments
You’ve heard it on THX-certified DVDs and Blu-ray Discs and in THX theaters. It’s the perfect crescendo, that indescribably fantastic swell of sound that’s been wowing movie-goers for more than three decades. We recently spoke with Dr. James “Andy” Moorer, composer of the “THX Logo Theme,” to get the story behind the iconic flourish, which debuted in the THX trailer Wings, shown before the 1983 premiere of a movie you might remember—Star Wars: Episode VI-Return of the Jedi.
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Bob Ankosko Posted: Feb 11, 2016 1 comments
Way back in 1958 when stereo was a novelty, the comedy duo Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding released Bob And Ray Throw A Stereo Spectacular, a whimsical LP showcasing the marvels of two-channel sound.
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Bob Ankosko Posted: Dec 24, 2015 0 comments
Our assessment of Digital TV’s first year was not all rosy as you can see from the Digital TV Report Card published in the December 1999 issue.
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Bob Ankosko Posted: Feb 13, 2012 14 comments
The road to A/V perfection is littered with formats and products that didn’t make it for one reason or another. Some were technically sound but ahead of their time or poorly marketed. Some were victims of bad timing, unforeseen circumstances, or uninspired design. Others were just plain curious in a “what the heck were they thinking?” kind of way. And then there are the tweak formats and technologies—embraced by enthusiasts and ignored by the masses—that refuse to go away. Here, we remember A/V formats, products, and technologies that are gone but (mostly) not forgotten.
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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.)
Bob Ankosko Posted: Sep 05, 2014 2 comments
Note to readers: See Clarification at the end of this article for an update.

Weeks before Onkyo and Pioneer announced the first Dolby Atmos-equipped AV receivers, we received a press release touting the “first ever immersive sound receiver”—the Auro-3D Auriga from Belgium-based Auro Technlogies. Intrigued by its high-end looks—and $16,700 price—we reached out to CEO and Auro-3D inventor Wilfried Van Baelen to learn more about the product and the Auro 3D surround-sound format at its core. Auro 11.1, which adds height and overhead channels to an existing 5.1 surround-sound setup, debuted in theaters in 2011 and today supports almost 500 screens worldwide, according to the company. Recent movies mixed in Auro 11.1 include Oculus, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and a number of foreign films.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Apr 10, 2015 4 comments
A Visit to Best Buy’s Magnolia Design Center

Audio snobs might cringe at the idea of visiting a Best Buy but did you know that the chain’s Magnolia Design Centers sell McIntosh electronics and speakers from B&W, MartinLogan, and Sonus Faber?

Bob Ankosko Posted: Mar 20, 2015 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $99; two for $179

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Extra boom for bass hounds, especially fans of hip-hop and dance music
Minus
Clunky
Can create a buzzing sensation when worn on a belt
One more wire to deal with

THE VERDICT
Woojer is not for everyone, but it can add a visceral element to mobile listening that may appeal to gamers and fans of dance, hip-hop, and other bass-driven music.

Can a small device that clips to your belt produce the visceral sensation of a live musical performance or the deep, pulsating bass felt in a dance club? Can it wow mobile gamers with spine-tingling bass?

Kickstarter-funded Woojer (“See Me, Feel Me,” April 2014) aims to do just that with a “wearable subwoofer” that connects between your music player (or any audio source) and headphones. Technically speaking, Woojer is a polyphonic tactile transducer that converts audio frequencies below 500 hertz into low-frequency vibrations to “make your body feel like it is exposed to high acoustic energy.”

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