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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 03, 2016 2 comments
The audiocassette killed the LP. The Compact Disc killed the audiocassette. Downloads have all but killed the CD. And it looks increasingly as if streaming is killing downloads. Yet vinyl resurges, confounding the wing of audio punditry that has long asserted its flaws ought to make it stay dead. Me, I love good analog as much as I love good digital, and I also love the tactile experience of handling LPs. Once in a while I pick one off the shelf and marvel at what a beautiful artifact it is. Following are some of my favorite LP artifacts, with emphasis on unusual design and manufacturing gimmicks that make them especially pleasing as physical art objects.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 31, 2016 0 comments
What hackers can do to your computer, they can do to any connected device. They can kill your lighting system by turning it on and off 10 times per second, unlock and start your car, access your baby monitor, even tamper with the drug-infusion pump next to your hospital bed. But it would take some pretty slick moves for a hacker to find these devices on the Internet, right?
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 19, 2016 14 comments

Audio Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Gobs of power for almost any situation
Audyssey MultEQ XT32
Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro 3D
ISF certified
Minus
Daunting price

THE VERDICT
The Denon AVR-X7200W is pricey, but this flagship is loaded with power, features, and performance.

Ticking off all the feature checkboxes does not automatically confer popularity on a flagship audio/video receiver. Some prospective buyers will look at the four-figure price tag of the Denon AVR-X7200W and just say, no, sorry, not for me—despite the fact that many other high-end audio products, and luxury products in general, sell for far more. The AVR category is the spiritual home of those who love to get more for less. Why, asks the hardheaded audio buff, do I need to pay three grand for all those features, all those jacks—all that stuff I’ll never need? The answer is that the features you do need may be worth the price. If your speakers are a little more demanding than the home theater norm or you have a large room, you’ll want as much power as possible, and this receiver is Denon’s best shot.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 18, 2016 9 comments
If you groan every time you pay your pay-TV bill, consider that the most expensive item bundled into it is Disney’s ESPN, which adds $8/month to the average bill. Can ESPN survive in the dawning age of skinnier cable bundles? Most pay-TV viewers would dump it like a sack of dirt, according to a study by marketing company Civic Service commissioned by financial services company BTIG.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 16, 2016 0 comments
Don’t you just hate it when Netflix freezes? Acutely aware of how Internet speeds affect perception of its service, Netflix regularly ranks ISPs. In the November 2015 ranking, Grande Communications was the winner at 3.90 Mbps. The small outfit outpaced a bunch of big guys including Verizon (3.86), Cox (3.76), Bright House/Cablevision (3.74), Comcast (3.69), and Time Warner (3.65). These numbers are for Netflix performance only, not overall data performance.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 11, 2016 0 comments
In case you missed it, the Dish Network has a channel devoted to dogs and the canine-inclined...
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 06, 2016 16 comments
Audio products bring us joy. They also get in the way. (That goes double for hard-copy software. And triple for LPs, much as we love them.) In fact, though the magazine's reviews discuss fidelity, features, and even ergonomics, they rarely discuss how a product might bulk large in your home. Reviewers simply assume that readers will consider the product category, look at the picture, maybe check the dimensions, and reach their own conclusions. But intrusion is a major way in which products relate, or fail to relate, to us.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 03, 2016 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
384/32 and DSD256
Eight-stage power supply
Doubles as stereo preamp
Minus
Black, boxy styling
Tricky sampling-rate LEDs

THE VERDICT
The Moon by Simaudio Neo 230HAD is a state-of-the-art headphone amplifier/DAC that has a healthy, and sometimes transformative, effect on whatever headphones you plug into it.

Like the rest of us, headphones have dreams and aspirations. They know they have to start out small with whatever phone, computer, or AVR comes to hand. But they dream of something better—of an amp and DAC tailored just for their needs. In short, they long for their dream home. If you’ve invested in a good pair of headphones, wouldn’t it be cruel to make your cans sleep on a sofabed in a basement when they deserve more headroom, more purity, the freedom to be the best they can be? The Moon by Simaudio Neo 230HAD just might be the dream home they’re hoping for.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 02, 2016 2 comments
Attention, cord cutters: Broadband isn’t the only alternative to cable and satellite operators.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 26, 2016 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Planar diaphragms
Smooth, sweet, high-res sound
Long and short cables supplied
Minus
Not as airy as some competitive ’phones

THE VERDICT
Planar headphones don’t come cheap, but the Oppo PM-2 is a relatively affordable specimen that sounds beautiful with a variety of content and signal sources.

Planar magnetic headphones have potential advantages over conventional dynamic headphones. Their flat diaphragms have magnets evenly spread across them, driving the entire surface, as opposed to a single coil driving the center of a diaphragm. The result can be greater resolution and phase coherence. But that potential performance edge comes at a price. So headphone fans rejoiced when Oppo—which won positive reviews for its $1,099 PM-1—introduced the PM-2, with some of the same features, at a more affordable price of $699, followed by the even more affordable PM-3 ($399). I’ve been spending much of the past year or so listening to the PM-2.

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