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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 14, 2015 11 comments

Prestige 15B Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Seismic 110 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $6,145

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Advanced driver designs
Fine-grained, transparent, dynamic playback
Compact but powerful subwoofer
Minus
Boxy, non-curved enclosures

THE VERDICT
Paradigm’s Prestige series speakers and Seismic 110 sub employ unusual driver design to achieve remarkable transparency and punch.

As I sat down to write this review of the Paradigm Prestige speaker system, I couldn’t get a seemingly unrelated subject—the Pono hate—out of my head. No joke, folks: I sat at the keyboard for hours mulling it over. What chance did I have to convince readers that a $6,145 speaker system is worth hearing when a $400 music player is greeted with language like “don’t buy” and “snake oil”?

OK, I know I’m preaching to the converted. You probably wouldn’t be reading Sound & Vision if you weren’t open to the idea that a well-designed speaker system has the power to bring you closer to music. That’s what the Paradigms did for me when I informally played a few recent additions to my high-resolution music library (more on them later). I felt as if a curtain had been lifted and music was in the room with me—not just recorded music, but music.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 13, 2015 1 comments
In its 2015 Broadband Progress Report, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to change the definition of broadband from 4 to 25 Mbps for downloads and from 1 to 3 Mbps for uploads.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 01, 2015 1 comments
I recently spent a few weeks exhaustively reviewing five headphone DAC-amps. They included the Schiit Fulla ($79), AudioQuest DragonFly v1.2 ($149), Oppo HA-2 ($299), Celsus Companion One ($595), and Sony PHA-3 ($1,000). Of course anyone who buys one of these products will find that the listening experience depends heavily on the headphones used with it, and there's no predicting which headphones an individual buyer may use, so I chose a varied selection: the Oppo PM-2 ($699), Sennheiser HD600 ($400), and Sony MDR-V6 ($110). Then I had to choose the demo music. That was fun—anyone who says a job like mine isn't fun should find another job—but it took some care and forethought. Just as associated gear affects perception of an audio product, so too does the music.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 21, 2015 0 comments
The city government of Lincoln, Nebraska wants its citizens to enjoy the benefits of cable competition. So it is allowing a second cable operator onto the playing field. And guess what? The incumbent cable operator isn’t happy about it.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 10, 2015 6 comments
Freak that I am, I still pay for most of the music I listen to. Not that I didn't have a fling with Napster and its successors—but I've removed torrenting software from my PCs and no longer seek out illegal downloads. Nowadays, if I want to check out new-to-me music without investing, I try the public library, YouTube, borrow from a friend, or—being a journalist has its privileges—ask for a review sample of the disc or download. But I also explore the vast realm of classical music via $2 LPs and pay full price for CDs and LPs by greying artists I've supported for decades. The one thing I refuse to do now is settle for a lousy stolen MP3. I'm done with that. If you're not, here are a few things to think about. Please don't get the impression that I'm acting all high and mighty about illegal downloading. What I'm arguing is that it's in your best interest to give it up. Here's why.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 31, 2015 5 comments
Students of the user interface are in mourning for Apple’s clickwheel, which passed away quietly in Cupertino, California, at the age of 13.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 24, 2015 1 comments
A promising new encoding method from Meridian, maker of world-beating active loudspeakers and other digital audio hardware, has been adopted by Tidal and 7digital, two major forces in music streaming. Tidal is the Norwegian company whose lossless 16-bit streaming has gotten audiophiles interested in streaming. 7digital operates music download and streaming services for itself and other parties and was the first company to offer DRM-free MP3 downloads in 2008.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 24, 2015 3 comments

SoundSpot MT-3 Speaker System
Performance
Features
Value
SUB-8X Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $3,000 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
1mm-thick steel sphere Concentric drivers Superb imaging, soundfield
Minus
Predictably modest bass Satellites pricey

THE VERDICT
Morel’s MT-3 Music Theatre combines steel truncated-sphere enclosures, concentric drivers, and a unique grille pattern to create a visually striking and high-performing compact sat/sub set.

The advent of Dolby Atmos casts a shadow over existing 5.1- and 7.1-channel surround systems. Some home theater buffs want the new technology and want it now, while others may decide not to go all in. In between are those wondering whether to leave the door open for Atmos. And that brings us to the Morel MT-3 satellite/subwoofer set. The 5.1-channel configuration reviewed here does not support Atmos; at least, these satellites lack the up-firing drivers that constitute an “Atmos-enabled” speaker system. However, their base provides for wall-, ceiling-, or tabletop positioning with no additional hardware, and surface-mounting an extra pair (or two) of satellites on a ceiling would indeed bring this speaker system into Atmos territory with a 5.1.2 (or, better yet, 5.1.4) configuration.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 18, 2015 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
PC-worthy USB DAC
iOS-worthy rear USB input
Coaxial, optical inputs
Minus
No headphone amp

THE VERDICT
About the size of a thick paperback, the Arcam irDAC is a USB DAC that will make your audio files—from lossless to lossy—sound great.

The USB DAC is the missing piece in many of today’s audio systems. Most AV receivers have iOS-friendly USB inputs, but few have the PC-friendly kind. If you want to connect a computer’s USB output to your system, you probably need something like the Arcam irDAC to mediate between computer and system.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 12, 2015 0 comments
The good news is that DirecTV is becoming the first pay-TV operator to offer Ultra HD programming. The bad news is that so far, the effort is limited to Samsung TVs, and programming to live events and 30 movies from Paramount and K2 Communications. You’ll also need a Genie HD DVR with broadband connection. The recently launched Ariane 5 satellite is the key to DirecTV’s UHD operation, along with a new slice of satellite spectrum. The satellite also provides additional local HD programming. DirecTV will soon have company, with Comcast preparing a UHD launch.

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