Mark Fleischmann

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 10, 2014 2 comments

Excite X14 Speaker System
Performance
Build Qaulity
Value

Sub 250 II Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,100

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Generous soundfield
Surprisingly strong bass
Gorgeous veneers
Minus
Expensive for small speakers

THE VERDICT
Dynaudio’s X14, part of the revised Excite line, earns its high-end price tag with sweet build quality and high performance, including a bottom end that is amazingly substantial for a small speaker.

The high end exists in the eye of the beholder. To some folks, a pair of mini-monitors selling for $1,500—or a 5.1-channel system at $5,100—may seem steeply priced. In fact, if you want lower-priced alternatives, you’ll find plenty among our Top Picks. But there always will be another kind of consumer who is fussy about what he or she brings into the living room. Vinyl-wrapped boxes won’t cut it; they want furniture-grade wood veneer. In the same discriminating spirit, the Danish manufacturer Dynaudio is equally fussy about materials, including drivers that the company designs and makes itself. In the recently overhauled Excite line, the result is a speaker that exceeds already high expectations in both appearance and sound. The X14 monitor and X24 center are my favorite kind of small speaker: the kind that sounds bigger than it looks.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 08, 2014 5 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Outstanding sonics for the price
HDMI 2.0 interface
Roku Ready via MHL
Minus
HDCP 2.2 DRM not included
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi cost extra

THE VERDICT
The Pioneer VSX-1124 delivers sterling sound, though with a slightly reduced feature set, at a highly competitive price point.

The phrase “believe in miracles” is a powerful one in pop music. It turns up in songs by the Bee Gees, Jefferson Starship, Pearl Jam, Slade, and others. It appears prominently in the Hot Chocolate hit “You Sexy Thing,” covered by everyone from David Bowie to Barry White. Perhaps the most poignant use of the phrase is in “I Believe in Miracles” by the Ramones: “I used to be on an endless run/Believe in miracles ’cause I’m one.” One of the ongoing miracles in my life, besides the fact that I’m still walking around, is the audio/video receiver.

Let me remind you that the AV receiver—especially at the $600 price point—is one of the great miracles of consumer electronics...

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 03, 2014 4 comments
Should there be a Soundbar Bill of Rights? Consumer rights are trivial compared to the majesty of the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights—for example, the right to freedom of speech (Fourth Article) or the right to a speedy and public trial (Ninth Article). Even so, the question is provocative enough for one little blog.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 01, 2014 0 comments
The proposed merger between AT&T and DirecTV would create the nation’s second largest pay-TV company. With the telco bringing 5.7 million U-verse subscribers to the table, and the satellite operator a considerably greater 20.3 million, the merged entity would have 26 million video subscribers, ranking just below the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable with 30 million subscribers.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 01, 2014 1 comments
High-resolution audio is getting a big industry push, but until now the category has labored without a definition. The Digital Entertainment Group, the Consumer Electronics Association, and The Recording Academy have teamed up to offer one. They define what they call Master Quality Recording in four ways: MQ-P audio comes from a PCM source with minimum 48/20 resolution, but “typically” is 96/24 or 192/24 in today’s download services. MQ-A is from an analog source, and high-quality analog can still be deemed high-res. MQ-C grandfathers in CD-quality 44.1/16 audio. And MQ-D refers to DSD sources. Taken together, these categories define high-res audio somewhat broadly. Even so, they may give the informed consumer a better idea of what he’s buying (for those of us who still buy music).
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 29, 2014 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Serious drivers and power
AirPlay, Bluetooth, DLNA
Cool retro styling
Minus
Some connectors inconveniently located
Bright tonal balance, though adjustable

THE VERDICT
JBL’s Authentics L16 is a powerful-sounding triple-threat wireless speaker system—oh, and it’s got a phono input.

If you’re the type who likes to order the biggest hero (hoagie, grinder, po’ boy, or submarine depending on where you live) sandwich you can find with everything on it, JBL’s Authentics L16 may be just the wireless speaker for you. At more than 2 feet wide, it’s a big mama jama. And its wireless connectivity is all-embracing. In addition to a direct device-to-device Bluetooth connection, the L16 supports both Apple AirPlay and DLNA via Wi-Fi, for streaming from just about any smartphone, tablet, or computer. It’s also got the retro angle covered, with cubed sculpted-foam grille cosmetics.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 25, 2014 1 comments
Consider the humble headphone jack. Whether it welcomes a big quarter-inch plug or a mini-plug, it is the nearly universal analog interface for headphones great and small. Apple is trying to change that with an addition to its Made for iPhone spec. Apple-friendly headphones will use the company’s new Lightning connector to receive 48-kilohertz digital stereo input, or 48-kHz mono for headphones with integrated mikes. Lightning headphones dubbed Standard will include a DAC, while those dubbed Advanced will add DSP and features such as active noise cancellation.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 19, 2014 3 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $650

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Wi-Fi, AirPlay, Bluetooth
HDMI 2.0
Cool cardboard mike stand included
Minus
Slow DLNA media access
No MHL for phone streaming

THE VERDICT
The Denon AVR-S900W offers high value at a crowded price point, with superb performance, a competitive feature set, and a supplied stand for the room-correction mike.

You can’t set up room correction without a microphone, and you can’t use the mike without bringing it to ear-level elevation. But few A/V receiver makers include a mike stand. Along with Anthem, Denon is now one of the happy exceptions. No, the stand packed with the AVR-S900W isn’t a metal photography tripod with all the mechanical trimmings. But it is an effective platform for the mike used to set up Audyssey room correction. Constructed entirely of black card stock, it consists of a four-finned base, two plain column pieces, and a third column piece with sawtooth holes for height adjustment. Piece it all together, top it off with the customary Hershey’s Kiss–shaped mike, and you have something that looks like a rocket. Run Audyssey’s auto setup and room correction program—in this case, the MultEQ version, which measures from six seating positions—and your home theater system is ready for liftoff.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
The rethought CM Series from Bowers & Wilkins includes three towers, three monitors, two centers, and one sub. They use a double dome aluminum tweeter array which combines a dome with a ring radiator, stiffening the driver and shifting its breakup mode from 30 to 38 kHz. Nautilus-style tweeter tube loading is employed in all of these new speakers though it's most visible in the tweeter-on-top models (the CM10 S2 tower and, pictured here, the CM6 S2 monitor). Woofers continue to be Kevlar. The models, all priced per speaker, are the CM10 S2 tower ($2000), CM9 S2 tower ($1600), CM8 S2 tower ($1200), CM6 S2 monitor ($1000), CM5 S2 monitor ($800), CM1 S2 monitor ($550), CM Centre2 S2 ($1250), CM Centre S2 ($700), and ASW 10CM S2 subwoofer ($1500).
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 12, 2014 2 comments
Two years in the making in close association with Dolby Labs, Triad's approach to a Dolby Atmos enabled speaker is to build four two-inch ScanSpeak drivers into the top for the height channels. The Inroom Bronze LR-H is based on the InRoom Bronze LCR, with the front driver array consisting of a one-inch fabric dome tweeter and dual 5.5-inch woofers. We've heard the prototype in Dolby's New York offices and it produces impressive height effects. Atmos capability raises the basic model price from $600 to $1000/pair.

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