Mark Fleischmann

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 11, 2014 0 comments
You're looking at a cutaway of the coaxial driver array that makes Pioneer Elite's Dolby Atmos enabled speakers special, in the hand of designer Andrew Jones. It has a one-inch textile tweeter nestling amid a four-inch aluminum woofer. With two of Jones' very substantial looking crossovers, this coaxial array lives on both the top and front of the Elite monitor and tower speakers, shooting Atmos height channels out of the top, and everything else out of the front in the usual manner. Models include the SP-EBS73 monitor ($749/pair), SP-EFS73 tower ($699/each), SP-EC73 center ($399), and SW-E10 sub ($599). Pioneer's Atmos demo, using the company's Class D powered SC-89 receiver ($3000), was the best Atmos demo we heard on the first day of the show, with not just strong height effects but an overall tonal balance that made even the most aggressive movie soundtracks a treat. Can't wait to review these. Pioneer also showed its $349 SP-SB02 Speaker Base, with pairs of front-firing tweeters and midbass drivers and bottom-firing bass drivers.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 11, 2014 0 comments
Dynaudio's Xeo 6 provided some of the best sound we've heard at CEDIA 2014. The smallish powered three-way tower, triamplified with 50 watts per driver, has a wireless hub built into it that transmits lossless audio up to 53 meters. It handled well recorded vocals in a highly naturalistic manner. But it really showed its true colors with "Uranus" from Holst's The Planets, delivering vivid orchestral textures in a way only a truly great speaker can. It sells for $4300/pair. Dynaudio's Platinum tower ($17,500/pair) was operating in the nearby Wolf Cinema booth and also sounded great.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 11, 2014 2 comments
Dolby Atmos, a new object-oriented surround standard, was perhaps the biggest audio story at CEDIA, with speaker and receiver makers both unveiling Atmos enabled products. At GoldenEar Technology that was the HTR 7000 ceiling speaker ($500/each), which angles sound at the downward angle recommended by Dolby. There were four of them running along with GoldenEar's world-beating Triton One tower in front, SuperCenter XL, and smaller Triton Two in the rear, powered by a combination of Pass and NAD amps fed by an Integra pre-pro. One of the cool things about Atmos is that the ceiling speakers are fed with genuine spatial information specified by the mixer, as opposed to fake height channels derived from other channels. Combined with GoldenEar's signature folded ribbon tweeter, this made for strong height effects, which were especially striking in the Dolby demo material. A scene from Transformers: Age of Extinction showed off the system's dynamic prowess, including the folded ribbon tweeters' ability to remain coherent at high volumes.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 05, 2014 27 comments
Every review I write has an "associated equipment" graf in which I dutifully list all the major components of my reference surround system: speakers, subwoofer, surround receiver, and universal disc player. When I use my turntable, I list that as well as the phono cartridge and whatever I'm using as a phono preamp. But I never go into similar detail about another significant component in my system, namely the cables that tie everything together. Readers may be wondering what I use and why I use it. This blog will tell all my dirty little cable secrets.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 03, 2014 2 comments
American cable subscribers get way more cable channels than we really want. In 2008, according to Nielsen’s Advertising & Audiences Report, U.S. households received an average of 129.3 channels and viewed 17.3 of them. In 2013, the number of channels jumped to 189.1, of which 17.5 were viewed. So the number of channels went up 46 percent, but the number viewed rose only 1 percent. Why are cable systems jamming so many channels down our throats? Their dilemma is that channels travel in packs—and a network that owns a popular channel will always insist that cable operators buy all of its channels. “However,” says the Los Angeles Times, “the rising cost of sports programming is starting to lead to louder calls that at least some content should be sold to consumers who want it and not forced on everyone.”
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 27, 2014 2 comments
How would you like to blend local channels, apps, and Websites into your own unique concoction of cord-cutter delights? That’s the promise of Mohu Channels. This Internet-connected tuner mixes local broadcast reception with Website video and apps for Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, HBO Go, YouTube, etc. Successfully funded through Kickstarter—quadrupling its initial goal of $35,000—the product made its debut in June. Want antenna with that? Mohu suggests its own Leaf Metro ($25), which grabs 1080p goodness out of thin air within a radius of 25 miles. The company’s skinny-antenna line also includes larger models with greater range.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 20, 2014 0 comments
The CEA-2047 CE-Energy Usage Information Standard allows information about a device’s energy usage to be programmed in and used to calculate its energy use over time. Says Bill Rose, chair of the working group that developed the standard: “Energy consumption in the Internet of Things can be broken down to individual devices such as appliances, pool pumps and heaters, air conditioning systems, and other devices so consumers can see exactly where, how much, and when electricity is being used.” The standard can apply to any device operating on a home network.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 06, 2014 0 comments
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has joined up with the National Sleep Foundation to give you some shut-eye. A Wearable Sleep Monitors Working Group will develop technical standards for that product category. Says David Cloud, the foundation’s CEO: “We know that getting enough sleep and getting quality sleep have amazing health benefits, including improved mood, concentration, memory and productivity, and the ability to maintain a healthy weight.” Current sleep monitors include the Sleep Cycle app, which uses the sensors in Android and iPhones, and various wristbands, some of which communicate with smartphones. Our favorite concept is the Somnus Sleep Shirt, a sensor-embedded shirt developed by M.I.T., though it has not yet come to market.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 05, 2014 10 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Wi-Fi, AirPlay, and
Bluetooth built in
Balanced and dynamic sound
Minus
No HDCP 2.2 for future UHD Content
Front-panel buttons are tough to see
Single-position room correction

THE VERDICT
Sony updates its triple-threat Wi-Fi, AirPlay, and Bluetooth AVR with more balanced sound, and it’s about the best we’ve heard at this price.

Have you ever had a feeling of déjà vu? Have you ever had a feeling of déjà vu? Sometimes I get that feeling when I review receivers across multiple generations. Sometimes I get that feeling when I review receivers across multiple generations. Oh, all right, I’ll stop. Oh, all right…but having reviewed the Sony STR-DN1020 in 2011, the STR-DN1030 in 2012, and the STR-DN1040 in 2013, I am well situated to pass judgment on the STR-DN1050 in 2014.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 01, 2014 0 comments
Although home theater is maturing, it's still capable of being transformed by new technology. This year we are doubly blessed with the advents of both Dolby Atmos surround sound and Ultra High-Definition TV, both of which are being supported in AV receivers. Incidentally, if you want an opinion, I'm cautiously optimistic about both, and believe they will have a positive impact on large dedicated home theater installations. But there are also smaller improvements that get less publicity. So here are shout-outs to half a dozen little innovations that are making AVRs more convenient or better sounding.

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