Mark Fleischmann

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 02, 2015 1 comments
Why do tech critics and readers alike persist in saying "X is dead?" Do we have a morbid fascination with death, mirroring society at large? Or is it just that we never feel more powerful than when we are the arbiters of life and death, giving technology that is already moving along a certain trajectory a further push into oblivion? X, in this context, is a mature audio format or technology. (I won't address video or computer technology here. Death somehow seems more final in those categories.) A whole lot of Xes have been prematurely declared dead over the years. Maybe what "X is dead" really means is "X does not fit into my agenda."

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 22, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Horn-loaded tweeters
Bluetooth with aptX
Wireless sub
Minus
No HDMI
Membrane remote

THE VERDICT
The Klipsch R-10B is a great-sounding 2.1-channel bar with a good-sounding sub, legacy connectivity, and Bluetooth.

After all this time, it still amazes me, as a speaker and receiver guy, that setup of an audio-for-video product can be as painless as it was with the Klipsch R-10B soundbar. I connected one optical digital cable and two power cables. The bar established diplomatic relations with its wireless subwoofer without any intervention on my part. Bluetooth pairing was just a matter of selecting the Klipsch as playback device in iTunes. This is the setup routine for people who hate setup routines.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 10, 2014 0 comments
The judicial murder of Aereo—just in case you had any doubt about where our sympathies lie—leaves a cloud over cloud computing...
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 10, 2014 0 comments
If you rip CDs to your hard-drive-based car media system, does that violate the rights of artists? The Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies says yes, claiming that your system qualifies as a digital audio recording device, and therefore that manufacturers should pay royalties to the music labels. The group filed suit in the D.C. federal district court, alleging violation of the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA).
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 05, 2014 12 comments
Would you like to feed your audio system with signals equivalent to what the artist, producer, and mixing engineer heard in the studio? For most people, this is a no-brainer. Why would you not want to hear what the pros heard? And on that basis, a new generation of music players, USB DACs, and other high-resolution audio products is now on the market, seeking open ears and open minds. You'd think this would be cause for celebration. But a small cadre of rigid ideologues are not celebrating. They're insisting that there is no audible difference between CD-quality audio and high-res audio. They bought Perfect Sound Forever, the ancient Compact Disc marketing slogan, hook, line and sinker. Infinitely condescending, the Perfect Sound Foreverists claim to have science on their side and dismiss any other point of view. But the latest science flatly contradicts their long-held dogma.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 03, 2014 2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $800 (updated 12/10/14)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
HDMI 2.0 and lossless surround decoding
7.1 channels of amplification
Fairly deep response
Upward-angled rubber feet
Minus
No HDCP 2.2 DRM

THE VERDICT
The Sony HT-ST5 provides up-to-date HDMI 2.0 connectivity along with great-for-a-bar sound, including excellent subwoofer integration.

OK, I admit it. When I signed up for audio-critic duty in the late 1980s, about a decade into my tech-journalism career, I envisioned a glamorous world of gleaming waxed wood-veneered speakers, precocious multitalented receivers, and dressed-to-kill home theaters designed by Theo Kalomirakis. Soundbars weren’t even on the horizon then. Even so, step by step, I have committed myself to the conceptual principles underlying soundbars: audio-for-video, compactness, minimal footprint, maybe a little surround magic, and user-friendliness, that last item being glaringly absent from AV receivers.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 25, 2014 2 comments
Desperate to reverse declining movie attendance, the AMC theater chain plans to install reclining seats in 1,800 of its 5,000 theaters. The seats are so big that they had to remove up to two-thirds of seating capacity, leaving some theaters with as few as 70 seats. But attendance has shot up 80 percent in the renovated moviehouses, with box-office revenue rising 60 percent, and that may save theaters that were already losing money.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 14, 2014 4 comments

Studio 230 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Studio SUB 250P Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,630

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Efficient, high output
Vocal clarity and defined soundfield
Affordable price
Minus
Thin, accentuated top end
Best at low-to-moderate volumes

THE VERDICT
Although their bright voicing may not be for everyone, the JBL Studio 2 speakers combine high efficiency with excellent detail retrieval.

What if the solution to room-interaction problems resided in your loudspeakers? Wouldn’t that be a great alternative to the ills of receiver-based room correction systems? Those are some potentially interesting questions posed by JBL’s Studio 2 series.

For starters, who needs room correction anyway? Well, when it’s hard to catch the dialogue, and imaging smears all over the place, the room correction program in your A/V receiver can mitigate those problems (depending on the receiver and the room). But quite often, it also introduces new artifacts and errors. For my own part, in my own room, I find that many room correction systems thin out the overall tonal balance and induce fatigue. That’s why some audiophiles shun room correction and choose to live with the acoustic character of their room, for better or worse—usually both.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 14, 2014 Published: Nov 12, 2014 8 comments
Editor's note: This story has been updated.

Samsung and LG will end production of plasma TVs at the end of November signaling the death knell for a TV technology that has been the darling of video enthusiasts for more than a decade. Though plasma’s black-level performance has made it a perennial critic’s favorite, sales have dwindled in recent years.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 07, 2014 0 comments
Dolby Atmos is hitting surround audiophiles like a succession of giant waves crashing on the beach. The first wave is Dolby Atmos in movie theaters. The second wave is Atmos in Atmos-enabled speakers and surround receivers. But what about that third wave, the one nobody's discussing? That's the quiet incorporation of another totally new technology into the Atmos technology bundle. I'm talking about Dolby Surround.

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