Mark Fleischmann

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 02, 2014 0 comments
Bis is a Swedish music label with a large catalogue of Super Audio CDs. Among them are two releases that have become my go-to choices for major works in the orchestral repertory: Beethoven's nine symphonies and Bach's six Brandenburg Concertos. Both are DSD recordings, less than a decade old, with surround and stereo soundtracks. They'll cost you more than most CD box sets of the same works. But the chance to hear these vibrant performances in high-res DSD via SACD is well worth the price. Think of surround as icing on the cake.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 25, 2014 2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
500-GB hard drive
DSD capable
Serious fun to use
Minus
No live streaming from network devices
Lightweight amp

THE VERDICT
This handsome DSD-capable audio player with built-in storage takes the pesky computer out of computer audio—and it’s way more fun to use.

Sony made waves when they announced their intention to market three high-resolution audio (HRA) products built around the company’s DSD file format. True, there was a nascent HRA movement before Sony made the move, with loads of network audio players and USB DACs flooding the market. But somehow the Sony announcement provided the extra momentum that finally made HRA seem not just promising but inevitable. That the Consumer Electronics Association has also launched an HRA initiative is icing on the cake.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 18, 2014 0 comments

Aero 2 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Aero 9 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,446

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Flat BMR in lieu of tweeter
Clear sonic window into the midrange
Unusual dual-mono/bipole surrounds
Affordable price
Minus
Boxy vinyl-wrap enclosures

THE VERDICT
Cambridge Audio’s Aero reinvents the two-way loudspeaker in midrange-friendly fashion with excellent performance and value.

What if you needed two throats to speak? Sounds a bit cumbersome, right? But that’s how a two-way loudspeaker usually treats the human voice. Its drivers divide the midrange frequencies where the voice resides into two parts, sending higher frequencies to the tweeter and lower frequencies to the woofer. While the crossover varies from speaker to speaker, the frequencies that handle the voice usually get split right in the region where human ears are most sensitive to vocal timbre.

Of course, good speaker designers routinely surmount this obstacle to natural vocal sound, either by carefully tweaking their two-way designs or by going to three-way designs that dedicate a separate driver to midrange reproduction. But the three-way approach adds two more crossover sections, potentially leading to other troubled areas of reproduction.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 18, 2014 0 comments
Rail passengers in Los Angeles’ Union Station got a taste of what was billed as “the world’s first large-scale opera for wireless headphones.” Invisible Cities was based on Italo Calvino’s spellbinding novel in which Marco Polo describes fantasy cities to Kublai Khan. The production used Sennheiser’s wireless headphone and microphone technology to allow listeners wearing RS 120 cans to roam around the large public space “onstage” and commune with the performers.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 11, 2014 11 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Top-drawer room correction
Strong dynamics
Bounteous custom features
Minus
Bluetooth requires accessory

THE VERDICT
The Denon AVR-4520CI and Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction combine to produce a close to perfect-sounding receiver.

Denon and its sister brand Marantz are among the most popular A/V receiver makers. The AVR-4520CI is Denon’s top-of-the-line model, the brand’s best shot at building every feature worth having into a nine-channel powerhouse. It does not attempt to be all things to all people (Bluetooth users, for instance). But it does offer a feature set that is strong in custom integrator features; hence the CI designation in the model number. And, as I discovered in this review—you won’t mind if I give away the ending, will you?—it also offers the best implementation of Audyssey room correction I’ve ever heard. Room correction has always seemed like a great idea, but the results have been hit or miss. Here it consistently produced great sound.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 10, 2014 1 comments
414blackout.promo250.jpgWhen cable operators and networks can’t agree on retransmission fees, cable viewers may suddenly see blackouts of broadcast and other channels. Such blackouts set a record in 2013, according to the American Television Alliance. Now legislation has been introduced in Congress that would prevent viewers from missing their favorite shows.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 04, 2014 4 comments
The Universal Music Group is taking a new kind of plunge into the Blu-ray disc format. Already the videophile's go-to format for movies and concert videos, Blu-ray now bids to conquer audiophiles. At least, that's the plan. Whether it goes anywhere is a different question.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 01, 2014 0 comments
Now that 4K TVs are hitting the stores, what’s the outlook for 4K sporting events? Among pros surveyed by Miranda Sports Productions, 33.5 percent said HD 1080p would be their first pick for outfitting production trucks three years from now. 4K was their second choice at 28.6 percent, and HD 1080i came in third at 24.4 percent. Lagging far behind were IPTV (4.4 percent), 8K (3.7 percent), 720p (2.6 percent), 3D (1.9 percent), and SD (0.9 percent). Currently the top format in sports production is 1080i at 54.4 percent, followed by 720p and SD, tied at 18.1 percent, and 1080p at 7 percent.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 25, 2014 5 comments
In a surprise announcement, Pioneer revealed that it will re-enter the TV manufacturing arena. No, it won’t resume building its world-beating Kuro plasmas. But it will make LED-backlit, 1080p, Wi-Fi streaming sets of 55, 46, and 40 inches. Dixons Retail has an exclusive agreement to develop and sell Pioneer TVs in European markets through Currys & PC World stores. No word on whether Pioneer would resume making TVs for North America and other markets. Pioneer quit the television business in 2009 and licensed its Elite TV brand to Sharp in 2011.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 20, 2014 0 comments
Prescient Audio’s Paul Niedermann scowled at the trunk of his car. The supplied loudspeaker system took up too much space. He thought about it and came up with a solution: Prescient’s ThinDriver Technology, which fits a 12-inch subwoofer driver into an enclosure about one-third the conventional size.

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