Mark Fleischmann

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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 14 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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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 29, 2014 42 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Advanced build quality
Subtle room correction
Crisp, dynamic sound
Minus
No wireless anything
A tad analytical

THE VERDICT
The top model among Anthem’s second-generation receivers omits needless features and splurges on performance.

“From Canada with love,” says weatherman Mr. G of WPIX New York every time a sinister polar vortex is about to sweep down from the frozen north. That cool Canadian breeze can be a trial in winter. In summer, however, it’s a breath of fresh air—and that’s also a good description of AV receivers from Ontario-based Anthem. They’re built like tanks, obsessively performance-oriented, and shorn of (what some might deem) frivolous features.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 25, 2014 Published: Jul 24, 2014 0 comments
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price $300

At A Glance
Plus
Five amp channels
Virtual Cinema Front
Darkish tonal balance
Minus
Bargain-basement speaker terminals
No wireless or network audio features

The Verdict
The Yamaha RX-V377 is an accessibly priced entry-level receiver with most of the essential features and mercifully dark-toned voicing.

If you think surround sound is just for the well-to-do, think again. The Top Picks page on this site is loaded with compact 5.1-channel speaker systems, starting at $520 for a setup based on the Pioneer SP-BS522 monitors, designed by loudspeaker guru Andrew Jones. Cheap Blu-ray players abound, these days. All you’d need to do is add another $300 for something like the Yamaha RX-V377 receiver, reviewed here, and your starter system weighs in at under a grand (and those are list prices).

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 21, 2014 0 comments
Several major labels have sued Pandora for streaming pre-1972 music without paying for it. Why would Pandora even attempt such a thing? Well, federal copyright law extends only that far back. However, copyrights can still be protected at the state level, so Vivendi, Sony, Warner, and ABKCO are suing in New York state courts. They point out that their music enables Pandora to rake in subscription fees and ad revenues, yet “it refuses to obtain required licenses or pay for its commercial and profitable exploitation of plaintiffs’ valuable property.” Pandora retorts that “the time, effort, and cost of securing such licenses could be significant,” while removing the pre-1972 music “could harm our ability to attract and retain users.”

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