Mark Fleischmann

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 04, 2014 0 comments
Why does the Kindle Fire HDX have that blue tint around the edges of the touchscreen? Amazon says it’s actually to improve overall color: “Most LCD displays use white LEDs, and then apply filters to extract the desired color. The result is oftentimes a compromise to tone and color accuracy, or—if attempting to address these compromises—an increase in battery consumption and, thus, device weight. We’ve taken a different approach. To achieve perfect color accuracy on the Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch at the lowest possible battery consumption and weight, we used blue, not white, LEDs. Blue LEDs allow for a much more accurate and rich representation of color and result in an up to 20 percent improvement in power efficiency.” Amazon was selling the device for $229 at press time.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 30, 2014 0 comments

Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,996

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Sweet dedicated midrange
Solidly musical bass
Multilayer lacquer finish
Minus
Sub is merely average

THE VERDICT
The Pinnacle Black Diamonds are stellar performers with a winning personality, delivering consistently pleasing sound.

Even in our industrial twilight, the USA still has a cornucopia of great loudspeaker brands, and Pinnacle Speakers is one of them. Since the company’s founding in 1976, it has always been a family-owned business—and if there’s one kind of outfit you don’t want to mess with, it’s a family outfit. I haven’t reviewed a Pinnacle product in eight years, but just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

A limousine screeched to a halt outside my building, and two bulky guys in Men’s Wearhouse suits got out. They didn’t leave me much choice: I was blindfolded and driven around for hours and hours until I had no idea where I was. At one point, I thought I smelled Secaucus, New Jersey. Another time, the blindfold slipped, and out of the corner of my eye I saw Satriale’s Pork Store.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 23, 2014 1 comments
The Benchmark AHB2 is the first power amplifier to use energy-efficient technology developed by THX. The two-channel amp is rated at 100 watts per channel into 8 ohms, 170 watts into 4 ohms, or 340 watts into 8 ohms with vanishing low total harmonic distortion of less than 0.00013 percent at 1 kilohertz. “Benchmark is a great partner to roll out THX’s patented all-analog amplifier technology,” says Laurie Fincham, THX senior VP and audio éminence grise. It uses low-profile components to achieve high-power amplification and, if THX’s hopes are fulfilled, may be used in audio/video receivers, TVs, powered speakers, car systems, and handheld devices.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 10, 2014 0 comments
If Mark, who is now writing about himself in the third person and enjoying it too much, hasn't gotten more audiophile demo material for use in reviews, it's due more to an inexplicable shyness on his part than stinginess on anyone else's. He asked Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab and Ray Kimber for some high-res analog and digital software, and guess what? They said yes! MoFi pressings are half-speed mastered and pressed on 180-gram virgin vinyl. The 45 rpm set of Dylan's Blonde on Blonde may prove especially tasty. Kimber, best known as a cable magnate, is also a virtuoso recordist using DSD and his IsoMike technology, which employs baffled microphones to defeat infrachannel interference. If you're one of those people who say SACD is dead, shut up. Can't wait to dig into that big box of Mozart piano sonatas, performed by Robert Silverman.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 10, 2014 0 comments
Meridian's Prime, which it bills as a headphone amp, is also a USB DAC, and who could win a digital arm-wrestling contest with Bob Stuart? The dual skinned, resonance killing, screwless enclosure is a miniaturized echo of a G Series component. There are three Analogue Spatial Processing listening modes: one with no enhancement, one for a more speaker-like "out of head" feel, and more of the same with bass boost. A quick listen suggested that ASP has great potential; we'll audition it with more (and more familiar) software ASAP. Price is $2000 with a conventional power supply. Add $1250 for the separate Prime Power Supply.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 10, 2014 0 comments
Here's just a smattering of the audio/video products honored in the 2014 CES Innovations Awards, chosen because they might not otherwise appear in this year's CES coverage (mine, at any rate). Clockwise from top left: The Pioneer Elite SC-79 receiver ($3000) serves up nine channels of D3, the company's version of Class D amplification, and every D3 model we've heard so far has lived up to the promise of energy efficiency combined with great sound. This is Pioneer's top-of-the-line model; we've got a review of the less expensive SC-71 in the pipeline. Jamo's Torsten is the brand's first soundbar. The Sharp SD-WH1000U Blu-ray player uses WiSA wireless technology to wirelessly deliver uncompressed 24/96 PCM and 1080p, effectively freeing high-res audio and video from their wired chains. Would'nt it be great if surround receivers could do the same? Bang & Olufsen's BeoLab 18 tower speaker has a tweeter on top firing into a diffuser and four mid-woofers in an extraordinary looking column enclosure; more here. To see more honorees (and we've omitted quite a few good ones!) see the CES website.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 09, 2014 0 comments
The 6.5-inch woofer in Focal's Aria 906 monitor is made of a hollow flax fiber sandwiched in a layer of transparent plastic-like glass tissue. The combination is light and tough and we've never seen the like before. The tall stand-mount also includes a one-inch aluminum-magnesium tweeter. The monitor began shipping in October 2013 for $1499/pair and can be accompanied by a matching center; a sub will follow in May 2014. Three towers are also available. In an adjoining room Focal showed its first soundbar, the Dimension, which will get separate coverage. The products are made in France so you know they'll be delicious.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 09, 2014 0 comments
The Velodyne Wi-Q 12 sub ($899) is wireless, omitting needless and inconvenient cabling and operating up to 50 feet from the transmitter. It has auto EQ, efficient digital amplification, remote control, and a 12-inch driver. There's also a 10-inch version, the Wi-Q 10 ($799).
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 09, 2014 0 comments
Canada's Totem Acoustic has been making great speakers for the high-end market for quite some time, and by high-end standards, they're not all that expensive. But Totem reaches into the most affordable territory yet with the Kin monitor. It has a four-inch honeycomb paper woofer, 0.75-inch silk dome tweeter, and (despite its modest size) dual terminals for biamping or biwiring. The Kin ships in May for $499/pair, and can be bought in odd-numbered lots for surround use. There will also be a Kin sub ($699).
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 08, 2014 0 comments
The Thiel TM3 monitor is the brainchild of new designer Mark Mason, who is rising to the task of filling the enormous shoes of the late founder Jim Thiel. Among other things, he prizes a good mix of on- and off-axis response and wants his speakers to be easier to drive. The 6.5-inch fiberglass woofer and one-inch aluminum tweeter nestle in an enclosure made of twelve 1/16th-inch layers, mostly of plywood, with one metal layer. The product is made in Lexington, Kentucky and will sell for $2999/pair when it ships in summer 2014. There will also be two new centers priced at $3999 and $1999 as well as two new subs priced at $2499 for a 15-inch and $1999 for a 12-inch. Oh, and three new towers as well, which will be covered separately.

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