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Mark Fleischmann

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 26, 2013 0 comments

Ultra Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

SB12-NSD Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $3,348 At A Glance: Distinctive enclosure shapes • Strong build quality • Satisfying, balanced sound

The debut of the SVS Ultra speaker line prompts me to reconsider a question that’s been lurking at the back of my mind for years: Is SVS one of the great American speaker brands?

As a company founded in Ohio and initially operated out of a garage, SVS has all the right narrative elements of a great speaker brand. The company has built a reputation for making brilliantly unorthodox subwoofers and pretty good speakers—versus the scads of respectable brands that put most of their brilliance into speakers and treat subs as an afterthought. In the past few years, the story has added a few new chapters, with new heavy-hitter personnel in management and product design and a manufacturing move from Ohio to (where else?) China.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 18, 2013 0 comments
7113ama.jpgLongtime Amazon customers may already be surprised to find CD purchases from years and years ago appearing in their Amazon Cloud Players. Their eyebrows are set to move even higher now that Amazon is extending the courtesy to LP purchases. Buy an AutoRip-eligible disc—analog or digital—from the online retailer, boot up the Cloud Player, and there it is. If your computer or tablet of choice lacks a disc drive, as increasingly many do, you’re also free to download a free 256-kbps AutoRipped copy. The feature is available to U.S. customers only, for titles displaying the AutoRip logo.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 09, 2013 0 comments
If you like the effect of Audyssey room correction in your home theater system, would you like to apply it to your headphones? That may happen if headphone makers embrace Audyssey’s ExpertFit Partner Program. Audyssey wants participating manufacturers to create a profile for each model using an ExpertFit measurement program and new algorithms based on existing MultEQ and Dynamic EQ, until now best known for their use in audio/video receivers.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 09, 2013 0 comments
Audio quality in streaming video has taken another step forward with the news that the Best Buy–owned CinemaNow service is adopting DTS-HD. Despite the moniker, it is not the same lossless DTS-HD Master Audio that appears on 80 percent of Blu-ray Discs—it’s a slimmed-down streaming-friendly DTS Express codec that delivers 5.1 channels at data rates up to 512 kilobits per second. Consumers will access encoded content through Rovi-powered storefronts that will operate through Samsung’s 2013 smart TVs and Blu-ray players and their ARC-enabled HDMI or optical outputs. DTS-HD is not the only surround game in streaming town: Dolby Digital Plus is in use by Netflix, Vudu, and Amazon Instant Video.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 05, 2013 3 comments
In every review I write of a surround receiver or speaker system, I tap out a graf on associated equipment used to audition the product. You can always find it between the product description and the listening notes. Whenever I read an audio review, I feel cast adrift if the reviewer doesn't disclose what's in his reference system. After all, the receiver I use to review a set of speakers, or the speakers I use to review a receiver, may exert a significant effect on the product's performance and how I perceive it. So does the room, for that matter, and maybe I'll tackle that subject someday. I use asymmetrical long-wall placement in a room with six sides where no two sides are the same length. That should make for an interesting blog. In the meantime, here's a more detailed description of what's in my rack, moving from top to bottom.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 05, 2013 6 comments

Quintet Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
SW-100 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $1,050 At A Glance: Molded reinforced polymer enclosure • Vertically expanded Tractrix horn • Conventional sub

Compact satellite/subwoofer sets are often affordable, mate well with budget receivers, allow more speaker-placement width than soundbars, lend themselves to wall mounting—and best of all, they don’t hog the room, even if you place them on stands (which would usually produce the best sonic results). What Justice Anthony Kennedy’s swing vote is to the Supreme Court, the spouse acceptance factor is to loudspeaker genres, and the elegant compactness of a sat/sub set just may be the tiebreaker, the factor that makes the difference between having or not having a surround system. Sat/sub sets continue to be the most underrated product category in home theater.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 01, 2013 0 comments
Online streaming outfits are turning themselves into studios, bankrolling movies and TV series. Before you scoff, did you watch Netflix’s House of Cards? We did, blasting through all 13 episodes in the first month of availability. The series, with Kevin Spacey as a Machiavellian congressman, has made 86 percent of Netflix subscribers less likely to cancel, says a Cowen and Co. survey. We can’t wait for the second “season.”
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 27, 2013 8 comments

Epic Midi 125 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
EP125 v3 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $1,418 At A Glance: Distinctive cabinet shapes • Revealing voicing • Sold factory direct

Merriam-Webster.com defines a cabal as “the artifices and intrigues of a group of persons secretly united in a plot (as to overturn a government),” or “a group engaged in such artifices and intrigues.” For the past 30 years, Axiom Audio has been part of a Canadian cabal of loudspeaker manufacturers secretly united in a plot to overturn bad sound—ironically, with government support. The Ontario-based company is one of several brands that sprouted from Ottawa’s National Research Council facilities where Axiom founder and president Ian Colquhoun learned the art and science of speaker design under the legendary Dr. Floyd Toole.

Why do we say “secretly united”? Axiom is one of those well-kept secrets of the audio world, and that’s partly our fault. The company has been designing and manufacturing its products in Canada, right under our North American noses, yet this is the first review we’ve done on an Axiom product in about 20 years, despite the accolades the brand has attracted in the interim. So we’re playing catch-up with this review of Axiom’s Epic Midi 125 5.1-channel speaker package, which includes two monitors and a center in the front, dedicated diffuse surrounds, and a subwoofer. Let’s just say the secret is out.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 21, 2013 0 comments

Tannoy Precision Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Tannoy TS2.12 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $4,414 At A Glance: Coaxial driver array • Pinpoint-precise imaging • Clean, wellmannered subwoofer

If you read a lot of British novels, eventually you’ll run across a reference to an announcement “on the Tannoy” in a train station or airport. In the U.K., the birthplace of Tannoy Ltd., the loudspeaker brand is a synonym for public-address system. No other speaker manufacturer in the world enjoys this distinction, though it comes at a price: The Tannoy people are constantly firing off letters to publications that make the mistake of using tannoy generically, without the proper cap-T to indicate its trademark status.

Trivia buffs may be surprised to discover that the firm was founded in 1926 as the Tulsemere Manufacturing Company in England. Not until 1932 did the brand name become Tannoy, an abbreviation for tantalum alloy, a material used in the electronic guts of its early products. Tannoy relocated its design and engineering center to Scotland about a half-century later, and for the past decade has been owned by the Denmark-based TC Group.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 20, 2013 2 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $299/pr At A Glance: Consistent off-axis response • Sub output • 20 watts times two

“A Book of Verses Underneath the Bough/A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou.” So runs the most famous translation of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. The essence of the quotation is we need only a few basic things to attain happiness, and the Persian poet seems to imply that the fewer, the better. So what does it take to make you a happy listener? Does an audio system invariably have to follow the traditional model of speakers, amp, and source components?

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