Mark Fleischmann

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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 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 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 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 08, 2014 0 comments
GoldenEar Technology's SuperCinema 3D Array XL, for TVs of 70 inches and up, is an upsized version of the existing SuperCinema 3D Array soundbar. The three-channel bar features a trio of the company's signature folded ribbon tweeters which provide wide dispersion and in general a beautifully listenable top end. The 2.5-way center-channel driver array is derived from the SuperSat 60. Price $1499. Also shown was the new flagship tower Triton One. (Another contributor will fill you in on that.)
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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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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 07, 2014 3 comments
Dynaudio has rethought its Excite line, of which the smallest member is the X14 ($1500/pair). Just about every part has been overhauled, including the one-inch silk dome tweeter, said to have 65 percent more usable surface area than a typical same-sized driver; and a 5.25-inch proprietary woofer made of magnesium silicate polymer. Yes, there's a matching horizontal center, the X24 ($1000). There's not an Excite sub as such but Dynaudio suggests the 10-inch Sub 250. All shipping end of January.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 07, 2014 0 comments
Having marketed soundbars for a couple of years in Europe, Maxell is bringing them to the United States. The top model is the SSB-4W ($299, shipping now), a console-type bar with SRS surround tech, HDMI times three, two bottom-firing woofers, and four smaller drivers across the front. Stop the servers: It has a fiberboard enclosure, as opposed to plastic. Could this be the ultimate killer budget bar? The USB port is also a charger.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 07, 2014 0 comments
Two Sony events two days in a row told two radically different stories about what you might want in an amplifier. In Monday's press-day event, news of the STR-DN1050 surround receiver arrived in a single run-on sentence that also referred to several other products. Wish we knew more; ship date and price were unavailable. But Sony has been on a roll with its receivers and we hope to get this one in for review ASAP. Afterward we jumped onto the stage and disrupted someone's video shot just long enough to grab a pic. In a special event Tuesday, reporters were treated to the extraordinary story of how amplifier genius Nelson Pass resurrected the VFET, a nearly forgotten 40-year-old Sony technology, and built a couple dozen pairs of them into a 250-watt mono-block design which he promptly turned over to Sony as an apparent gesture of audiophile love and respect, probably mixed with a healthy practicality. Again, marketing details were scanty, but that does not diminish the story's cool factor. As a kicker, we were also told that our long-awaited sample of the HAP-S1 high-resolution DAC-amp will soon arrive. It's been an eventful couple of days!

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