Mark Fleischmann

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 11, 2014 0 comments
Listen Audio captured our attention by stating its intention to build the kind of product that "allows the listener to shut off from the world." One such product is the Diffuse, an absorptive panel that takes the form of a modular 2 x 2 foot panel in foam, vinyl, wood, or laminate finishes, starting at $90 for the foam version. It uses differing slot widths and a 3/4-inch air gap to increase bandwidth. It can zap high-frequency flutter echoes but operates down to low frequencies. Benefits: "More stage. The walls seem to push away." Listen also showed the Voice ($3995/each), an in-wall speaker with a 3.5-inch-thick enclosure, 3/4-inch-thick cabinet walls, coaxial drivers, and a 94dB sensitivity rating. It is designed "to compete with the highest-end freestanding two-channel speakers" while also satisfying multichannel and in-wall needs. Listen's Concierge service will dispatch one of its several acoustic design firm partners to the location. Once they determine the specs, the installer comes in and does his work, and then the engineers return to see how the installation worked out and assess the need for tweaks. This is a most impressive company.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 11, 2014 0 comments
Definitive Technology's Dolby Atmos demo sounded excellent, with the A60 elevation speaker ($499/pair) plugged into the top of the BP8060ST powered tower ($1998/pair). The height effects were good, the midrange was well dialed in, and the powered tower's bass was awesome. Why, then, are we running a picture of The Borg? It's actually part of Def Tech's new line of products built on the DTS Play-Fi wireless platform. You're looking at the W7 powered speaker ($399). It joins the W8 powered speaker ($699), the rack-mountable W Adapt ($399), the W Amp ($499), and the W Studio soundbar ($1299). The beauty of Play-Fi is that it's not limited, Apple-style, to a single manufacturer. There will be more Play-Fi products from the likes of Polk, McIntosh, Paradigm, and MartinLogan. Oh, and Def Tech plans to provide 24-7 tech support for its Play-Fi products. Play-Fi is going to be huge. Resistance is futile.
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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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