Darryl Wilkinson

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 23, 2012 1 comments
Even if you’re an infrequent reader of Home Theater and HomeTheater.com, I’m betting that you have at least one DVD lying around at home that you’ve never watched, won’t ever watch, don’t want to watch again, didn’t care for when you watched it the first time, or still has you wondering how your spouse could have ever thought that particular movie would make a great gift. In fact, chances are that you have a great many more than just one under-appreciated, space-taking, dust-collecting DVD in your possession. (Avid Blu-ray movie buyers probably have lots of unwatched DVDs that are packed in the same case along with the Blu-ray Disc.) At an absolute bare minimum, you at least know someone who has a few DVDs that fit into one of the above categories.

Some of those DVDs might be war-related, but you don’t have to watch a movie, such as Black Hawk Down, Born on the Fourth of July, or Apocalypse Now, to know that war is hell—and that it can often have long-lasting effects on the lives of those military men and women who choose to serve.

There are lots of people who show their “support” for our troops by placing a bumper sticker on their car—and leave it at that. We in the home theater community can do better, thanks to the vision of an organization called DVDs4Vets.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 12, 2012 0 comments

PSB Imagine T2 Speaker System
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PSB SubSeries 300 Subwoofer
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Price: $6,650 At A Glance: Independent ported chambers for each woofer • Dual five-way gold-plated binding posts for biwiring or biamping • Five-way transitional design

Paul Barton is a nutcase. Oh, sure, he’s soft-spoken, ultra-smart, and intensely passionate about sound. (In the late 1960s, 11-year-old Barton started building speakers with his dad in their workshop because other speakers “didn’t sound natural.”) But that’s just a cover. I don’t know how else to explain the fact that Mr. Barton (the “P” and “B” of PSB Speakers—with his wife, Sue, providing the “S”) has spent so much of his life locked away in the anechoic chamber and testing/listening labs of Canada’s federally funded National Research Council (NRC) in Ottawa, Ontario. In fact, according to PSB, although folks from other speaker companies (such as Paradigm, Energy, Mirage, Snell, and Aperion, to name a few) have traipsed through the NRC’s Acoustics and Signal Processing Department’s doors, since the late 1970s, Barton “has spent far longer in the chamber and lab than any other speaker designer.” So rather than skiing, hunting, fishing, playing hockey, and/or drinking beer all day like real Canadians do, Barton chose to play in an anechoic chamber. As I said, he’s a nutcase.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 12, 2012 1 comments

Performance
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Ergonomics
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Price: $899 At A Glance: H-PAS bass enhancement technology • Multichannel DSP for two-, three-, or five-channel soundfield simulation • Switchable display for top or bottom orientation

Frank•en•bar [frang-kuhn-bahr]: noun 1) a soundbar with parts and pieces taken from traditional home theater systems—processor, switcher, amplifier, remote control, speaker drivers, etc.—which are bolted together into a single cabinet and shocked into life with one power cord. The typical Frankenbar has a dual purpose: a) to provide much-improved sound quality over that produced by the speakers built into modern televisions (such an easy task, by the way, that it could seemingly be accomplished by a couple of tin cans and a string); while at the same time b) significantly reducing the number of boxes in the system, as well as dramatically simplifying the installation process. 2) The ultimate example of an all-in-one integrated system, except for the fact that virtually every Frankenbar—or any soundbar, for that matter—usually requires a subwoofer in order to sound acceptable to the human ear. This mandatory subwoofer, by virtue of being a physical object that takes up floor space, is more often than not considered both an eyesore and may in some areas be legally acceptable grounds for divorce.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 08, 2012 0 comments
We lost a pioneer of the modern loudspeaker industry with the passing of William (Bill) Hecht earlier this year on September 12th at age 89. I was only five years old (and I imagine many of you reading this weren’t even born yet) in 1967 when Bill Hecht patented his signature contribution to the audio world, the soft-dome tweeter, arguably the most widely used speaker driver worldwide for the last 30 years. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Hecht once during my career. In this age of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the endless onslaught of 24/7 self-promotion, Bill Hecht was a quiet, self-effacing man who seemed most comfortable behind the scenes. Indeed, throughout his career, Hecht and his company, United Speaker Systems, was known for making the speakers that made other speaker companies famous.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 04, 2012 3 comments

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Price: $10,000 (23 shade system) At A Glance: Up to three-year battery life • Extremely quiet operation • Simple installation

Of all the “this is the coolest damn thing I’ve ever seen” things a home theater/wholehome automation system can do, the one that is consistently the most mesmerizing, most envied, coolest “coolest damn thing” is the control of motorized window treatments. (Although it sounds like something a doctor would prescribe for sick building syndrome, window treatments is the term people in the know use for what you and I would call curtains, blinds, and shades.) If you’ve never experienced motorized shades (or drapes or blinds)—and I mean experienced in the sense that you’ve seen them in action in someone’s home and not in a too-clean-to-be-believable picture-perfect designer’s showroom or a slickly edited online video—it’s difficult to grasp the enchanted feeling and quasi-mystical pleasure that even the least gadget-savvy person can get from being in a room in which some hidden electronic sorcery conjures the shades to obediently open and close (or stop anywhere in between) on command or makes the curtains part like the Red Sea as if Moses were holding a remote control in his hand instead of a staff. Even the reticent Wizard of Oz, himself, would rush out from his hiding place behind the curtain to watch it open and close by remote control if it were motorized.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 20, 2012 0 comments
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Price: $3,499 At A Glance: Automatic speaker discovery and channel assignment • Uncompressed 24-bit wireless digital audio • No AVR needed

Not long ago, FedEx deposited a 7.1channel HTIB from Aperion Audio outside my door. It’s not really fair to call it a home theater in a box because the system actually comes in seven boxes and sells for $3,499. But since it includes source switching and amplification, it technically qualifies as an HTIB, albeit a rather unusual one. Aperion Audio prefers the term preconfigured home theater system. Normally, setting up this sort of home theater package would entail speaker wires crisscrossing the floor accompanied by the requisite grumbling, stripping of wires, and fumbling with speaker terminals. In this case, though, the Aperion speakers—a pair of towers, a center channel, a subwoofer, and two pair of satellite speakers—come out of their boxes, get placed in their appropriate spots in the room, have each one’s power cord plugged into the nearest AC outlet…and that’s it.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 17, 2012 1 comments

Performance
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Price: $950 At a Glance: Folded Motion tweeter • Custom five-way biwire/biamp binding posts • Aluminum cone drivers

For the first 20 years or so, MartinLogan was just a geeky, tweaky speaker company that made electrostatic speakers—that’s just as in Stephen Hawking is just a physicist—with a few very serious (and very hexagonal) subwoofers in the lineup to take over the job of reproducing the lowest bass frequencies that even the best electrostatic panels simply don’t have the wherewithal to generate on their own. During that time, admission to the MartinLogan electrostatic club was never cheap. That, as you can imagine, put the dynamic, open, and airy sound that is a signature aspect of an electrostatic speaker out of reach for lots of people.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 09, 2012 0 comments
Although it’s not something that’s specifically used for home theater, mount-, bracket-, component rack-, and furniture-maker OmniMount says anyone who works in front of a desk for any length of time longer than about 15 minutes will stand a chance of staying at least a bit more fit than they would otherwise using the company’s awesome adjustable-height workstations. The $699.95 OmniMount DESK65 is a freestanding lift/lower desk (available in Birch or Cherry) that has approximately 20 inches of instant, tool-free height adjustment. The adjustable height feature is designed to allow the user to sit or stand at any time while slaving away in front of a computer screen – or, in the configuration pictured above, in front of two computer screens. The $399.95 WORK20 is an add-on desk mount that supports two monitors (or a laptop and monitor side-by-side).
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 09, 2012 0 comments
The idea for Wireless Audio Solutions Products (WASP) lineup of wireless speaker brackets and wallplates grew out of a custom integrators frustration with the lack of specific wireless audio distribution applications for installations involving more than setting a pair of monitor speakers and a wireless amp on a bookshelf. Several years of research and design have resulted in WASP’s LINK-Mount, LINK-Plate, and LINK-InWall products, each of which feature the use of tri-band wireless technology (2.4, 5.2, and 5.8 GHZ), 50-watt mono-block Class D amplifiers, wireless subwoofer outputs, retro-fit friendly designs, and uncompressed wireless audio transmission. The amplifiers inside the LINK devices use low-voltage power from external plug-in transformers (aka, wallwarts) that allow the mounts/plates to be installed without requiring an electrician. The WASP UWT-201x is a universal wireless transmitter for use with WASPs LINK plates and mounts, and it has selectable line- or speaker-level inputs, a subwoofer input with a choice of discrete or L/R summed wireless subwoofer output, as well as a 3.5mm front auxiliary input jack that automatically overrides the back panel input when you want to use a smartphone or tablet as a temporary local music source. WASP’s wireless audio distribution devices will only be available through authorized custom integrators. (In other words, don’t look for these on Amazon or at Best Buy.) Cool, cool stuff. Can’t wait to try it out and see how well it works in a real install. No pricing was available at CEDIA, though.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 09, 2012 0 comments
Lutron used CEDIA 2011 to announce the company’s ground-breaking wireless, battery-powered, insulating honeycomb cellular shades that could be remotely controlled through handheld remotes or when integrated with Lutron RadioRA 2 lighting control systems. This year, Lutron announced additions to the wireless shade lineup, but these shades have wires – guide wires, that is. In most respects identical to the original wireless honeycomb shades, the new cable-guided shades have a thin cable running from top to bottom along the left and right sides of the shade. The cable prevents the shade from swaying, so it’s ideal for use on French doors or windows with heavy airflow. The cable guides also allow the shades to be used to cover skylights or angled windows. (Lutron says the shades will work in situations with angles as shallow as 30 degrees off horizontal.) The new shades will begin shipping in January of 2013. Pricing was not immediately available but was not expected to include a significant premium over the original shade configurations.

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