Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
Christie Digital, a big name in theatrical digital presentations, made its first appearance at a CEDIA EXPO. Here is the biggest projector they had on display, a 4K, 3-chip DLP. Christie's Josh Kolbeck stands next to it for perspective.

While not on demo at Christie's own booth, it was being used in a Stewart Filmscreen demonstration elsewhere on the show floor. On a 15-foot wide Stewart Director's choice Gray Matte 70 screen, and with 4K sources, it produced what was easily the best-looking images I saw on the show's first day. I didn't catch the price (it took Christie personnel several minutes to find the price on the Christie laser projector shown below), but it definitely falls into the "if you have to ask" category. You'll also need to put it in a separate projection room. It's cooling fans are loud.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
Pioneer announced the BDP-88FD Blu-ray player, at $2000. Not only is it a universal player, but offers advanced audio and video circuitry--the most advanced Blu-ray player yet from the company. It can also play back DSD, though multichannel DSD is limited to its HDMI outputs, as the analog outs are 2-channel only. It will be available by the end of this year.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
For VERY high end home theaters, Digital Projection offers the Insight 4K projector. It has the professional 4K resolution of 4096 x 2160, and is available with either LED or laser illumination. In the latter form, it's specified for an output of 12,000 Lumens, a laser lifetime of 20,000 hours, and a color gamut beyond Rec. 709. Yours for $120,000.

With LED illumination the output drops to a still considerable 3000 Lumens, the claimed LED lifetime increases to 60,000 hours, and the price rises to $150,000. In LED form it's also claimed to be the first projector capable of the Rec.2020 color gamut. In a darkened room demonstration, however, the LED version had heavily oversaturated colors, suggesting not that there was anything wrong with the projector, but rather that the playback gamut didn't match the gamut of the source material--a guarantee of inaccurate color. The laser version was being demonstrated in the open area of the booth, and its color looked excellent.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
Wisdom Audio teamed up for its demo with Datasat (preamp-processor), Barco (projector) Seymour Screen Excellence, and HTE (Home Theater Environments), and likely others to whom I apologize for leaving out here due to my rapidly scribbled notes. The wide-ranging selection of program material was particularly noteworthy. 2K from Blu-ray, and no Atmos in sight, but it was excellent nonetheless (though the videophile in me whispers that the gamma was a bit too high, making for rather dark and contrasty images!). HTE deserves special mention for the most stylish room at the show, which should be evident from the picture above. But HTE is from Italy, so that's not surprising!
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 2 comments
I've only caught two Dolby Atmos demos so far, but the JBL Synthesis demo was by far the most impressive--and may be the most impressive at the show. I'll reserve judgment on that, but with 12 discrete height speakers(JBL SCS 8s), 16 surround speakers (also JBL SCS8s, just a few of them shown here--no way to get all of them into a group photo!), 8 subwoofers, JBL M2 front speakers, a Dolby pro Atmos processor, banks of JBL Synthesis amps, and a 17-foot wide screen (projector unspecified--I'll update this when I find out), this $200,000 system is ready for your lottery winnings.

The picture (only 2K no less, from a DPI NC 900C projector, about $50,000) was spectacular (though with blacks more typical of theatrical presentations rather than the superior blacks available from some even modest home theater models). And the sound was as good as any movie sound I've yet heard, either home or theatrical (the latter including even the best theaters in Los Angeles). It could go plenty loud, but with the exception of an extended racing car sequence it was never edgy or grating. If you're fortunate enough to be at the show while reading this, it's a don't miss demo.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
Audiophiles fondly remember the company Audio Alchemy, which produced a number of well-received, sensibly-priced D/A converters back in the 1990s. They may have been before their time. Today, such separate converters are all over the place, but now include USB connections for the increasingly popular digital downloads, particularly of the high resolution audio variety.

Peter Madnick, who currently heads up design for the extremely pricey electronics from Constellation, has re-acquired the rights to the Audio Alchemy name. While not being shown at a booth (at least not one I've yet seen) I ran into Peter as he was prowling the show floor with a sample of his first new Audio Alchemy product, the DDP-1. It's a D/A converter with optical, coaxial, USB (asynchronous), and analog inputs. With its volume control, it can also function as a 2-channel preamp and a headphone amplifier. While its $1895 ticket is a bit pricier than the Audio Alchemy products of the past, it should be highly competitive in today's D/A market when it ships in December.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 11, 2014 0 comments
LG launched a wide range of new TVs at a press event on the first full day of the show but the eye-catcher was a 105-inch curved, Ultra HD, LCD/LED set with a 21:9 aspect ratio. The company also showed a flat 98-inch 16:9 Ultra HD LCD/LED model. At $100,000 (OK, it’s actually $99,999.99) for the 105-incher and $40,000 for the 98-incher, they’re not exactly impulse purchases.

But both use IPS panels for better off-axis performance, have full array backlit local dimming, and incorporate 7.1-channel audio systems designed in cooperation with Harman Kardon.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 11, 2014 0 comments
Bolstering its dedication to OLED, LG announced two new models, both with Ultra HD resolution and both curved, at 77-inches (available in November at $25,000) and 65-inches (October, at $9,999). The company will also be bringing out a wide selection of new LCD/LED Ultra HD models from 40 inches to 65 inches, with the price for the largest model topping out at $3,500.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 27, 2014 2 comments
Reviewers (who are almost universally inveterate collectors) tend to accumulate more software—videos, LPs, CDs, and soon music and video files, than your average bear. Digital files take up little space, but the others can soon grow to enormous proportions. Not only does this create a storage problem, it also makes it difficult to find that special disc we want to enjoy now. Of course, we all organize our collections in some rational form, don’t we? In a classic line from the (must see) movie High Fidelity, a record store owner is reorganizing his personal LP collection. A friend asks him how he’s doing it: alphabetical, by artist, by label, by genre? His answer: autobiographical.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 13, 2014 5 comments
Pioneer's speaker guru Andrew Jones conducting one of the first Dolby Atmos demos in Los Angeles.

Things are moving fast on the Dolby Atmos front. Here's an in-depth look at Dolby Atmos—what it is and how it works—as well as my first impressions of recent demos conducted by Pioneer and Dolby Labs.

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