Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 22, 2014 0 comments
A few months back I wrote about the hazards of assuming that any Ultra HD set you might buy today will be future proof. At the risk of repeating myself, some of the points I made there are worth going over again in a different, shorter form—not least of all because new readers are unlikely to devour a long, two month old blog!
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 23, 2014 Published: Jul 22, 2014 1 comments

Monitor Audio Silver 10 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Monitor Audio W-12 Subwoofer
Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,925 (Silver 10, $2,500 pr; Silver Centre, $725; Silver 2, $1,050 pr; Silver W-12, $1,650)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crisp, open sound
Superb imaging
First-rate fit and finish
Minus
Two-way center channel
Limited subwoofer output

THE VERDICT
The center speaker suffers the usual off-axis quirks of a two-way design, and the small sub came up short for the deepest movie bass, but Monitor’s Silver series is a triumph, a treat to hear, and well worth seeking out for a serious audition.

Monitor Audio offers an exceptionally wide range of speakers, from the decidedly expensive (but not nosebleed high-end) to the modestly priced. In 2010, I reviewed the company’s relatively affordable Silver RX system. That line has now been completely redesigned, losing its RX moniker and morphing into the Silver series. Like the RXs before them, the Silvers were designed at Monitor’s U.K. headquarters and are built in a company-owned plant in China. For this review, we’ve selected the largest of the floorstanders, the Silver 10, along with the Silver Centre, the Silver W-12 subwoofer, and, instead of the Silver FX dedicated surround speakers, a pair of Silver 2s to serve the surround channels.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 18, 2014 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
In the final months of World War II, as Allied armies smashed across Europe and into Germany, an organization called the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program (the MFAA) was assigned the task of recovering and preserving countless art treasures plundered by the Nazis. It included hundreds of art experts from 13 countries, working in small cadres.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 16, 2014 0 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crisp detail
Excellent color
Bright, vivid 3D
Minus
Middling contrast and black level
3D ghosting

THE VERDICT
It can’t deliver the deep blacks found on today’s best flat panels, but the Sharp LC-60UQ17U offers top-notch detail and color, along with the ability to display 4K source material with excellent, though not full 4K, resolution.

TV manufacturers continue to search for ways to keep prices down and sales up. But with 4K Ultra HD the hot ticket these days, it’s not an easy task. While Sharp already has a 4K model in the market and others planned for the fall, the company also offers a less expensive alternative: Quattron+, or Q+. These aren’t full Ultra HD sets, as their basic pixel structure is still 1920 x 1080 (Full HD), not the 3840 x 2160 required for Ultra HD. But Sharp’s Q+ sets will accept a 4K input, and with a bit of technical hocus-pocus, the company says they’ll deliver something between Full HD and true 4K.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 08, 2014 2 comments
Planet of the Apes is perhaps the longest running science fiction film franchise in history (unless you consider James Bond sci-fi—and Star Trek originated as TV series that didn’t arrive as a theatrical film until 1979). The original Planet of the Apes movie, based on a novel by French author Pierre Boulle, produced by 20th Century Fox, and co-written by Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame, was followed by four sequels. The budgets for these sequels were tight (miniscule by today’s standards) and the results progressively cheesier. But despite its special effects and makeup, state of the art for the time though primitive now, the original still holds up today. There were also two relatively unsuccessful TV series in the ‘70s, plus books, comic books, and other spin-offs.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 26, 2014 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fable The Snow Queen, Frozen opens by introducing us to two princesses, Anna and Elsa. Elsa has been born with power over cold—a curse she can’t control. To protect Anna and others, Elsa locks herself in her room as the two siblings grow into young adulthood.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 24, 2014 7 comments
The center channel speaker doesn’t often get the respect it deserves. To keep it slim enough to fit on a shelf, many manufacturers simply offer two-way center designs, laid out in a horizontal woofer-tweeter-woofer arrangement. Every experienced speaker engineer knows that this is the worst way to design any speaker, but cost cutters, marketing departments, and consumers who don’t know better (or don’t care) demand them.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 10, 2014 3 comments
Rummaging through my piles of lost papers the other day, I came across the following pearls of wisdom. Nothing on the paper indicated where it came from, or to whom it should be attributed. It has the ironic angle of the late Stereophile founder J. Gordon Holt, but may well have come from elsewhere. In any case, here it is for your delectation. I’ll add my own comments in a future blog entry, but leave this to speak for itself for now:
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 27, 2014 3 comments
Some months back I ran across a region-free Blu-ray of the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra’s 2014 New Year’s Concert (Sony Classical). I already owned the 2012 edition (it’s an annual event, as you might have guessed!), which I hadn’t yet watched. The price was right for this 2014 version, so I added it to my collection. That is, I added it to my shelf of as yet unseen Blu-ray discs (I suspect all serious collectors have such a shelf). It waited there patiently until I felt the need to pull out a few potentially good sounding concert Blu-rays. This one seemed like a good candidate, so I popped it into my Oppo player.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 23, 2014 1 comments
Picture
3D-ness
Sound
Extras
In 2009’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, ace boy inventor Flint Lockwood had clearly bitten off more than he could chew with his latest invention, a device that produced food from water vapor. Dubbed the Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator (or FLDSMDFR—pronounced “fldsmdefer”), it inundated his island home of Swallow Falls with a tsunami of edibles. Now the town has been evacuated, and Flint, his dad, his pals, and the rest of his fellow townsfolk have been moved to San Franjose, California, where Flint takes a job as a fledgling inventor at Live Corp.

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