David Vaughn

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David Vaughn Posted: Jun 06, 2014 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $180

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Outstanding audio and video performance
Loaded with streaming options
Unique screen mirroring with Samsung smartphones and tablets
Minus
Suspect build quality
Controls are on top of the player, limiting placement options

THE VERDICT
A good budget player that makes up in performance and features what it lacks in build quality.

Last week I was playing poker with a bunch of guys and our topic of conversation turned to home theater. I was asked what I was currently reviewing, and when I mentioned the Samsung BD-H6500 Blu-ray player, one of my friends was shocked. “They’re still selling Blu-ray players! Why?” Needless to say, I was shocked, too. When I asked the table of nine other guys, only two said they had watched a Blu-ray movie in the past three months; the rest were getting their movies from PPV (pay per view) or streaming them from Netflix, Vudu, or Amazon VOD.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jun 03, 2014 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
After securing victory in the Hunger Games the previous year by sticking the finger to President Snow by threatening suicide, Katniss and Peta must leave their homes and loved ones behind in order to embark on the Victory Tour through the districts. As they travel around the various locales, Katniss begins to sense a rebellion is afoot and believes she’s the unlikely inspiration for the movement. Still, Snow gets the last laugh by announcing a special 75th Hunger Games that will pit previous winners against each other in a winner-take-all showdown in a made-for-TV event that will be a winner in the ratings—take that, Everdeen!
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David Vaughn Posted: May 09, 2014 4 comments

SVS SB-2000 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value

SVS PB-2000 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $700, $800

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Room-friendly form factor (SB-2000)
Outstanding build quality
45-day in-home trial period
Minus
No built-in parametric equalizer
Best for moderately sized rooms

THE VERDICT
For rooms smaller than 3,000 cubic feet, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better bass value than what either of these subwoofers offers.

I've loved movies since I was a kid and have been interested in home theater for more than 20 years now. There are many reasons I prefer watching movies at home versus the local cinema: There's no texting or talking, for example, and I can pause the movie if I need a potty break. But the biggest reason I love watching at home is the sound. Don't get me wrong. It's not that the local theater sounds bad; it's just that my home theater sounds better overall, especially when it comes to bass.

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David Vaughn Posted: Apr 23, 2014 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
White House butler Cecil Gaines has a front-row seat to the inner workings of the people’s house as the Civil Rights era begins. Raised in Georgia as the son of a sharecropper, he’s turned into a house servant when his father is murdered and ventures out on his own into the cruel world as a teenager. Though he makes several stops along the way, he eventually ends up in the White House serving a string of presidents starting with Eisenhower and ending with Reagan.
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David Vaughn Posted: Apr 02, 2014 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Clint Eastwood has been a household name for over 50 years thanks to his impressive Hollywood résumé that includes work in TV as Rowdy Yates on Rawhide and as a movie star playing such iconic characters as Dirty Harry, Josey Wales, and Philo Beddoe, but it’s his work as a director that has had the greatest impression on me. Believe it or not, the iconic actor has directed 35 films since 1971 winning two Oscars in the process for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby.
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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 25, 2014 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright) have been inseparable from a young age, growing up in a quaint coastal Australian community. When Lil’s husband passes away, the two grow even closer, and their two young boys, Ian and Tom, develop a similar close relationship. Roz’s husband takes a job in Sydney, and with him away, the quartet starts to spend even more time together going to the beach, eating dinner, and drinking heavily with each other. After a night of partying, Ian (Lil’s son) professes his secret love for Roz, she succumbs to his advances, and they wind up sleeping together. Unbeknownst to either of them, Tom spies his mom leaving Ian’s room and decides two can play that game and makes a move on Lil. This opens up Pandora’s box, and the lines between family, friendship, and morality all become blurred.
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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 19, 2014 9 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $3,200

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful, deep, and taut bass response
Outstanding build quality
Sealed push-pull design
Minus
No built-in parametric equalizer
Pricey

THE VERDICT
M&K Sound calls the X12 the subwoofer, and I can’t disagree with them. This is one of the best subwoofers I’ve ever heard in my room.

M&K Sound got started when Walter Becker of Steely Dan commissioned Ken Kreisel to design a studio reference subwoofer and monitoring system for the Pretzel Logic mixing sessions. Partnering with a high-end audio dealer, Jonas Miller, Kreisel developed a revolutionary subwoofer that led to the creation of M&K. As time passed, word of mouth spread throughout the music and movie industries, and M&K would go on to create systems for leading studios and in-home installations for producers, actors, and recording artists.

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 20, 2014 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
It’s the summer of 1964 and Guy Patterson is back from the Army and working in his parents’ appliance store in downtown Erie, Pennsylvania. When the shop closes down for the night, Guy puts on his favorite jazz album and plays the drums to his heart’s content. Some old friends have started a band, and when their regular drummer breaks his arm, they come looking to Guy to fill in for a college talent show—which they win thanks to Guy’s decision to pick up the tempo in their breakout song. They end up getting a gig at a local pizza parlor and eventually catch the eye of a roving talent scout. Before they know it, their song is on the radio, they’re signed by Play-Tone records, and they’re off to California.

David Vaughn Posted: Jan 02, 2014 9 comments

CX-A5000 Surround Processor
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
MX-A5000 Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE CX-A5000, $3,000; MX-A5000, $3,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Audiophile pre/pro sound quality
Impeccable build quality
Apple AirPlay support
Minus
Amp performance merely competent
Limited network interface

THE VERDICT
Yamaha’s new pre/pro is a surefire contender, though its matching 11-channel amplifier wasn’t quite the same caliber.

If you’re in the market for a new AVR, you can spend countless hours researching all of the various manufacturers’ Websites and, when all is said and done, still have 20 or more models to choose from that have all the bells and whistles you want. The same can’t be said for the surround processor market, which is extremely limited by comparison.

Most companies offer only one model—if that—and it’s generally a reconstruction of their flagship AVR minus the amp section. Don’t expect a discounted price, though; with such a limited audience for pre/pros, you can expect to pay top dollar even when the amps are absent. That said, this isn’t such a bad deal because you can then choose an amplifier that mates well with your particular speakers. Furthermore, by having the electronically noisy amps in a separate enclosure, energized by their own dedicated power supply, you can theoretically enjoy improved audio quality. Of course, you also get an increased footprint in your rack with additional black boxes. The quest for audio nirvana certainly isn’t easy.

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David Vaughn Posted: Nov 08, 2013 0 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $700

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Audiophile sound quality
Outstanding build quality
Successful YPAO room correction
Minus
Pedestrian power output
Suboptimal video processing
Crowded, hard-to-use remote

THE VERDICT
A $700 receiver that puts the audio first.

The AVR is the Grand Central Station of our home entertainment systems. Everything runs into one box from our source components and then out to our speakers and displays for audio and video. In the process, we hope the video signal moves through the AVR without being harmed and that the amplifiers in the receiver mate well with our speakers, providing them plenty of juice without any distortion or clipping.

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