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Rob Sabin

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Rob Sabin Posted: Aug 12, 2013 0 comments
At any given moment, we’re usually working on six to eight test reports among various staffers. Of those, perhaps two or three products might be the “latest and greatest” while the rest falls more into the bread-and-butter category—another $600 or $1,000 receiver, maybe another bookshelf speaker system. As I looked over our recent slate of reviews, I was indeed struck by how conventional the mix appears to be. And yet, as I dug a bit deeper, I came to see how well it represents technology trends that have come to define the audio/video space, circa 2013.
Filed under
Rob Sabin Posted: Jul 24, 2013 Published: Jul 25, 2013 31 comments
Readers who follow developments in audio/video electronics might have heard back in May that Home Theater's parent company, Source Interlink Media, acquired its chief competitor Sound & Vision. These were the two biggest print magazines serving the A/V enthusiast.

It was announced on Monday that, beginning with the October issue, Home Theater and Sound & Vision will be merged, and only one magazine will go forward under the Sound & Vision brand.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jul 16, 2013 7 comments
For the last several years, our annual January pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show has been all about someone else’s toys. Handheld smartphones and tablets, wearable technology (now, what is that about?), fashion earphones, smart appliances, electric car-charging stations, streaming pocket-sized speakers, you name it. It’s been awfully quiet on the A/V front…until now.
Rob Sabin Posted: Jun 05, 2013 1 comments
If there’s been any real change in the home theater audio landscape recently, it’s been the emergence of the anti-AVR. From soundbars to powered tabletop systems to wireless streaming speakers that can double as your TV’s audio system, the trend is toward all-in-one solutions that are simple to shop for, easy to install, and a cinch to operate. Granted, even the most basic receiver is none of those things. But the Swiss Army knife of the A/V world still remains the best value in the land, packing more power, features, flexibility, and (when mated with good speakers) performance than any integrated approach.
Rob Sabin Posted: May 24, 2013 13 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,699 At A Glance: Top-tier black levels and color accuracy • So-so 3D • World-class value

Last year, the number-one TV I recommended to friends, family, and anyone else who would listen was Panasonic’s ST50 series plasma. Although a serious enthusiast might have appreciated the superior black levels and more extensive picture controls of the company’s then top-line VT models, 2012’s ST50, like the ST30 models of the year before, delivered most of the VT’s performance and easily beat out all but the most expensive LED LCDs. It was simply an incredible value and was recognized as such in Home Theater’s Top Picks of the Year.

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Rob Sabin Posted: May 17, 2013 17 comments
Last weekend I attended the annual Flat-Panel HDTV Shootout held each year by Value Electronics, a small independent retailer in the New York City suburb of Scarsdale. This was the 9th year for the event, one that proprietor Robert Zohn started way back when as a marketing tool, but also out of obvious sheer love for the technology. In recent years it’s grown into quite the industry event. Zohn brings in arguably the most skilled and respected calibrators in the world to tune each of the sets to its absolute optimum image, a team which this year included Kevin Miller of ISFTV and Tweak TV, DeWayne “D-Nice” Davis of A/V Fidelity, and David Mackenzie of the U.K. website HDTVtest. The two-day affair was attended by a mix of industry types and press (including the renown Dr. Larry Weber, a brilliant and gregarious leprechaun of a man who many regard as the father of plasma TV), along with Value’s most passionate customers. For those who can’t be in attendance, it’s simulcast on the web and available for later viewing so videophiles everywhere can live vicariously through the attendees.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Apr 24, 2013 3 comments
Hold your index finger up to the air for a moment. Can you feel that? It’s the fresh breeze of good sound wafting ever so gently across the horizon.

After years of living in a desert of low-res MP3s, crappy white ear buds, wafer-thin flat-panel TV speakers pointed away from the listener (come on!), and increasingly anemic AVRs, there is a revolution afoot.

Filed under
Rob Sabin Posted: Apr 12, 2013 4 comments

Sonos Playbar Soundbar
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

Sonos SUB Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $699 At A Glance: Excellent sound quality for music and movies • Powerful optional subwoofer • Mixed surround-sound performance

Since its launch in 2005, the Sonos wireless music system has won accolades and an extensive fan base thanks to an early focus on tapping into the digital music libraries that consumers built after the iPod’s launch in 2001, and an evolving graphic interface that, in today’s version, brings the benefits of room, source, and track selection to intuitive touchscreen apps that run on smartphones and tablets.

For those unfamiliar, you start by plugging one Sonos component into your network router to create a bridge to the Internet and to your home PC or hard drive where your personal music is stored. It can be any component the company sells. Sonos offers several powered speaker systems (Play:5, Play:3, the SUB subwoofer) and two player modules that feed music into either an existing hi-fi system (the Connect) or into a pair of speakers (Connect: Amp). If none of these devices can be placed near a live Ethernet jack, you can plop the aptly named Bridge wireless adapter next to your router.

Filed under
Rob Sabin Posted: Apr 12, 2013 0 comments
You may have heard that sales of soundbars are skyrocketing today. I’m excited about that. The best of the new premium soundbars sound pretty great, and with their unassuming presence, lack of speaker wires, and relatively simple installation, they stand to introduce legions of new ears to the joys of a high-quality home theater experience.
Rob Sabin Posted: Mar 27, 2013 4 comments
Putting together a home theater can seem like a daunting task. So many pieces to think through and connect up! But if you care enough to do your homework and educate yourself, you’ll find it’s not as complicated as it looks. Here’s what goes into your typical viewing room.

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