Al Griffin

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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 07, 2013 4 comments
Q Can you explain what it is about an asynchronous USB DAC input on a receiver that would enable it to sound superior to an Ethernet connection streaming the same file over a home network? —Chris Hebner / Delano, MN

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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 06, 2013 3 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com.

Q I have a legacy AV receiver (Integra DTR-7) and am considering replacing it with a separate preamp/processor and amplifier. I’ve noticed that some preamps only have RCA outputs, while other, more expensive preamps also have balanced XLR outputs. Is there a noticeable difference in the sound quality when using balanced XLR cables versus unbalanced cables? The length of the cables needed to connect the two units would only be 1 meter. —Ed Mendelson / via e-mail

Al Griffin Posted: Nov 01, 2013 5 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $9,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Exceptional contrast
Bright, crosstalk-free 3D
Uniform picture at off-axis seats
Upgradeable One Connect box
Minus
Geometric distortion due to curved panel
Slight tinting from anti-reflective screen coating

THE VERDICT
While the curved screen prevents it from being our dream OLED, the exceptional performance of Samsung’s set points the way toward TV’s future.

Nothing elevates the pulse of an A/V enthusiast more readily than the prospect of new video display tech. I may be showing my age here, but I remember when the first plasma TVs made the rounds for review. Looked at next to today’s models, those sets were bulky (4 or more inches deep) and had poor contrast compared with the tube TVs they replaced. Many were plagued by banding artifacts that made pictures look like a paint-by-number kit.

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Al Griffin Posted: Oct 31, 2013 1 comments
Q My new TV has four HDMI inputs. Would I get better picture quality if I bypassed my receiver and hooked all the equipment up directly to the TV? I also plan to run a TosLink digital audio cable from the TV to the receiver for sound. Any issues there to consider? —Jose / Colorado Springs, CO

A Whether or not you’ll get better picture quality from your proposed setup depends on the video capabilities of the receiver you’ve been using to handle HDMI switching. A number of A/V receivers provide both high-quality video deinterlacing/scaling and an ability to pass-through 1080p signals with no degradation (this Marantz that Sound & Vision recently reviewed, for example). But some other models are known to reduce the chroma (color) resolution of signals passing through, or to clip above-white and below-black information at the extreme ends of the video brightness range.

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Al Griffin Posted: Oct 24, 2013 1 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com.

Q I am looking to buy an amplifier and speakers manufactured someplace other than China. Can you recommend some options? My budget is $2,000 total for both amp and speakers (tower or bookshelf). —Gopal Venkat / via email

I cut the political content from your question because I don’t feel that this column is the best forum to discuss those issues. That said, I’m happy to help you find gear in your price range that’s made someplace other than China.

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Al Griffin Posted: Oct 17, 2013 12 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com.

Q I have a question about streaming audio from my PC to an A/V system located in another room. I want to be able to stream my vast collection of FLAC audio files along with Internet radio to an Integra DTR 5.9 A/V receiver. Running an Ethernet cable wouldn’t be my first choice; I have a strong Wi-Fi signal throughout the entire house and would like to use that instead for streaming. I've looked at the Sonos and Nuvo systems and the WD TV Live box. Each of these options seems to have good and bad points. But I’ve also thought about buying an inexpensive laptop and connecting it to my A/V system with a portable USB DAC. Can you recommend a solution? —John Hanlon / Encinitas, CA

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Al Griffin Posted: Oct 08, 2013 4 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com.

Q. I recently purchased a Samsung 6420 LED TV. I contacted both Samsung and TweakTV looking for suggested calibration settings, but they were of no help. I am not satisfied with the set’s current picture and was wondering if you had some suggested settings for this model or could direct me to other Websites that might help. —Cannon / via e-mail

Al Griffin Posted: Oct 01, 2013 0 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE
$2,299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Bright, crisp 3D display
Unique Magic Remote
Voice Mate feature
Minus
Below-average picture contrast

THE VERDICT
LG’s mid-level set is undoubtedly Smart and a very good value, but its less than stellar contrast and picture uniformity make it an also-ran in the LCD TV race.

At first look, there’s nothing groundbreaking about LG’s 55LA7400, the mid-size model in the company’s LA7400 line of 3D-capable LCDs (47- and 60-inch versions are also available). To be honest, its feature list is packed, yawn, with lots of stuff we’ve seen before from LG: TruMotion 240-hertz display, edge-arrayed LED backlight with local dimming, passive 3D using polarized glasses. Where the LA7400 series starts to get interesting is when you look beyond the video specs to the Smart features and connectivity options—things video enthusiasts routinely dismiss but in reality are futuristic and cool. As one of the big three companies pushing the Smart TV envelope (Panasonic and Samsung are the other two), LG takes this stuff seriously, and it hopes you will too.

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Al Griffin Posted: Sep 29, 2013 0 comments
CEDIA was packed with plenty of pricey options for transmitting audio over the air, but at least one company was showing wireless gear at a down-to-earth price. Monoprice’s Wireless Speaker Transmitter ($88.11) is a transmitter/receiver system that sends CD-quality audio over the 2.4 GHz band at distances up to 98 feet. And since were talking Monoprice here, a no-frills cables/accessories e-tailer that places a premium on value over marketing, I will also note the system’s product number: 10601.
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Al Griffin Posted: Sep 28, 2013 0 comments
Digital Projection showcased its two newest DLP projectors at CEDIA, the updated single-chip M-Vision Cine LED1000 ($12,995) and the 3-chip Titan 1080P LED 3D ($80,000). And when I say showcase, I mean showcase: Both PJs were projecting images on a huge 165-inch screen that made you feel as if you were sitting in a real cinema.

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