Chris Lewis

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Chris Lewis Posted: Oct 01, 2003 0 comments
The name says it all.

It's funny to me that so many people try to convince you that the high end is a relatively insignificant factor in the grand scheme of all things audio. Admittedly, if you put the sales figures of one large, mass-market manufacturer next to those of even several high-end manufacturers combined, the former will dwarf the latter every time. But when has audio ever been about sales figures? I certainly don't have space here to elaborate on everything that high-end audio companies do for the middle and lower ends, both tangibly and intangibly. However, one of those benefits is particularly relevant here: the issue of perception. It's hard to overstate the significance of high-end manufacturers getting into the receiver business. Certainly, high-end manufacturers have raised the receiver bar in terms of performance, the quality of internal componentry, and features, but they've also had a tremendous impact on the way that people look at receivers, legitimizing a form that many people consider to be inherently compromised for the sake of convenience and price.

Chris Lewis Posted: Sep 01, 2003 0 comments
Denon punches their ticket to the universal dance.

When you boil it all down, you realize that most format wars are somewhat ridiculous. Sure, it's fun to get the blood up every few years, and those of us in the A/V press certainly appreciate the opportunity to ramble on about these conflicts' various aspects and ramifications. Format wars ultimately belong in the software section, though, where the most that a wrong decision will cost you is the $20 or $30 that you spent on a disc, tape, or whatever else. When it comes to hardware, format wars can cost people hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Ultimately, that's no good for either side, let alone the buying public as a whole. Thanks to universal disc players' rapid emergence, the previously contentious (and occasionally ugly) high-resolution-audio war is now software-based, as it should be. This doesn't mean that the DVD-Audio and SACD camps don't still take shots at one another. Now high-resolution-player buyers have the luxury of either ignoring the conflict altogether or simply enjoying it for what it always should've been, secure in the knowledge that big bucks are no longer on the line. With competition between the various and ever-growing assortment of universal-player makers, capitalism survives, but nobody gets burned. The result should be a boom in universal-player buying over the next couple of years.

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Chris Lewis Posted: Jul 14, 2003 Published: Jul 15, 2003 0 comments
Revel with a Cause: Innovative drivers are the core of Revel's next Performa generation.

A successful loudspeaker is, of course, the sum of all of its parts. As important as the cabinet, crossover network, and other elements are, though, drivers are the foundation. It's hardly surprising that the quest for the perfect driver began even before the debut of the first loudspeaker. The ultimate goal, for dynamic drivers at least, is getting the cone to act like a pure piston, preventing the diaphragm from changing form in any way as it moves in and out. Cone material is vitally important in several ways, not least of which is walking the fine line between having the low mass and speed necessary to respond to even the most subtle electrical cues and having the strength to endure punishment and the stiffness to avoid distortion-inducing cone breakup.

Chris Lewis Posted: Jul 14, 2003 Published: Jul 15, 2003 0 comments
Lexicon's next generation arrives with a bang.

You can't please everybody, especially in the home theater world. Lexicon came close in 2000 with the release of the MC-12, an end-all pre/pro that carried on the company's tradition of performance but also addressed the few issues that people had with earlier Lexicon controllers like the MC-12's direct predecessor, the MC-1. Almost everyone, myself included, loved the MC-1's sound, tweakability, and just about everything else. As with any high-profile piece, though, people did raise questions about the MC-1—some legitimate, some not. The MC-12 directly addressed the important issues, like the lack of analog bypass and a six-channel input. (Remember that, when the MC-1 debuted, SACD and DVD-Audio were still just a twinkle in the audiophile's eye.) Even many of the peripheral issues, such as aesthetics, got some attention on the MC-12. The only remaining issue was price, as the MC-12 cost a few thousand dollars more than the MC-1. True, but Lexicon didn't replace the MC-1 with the MC-12; they simply provided the MC-12 as another option.

Chris Lewis Posted: May 12, 2003 Published: May 13, 2003 0 comments
Parasound's 7.5-channel surround controller has finally landed.

While it may always get second billing in the parade of human emotions, don't forget about anticipation's potent influence. This is the force that has been linked to Parasound's Halo C1 pre/pro ever since its trade-show debut a few years back, and it has only gained momentum with each successive instance of display without delivery. While some critics speculated that Lucas-like patterns of prolonged hype were at work, most people figured that Parasound simply wanted the C1 to be right before they finally let it go. Once you dig into it, you'll see why that took some time.

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Chris Lewis Posted: Feb 24, 2003 Published: Feb 25, 2003 0 comments
Nice little sub, nice little price.

It's funny when I think back now about how long I resisted getting a cell phone. Maybe it had something to do with living in Los Angeles and watching people in their spotless, scratch-free SUVs: latte in one hand, cell phone in the other, chattering away to someone they want us to think is their agent but is more likely their dog's therapist—or no one at all. Now that I have one, though, I don't know how I lived without it. The same

Chris Lewis Posted: Feb 11, 2003 Published: Feb 12, 2003 0 comments
The high-resolution combi-player takeover continues.

How pleased am I that the trickle of combination SACD/DVD-Audio players has quickly reached a full flow? Visitors to my whiskey cellar (all right, my whiskey cabinet) may notice recently cracked seals on more than one of my special-occasion bottles of rare Wild Turkey. I've been on the soapbox about this issue. While no one needed a crystal ball to predict that the market would kick-start once Pioneer released their combi player, I still had my doubts. After all, this SACD/DVD-Audio format war started out as nasty as any of them. But then, I always took solace in precedent. Dolby and DTS didn't exactly exchange Christmas cards at first, either (and they still don't); now, however, you'd be hard-pressed to find applicable hardware that doesn't accommodate both formats. Deep down, I suppose I always knew that high-resolution combi players would ultimately be the norm, but I doubted that it would happen this quickly—and besides, it was more fun to do a bit of preaching.

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Chris Lewis Posted: Jan 01, 2003 0 comments
The new flagship from the creators of the form.

Where's the first place you look when you saddle up to the bar at your favorite watering hole? Some may say the waitress station or the sorority party in the back room; but, when it's time for business, you look at the top shelf. For it's in that rarified air that you'll find the 30-year-old Springbank, the Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, or the Old Rip Van Winkle. Then you scan the middle sections and find the 8-year-old Springbank, the Wild Turkey 101, or maybe some Crown Royal. Finally, it's down to the bottom shelf for the Banker's Club, the bottle that just says "whiskey," or my personal favorite: the jug with three Xs.

Chris Lewis Posted: Dec 19, 2002 Published: Dec 20, 2002 0 comments
A flagship pre/pro, Arcam's way.

If there's one thing I know about Arcam, it's that they like to do things their own way. Yes, this is a high-end company and, as such, is relatively small—which usually means that they wouldn't have the resources to do major product overhauls or built-from-scratch developments very often. This being Arcam, though, it didn't surprise me when I heard that they were spending gobs of time and money developing a new statement pre/pro for their top-shelf FMJ line. Back in February, I spent some time with their DV27 DVD player—another built-from-the-ground-up effort—and was sincerely impressed, so I was curious to see what these fellows across the pond could accomplish when they set their sights on the world of flagship pre/pros.

Chris Lewis Posted: Dec 19, 2002 Published: Dec 20, 2002 0 comments
Lexicon's MC-12 pre/pro gets a high-powered playmate.

I suppose that I'm starting to sound like a broken record when I talk about the concept of matching in home theater, but how else can I call attention to one of the most important aspects of creating a successful system? After all, matching audio/video equipment is not unlike matching in other areas of our lives. The proper combination of amps, speakers, room characteristics, and, well, everything else can create an exciting, dynamic, and highly satisfying experience for all involved. The wrong combination is usually mundane, lifeless, and, if you will, impotent. Sparks in the listening room come about in a similar way as sparks in other rooms of the house—they require experience and effort. A little bit of passion never hurts, either.

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