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Chris Lewis

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Chris Lewis Posted: Nov 07, 2001 Published: Nov 08, 2001 0 comments
Lexicon's long-awaited flagship pre/pro finally hits the shelves.

The rumors about Lexicon's new pre/pro have been swirling about for what seems like an eternity. It can do this. It will have that. It may pour you a straight bourbon if you set it up properly. So, it's with no small amount of anticipation that many await their first glimpse of this new megaprocessor, which has been touted (by the grapevine more than Lexicon) as having all of the performance of the highly respected MC-1 with a few more tricks up its sleeve. While the MC-12's goal is certainly to supplant the MC-1 at the top of the Lexicon line, it's undoubtedly aware of the debt of gratitude it owes its predecessor and ancestors like the DC-1, which laid the foundation for the respect and subsequent anticipation that this model enjoyed long before it ever hit the shelves.

Chris Lewis Posted: Sep 04, 2001 Published: Sep 05, 2001 0 comments
Pondering an age-old home theater question.

Simplicity, where have you gone? Let's be realistic for a moment: This little home theater hobby of ours, circa 2001, is usually confusing, occasionally mind-boggling, and flat-out intimidating to the uninitiated. Do we love it any less as a result? We certainly shouldn't. While we should always expect the equipment manufacturers and software providers to make things as simple as they can, the bottom line is that, in the A/V realm, confusion is often only a temporary state, brought about by increased opportunity, quality, and flexibility. These are confusing days because they are evolutionary (and occasionally revolutionary) ones. Granted, it may not be easy to get a grasp on several new soundtrack-processing formats, two entirely new audio formats, new video formats and technologies, and a radical overhaul of our television system—all at the same time. However, if you can't see some good in all of this (and if you don't find it all to be at least as exciting as it is perplexing), maybe you'd better find a new hobby.

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Chris Lewis Posted: Jul 02, 2001 Published: Jul 03, 2001 0 comments
Part two in our high-resolution-audio series introduces SACD and DSD. The CD is dead. Long live the super CD.

You must allow me a bit of hyperbole for the sake of a powerful opening statement (which, as I assume they say in journalism school, is important). The truth is, the CD is about as dead as the analog television, which means it's alive and kicking just as it has always been. Still, the writing is on the wall for both formats. While the CD can at least take consolation in the fact that it doesn't have government mandates guaranteeing its demise, the future of audio has most definitely arrived (as with television) in the form of high-resolution. Let's not forget multichannel, either. While the hard-core music lovers are salivating over the potential of high-resolution, most are well aware that popular acceptance in America usually requires the new and different to be as big and flashy as possible. On many systems, the multichannel format is undoubtedly going to represent a more-noticeable change in the way people listen to music.

Chris Lewis Posted: Jul 02, 2001 Published: Jul 03, 2001 0 comments
The Highs and Lows of Super Audio: Sony's SCD-CE775 five-disc SACD player offers high resolution for a low price.

We know all too well that there are lots of new formats out there. We also know firsthand that this means a lot of spending and a whole lot of studying to try to keep pace. If everything falls into place as it should, there will come a day a couple of years from now when you'll slide into that easy chair, throw some high-definition television on the screen or some high-resolution audio into the speakers, and smile from ear to ear, wondering how you ever lived without either. No one ever said change was easy; however, from what I've seen and (more importantly) heard over the past couple of years, I have no doubt that this change will be worth it.

Chris Lewis Posted: Jun 28, 2001 Published: Jun 29, 2001 0 comments
Five DTV-ready combatants from Sony, Panasonic, RCA, Samsung, and Princeton enter our steel cage.

Bridge technology. I almost hate to use the phrase, since it undoubtedly originated on the PowerBook of some Madison Avenue hack. Still, the phrase works so well because we need so much right now. One cannot dabble in technology these days without instantly becoming familiar with the concept of bridging. We don't have it quite as bad as our cohorts in the computer industry, but (whether we like it or not) the grand digital-television experiment has put us all squarely in the gap between the present and the future of video. Sure, you could resist, as so many of us have been tempted to do. But your trusty old television is going to look pretty funny in 2006, when all it coughs up are 500 channels of blank screen. I wouldn't hold out hope that the FCC will balk on their blackout deadline for the analog transmissions. Word is that the analog portion of the spectrum has already been whacked up amongst the bandwidth-hungry cellular companies, which are willing to pay for it. Pop quiz: Who do you think the FCC wants in that space five years from now—television broadcasters (who they've been berating for some time now about dragging their feet on the digital transition and who don't pay a penny for the space) or cellular companies that are going to swoop in, drop a lot of cash, and swoop out with their bandwidth . . . no muss, no fuss. The first person to answer right wins a free chance to buy a new TV (and some expanded cellular service, too).

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Chris Lewis Posted: Jun 28, 2001 Published: Jun 29, 2001 0 comments
Integra's DTR-9.1 A/V receiver has a sound battle plan, thanks to its potent mix of high-end tricks and approachability.

In case you hadn't noticed over the last year, the high-end-receiver war is on. With this donnybrook comes a blurring of the formerly distinct line between the bottom end of the separates market and the high end of the receiver market. It used to be simple: If you had X amount of money or less to spend, you bought a receiver; if you had more in your budget, you bought separates. Now, the competition for home theater dollars in the $2,500-to-$4,000 price range has become fierce, not only between receivers and separates but also amongst receivers themselves.

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Chris Lewis Posted: May 02, 2001 Published: May 03, 2001 0 comments
Innovative Audio's new speaker system begs the question, "What has your furniture done for you lately?"

I'll wager that, if you were to poll the attendees at January's Consumer Electronics Show as to which was the most intriguing audio demo at the expo this year, a large majority would respond with Tom Holman's 10.2-channel sonic roller-coaster ride over at Alexis Park. Sure, the high-resolution demos were purer, and I'll be damned if the two-channel rigs at that same venue didn't, on the whole, sound better than ever (two-channel ain't dead just yet, gang). Still, when it came down to pure entertainment value, Holman's demo undoubtedly stole the show.

Chris Lewis Posted: Jan 18, 2001 Published: Jan 19, 2001 0 comments
Our not-too-expensive Center-Channel Face Off centers on Phase Technology, NHT, and Acoustic Research.

Slowly but surely (and sadly, in many ways), we've become an overly centric society. Think about it for a minute: Companies (and entire industries, for that matter) are more centralized now than they've been since the days of the robber barons. And our government—let's not kid ourselves, friends: This ain't exactly Cold War Soviet Union, but it's not the sprawling, decentralized (and power-limited) federal structure that the Founding Fathers envisioned, either. Apparently, states' rights went out of fashion with the stagecoach and the stovepipe hat. Even from a cultural standpoint, our focus seems to have shifted dramatically toward the glorification of the individual over the good of the whole. But centralization certainly has its good points, as well (sure, it's an odd segue, but hopefully I got your attention). One need look no further than one's home theater system—that bountiful refuge from the madness of unchecked bureaucracies, hostile corporate takeovers, and me-me-me self-indulgence—to realize that a little centralization can go a long way in enhancing your movie-watching experience.

Chris Lewis Posted: Dec 27, 2000 Published: Dec 28, 2000 0 comments
Progressive isn't just a buzzword anymore.

The march of technology has always been a double-edged sword. On one edge, progress brings new and, on most occasions, better products that give us a higher-quality viewing and listening experience with more options, increased ease of use, etc. On the other edge, new technology has a way of making its predecessors (that we often paid a lot of money for) old-fashioned at best—and, at worst, obsolete. Technology manufacturers do seem to be getting more empathetic about this. Computers are considerably more upgradeable than they were a few short years ago. Even in the consumer electronics world, we're seeing more and more attention being paid to futureproofing the current crop of upgradeable preamplifier/processors and televisions—two product groups that are probably the most susceptible to change these days. As tough as deciding what to buy in any technology-based market is determining when is the best time to buy it.

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Chris Lewis Posted: Oct 28, 2000 Published: Oct 29, 2000 0 comments
No matter which side of the receivers-versus-separates debate you find yourself on, it's simple to understand why A/V receivers have the broad appeal among home theater buyers that they do—they're easy, period. A well-executed receiver is easy to purchase, easy to set up, and easy to use. These are commodities that go a long way in any market today, regardless of bottom-line performance. And let's face it, the performance of receivers has improved considerably in recent years. You're still not going to see dedicated theaters or music rooms built around a receiver, but you won't get laughed out of the room anymore when you start comparing its performance to that of comparably priced separates. Context is key in the receiver game. What do you really need, where do you need it, and how much are you willing to pay for it?

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