Mark Fleischmann

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 21, 2015 0 comments
The city government of Lincoln, Nebraska wants its citizens to enjoy the benefits of cable competition. So it is allowing a second cable operator onto the playing field. And guess what? The incumbent cable operator isn’t happy about it.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 10, 2015 6 comments
Freak that I am, I still pay for most of the music I listen to. Not that I didn't have a fling with Napster and its successors—but I've removed torrenting software from my PCs and no longer seek out illegal downloads. Nowadays, if I want to check out new-to-me music without investing, I try the public library, YouTube, borrow from a friend, or—being a journalist has its privileges—ask for a review sample of the disc or download. But I also explore the vast realm of classical music via $2 LPs and pay full price for CDs and LPs by greying artists I've supported for decades. The one thing I refuse to do now is settle for a lousy stolen MP3. I'm done with that. If you're not, here are a few things to think about. Please don't get the impression that I'm acting all high and mighty about illegal downloading. What I'm arguing is that it's in your best interest to give it up. Here's why.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 31, 2015 5 comments
Students of the user interface are in mourning for Apple’s clickwheel, which passed away quietly in Cupertino, California, at the age of 13.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 24, 2015 3 comments

SoundSpot MT-3 Speaker System
Performance
Features
Value
SUB-8X Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $3,000 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
1mm-thick steel sphere Concentric drivers Superb imaging, soundfield
Minus
Predictably modest bass Satellites pricey

THE VERDICT
Morel’s MT-3 Music Theatre combines steel truncated-sphere enclosures, concentric drivers, and a unique grille pattern to create a visually striking and high-performing compact sat/sub set.

The advent of Dolby Atmos casts a shadow over existing 5.1- and 7.1-channel surround systems. Some home theater buffs want the new technology and want it now, while others may decide not to go all in. In between are those wondering whether to leave the door open for Atmos. And that brings us to the Morel MT-3 satellite/subwoofer set. The 5.1-channel configuration reviewed here does not support Atmos; at least, these satellites lack the up-firing drivers that constitute an “Atmos-enabled” speaker system. However, their base provides for wall-, ceiling-, or tabletop positioning with no additional hardware, and surface-mounting an extra pair (or two) of satellites on a ceiling would indeed bring this speaker system into Atmos territory with a 5.1.2 (or, better yet, 5.1.4) configuration.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 24, 2015 1 comments
A promising new encoding method from Meridian, maker of world-beating active loudspeakers and other digital audio hardware, has been adopted by Tidal and 7digital, two major forces in music streaming. Tidal is the Norwegian company whose lossless 16-bit streaming has gotten audiophiles interested in streaming. 7digital operates music download and streaming services for itself and other parties and was the first company to offer DRM-free MP3 downloads in 2008.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 18, 2015 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
PC-worthy USB DAC
iOS-worthy rear USB input
Coaxial, optical inputs
Minus
No headphone amp

THE VERDICT
About the size of a thick paperback, the Arcam irDAC is a USB DAC that will make your audio files—from lossless to lossy—sound great.

The USB DAC is the missing piece in many of today’s audio systems. Most AV receivers have iOS-friendly USB inputs, but few have the PC-friendly kind. If you want to connect a computer’s USB output to your system, you probably need something like the Arcam irDAC to mediate between computer and system.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 12, 2015 0 comments
The good news is that DirecTV is becoming the first pay-TV operator to offer Ultra HD programming. The bad news is that so far, the effort is limited to Samsung TVs, and programming to live events and 30 movies from Paramount and K2 Communications. You’ll also need a Genie HD DVR with broadband connection. The recently launched Ariane 5 satellite is the key to DirecTV’s UHD operation, along with a new slice of satellite spectrum. The satellite also provides additional local HD programming. DirecTV will soon have company, with Comcast preparing a UHD launch.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 10, 2015 4 comments
“I’m terrified of my new TV,” said legal eagle Michael Price in his blog for the New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice. His Samsung Smart TV came with a camera and microphone for gesture and voice control—and a 46-page privacy policy.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 05, 2015 3 comments
One persistent criticism of audiophilia is that it can be expensive. Why this criticism is leveled at, say, Pono—but not at fine wine, high-end apparel, or fancy cars—is one of life's mysteries. I'd say the best signal sources, speakers, amps, headphones, and other products are worth the investment if you know what you're doing. But paying more for the good stuff isn't the only way to be an audiophile. You can get pretty good sound from, say, one of the $600 receivers on our Top Picks list. And, whatever you may have on your rack, there are other ways of improving your system for little or nothing. Longtime readers will find most of the following tips blindingly obvious. But they are intended for younger readers just getting their systems started.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 12, 2015 5 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Dolby Atmos-capable
New Dolby Surround upmixer
D3 amplification
Minus
Confusing back-panel nomenclature
No HDCP 2.2 digital rights management

THE VERDICT
This Class D receiver is just the kind of nine-channel powerhouse needed for Dolby Atmos 5.2.4—and the built-in USB DAC is a cool bonus.

You probably know by now that Dolby Atmos is the next generation of surround sound in both theaters and home theaters. This object-oriented technology lets movie mixers place any sound, almost anywhere they want, in an immersive dome-like soundfield, with height effects that transcend the flat horizontal plane of 5.1- or 7.1-channel surround. With the first generation of Atmos gear now arriving, the technology has been covered in print evaluations of Denon and Definitive Technology products (by ace reviewer Daniel Kumin), on the Web (by editor-in-chief Rob Sabin, video editor Tom Norton, and columnists Ken Pohlmann and John Sciacca), and in my own Test Report in this issue on the Pioneer Elite SP-EBS73-LR Atmos-enabled speaker system.

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