Mark Fleischmann

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 20, 2013 2 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $299/pr At A Glance: Consistent off-axis response • Sub output • 20 watts times two

“A Book of Verses Underneath the Bough/A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou.” So runs the most famous translation of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. The essence of the quotation is we need only a few basic things to attain happiness, and the Persian poet seems to imply that the fewer, the better. So what does it take to make you a happy listener? Does an audio system invariably have to follow the traditional model of speakers, amp, and source components?

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 13, 2013 0 comments
The war against Hopper—Dish Network’s zippy ad-skipping DVR—has taken a couple of new tacks. TV networks hate it because it enables viewers to breeze through brain-damaging ads. They’ve made their displeasure known by fighting Hopper’s AutoHop and PrimeTime Anytime features in court on flimsy copyright-violation grounds, apparently unaware that the Supreme Court sanctioned home time-shift recording in 1984’s Betamax Decision.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 12, 2013 0 comments
Aereo has brought its live-TV-over-Internet service to the Boston metro area as of May 15, following a controversial launch in New York. The move expands Aereo’s reach to 4.5 million viewers spread over 16 counties in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 10, 2013 5 comments
Audio Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $299 At a Glance: Computer-friendly USB DAC • Headphone amp • Clean and precise sound

Do you have a pack of cigarettes on your desk? If so, try this. Connect a USB cable between the pack and your computer. Then connect a line-level cable between the pack and your desktop-powered speakers or amplifier. Finally, replace the cigarette pack with a Meridian Explorer USB DAC. There: Your life just got a whole lot happier and healthier. And your music is smokin’.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 07, 2013 9 comments
Perhaps no product category is more misunderstood or maligned than the audio/video receiver. Within the home theater community, some deem it a deal breaker or bottleneck, despite its true status as the heart of a home theater system. Outside the home theater community, two-channel puritans regard the AVR as a morally flawed cluster of features that is inherently hostile to good sound. Won't anyone (aside from AVR manufacturers) speak up for a product that tries so hard to give the consumer so much?

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 05, 2013 0 comments
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is crying foul over a cable operator’s request for special treatment from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This is the latest shot in a long-running battle over who should control the security technology built into set-top boxes. In 2007, the FCC banned digital STBs with integrated security, instead requiring that all boxes use a removable CableCARD.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 31, 2013 0 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,999 At A Glance: Beefy but balanced performer • Top-of-the-line amplifier design • Entry-level Audyssey 2EQ

There are things I just won’t do. I won’t let a door slam in the face of a parent pushing a stroller. I won’t desecrate discs from the public library with fingerprints and scratches. I won’t have a second martini (learned that one the hard way). I won’t use the word anyhoo. That’s not even a word. Look it up. And I won’t let two-channel loyalists glory-hog the high ground when they claim the audio/video receiver is always an underperformer, never more than the sum of its attention-getting features, and somehow irredeemably anti-high-end.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 20, 2013 1 comments

V52 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Power FL-10 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $1,880 At A Glance: Innately musical monitors • Bipole/dipole surrounds • Powerful subwoofer

Phase Technology is one of the great American loudspeaker makers. The man behind that achievement was Bill Hecht, a genuine first-generation audio pioneer. This review can’t begin without noting his passing last fall at age 89, the end of a life devoted to bringing movies and music into both the public and private realms.

Hecht began his career as an expert in Cinemascope Stereophonic Sound, installing systems at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and other pleasure palaces. His company United Speaker Systems (USS) launched in 1955 as he hand-built speakers, including drive units, in his garage. USS got a boost when Avery Fisher offered a commission to build the first Fisher loudspeakers. Hecht earned several patents, most notably for developing the soft-dome tweeter. He also patented a self-damping woofer voice coil, a manufacturing process for flat piston drivers, silicon-injected drivers for resonance damping, and a basketless midrange/woofer mounting system.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 10, 2013 2 comments
Someday I'll write a blog headlined Why Surround Receivers Are Cooler Than Ever. But before I get to that one, I'd probably better write one called Getting to Know Your Surround Receiver. Lots of folks dread the whole idea of buying an audio/video receiver because they fear that the getting-to-know-you phase will scar them for life. So here's what to do when you take your new receiver out of the box. This is not a detailed step-by-step guide. You'll have to infer the smaller steps yourself, refer to the manual, or buy a book on the subject (hint hint). But the following may make it a little easier to get started.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 03, 2013 0 comments
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,000 At A Glance: Built-in Wi-Fi • Bluetooth with supplied dongle • Rudimentary room EQ

Sherwood can fairly lay claim to a slice of audio history. Born in Chicago in 1953, it was one of the great American brands of home audio’s infancy. Its vintage tube amps still sell on eBay as affordable alternatives to more sought-after brands like McIntosh and Marantz; some folks make a hobby of refurbishing them. Its early solid-state stereo receivers also have a modest following.

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