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Mark Fleischmann

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 07, 2012 9 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,800 At A Glance: Proprietary HDAM topology • 4K video processing • Audyssey, the works

Marantz has come a long way since Saul Marantz started building audio products in his Kew Gardens, New York, basement. The latest twist in the story is the reinvention of D&M Holdings—that’s D for Denon and M for Marantz—into D+M Group. In addition to trading its ampersand for a plus sign, the company has radically expanded its product lines to include more new products and even new product categories. While Denon has gotten a lot of attention for the latter, including four jam-packed headphone lines, Marantz is also experimenting with new kinds of fun. Its first self-contained iDevice docking system is the Consolette, with a retractable dock, AirPlay, DLNA, Internet radio, two-way internal speakers, and cosmetic echoes of the Saul Marantz–designed preamp that got the party started. But Marantz has not neglected its longtime status as a maker of great home theater products. An overhaul of its audio/video receiver line’s upper end has brought three new models. The top model soon found its way into the guest-receiver berth on my rack.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 07, 2012 0 comments
Of the four soundbars in Polk Audio's line, two are new, and one is quite remarkable. We're talking about the SurroundBar 9000 IHT ($799). This 5.1-channel bar has three tweeters for the front channels and dedicated woofers for each of the five channels, with each driver powered by 45 watts, plus external eight-inch sub. What fascinates us is that bass frequencies from 80-200Hz are routed to all woofers in the bar. In other words, if there's significant bass content in any one of the five channels, it's routed to the other channels as well. This allows better bass handling than you'd expect in a bar. It also allows a lower crossover to the sub, an audiophile-approved 80Hz, which keeps voices from booming out of the sub. Connectivity is optical and analog, both times two, with Dolby Digital and DTS decoding. Guess what? The 9000 worked wonders with a James Taylor concert track, with realistic acoustic guitar harmonics and a vocal presentation that was crisp but not fatiguing. The other new guy is SurroundBar 5000 IHT ($399), a 2.1-channel Bluetooth bar with a pair of full-range drivers backed up by a 6.5-inch sub. Both shipping this month.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 07, 2012 0 comments
The wiggling-needle volume meters that are synonymous with McIntosh are now equally pleasing-to-look-at LEDs. The MC8207 seven-channel amp ($6000) on which they blink boasts 200 watts per channel into both eight and four ohms. McIntosh also showed two pre-pros, one of which was making its debut at CEDIA. That was the MX121 and it brings AirPlay and music streaming from Pandora and the like. Price is $6500. Both shipping now.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 07, 2012 0 comments
See that USB port on the back of the Marantz SA-11S3 disc player? The advent of computer-worthy USB ports on audio products is a development whose importance can't be overstated. True, there are a lot of great outboard DACs on the market, with more to come—but what if you don't want that extra box and power cable in your rack? One option is to build the DAC into another product such as the Pioneer SC-68 surround receiver, or this Marantz SACD/CD player. Incidentally, it does not do Blu-ray or DVD. The Burr-Brown DAC has resolution of 192/24. Build quality is typically superb, with copper substituting for aluminum in the back panel and some internal parts. Price is $4000.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 07, 2012 0 comments
What you see is Meridian's Media Source 200. This little fella makes adding additional zones easy. Plug an ethernet cable into it and it'll output to Meridian DSP speakers via wireless Cat5 SpeakerLink. There's also a mini-jack that serves as a combo optical or analog connection for your signal source of choice. Product ships end of this month for $1000. Meridian also announced two new in-walls, the DSP520, a 5.25-inch two-way design, and the DSP 630, similar but with extra woofer. They've got RS-232 and IR ports, both bidirectional, and are shipping in November at prices to be announced.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 06, 2012 0 comments
We always regret having to resort to torture, but with bamboo under the fingernails and a threat of the iron maiden we finally convinced Revel to start shipping its long-awaited Performa3 speakers starting in two weeks (and if it doesn't happen, we've got thumbscrews). The line features two of everything: towers, monitors, centers, sub, and a single bipole surround. Gloss walnut and black finishes are supervised by Italian craftsmen and the speakers are produced at an Indonesian facility that has air conditioning—it's nice to run across a star designer (Kevin Voecks) who refuses to accept the torturing of workers. All drivers are proprietary aluminum cones or domes. Priced per speaker, the towers go for $2500 and $1750, the monitors for $1000 and $750, the centers for $2000 and $1000, the subs for $3000 and $2000, and the bipole is $900. The top-of-the-line F208 tower and C208 center have both tweeter and boundary level controls for extra flexibility in acoustically difficult spaces. Revel also introduced the 2-Series of four in-ceiling and three in-wall speakers including the home theater worthy W253L LCR with 1-inch tweeter and dual 5-1/4-inch woofers.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 06, 2012 4 comments
With nine amp channels and 11.4-channel preamp outs, the Integra DTR-70.4 is armed for nine to eleven bears. Theoretically you could add a stereo amp and get 11.1 channels of joy out of the DTS Neo:X height and width enhancement mode, but that may be the least of this receiver's achievements. It is certification-studded with THX Ultra2 Plus, ISF video calibration for the dual-core video engine, and—a personal favorite of ours—Audyssey MultEQ XT32 auto setup and room correction. We've tried the latter with another product (the similarly featured Onkyo TX-NR3010) and the extra filter resolution makes a notable improvement: the room-corrected sound is less hard and fatiguing and it images better. Plug an Android smartphone into the MHL-HDMI input. Get a look at several HDMI sources simultaneously with InstaPrevue. This being Integra, there are niceties a custom installer would appreciate such as extra 12-volt triggers and IR jacks, and—well, we'd like to go on, but we're tired now.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 06, 2012 0 comments
Cambridge Audio's Minx sat/sub sets have been so successful that a new division of the company has been formed to exploit their successors. They include the single-driver Min11 ($95/each) and the dual-driver Min21 ($180/each). They have a tad more bass than their predecessors, at 130 and 120Hz respectively, but the big design change is in the flat diaphragms. The dual cube now has a hybrid BMR (bending mode radiator) and dynamic driver on top and a plain dynamic driver on bottom while the single cube uses a single hybrid driver. The new approach yields better power handling, longer throw, and the removal of an 8kHz spike. Crossover has also been improved. With flat-diaphragm subs of 8, 12, and 14 inches, pricing ranges from $849-1849. Cambridge also showed the Azur Stream Magic 6 network audio player which plays pretty much anything with 24/384 upsampling and is priced at $1149. Cambridge is also shipping two surround receivers shown at CES, the Azur 651R ($1899) and 751R ($2799).
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 06, 2012 0 comments
Focal's Sub Utopia EM earns its $13,999 pricetag with the use of an electromagnetic active voice coil, pictured to the right of the sub. This affords its 13-inch driver a degree of control and damping not possible with a conventional passive voice coil. Outboard amp required, 500 to 1000 watts recommended. Focal also showed three multimedia speakers: the Little Bird, the Bird, and the Super Bird, hence the headline. The cool thing is the flat box that goes with them. It combines the functions of a stereo integrated amp, headphone amp, DAC, and active sub, with wireless connectivity for iOS devices. Pricing is $995, $1199, or $1499 for the package depending on size of fowl. Add another $99 for an iOS or USB dongle.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 06, 2012 0 comments
The last model to commemorate KEF's much-celebrated 50th anniversary is an echo of its historic BBC-approved LS35A monitor. The new LS50's curved baffle includes the famous coaxial Uni-Q array, with the tweeter centered in the woofer, and the specific drivers having trickled down from the bleed-edge Blade über-tower. The ported design plays deeper than the LS35A's sealed design. Even amid the hubbub of the show floor, this was one of the best monitors we've ever heard casually demoed, and it hurts to say that it's priced per pair, at $1500, which will make odd-numbered surround configurations impractical unless you don't mind sticking an extra speaker in the closet. Shipping now.

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