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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 24, 2016 3 comments
Ultra HDTVs and associated technologies are the next chapter in video history. But they also use an average of 30 percent more energy than regular HDTVs. According to a report from the National Resources Defense Council, this may add $1 billion to U.S. consumers’ energy bills.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 05, 2016 18 comments
It is now blindingly obvious that music has burst free of its chains. Even the traditionalist audio categories I cover have ways to make music fly through the air. Let me run through some approaches to wireless connectivity—some well established, others new and novel. When we get to the finish line, I'd love to hear about what you use and what you would like to try.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 04, 2016 8 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $250

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Musically coherent sound
Comfortable velour earpads
Moving parts don’t creak
Minus
Not especially rugged
Limited low bass
No carry case

THE VERDICT
The affordable Sennheiser HD 598 is styled differently from its famous and more costly sibling, the HD 600, but is just as beautifully voiced and just as insanely comfortable.

The motley crew that lives in my headphone drawer was getting long in the tooth when I decided to add a widely acknowledged classic to the collection. The new acquisition was the Sennheiser HD 600, now more than 20 years and umpteen generations old, and he’s become my go-to guy when I want to spend an evening kicking back with headphones that guarantee total physical and listening comfort. Lately I’ve had a chance to try the HD 600’s little brother, the HD 598. At $250, it lists for $150 less than the HD 600, though as of mid-November it was widely available at major online e-tailers (Amazon, Best Buy, B&H) for $150 to $175.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 03, 2016 19 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Nine amp channels
Atmos-ready, upgradable for DTS:X, Auro-3D
Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction
Minus
USB jack not PC compatible

THE VERDICT
The Marantz SR7010 has nine amp channels, Dolby Atmos decoding, DTS:X upgradability, and even Auro-3D upgradability, making it as future-proof as a receiver can currently be.

The Marantz SR7010 is the fifth Dolby Atmos receiver I’ve reviewed. However, to be frank, it’s only the second one that matters to me. Most of the Atmos receivers occupying my rack’s guest berth have been seven-channel models limited to 5.1.2-channel Atmos, with just a single pair of height channels in the front. Only the nine-channel Pioneer Elite SC-89 and this Marantz have provided what I deem the minimum acceptable Atmos experience utilizing 5.1.4 channels, with height channels in both front and back.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 28, 2016 0 comments
What better people to fill a channel with stirring Ultra HD visuals than the folks who landed men on the moon?
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 28, 2016 1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Compatible with DSD and 32-bit PCM
Streams to and from other devices
Extraordinary build quality
Minus
Breathtakingly high priced
32-bit capability is irrelevant to non-professionals

THE VERDICT
Astell & Kern’s AK380 offers copious network audio features and the unique plus of native 32-bit playback—but is it worth the high price to consumers?

Shock lead of the year: Astell & Kern’s AK380 music player retails for $3,499. That’s an awful lot to pay for a pocketful of music. But it seems unjust to start a review of such a product by carping over its price before evaluating its merits. After all, not many people muster moral outrage over the price tags on Porsches, Patek Philippe watches, or 99-point offerings in Wine Spectator. Why should high-end audio units—including the Pono, a comparative bargain at $400— be the only perfectionist products to face puritan scorn? No, as a consumer, I wouldn’t pay $3,499 for a music player. But as a critic, I’m willing to consider cost-noobject items on their own terms.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 21, 2016 0 comments
Netflix and Virgin America have teamed up to provide the former’s streaming on the latter’s flights—or at least those on the 10 new Airbus A320s taking flight through mid-2016.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 14, 2016 1 comments

PSB Alpha VS21 VisionSound Soundbase
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

PSB SubSeries 150 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,098 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Sound that transcends genre
Subtle surround and dialogue modes
Flat sub hugs the wall
Minus
No front-panel controls
No tone controls
Too small for larger TVs

THE VERDICT
The PSB Alpha VS21 and SubSeries 150 might change your mind about whether soundbases and compact subs are suitable for music.

Soundbases and bars help the audio industry stay relevant to consumers. Maybe not everyone is interested in traditional loudspeakers and receivers, but most people have a flat-panel TV, and all but the least observant of those people have noticed that the built-in speakers produce sound that is less than coherent. Many of those consumers may not know that PSB has been producing great-sounding audio products for decades, so we have a fundamental disconnect between a brand that is (relatively) unrecognized by newbies and a product category that attracts them. What will it take to bring a PSB soundbase to the newbies? Maybe their better-informed friends who read Sound & Vision should have a word with them—especially when they’re seen pulling a big flat-panel TV box out of the hatchback. Just sayin’.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 11, 2016 1 comments
Audio highlights and trends from CES 2016 worth writing home about.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 07, 2016 1 comments
Few manufacturers make value products with Emotiva's fervor and expertise, so the new Airmotiv speaker line is big news for those who want bang for buck.

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