Mark Fleischmann

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 05, 2014 2 comments
The venerable Miller & Kreisel loudspeaker brand is making a comeback. When a Danish company bought the brand in 2007, it was forced to take the name MK Sound. But new products being released for the 40th anniversary will wear the M&K (as opposed to MK) badge. These THX Ultra2–certified products include the S-300 monitor ($3,500/each), MP-300 on-wall speaker ($3,350/each), and S-300T on-wall tripole speaker ($4,000/pair).
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 27, 2014 1 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $850

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Wi-Fi adapter supplied
AirPlay built in
iOS-USB and MHL-HDMI
Minus
Bluetooth adapter is optional

THE VERDICT
Great sound and no-extra-charge Wi-Fi functionality for well under a thousand bucks.

“There may be said to be two classes of people in the world; those who constantly divide the people of the world into two classes, and those who do not.” Robert Benchley’s Law of Distinction might also apply to audio/video receivers as they vie for the attention of two warring tribes, the Apple tribe and the anything-but-Apple tribe. For Apple loyalists, the Yamaha RX-V775WA offers AirPlay wireless connectivity, a front-panel USB jack into which you can plug any recent iOS device, and an iOS-speaking control app.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 20, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Sweet mids, solid bass
Super comfortable
Sporty look
Minus
Reticent highs
Plastic construction

THE VERDICT
These full-size headphones are comfortable, sweet sounding, and suitable for portable signal sources.

Some companies jump into the now-trendy headphone category on a wing and a prayer. Sony, on the other hand, is the steward of Sony Music and the master of numerous audio product categories, including a long history in headphones. So a set of midpriced ’phones from Sony raises high hopes. With the MDR-1R, they are largely fulfilled. I like these headphones, not because they’re perfect, but because they feel right.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 19, 2014 22 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Efficient D3 amplification
AirPlay and iOS savvy
Dynamic, smooth, clean sound
Minus
Labyrinthine ergonomics
No multichannel ins or outs

THE VERDICT
Pioneer is the only AVR maker replacing Class AB amps with Class D on a large scale, and the results are excellent.

Add a feature, drop a feature—usually, that’s how the story goes for a new AV receiver. But features aren’t the whole story, or even the part of the story most readers want to hear. We found that out when we ran a poll at our website SoundandVision.com asking, “What’s your AVR deal-breaker?” The top two complaints were “not enough power” at 35 percent and “ineffective room correction” at 21 percent. “Too few features” and “too many features” got just seven points each, and trendy features like AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi scored in even lower single digits.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 12, 2014 1 comments
Netflix is interested in expanding its reach to the world of cable television—and is doing so on two fronts.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 07, 2014 0 comments
High-resolution audio (HRA) can enter your life in more than one way, as I discovered when reviewing two HRA products practically end to end. Both devices are DAC-amps that play HRA audio files. The main difference between them is that Cambridge Audio's Minx Xi streams music in real time from PCs and other devices, whereas Sony's HAP-S1 server-amp plays music from its own internal hard drive. The Cambridge is more of a network player, while the Sony is more of a music server (as I define these terms). These two products offer profoundly different ways of enjoying HRA.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 06, 2014 5 comments
Audio Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Inexpensive
Compact
192-kHz capable
Minus
Potential dynamic limits
Runs warm

THE VERDICT
Though not ideal for more demanding headphones with challenging music, this is a highly affordable way to improve computer audio.

Bits are helpless prisoners trapped on the hard drive of your computer. If you plug your headphones (or desktop audio system) into the computer’s analog output, you can faintly hear their cries for help, but not the true timbre of their colorful voices. It takes a USB DAC (digital-to-analog convertor) to truly liberate them. And the good news is that USB DACs—especially those suitable for headphones—have gotten so small and unintrusive that you hardly notice their presence. A product like Cambridge Audio’s DacMagic XS is no bigger than a USB thumb drive. But the difference it can make to your computer audio listening life is very big indeed.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 04, 2014 10 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $6,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Rail-switching amplifiers
Muscular dynamics
Smooth, not sizzly
Minus
Extra-cost wireless
Vertigo-inducing price

THE VERDICT
This British audiophile receiver is steeply priced but worth every ha’penny, and its rail-switching amplifier is among the best there is.

The Arcam AVR600 blew my socks off when I reviewed it in 2009. I’ll discuss how it sounded later&mdashbut for the moment, I want to tell you how it made me feel:: pleased, then surprised, then amazed, grateful, stimulated, intrigued, and determined to play as much of my music library as time would permit before the review sample was pried out of my covetous hands. Only the price kept me from adopting it as my new reference receiver. But just because I have to live within fiscal limits doesn’t mean you should. I want you to have as much fun as you can afford.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 04, 2014 0 comments
One of the most promising new stars in audio-for-video technology has unexpectedly left the stage. AudioXperts, founded by Harman International veteran Eli Harary, specialized in luxury-level TV consoles and bamboo-sheathed Bluetooth speakers. Its first products were just about to hit the street when the lead investor pulled the plug. Delays in bringing products to market were blamed. We’re mentioning this because some of the products may eventually be sold through other channels. One of those 4TV smoked-glass soundbar consoles might be just the thing to spruce up your flat-panel TV—not to mention that it’s now a collector’s item. Harary has made arrangements to service products already purchased.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 04, 2014 0 comments
Why does the Kindle Fire HDX have that blue tint around the edges of the touchscreen? Amazon says it’s actually to improve overall color: “Most LCD displays use white LEDs, and then apply filters to extract the desired color. The result is oftentimes a compromise to tone and color accuracy, or—if attempting to address these compromises—an increase in battery consumption and, thus, device weight. We’ve taken a different approach. To achieve perfect color accuracy on the Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch at the lowest possible battery consumption and weight, we used blue, not white, LEDs. Blue LEDs allow for a much more accurate and rich representation of color and result in an up to 20 percent improvement in power efficiency.” Amazon was selling the device for $229 at press time.

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