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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 06, 2016 0 comments
Audioengine drew on the tradition of its bestselling A5+ and A2+ wireless powered speakers when designing new step-up models.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 01, 2016 5 comments
Has concertgoing become a lost art? Observing behavior at concerts, I can't help wondering if some of my fellow audience members have lost the ability to listen in the moment. And the music suffers for it.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 15, 2015 0 comments
Would a tablet computer benefit from height-enhanced Dolby Atmos surround sound? Lenovo customers are about to find out with a new series of Yoga Tab 3 models. Technically, what they offer is “virtual Atmos.” The top model, a 10.1-inch Android 5.0 tablet ($499), also boasts a 70-inch video projector that rotates 180 degrees. It delivers “virtual Atmos” through four built-in JBL speakers as well as through headphones. Two other Yoga Tab 3s, with 10-inch ($199) and 8-inch ($169) screens, deliver Atmos through headphones only.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 11, 2015 0 comments
Barely a week after the FCC approved its merger with DirecTV, AT&T lost no time in offering new bundles exploiting the new entity’s many talents. “We’re going to deliver more TV and entertainment choices to more screens—when and where our customers want it,” said an executive.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 10, 2015 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $300 (updated 1/20/16)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Good sound quality for movies and music
Solid fiberboard enclosure
Bass and treble controls
Learns IR codes from your TV remote
Minus
AccuVoice Dialogue enhancer can sound tinny

THE VERDICT
Simplicity and well-balanced sound make this affordable TV base sound system a natural for those seeking a no-fuss solution to the awful speakers built into flat-panel displays.

The speakers built into TVs continue to be dreadful. But many people find component systems an intimidating solution. According to the folks at Zvox, “there are too many boxes, too many cords, too many remote controls, and too many owner’s manuals in the world today.” If you feel the same, you may be a candidate for a soundbar. If you want your TV to sit atop your audio system, make that a soundbase. Zvox pioneered this product category (they actually trademarked the SoundBase name) and offers models from $250 to $500. The SoundBase 570 ($300, reduced from $350) falls somewhere around the middle.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 04, 2015 6 comments
Anyone who follows my work will see references to multiple audio systems, including my reference system and my desktop system. But I actually use a good half-dozen audio systems—in a one-bedroom apartment. Why? I'm tempted to say because I can. But it would be closer to the truth to say I must.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 02, 2015 0 comments
ESPN is tired of being just another channel in someone else’s pay-TV system. Its parent company Disney is considering going direct to consumers with a video streaming service, as HBO is already doing with HBO Now. CEO Bob Iger raised the prospect in a CNBC interview, though he added the move is at least five years away, presumably because of existing contracts with pay-TV providers. Analysts said the service could get consumers to shell out between $21 and $28 a month.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 24, 2015 1 comments
The latest addition to Comcast’s X1 IP-video platform is an Auto Extend feature that adds 30-minute increments to DVR recordings so you won’t miss events that run past their scheduled air times. The option works only with certain sporting events—NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA men’s football and basketball, and NASCAR—but Comcast promises to expand that.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 23, 2015 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $799

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive bass without external sub
Smooth, unfussy top end
Suitable for TVs up to 100 pounds
Minus
Passive design requires use of an AV receiver

THE VERDICT
Atlantic Technology’s 3.1 HSB uses H-PAS bass technology to deliver real bass response along with enviable smoothness and dynamics.

Visualize, if you will, a home theater system with a flat-panel TV and 5.1-channel surround sound. For many readers, this is nirvana. For others, it’s too much stuff—a TV, three speakers in front, two surrounds, and a subwoofer. How do you reduce the intrusion into the room? Wall-mounting the TV is a no-brainer. Now imagine that the three front speakers have disappeared, along with that pesky sub. What’s left, you’re probably thinking, is some kind of typical soundbase or bar. It offers bass hardly worthy of the name, fake surround, and a fraction of the features of a receiver-based system. For this Atlantic Technology model, you got the first part right—the 3.1 HSB is a soundbase—but the rest is wrong.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 20, 2015 2 comments

Performance
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Dolby Atmos and DTS:X on board
HDMI 2.0a with HDR video
Audyssey MultEQ XT room correction
Minus
Like other seven-channel AVRs, just two Atmos height channels
Remote volume keys undernourished

THE VERDICT
Triple wireless connectivity and excellent room correction may lure more listeners to this top-performing budget receiver than its limited 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos and DTS:X capabilities will.

The Denon AVR-X1200W is among a growing trickle of receivers that name-check DTS:X surround sound. By the time you read this, it might even be operational.

For every one of Dolby’s home surround standards, there has been a DTS equivalent. The competition began in the mid 1990s, when Dolby Digital and DTS first went head to head on laserdisc, with DVD following soon after. Dolby then added back-surround channels for Dolby Digital EX; DTS responded with DTS-ES. Dolby upgraded to lossless encoding with Dolby TrueHD; DTS shot back with DTS-HD Master Audio. Object-oriented surround—which uses metadata to map objects in a dome-shaped soundfield—is no different. In response to Dolby Atmos, which has just begun infiltrating surround receivers, DTS offers DTS:X. This is a transitional time, and you’ll find some models supporting Atmos without supporting DTS’s answer. Others are “DTS:X ready,” but not yet functional as they await the release of new firmware.

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