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Mark Fleischmann

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 01, 2013 0 comments
Online streaming outfits are turning themselves into studios, bankrolling movies and TV series. Before you scoff, did you watch Netflix’s House of Cards? We did, blasting through all 13 episodes in the first month of availability. The series, with Kevin Spacey as a Machiavellian congressman, has made 86 percent of Netflix subscribers less likely to cancel, says a Cowen and Co. survey. We can’t wait for the second “season.”
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 27, 2013 8 comments

Epic Midi 125 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
EP125 v3 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $1,418 At A Glance: Distinctive cabinet shapes • Revealing voicing • Sold factory direct

Merriam-Webster.com defines a cabal as “the artifices and intrigues of a group of persons secretly united in a plot (as to overturn a government),” or “a group engaged in such artifices and intrigues.” For the past 30 years, Axiom Audio has been part of a Canadian cabal of loudspeaker manufacturers secretly united in a plot to overturn bad sound—ironically, with government support. The Ontario-based company is one of several brands that sprouted from Ottawa’s National Research Council facilities where Axiom founder and president Ian Colquhoun learned the art and science of speaker design under the legendary Dr. Floyd Toole.

Why do we say “secretly united”? Axiom is one of those well-kept secrets of the audio world, and that’s partly our fault. The company has been designing and manufacturing its products in Canada, right under our North American noses, yet this is the first review we’ve done on an Axiom product in about 20 years, despite the accolades the brand has attracted in the interim. So we’re playing catch-up with this review of Axiom’s Epic Midi 125 5.1-channel speaker package, which includes two monitors and a center in the front, dedicated diffuse surrounds, and a subwoofer. Let’s just say the secret is out.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 21, 2013 0 comments

Tannoy Precision Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Tannoy TS2.12 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $4,414 At A Glance: Coaxial driver array • Pinpoint-precise imaging • Clean, wellmannered subwoofer

If you read a lot of British novels, eventually you’ll run across a reference to an announcement “on the Tannoy” in a train station or airport. In the U.K., the birthplace of Tannoy Ltd., the loudspeaker brand is a synonym for public-address system. No other speaker manufacturer in the world enjoys this distinction, though it comes at a price: The Tannoy people are constantly firing off letters to publications that make the mistake of using tannoy generically, without the proper cap-T to indicate its trademark status.

Trivia buffs may be surprised to discover that the firm was founded in 1926 as the Tulsemere Manufacturing Company in England. Not until 1932 did the brand name become Tannoy, an abbreviation for tantalum alloy, a material used in the electronic guts of its early products. Tannoy relocated its design and engineering center to Scotland about a half-century later, and for the past decade has been owned by the Denmark-based TC Group.

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.

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