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Michael Trei Posted: Apr 24, 2015 8 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,700

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Rich, powerful sound with gobs of detail
Dolby Atmos capable
UHD-ready with 4K scaling and HDMI 2.0
Minus
No HDCP 2.2 DRM to handle future UHD content
Basic remote isn’t backlit

THE VERDICT
Yamaha’s one-step-down AVR delivers top-notch performance and features at a somewhat less than flagship price.

Choosing the perfect A/V receiver for your home theater can be as tough as it was for Goldilocks to find the perfect bowl of porridge. Of course, we all want lots of features and plenty of power, but not if that means wasting money on bells and whistles we’ll never use or power we don’t really need. I find that in a single brand’s receiver lineup, it’s often the model just below the flagship that represents the best balance between price and performance. At that level, you still get just about every feature and most of the power available from the top model but with a substantial cost savings to sweeten the deal. Yamaha’s Aventage RX-A2040 appears to fall right into that type of sweet spot. At $1,700, it’s $500 less than the RX-A3040 flagship, but it still comes with most of that model’s features and can deliver more than 93 percent of its claimed two-channel power spec.

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Michael Trei Posted: Jan 09, 2015 0 comments
Dan D'Agostino returns to the monster power amp business.
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Michael Trei Posted: Jan 08, 2015 0 comments
Once again Magnepan shows us that you don't have to be a one-percenter to afford exotic flat panel loudspeakers.
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Michael Trei Posted: Jan 06, 2015 0 comments
Klipsch's Reference Series speakers get their most comprehensive updates yet, with a new name, Reference Premiere, and WiSA wireless technology.
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Michael Trei Posted: Dec 10, 2014 0 comments
It’s tough to be an audiophile these days. In the ongoing push by those pesky spouses and decorators to make our audio systems increasingly basic, simple, and invisible, some of us have felt the tug to hang our HDTVs on the wall and step down from a full-blown 5.1 surround sound home theater rig to a nice, slender soundbar. More often than not, that means having a subwoofer, typically supplied with the soundbar, just to fill in the bass, which inevitably goes missing during that slimming process. But, depending on how well the sub is integrated and its position in the room, that can often lead to other issues, including localization of deep male voices at the sub and possibly a gap in upper-bass frequency response that becomes most noticeable when playing music.
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Michael Trei Posted: Dec 10, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $400 (updated 3/17/15)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Detailed, focused sound with tuneful bass
Excellent connectivity and feature set
Nice display
Minus
Can’t disable surround mode
Credit card remote

THE VERDICT
The SoundBase.670 proved itself a great all-rounder that’s at its best for movies and regular TV watching.

ZVOX created the TV soundbase category over a decade ago, but they’ve not been sitting on their heels for the last ten years. While other companies have only just jumped on the bandwagon with a soundbase of their own, ZVOX has continued to expand its offerings and up its game on sound quality and now has eight different soundbase models available.

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Michael Trei Posted: Dec 10, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $350

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clear, transparent sound
Well-thought-out feature set
Minus
Minimal display information
Credit-card membrane remote

THE VERDICT
Pioneer delivers a soundbase that puts good sound ahead of bells and whistles or sheer volume.

Over the last few years, Pioneer’s chief speaker designer Andrew Jones has become kind of a rock star in budget audio circles. Unlike some other companies that simply get a design committee to slap something together for their low-cost gear, Pioneer with Jones at the helm spends months tweaking and refining even the most modest speakers. At the other end of the scale, Jones also designs state-of-the-art speakers for Pioneer’s high-end TAD division, including the $80,000 Reference One, so the man clearly knows his way around a woofer cone.

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Michael Trei Posted: Dec 10, 2014 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $250

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Plays very loud
Lots of hookup options
Good remote
Minus
Sounds congested when pushed hard
Cryptic display
Minimal stereo separation

THE VERDICT
Vizio’s Sound Stand plays remarkably loud for such a small and affordable soundbase, but its sound lacks the finesse of even the company’s own budget soundbars.

With just a pair of 2.75-inch full-range drivers supplemented by a single 5.25-inch “subwoofer,” the Vizio Sound Stand has the most basic driver complement of the three soundbases under review. No amplifier power rating is specified, although, as you’ll read, it’s clear that the Sound Stand has been carefully tweaked to deliver the maximum possible volume.

Michael Trei Posted: May 09, 2013 0 comments

Most of us who write about technology tend to become the go-to guy when friends and family seek gear recommendations. Last Christmas, my 16 year old niece wanted to know about speakers to use with her iPod Touch. When I asked whether she wanted a dock or something that used a cable to connect, the look she shot back told me that I might as well have asked if she wanted 8-Track or cassette.

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Michael Trei Posted: Apr 19, 2012 0 comments

After having been declared dead sometime back in the 1990s, analog turntables and vinyl records have made a strong comeback in recent years. That's great, but for people who come from the CD or iPod generations, it's hard to comprehend just how tweaky the world of analog playback can be. Unlike a CD player or iPod which you simply connect and play, most turntables require careful optimization to deliver the best possible sound.

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