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Darryl Wilkinson

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Aug 08, 2014 2 comments
Not long ago, I had an extended conversation with Mark Walters, the Chairman of the Z-Wave Alliance. Our discussion ranged pretty much across the board as far as the smart home topic was concerned, including how quickly the landscape is changing (not quite daily, although it seems that way) and the various companies – both large and small – that are trying to stake their technological claims in this relatively new territory. Clearly, the consensus is that there’s lots of money to be made in the smart home automation business. The problem, however, for both manufacturers and retailers is choosing a space that’s full of milk and honey rather than settling in what will eventually become a electronic ghost town complete with rolling tumbleweeds of discarded protocols and standards. Consumers, by the way, are basically collateral-damage-in-waiting during this high-tech land grab. (But that’s part of the risk you take as an early adopter, I suppose.)
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jul 31, 2014 15 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,499 ea

AT A GLANCE
Plus
1,200-watt Class D subwoofer amplifier
IR remote control for woofer level adjustments
No support grid behind grille cloth to block midrange/tweeter array
Minus
They’re pretty heavy
Remote control coverage too narrow to reach both speakers simultaneously

THE VERDICT
Def Tech’s updated flagship is an uncannily neutral, disappearing speaker and an amazing value.

It’s hard to believe that the original Definitive Technology Mythos ST was introduced seven years ago. At the time, the Mythos styling ethos—svelte, curved-back, extruded-aluminum cabinets—had already been around for a while, so the sleek, silvery design of the Mythos ST wasn’t a dramatic departure. Sure, it was the largest Mythos speaker to come out to that point, but what made it especially buzzworthy was that the ST was the first Mythos speaker to include a powered woofer section.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jul 23, 2014 0 comments
Locks have been around ever since people starting accumulating stuff that they didn’t want other people to get their hands on. Over the millennia, various types of locks have been used to safeguard all kinds of things: stones (a.k.a. jewels), money, jars of Nutella, castle dungeons, the secret formula for the Krabby Patty, automobiles, and houses, just to name a few. Supposedly, there are 4,000-year-old clay tablets (probably locked away in a museum somewhere) from the Babylonian Empire that show an early form of keys on them. In ancient Greece, keys were large enough that they were carried on a person’s shoulder. (Although Leonidas might have said, “This is Sparta!”; he most certainly never said, “Where did I put my keys?”) Wealthy Romans didn’t have to worry about losing their keys, either, because they often wore their keys on their fingers as, well, key rings.

Today, of course, we have lots of ways of locking up things without resorting to the old-fashioned lock-and-key routine. When it comes to smart home technology, motorized, electronic door locks aren’t exactly the newest home automation device...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 30, 2014 1 comments
The future of home automation, the so-called “smart home”, is so bright, you’re going to have to wear shades—you’re BS shades, that is. If you believe the seriously over-heated hype, the new smart home hubs and home automation systems will save you money, keep you safe, make your life more convenient, improve your love life, grow hair where you want it (and keep it from growing where you don’t), and promote peace and harmony (the noun, not the remote control company) around the world. The enthusiasm is genuinely infectious, and I have to remind myself every now and then that the promised techno-utopia and the eventual techno-reality are often quite disparate. But dreams of a better smart home future give us something to strive for, and that Jetsons-like journey begins with small steps. Buying one of the new smart home hubs and installing a couple of sensors and devices, however, may be a bigger step than you’re ready for. What happens if you’re interested in home automation, but all you’re comfortable with now is sticking your big toe over the starting line...
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 25, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $449

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Up to 20 hours of battery life
Water- and UV-resistant
Bluetooth with aptX and AAC
Minus
Not exactly inexpensive (though well worth its price)

THE VERDICT
You’ll find plenty of portable bluetooth speakers out there, but you’ll search long and hard to find one that’s as well built, weatherproof, and good-sounding as this one.

Soundcast Systems’ Melody is a category-blender of a product that’s difficult to sum up succinctly. It’s a mishmash of features that’s one part this, one part that, and a couple more parts of another type of thing. But none of that really matters unless you’re into semantics, market trends, or trying to do an Internet search for a “take anywhere, everywhere speaker” (as Soundcast likes to refer to it). The important thing is that the Melody has a boatload of stuff going for it; and it’s one of those rare audio devices that you’re likely to find yourself using for applications and situations you originally had no idea it would be ideal for.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 20, 2014 19 comments
My recent review of GoldenEar Technology’s newest speaker, the Triton One, generated a surprising number of entries in the Comments section at the end of the review. Some were short and to the point, such as the one from the reader who declared he or she “will not be renewing my subscription” because the piece was “a waste of a review.” (Okay, if you’ve got a beef with something I wrote, so be it. But don’t tar and feather Rob, Tom, Mark, and the rest of the S&V crew for a piece with my byline. Surely you ought to be able to find a subscription’s worth of value in the stuff they write.) But other comments were more substantive and warranted a more in-depth response than posting a brief reply...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 10, 2014 37 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,000/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Three forward-firing active woofers with four side-firing passive radiators and a 1,600-watt amp
Remarkably open, balanced sound quality
Extremely dynamic
Minus
They’re really, really heavy

THE VERDICT
GoldenEar Technology’s Triton One is Sandy Gross’ magnum opus and provides an astounding performance-versus-price ratio.

It’s not an overstatement to say that Sandy Gross is a legend—a double legend, as a matter of fact, since he’s in two entirely different industries’ Halls of Fame. In high school, Gross was an award-winning racecar designer. With his best friend, Howie Ursaner, the Gold Dust Twins (as they were called) were a professional racing team that competed around the country. (At one point, Ursaner won a Corvette. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to legally drive it—because he was only 14 years old.) That was during the late 1960s and early ’70s, a time generally considered to be the Golden Age of Racing—slot car racing, that is.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 30, 2014 2 comments
I’m in the interesting position of telling you how to do something with a subwoofer that you shouldn’t do. No, it’s not illegal. But in the ears of those for whom sound quality is more important than ergonomics, décor, and/or domestic tranquility, it’s definitely heretical.
Filed under
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 23, 2014 Published: May 22, 2014 2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,396 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Support for multiple high-rez codecs
No computer needed
Up to 32 players
$449 system entry price
Minus
No AirPlay support
Limited access to some popular streaming Internet services

THE VERDICT
Bluesound’s audio system takes the pain out of being an audiophile in a streaming digital music era.

Bluesound, as I found out, has nothing to do with the mythical brown note. (Go Google it.) Instead, this is how John Banks, Bluesound’s chief brand officer, described to me the who, what, and why of the new company—a splinter of the Lenbrook family responsible for the NAD and PSB brands—and its high-resolution, 24-bit native, pure-digital streaming music system: “Bluesound is an exciting alliance of audiophiles. We are designers, engineers, and passionate music lovers who have spent our lives in the audio industry. NAD and PSB, who you know well, pioneered hi-fi in the ’70s; clearly, innovation and the pursuit of perfection in audio runs deep in our collective DNA.”

Filed under
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 20, 2014 2 comments
When you're as interested in AV and home entertainment as the writers and readers of S&V are, it's easy to fall into the trap of taking things—especially yourself—a little too seriously. Of course, chasing perfection is a laudable endeavor, but it's not always so when that pursuit comes at the expense of the basic fun and enjoyment the gear and technology are supposed to bring into our lives. I know that this might sound like heresy, but sometimes a low-tech solution can work just as well a more "advanced" one…

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