Darryl Wilkinson

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 26, 2013 0 comments
Automation controller company BitWise Controls came to CEDIA to celebrate the company’s fourth birthday and announce the upcoming availability of the BitWise Access Anywhere subscription service. BitWise’s AccessAnywhere will enable homeowners to access and control their BitWise home automation system from anywhere the homeowner has internet access, anywhere in the world, via a smartphone or tablet.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 25, 2013 Published: Sep 26, 2013 0 comments
“This…is…Lutron!”

They could have started out the press conference that way, and it would have been so cool if they had. Of course, then they would have had to have thrown someone from a competing lighting/shading company down a huge hole; and that probably would not have been acceptable behavior at a CEDIA press conference.

But, in essence, Lutron did throw the gauntlet – and a very fancy gauntlet, at that – down as far as other shading and control companies go...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 25, 2013 0 comments
No, they’re not stylized Daleks from Dr. Who or PVC termite mounds. The objects pictured above are actually a couple of pretty impressive all-weather speakers from NEAR. There are a couple of things that are newsworthy about these speakers, not the least of which is that they are the first environmental speakers designed by NEAR specifically for the consumer/custom installation market in about a decade and a half. In fact, it’s been exactly 14 years since NEAR last had a booth or display at a CEDIA EXPO.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 23, 2013 1 comments
Coverage Begins Wednesday, September 25

This year’s Custom Installapalooza, officially known as CEDIA EXPO 2013, starts Wednesday, September 25th and runs through Saturday, September 28th at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado. (Thankfully for the Expo, the nearest of the devastating flooding that parts of Colorado have endured recently was more than 20 miles from Denver. While that’s good news for the CEDIA Expo and attendees, a lot of Coloradoans were affected. CEDIA suggests that if you’d like to help support those folks, please visit HelpColoradoNow.com.) Wednesday should be a rather leisurely day with a few scattered press conferences, a CEDIA Media Preview Event (kind of like speed dating for PR people and journalists), and quite a few continuing education courses for dealers and installers. The real fun begins on Thursday when the Expo floor opens up and thousands of technical questions start being asked…and answered.

Almost all of the Sound & Vision crew will be on hand, blogging like madmen (and a madwoman) from amidst the Expo floor—and, who knows, probably during a dinner or two if John Sciacca stays true to form. I’ll be there, too, just in case John needs someone to bail him out of jail...

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 20, 2013 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price $7,750

At a Glance

Plus
Planar magnetic thin-film drivers
Solid Uni-grip mounting clamps
Thin magnetically attached grilles available in custom lengths
Truly outstanding sound quality

Minus
Horizontal center channel use requires stud modifications
Definitely not the cheapest in-wall system you can buy

The Verdict
It might bust your budget on the front end, but the Wisdom Insight delivers a near-electrostatic, audiophile listening experience in a disappearing, in-wall package.

If you’re intimately familiar with Wisdom Audio, then you’re more dialed into this industry than I am. Sure, I’ve breezed by the company’s booth at past CEDIA Expos, but when I hear that name it always brings to mind the image of a of an old guy in a flowing robe with a long, white beard (and maybe a Harry Potter–esque wizard’s hat) sitting in an overstuffed chair in front of an audio system, his beard and hat being blown back à la the old Memorex advertising campaign.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 12, 2013 0 comments
They could have done it. The folks in the Forum could have chosen, as Brutus did with his one-time friend, Julius, to dig the knife in deep after we’d already been stabbed 1.2, 1.3, even or 1.4 times. That’s why, when the HDMI Forum announced last week that they’d come up with Version 2.0 of the HDMI Specification, I prepared myself for the pain of deciphering new nomenclature and figuring out which HDMI cables were good for what features and which gear. And, despite the fact that I know better, I couldn’t help but feel that the IOGEAR Wireless 5x2 HDMI Matrix Switcher I’ve been playing with for the last month or two was already out of date.

Such is the heartache that always comes with the announcement of any new specification or technology...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Aug 22, 2013 0 comments
When my kids were born, the obstetrician let me cut each one’s umbilical cord. Those cords were surprisingly tough to sever, even with a pair of super-sharp surgical scissors. Still, it’s no where near as easy as that was to cut through the clutter of cables we use to connect our AV gear together. (You didn’t see that segue coming, did you?) HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) simplified things quite a bit from the multiple-cable analog way of making connections; but, at the end of the day, an HDMI cable (regardless of its version number, speed rating, or whatever confusing denomination it happens to be a member of) is still a flippin’ cable. IOGEAR says its new $399 Wireless 5x2 HD Matrix (GWHDMS52) offers a way to get rid of one of those HDMI cables in your system – specifically one of those long suckers that are both costly and annoyingly difficult to run from component A to display B. To prove it, IOGEAR recently shipped a Wireless 5x2 HD Matrix for me to give a brief tryout. Considering the fact that I needed to rejigger the cable configuration running from the main system in my theater room to the 46” outdoor SunBriteTV still battling the elements on my back deck, I figured I had the perfect scenario to put the new wireless switcher to the test.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Aug 09, 2013 0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $4,747 as reviewed ($2,499/pair) At A Glance: Transmits digital audio and power over 18-gauge wire • 24-volt DC low-voltage wiring • Can be used vertically or horizontally

I worked at an A/V shop back in the Middle Ages when customers actually drove to a local store and spoke with a salesperson face to face about the gear they were interested in. Every now and then during that golden era, a speaker manufacturer would come along with the “revolutionary” idea of building an amplifier(s) into a speaker. With all the benefits that came with such a design, it seemed like such a no-brainer.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Aug 05, 2013 0 comments
The promise of HDBaseT is clear and compelling. With one, standard, off-the-shelf – relatively inexpensive – Cat5e/6 LAN cable, you can send full HD (3D and 2K or 4K) uncompressed video and audio (up to 10.2 Gbps), 100 Mbps Ethernet communication, various protocol control signals (RS232, for example), and up to 100W of power from one AV device to another up to 100 m (328 ft) away. (The HDBaseT Alliance refers to this set of features as “5Play”.) That means if you’re hooking up an HDBaseT-enabled flat-panel TV mounted on the wall to an HDBaseT-enabled AVR in a cabinet located in the back of the room, there’s no long, bulky HDMI cable (or HDMI extender baluns) to deal with (or spend the money on). No need for a repeater cable or wireless device to pass IR or RS232 control commands. And no separate Cat5e/6 cable to connect your TV or BD player to the internet via your home LAN. In my opinion, though, the most exciting part is that many components with integrated HDBaseT technology, including most TVs, won’t need an AC cord to plug into an outlet in the wall. It’ll get all the power it needs over that one, humble Cat5e or Cat 6 cable thanks to the magic of HDBaseT’s “5Play” technology.

Awesome, right? Absolutely…just not yet...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Aug 02, 2013 0 comments

Panorama 2 Soundbar
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

PV1D Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $3,900 (Panorama 2, $2,200; PV1D, $1,700) At a Glance: Three HDMI inputs • Nautilus tube-loaded aluminum dome tweeter • Disappointing egg-shaped remote

There are some things that absolutely ooze sophistication and class—products that, even if you don’t happen to be interested in or have much knowledge of that particular sort of thing—can spontaneously elicit a feeling of admiration. For example, I’m not a big fan of high-end analog watches, yet I can’t help but respect the craftsmanship and attention to detail of a Tourneau or TAG Heuer sitting in a jewelry store’s display case. Ditto the “whatever” sentiment for automobiles. As long as it reliably gets me from where I am to where I want to be (although a nice sound system is a plus), I’m usually good with it. But I also think Tesla’s Model S all-electric sedan is to die for. Not surprisingly, the A/V world has its own share of companies that can be counted on to consistently raise an appreciative eyebrow or two. The iconic Bang & Olufsen—despite the company’s occasional forays into the realm of the bizarre—would no doubt find its way onto most people’s short list.

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