Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
Splitting an HDMI source to feed both a video projector and a flat panel set is an increasingly popular option in custom home theater installs. But consumer-priced splitters that can do 4K are only just starting to appear. The HDS-12i from Transformative Engineering is one of the first. It can mix output resolutions and both up- and down-scale to 4K. A typical setup might involve a 2K projector and a 4K flat screen Ultra HD TV.

The device also provides full HDCP security and will recognize different EDIDs for each display. Output 2 also can be configured for pass-through, selectable scaling, or an AVR mode which bypasses 4K and 3D to route audio to an AVR or surround pre-pro that lacks the ability to handle these formats.

The HDS-12i's main limitation is that it's only HDMI 1.4a compliant, not 2,0, but that should be adequate for today's source material. It's firmware upgradeable (though not to 2.0--that's hardware) and sells for $299.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 2 comments
I've only caught two Dolby Atmos demos so far, but the JBL Synthesis demo was by far the most impressive--and may be the most impressive at the show. I'll reserve judgment on that, but with 12 discrete height speakers(JBL SCS 8s), 16 surround speakers (also JBL SCS8s, just a few of them shown here--no way to get all of them into a group photo!), 8 subwoofers, JBL M2 front speakers, a Dolby pro Atmos processor, banks of JBL Synthesis amps, and a 17-foot wide screen (projector unspecified--I'll update this when I find out), this $200,000 system is ready for your lottery winnings.

The picture (only 2K no less, from a DPI NC 900C projector, about $50,000) was spectacular (though with blacks more typical of theatrical presentations rather than the superior blacks available from some even modest home theater models). And the sound was as good as any movie sound I've yet heard, either home or theatrical (the latter including even the best theaters in Los Angeles). It could go plenty loud, but with the exception of an extended racing car sequence it was never edgy or grating. If you're fortunate enough to be at the show while reading this, it's a don't miss demo.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
It's no coincidence that manufacturers offering screens that reject ambient light use bright images to show off their wares, often either animation or sports. There's no way such a screen, on dark movie scenes, can compete with a conventional screen in a darkened room. But such light-rejecting screens, if used properly, can be of real value in some installations. Seymour-Screen Excellence introduced its first light rejecting screens this year, including this Ambient Visionaire 1.2 model. As shown here, fixed frame at 116-inch diagonal 16:9, it will cost you about $3500.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
Epson introduced two new projectors that not only use laser illumination (no lamp to replace) but also reflective LCD technology (Liquid Crystal on Quartz, in contrast to reflective LCDs from Sony and JVC that use Liquid Crystal on Silicon). While both of them employ 2K chips, the top model can accept 4K inputs and reproduce them using technology similar to that found in JVC's upscale projectors. (We call it wobulation in homage to early DLP rear-projection sets that employed a similar idea but to different purposes (they weren't 4K, of course), but JVC and, we presume, Epson, would likely take exception to this characterization!)

The LS10,000, which is expected to sell for under $8000, is rated at

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
Audiophiles fondly remember the company Audio Alchemy, which produced a number of well-received, sensibly-priced D/A converters back in the 1990s. They may have been before their time. Today, such separate converters are all over the place, but now include USB connections for the increasingly popular digital downloads, particularly of the high resolution audio variety.

Peter Madnick, who currently heads up design for the extremely pricey electronics from Constellation, has re-acquired the rights to the Audio Alchemy name. While not being shown at a booth (at least not one I've yet seen) I ran into Peter as he was prowling the show floor with a sample of his first new Audio Alchemy product, the DDP-1. It's a D/A converter with optical, coaxial, USB (asynchronous), and analog inputs. With its volume control, it can also function as a 2-channel preamp and a headphone amplifier. While its $1895 ticket is a bit pricier than the Audio Alchemy products of the past, it should be highly competitive in today's D/A market when it ships in December.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
Christie Digital, a big name in theatrical digital presentations, made its first appearance at a CEDIA EXPO. Here is the biggest projector they had on display, a 4K, 3-chip DLP. Christie's Josh Kolbeck stands next to it for perspective.

While not on demo at Christie's own booth, it was being used in a Stewart Filmscreen demonstration elsewhere on the show floor. On a 15-foot wide Stewart Director's choice Gray Matte 70 screen, and with 4K sources, it produced what was easily the best-looking images I saw on the show's first day. I didn't catch the price (it took Christie personnel several minutes to find the price on the Christie laser projector shown below), but it definitely falls into the "if you have to ask" category. You'll also need to put it in a separate projection room. It's cooling fans are loud.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
Christie also showed (but did not demonstrate) its DWX 555-G, a 2K, single-chip DLP projector with laser illumination. Rated at 5000 lumens, it can be yours for $17,995.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 11, 2014 0 comments
LG launched a wide range of new TVs at a press event on the first full day of the show but the eye-catcher was a 105-inch curved, Ultra HD, LCD/LED set with a 21:9 aspect ratio. The company also showed a flat 98-inch 16:9 Ultra HD LCD/LED model. At $100,000 (OK, it’s actually $99,999.99) for the 105-incher and $40,000 for the 98-incher, they’re not exactly impulse purchases.

But both use IPS panels for better off-axis performance, have full array backlit local dimming, and incorporate 7.1-channel audio systems designed in cooperation with Harman Kardon.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 11, 2014 0 comments
Bolstering its dedication to OLED, LG announced two new models, both with Ultra HD resolution and both curved, at 77-inches (available in November at $25,000) and 65-inches (October, at $9,999). The company will also be bringing out a wide selection of new LCD/LED Ultra HD models from 40 inches to 65 inches, with the price for the largest model topping out at $3,500.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 27, 2014 2 comments
Reviewers (who are almost universally inveterate collectors) tend to accumulate more software—videos, LPs, CDs, and soon music and video files, than your average bear. Digital files take up little space, but the others can soon grow to enormous proportions. Not only does this create a storage problem, it also makes it difficult to find that special disc we want to enjoy now. Of course, we all organize our collections in some rational form, don’t we? In a classic line from the (must see) movie High Fidelity, a record store owner is reorganizing his personal LP collection. A friend asks him how he’s doing it: alphabetical, by artist, by label, by genre? His answer: autobiographical.

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