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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 21, 2017 1 comments

AT527NC Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

AT524NC Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,695, $2,595

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Very powerful
Natural and balanced
Made in the U.S.A.
Minus
LEDs are too bright

THE VERDICT
The days of looking down on Class D amps are over.

Two and a half years ago, I reviewed my first ATI amplifier, and to say I was impressed would be an understatement. The ATI Signature AT6005 five-channel amp set a new benchmark for its designer, Morris Kessler—to the point where he put his John Hancock on the faceplate.

Last year, S&V editor-at-large Bob Ankosko sat down with Kessler to talk about his design philosophy over the years, and the subject of Class D amps was broached. Kessler mentioned that his current designs were all Class A/B, but he was following the developments of Class D very closely—though the initial efforts in this area didn’t meet his high standards because frequency response varied greatly as the impedance of the speaker changed. He hinted at the time that he may have finally found a Class D solution that he could deem acceptable, which turned out to be the latest Hypex Ncore modules.

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 24, 2017 9 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Three years into their five-year mission, the crew of the Enterprise is in dire need of shore leave. Fortunately, they’re in a sector of space with an advanced star base, and they drop in for a visit. Shortly after their arrival, a distress call comes from a remote nebula, and their leave is cut short since the Enterprise is the only ship in the sector that can navigate through it. Once inside, they meet a deadly alien race in search of a rare artifact that just happens to be located on the Federation ship and will kill anything in their path to obtain it—even the Enterprise crew.
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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 16, 2017 0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,100 each; $2,200 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful bass for a compact sub
Performs extremely well with music and movies
Minus
Lacks last half-octave of deep bass you can get from larger subs

THE VERDICT
If you’re limited on space but have adequate funding, this is the strongest-performing compact sub I’ve auditioned.

It’s another American business success story. A couple of kids, Jim Birch and Lucio Proni, begin building home loudspeakers during summer break in 1975. More than 40 years later, Jim and Lucio are still going strong, having seen JL Audio become one of the most respected consumer electronics brands in the world, branching out from the home to mobile and marine applications. I’ve experienced their products at some custom shops and have read glowing reviews of their subwoofers over the years. My favorite review was by my colleague Darryl Wilkinson, who said the company’s Fathom f212 sub could play a 20-hertz test tone loud enough to liquefy his bowels! High praise, indeed.

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 03, 2017 0 comments
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Sound
Extras
Having recently lost her mother to cancer, Nancy decides to drop out of medical school in order to go surfing at a remote Mexican beach where her mother used to surf. Unfortunately, Nancy’s “plus one” decides she’d rather hang out with the guy she met at the hotel bar, so Nancy makes the stupid decision to go by herself. What could go wrong?
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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 20, 2017 0 comments
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Sound
Extras
The 1980s get a bad rap for big hair, shoulder pads, and synthesized music. But for those of us who are middle-aged, we remember it fondly for those reasons and more. Director John Carney takes us back with his coming-of-age story set in Dublin, circa 1984, where 14-year-old Conor is sent to a more affordable school as his parents are struggling financially. With no friends to speak of, things start out rough, but he eventually finds his place when he decides to form a band in order to get the girl that’s caught his eye. His older brother tutors him on various music genres, and as the band evolves, his life takes a turn for the better.
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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 13, 2017 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Charlize Theron is back as the evil Queen Ravenna, who betrays her sister Freya (Emily Blunt) with an unthinkable act of cruelty leading to her path down the dark side of magic; like Elsa from Frozen, she possesses an icy power. She heads north to train an army in order to conquer the realm, with one caveat: They are forbidden to fall in love, which is exactly what happens to Eric and Sara, leading to Freya going postal on her most treasured Huntsmen.
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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 09, 2017 4 comments

PB16-Ultra Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

SB16-Ultra Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,499, $1,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful, deep bass response
Infrared remote and Bluetooth app control
User adjustable EQ presets
Minus
Extremely heavy
Large size can make optimal placement challenging

THE VERDICT
If you want foundation-shaking bass and have the floor space to accommodate one (or two) of these beasts, you’ll be the envy of the neighborhood on movie night.

I’ve had a home theater going on 20 years now, and one thing has remained constant through those years: upgrades. It got so bad at one point that my wife had me enter into a contract with her in 2004 that my latest subwoofer upgrade would be my last for the next 10 years. Desperate to make the purchase, I reluctantly agreed and signed my name on the dotted line. Fortunately, the subwoofer just happened to be an SVS PC-Ultra, a cylindrical monster that kept my subwoofer itch scratched for a full decade. But as soon as the contract was up in 2014, I did add a second subwoofer to the mix, a Hsu VTF-15H MK2, which has been filling my room with copious amounts of bass ever since.

David Vaughn Posted: Dec 02, 2016 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
By the mid-1960s, it was estimated that 90 percent of the humpback whales were gone from the Earth when a moratorium was put in place throughout most of the world. Fortunately, the population started to grow again, and there’s now an estimated 80,000 throughout the world. I’m old enough to remember the “Save the Whales” campaign in the mid-1970s as well as George and Gracie from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in 1986 where it took the songs of the humpbacks to save Earth from sure destruction by an alien vessel.
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David Vaughn Posted: Nov 18, 2016 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Very powerful on music
Outstanding build quality
Small size
Minus
Tepid output at the very bottom

THE VERDICT
One of the most musical subwoofers I’ve ever auditioned, and it’s damn pretty, too!

Founded in 1972 in Ontario, PSB Speakers has grown from one man’s passion for audio into an international speaker company with more than 50 distributors and approximately 1,000 dealers. Paul Barton got his start in audio when he was just 11 years old, making speakers with his father. As he became more confident with his designs when he was in high school, he started to sell his speakers to college students at the nearby University of Waterloo. From the beginning, Barton’s goal was to create high-performance, highvalue loudspeakers for music and, eventually, for home cinema applications.

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David Vaughn Posted: Nov 11, 2016 21 comments
Earlier this year, shortly after the release of the first Ultra HD (UHD) Blu-ray Disc player from Samsung, I wrote about the challenges of getting the player's full-bandwidth video signals to travel over longer distances in “UHD Blu-ray vs. HDMI: Let the Battle Begin”. Unfortunately, nearly 8 months later, consumers whose displays are more than 15 feet away from the Samsung UBD-K8500 are still in a pickle when it comes to choosing the proper HDMI cable to get the menu screen to properly come up on screen.

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