David Vaughn

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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 07, 2012 0 comments

When The Town came out on Blu-ray in December 2010, I was blown away by the presentation. It was one of my favorite films of the year due to the non-stop action, believable characters, and some of the most realistic bank heists ever to hit the silver screen. In this Ultimate Collector's Edition, the reference-quality audio and video from the original release are still present with fabulous detail, surround envelopment, and dynamics, plus the alternate ending gives better closure to the story.
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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 24, 2012 0 comments

Clint Eastwood is arguably one of the best directors in Hollywood, and even though he's in the twilight of his life, he doesn't seem to be slowing down. While J. Edgar won't be considered one of his better films, I enjoyed it a lot more than most of the critics due to the fabulous acting by Leonardo DiCaprio and the historical significance of the subject. The Blu-ray boasts an above-average video encode with solid detail and intentionally understated colors, but the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is the true star of the show due to reference-quality imaging, dynamics, and frequency response.
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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 19, 2012 1 comments

Originating from the other side of the Atlantic, Downton Abbey is one of the most entertaining shows on TV and looks spectacular on Blu-ray. Each episode costs a reported one million pounds to produce and it certainly shows in the marvelous costume design, lavish sets, and all-star cast. Shot with an Arri Alexa digital camera, the level of detail is mesmerizing and the AVC encode is spectacular. Unfortunately the DTS-HD MA 2.0 doesn't have robust dynamics but at least the dialog intelligibility is never an issue.
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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 30, 2012 18 comments

The video quality of Star Trek The Next Generation has never been very impressive, either during its original broadcast days, in syndicated reruns, or on DVD. High-definition displays only make things worse, but all is not lost. Like the original series, The Next Generation was shot on film, and that means its conversion to high-definition has always been possible as long as the studio was willing to recompose the standard-definition visual effects into HD. Thankfully, Paramount and CBS have decided to move forward on this project to bring Picard and company into the 21st century with outstanding results.

This teaser disc includes three episodes, Encounter at Farpoint, Sins of the Father, and one of my personal favorites, The Inner Light, and the results are magnificent. The multi-colored Star Fleet uniforms leap off the screen, and the detail is out of this world, especially on the exterior shots of the Enterprise. The DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio tracks are an improvement over the original stereo tracks (also included), but they aren't quite as demo-worthy as the video. If you're a fan of the series, this will certainly wet your appetite for the upcoming release of season one sometime later this year.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 27, 2012 0 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,399 At A Glance: Fabulous video processing • Outstanding audio performance • Nine channels of amplification

When one looks to upgrade an AVR, one must take much into consideration: features, number of inputs and outputs, multizone capability, channels of amplification, power rating, and, of course, cost. The sub-$1,000 market is loaded with AVRs that offer a terrific value but lack many of the bells and whistles that are found once you cross the $1,000 barrier, such as multizone, nine channels of amplification, and more HDMI inputs than the average person will ever need.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 26, 2012 0 comments

Robots have been all the rage in Hollywood over the past few years with Michael Bay's popular Transformers trilogy. I haven't been a big fan of any of those films, but I have to say that each has been an audio and visual treat on Blu-ray. Well, here comes another robot movie, but unlike the aforementioned garbage, there's actually a plot (though hardly original), good acting, and a lot a heart. What it does have in common with the Bay films is a reference-quality presentation with exquisite detail in the video encode and some of the most intense bass you'll ever experience in your home theater.
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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 23, 2012 0 comments
HBO has quite a history of delivering fantastic Blu-ray presentations, and it continues the trend here. Be prepared for reference-quality video throughout all 12 season-one episodes in the clothing, sets, and flesh tones. The 1920s costume design is absolutely fantastic, and if you're a fan of period pieces, this is right up your alley. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track is just as impressive and certainly holds its own with its rich atmosphere and crystal-clear dialog reproduction. While it took me a couple of episodes to get into the series, it ranks up there with some of the best I've seen from HBO and is definitely worth a look on Blu-ray.
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David Vaughn Posted: Dec 23, 2011 0 comments

WETA Digital, the effects house that gave us The Lord of the Rings, hits a homerun with its digital effects employed in this reboot of the popular 1960s franchise. Minute details in the chimp's faces look strikingly real and blow away the effects seen in any of the previous movies. They blend seamlessly into the live action shots and make you truly believe that the chimps are real creations and not CGI-based. Not to be overshadowed is the absolutely fantastic DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track that's extremely aggressive on the low end and offers an immersive and engaging surround mix. This is one of the must-see discs of 2011.
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David Vaughn Posted: Dec 21, 2011 0 comments

Dramas typically aren't demo-worthy showpieces, but this fabulous film features some stunning scenes with vivid color saturation and exceptional detail. The DTS-HD 5.1 audio track is no slouch, either, with spot-on dialog reproduction, but it certainly won't make your subwoofer break a sweat. The movie is set in the early 1960s at the height of the civil-rights movement in the South, and the costume and set design captures the era perfectly. Dreamworks/Touchstone delivers another demo-quality presentation.
David Vaughn Posted: Dec 14, 2011 1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $400 At A Glance: Solid build quality• Speedy loading • Plays SACD, DVD-Audio and Blu-ray 3D • Streams Netflix, Pandora • Possible connection issues

Pioneer’s involvement in optical-disc technology started with the development of Laserdisc late in the 20th century, and the company has continued the tradition with CD, DVD, and Blu-ray. Surprisingly, despite the company’s background and solid history of new product development, it hasn’t been at the forefront of Blu-ray player innovation. The last player I reviewed from Pioneer was in 2009 (the BDP320). It offered fantastic audio and video, but its load times were poisonously slow and it offered no add-on features like streaming or DVD-Audio and SACD support.

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