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Al Griffin

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Al Griffin Posted: Mar 27, 2014 3 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q If I download 24-bit high-res music from an online source such as HDtracks.com, can I then burn it to a blank DVD and play it on the DVD-Audio player in my home theater system? It sucks that you can no longer buy DVD-Audio discs, but I was hoping to get DVD-Audio-like performance using this method. —Rick Cooper

Al Griffin Posted: Mar 21, 2014 2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Slick, speedy interface
3-TB hard disk for seemingly limitless recording
TiVo iOS app streams content in or away from home
Minus
Primitive Amazon Instant Video app

THE VERDICT
TiVo’s next-generation DVR makes TV watching a truly connected experience.

Last summer, after a nearly nine-year relationship, I showed my cable company–supplied DVR the door. Our life together had become increasingly untenable. My main gripe was that its limited-capacity hard drive put me in the constant position of having to delete old recordings to make room for new ones. It also had no connection options to link to a wired or wireless home network. These days, any component that can’t link to the Internet and communicate with computers, phones, and tablets is as good as junk. (We’ll give turntables a pass—for now.) Furthermore, my old DVR whirred and wheezed like the geezer it was, often emitting its loudest groans during music-listening sessions where I had no choice but to pull the plug.

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Al Griffin Posted: Mar 20, 2014 4 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I would like to get my feet wet with high-res audio, but don’t want to make a huge hardware investment. I’ve found some 192/24 tracks I’d like to buy from HDTracks.com. What would be the next step after I download these in ALAC format to my MacBook Air? Can I play them via my Mac’s optical output to the optical input on my preamp-processor (Emotiva UMC-1)? Can I stream them to said pre-pro via Apple TV or Airplay? Since the UMC-1 doesn’t have a USB input, do I need to buy a Dragonfly DAC or something like that? How about a USB headphone amp?  I obviously want a hardware setup that preserves the highest resolution. —Steve Burbidge / Minneapolis, MN

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Al Griffin Posted: Mar 17, 2014 6 comments
The effects of dynamic volume control are illustrated in this diagram from Audyssey.

Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q When watching a movie, I often have to turn the volume up to hear the dialogue but then find that the action scenes are too loud and have to turn it down again. My speakers are all from the same product line, so I know they are meant to play well together. I also use the automatic room correction on my Pioneer VSX-914-K AV receiver to adjust levels and distances for the speakers. Is the volume issue due to the way movies are mixed these days? —Ricky Meadows / via e-mail Ricky Meadows / via e-mail

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Al Griffin Posted: Mar 13, 2014 4 comments
Q I'm looking for a way to play two-channel music via iTunes AirPlay streaming through my Pioneer SC-57 receiver while watching muted sports on my plasma TV, which doesn’t have ARC. All my HDMI sources currently go into the receiver, with a single HDMI output to the TV. Is there a way to set up a second zone on the SC-57? Some other simple solution that I'm missing? —Jason Karley / via email
Al Griffin Posted: Mar 10, 2014 0 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great contrast and screen uniformity
Good looks
Decent set of streaming options
Minus
Slightly inaccurate color
Unimpressive 3D performance

THE VERDICT
Vizio’s 60-incher combines very good value with above-average picture quality.

With the CES in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look ahead to the new TVs that 2014 will bring. Hold on: Was there something we missed as 2013 wound down? Sound & Vision lavished loads of attention on OLED, 4K, and other high-priced TV options in 2013, but what about the budget category? Anything happen there worth looking at?

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Al Griffin Posted: Mar 06, 2014 3 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I have a 56-inch Samsung rear-projection DLP TV that I purchased in 2006. The set is installed in a room with low to medium light, and I sit about 12 to 14 feet away. I have never had any problems with the TV and have yet to replace its lamp. I’m now wondering, though, should I wait for the lamp to die, or replace it? Would a lamp replacement improve the picture? I have a two-year-old 40-inch Samsung LCD in another room that I’ve always admired for its crisp picture, though it looks a bit like a daytime soap opera even with the Movie mode selected.—Brian Pridgen / via e-mail

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Al Griffin Posted: Mar 03, 2014 5 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I am moving to a new home and plan to transfer my AV receiver and speakers to the new location but don’t want to have to run new wiring. Is there a system available that will let me attach a wireless transmitter to my AV receiver and wireless receivers to my speakers and avoid running wires?—Michael DeWaters / via e-mail

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Al Griffin Posted: Feb 27, 2014 7 comments
Q I thought that plasma TVs don’t suffer from motion blur, but I definitely see it when watching with my new Panasonic TC-P60ST60 plasma. Is there some setting I have configured incorrectly, or was I wrong in thinking that plasma tech is free from motion blur? —Bob Shedlock / Strongsville, Ohio
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Al Griffin Posted: Feb 20, 2014 4 comments
Q I recently learned that my television’s 120 Hz feature is global—when I turn it on, it remains on for all sources. I'm not a fan of this because I don't like seeing the “Soap Opera Effect” on TV and movie sources, though I do like it when playing videogames because the higher frame rate gives them a silky-smooth look. Here’s my question: Do you know of any TVs with a 120 Hz feature that can be turned on or off for specific inputs? —Ricky Meadows / via email

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