Al Griffin

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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 21, 2013 1 comments
Q I have been reading A/V magazines for years, as well as conducting my own research, and am still a little confused about how to select the right amplifier to use with MartinLogan electrostatic speakers. The literature I’ve read clearly indicates that the ohm rating of a receiver is just as important, or more so, than its wattage per channel when considering an A/V receiver to pair with speakers. Does the ohm rating of MartinLogan electrostatic speakers make them incompatible with typical AVRs?
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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 20, 2013 0 comments
In a recent Ask S&V column, I answered a reader question about North American-made audio: Does anybody make audio gear over here anymore? One name I listed in my response was Canadian speaker-maker Paradigm, a company that manufacturers a wide range of speaker models, subwoofers, and audio electronics in a 225,000 square-foot facility located in Mississaugua, Ontario. Sound & Vision has rarely met a Paradigm speaker or electronics component from Paradigm’s sister-brand Anthem that it didn’t like, so the company is obviously doing something right. To get an overview of just what is happening under the roof of that 225,000-square foot facility, Paradigm’s marketing dept. invited me up for a day to check things out. Ready for a tour? Let’s go!
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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 14, 2013 2 comments
Q Can a videogame be played on a TV that’s set to the THX Movie mode rather than Game mode? What’s the difference? —Michael McGehee / Macon, Georgia

A The THX Movie mode on THX Certified displays is, in the company’s own words, a preset with “specific settings for gamma, color point, luminance, overscan, and other settings...intended to provide the optimum settings for playback of movie titles, but can be used for viewing other content as well.” In case there’s any lingering question here, “other content” would include videogames. But before you grab your controller, let’s review the pros and cons of using a TV’s Game mode.

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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 11, 2013 2 comments
Q How big a subwoofer would I need to produce good home theater-quality bass in a 3,100-cubic-foot room? Would the Hsu VTF-15H be up to the job, or is there a better choice in my target price range (around $1,000)? —Steven Winter / via e-mail
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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 07, 2013 4 comments
Q Can you explain what it is about an asynchronous USB DAC input on a receiver that would enable it to sound superior to an Ethernet connection streaming the same file over a home network? —Chris Hebner / Delano, MN

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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 06, 2013 3 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com.

Q I have a legacy AV receiver (Integra DTR-7) and am considering replacing it with a separate preamp/processor and amplifier. I’ve noticed that some preamps only have RCA outputs, while other, more expensive preamps also have balanced XLR outputs. Is there a noticeable difference in the sound quality when using balanced XLR cables versus unbalanced cables? The length of the cables needed to connect the two units would only be 1 meter. —Ed Mendelson / via e-mail

Al Griffin Posted: Nov 01, 2013 5 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $9,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Exceptional contrast
Bright, crosstalk-free 3D
Uniform picture at off-axis seats
Upgradeable One Connect box
Minus
Geometric distortion due to curved panel
Slight tinting from anti-reflective screen coating

THE VERDICT
While the curved screen prevents it from being our dream OLED, the exceptional performance of Samsung’s set points the way toward TV’s future.

Nothing elevates the pulse of an A/V enthusiast more readily than the prospect of new video display tech. I may be showing my age here, but I remember when the first plasma TVs made the rounds for review. Looked at next to today’s models, those sets were bulky (4 or more inches deep) and had poor contrast compared with the tube TVs they replaced. Many were plagued by banding artifacts that made pictures look like a paint-by-number kit.

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Al Griffin Posted: Oct 31, 2013 1 comments
Q My new TV has four HDMI inputs. Would I get better picture quality if I bypassed my receiver and hooked all the equipment up directly to the TV? I also plan to run a TosLink digital audio cable from the TV to the receiver for sound. Any issues there to consider? —Jose / Colorado Springs, CO

A Whether or not you’ll get better picture quality from your proposed setup depends on the video capabilities of the receiver you’ve been using to handle HDMI switching. A number of A/V receivers provide both high-quality video deinterlacing/scaling and an ability to pass-through 1080p signals with no degradation (this Marantz that Sound & Vision recently reviewed, for example). But some other models are known to reduce the chroma (color) resolution of signals passing through, or to clip above-white and below-black information at the extreme ends of the video brightness range.

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Al Griffin Posted: Oct 24, 2013 1 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com.

Q I am looking to buy an amplifier and speakers manufactured someplace other than China. Can you recommend some options? My budget is $2,000 total for both amp and speakers (tower or bookshelf). —Gopal Venkat / via email

I cut the political content from your question because I don’t feel that this column is the best forum to discuss those issues. That said, I’m happy to help you find gear in your price range that’s made someplace other than China.

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Al Griffin Posted: Oct 17, 2013 12 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com.

Q I have a question about streaming audio from my PC to an A/V system located in another room. I want to be able to stream my vast collection of FLAC audio files along with Internet radio to an Integra DTR 5.9 A/V receiver. Running an Ethernet cable wouldn’t be my first choice; I have a strong Wi-Fi signal throughout the entire house and would like to use that instead for streaming. I've looked at the Sonos and Nuvo systems and the WD TV Live box. Each of these options seems to have good and bad points. But I’ve also thought about buying an inexpensive laptop and connecting it to my A/V system with a portable USB DAC. Can you recommend a solution? —John Hanlon / Encinitas, CA

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