Daniel Kumin

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Jul 02, 2013 0 comments

First, the obvious: The Astell&Kern AK100 is beautiful, both visually and in tactile terms, much the same way as the first iPod you ever saw was. Who cares what it is or what it does? You just want to hold it. And own it.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Jun 06, 2013 2 comments

Physicists have long postulated that an ideal sound reproducer would behave as a pulsating sphere. Ever since, the wish being father to the thought, speaker designers have been cramming transducers into balls, as if making the cabinet round would somehow magically make the sound spherical.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Jun 05, 2013 0 comments

How much would you pay for an A/V receiver? For a lot of people, the answer is “$899.” This upper-mid-price sweet spot has long marked the point at which AVR-manufacturers sell the most product. Consequently, it’s where they offer the most features, performance, and power for the lowest possible dollar amount.

Daniel Kumin Posted: May 24, 2013 1 comments

You can’t get much plainer than Outlaw’s new Model 975 preamp/processor. With its unadorned black chassis and fascia and plain white lettering, the 975’s un-cosmetics speak of a component conceived to do a job, completely and effectively, and to otherwise stay the hell out of the way.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Mar 25, 2013 0 comments

Emotiva. The name sounds like the latest cure-all marketed by Big Pharma on the evening news programs. (Remember “restless leg?”) It is, in fact the consumer-audio brand of Tennessee’s Jade Designs. And Jade Designs, in turn, is the direct-to-consumer brand founded by a longtime veteran of the rough-and-tumble electronics OEM (original equipment manufacturing) world.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Mar 25, 2013 0 comments

Wireless is, uh, in the air these days. Audio, video, telecom, and most everything else up to and including war-making are all proceeding nicely without any lengths of braided copper trailing behind. But too much of the time, this is more about wireless-ness than about what happens when the signal gets wherever “there” is. (Unless, that is, you have the misfortune to be riding in a car in the mountains of northern Pakistan…)

Not this time. And the rather unexpected reason is a new family of wireless speakers dubbed Xeo from Dynaudio, the Danish loudspeaker (and transducer) maker that is as widely respected in the hushed confines of pro audio as in the rough-and-tumble of high-end hi-fi.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Feb 13, 2013 0 comments

Sony's new flagship receiver is a brute. It's got as many or more features, channels, HDMI jacks, and control options as any competitor I can think of, along with a snazzy new rotation of onscreen menus. The STR-DA5800ES is also the latest to join the 4K brigade, being able to pass-through, and upscale to, the possible-future Ultra HD video format. More on this in a year. Or two.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Feb 13, 2013 0 comments

Remember integrated amps? I do — my first two real audio systems were assembled around examples of the one-component, preamp/poweramp combination form.

So does Pioneer. The firm’s new Elite A-20 is an unabashed throwback: two channels, no radio, a few analog inputs (no digital), a few knobs. 

Daniel Kumin Posted: Feb 13, 2013 0 comments

Everybody loves small speakers, and why not? Smaller is — often — easier to afford, easier to schlep home, easier to place, and easier to live with. Smaller also has certain acoustical advantages in achieving smooth response and in yielding the broad, even spread of sound that favors good imaging and an open, believable tone color.

But how small is too small? Some say there’s no limit, and at least one manufacturer (Bose) has had success with subwoofer/satellite designs whose sats are smaller than a pepper mill, let alone a breadbox. But as the front satellites of a speaker system become smaller, their ability to reproduce bass low enough to bridge effectively with the practical upper limits of a single subwoofer, at around 150 Hz (and ideally lower), becomes questionable.

Klipsch thinks it has found the sweet spot with its HD Theater 600 system

Daniel Kumin Posted: Dec 25, 2012 0 comments

As home theater has become ever more digitally sophisticated, A/V separate components, specifically preamp-processors, have become thinner on the ground as many smaller, separates-oriented manufacturers drop away. While A/V receivers today steal much of the limelight (and dollars), separates soldier on, mostly from the major-brand makers, each of which offers a flagship pre-pro. So too do a handful of low-volume, high-end makers offering very expensive models.

Rotel is one of a very few to occupy the middle ground with a separates line dedicated to both performance and value, and priced for people who might still have to think about it. The RSP-1572, the firm’s most recent pre-pro, is the company’s marquee A/V component.

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