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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.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Dec 25, 2012 0 comments

Back when A/V was just “A,” Yamaha was among the first to elevate the receiver from dormroom necessity to Serious Audio Component. Brand Y then negotiated the transition to audio-plus-video smoothly, and today remains one of the leading purveyors of the all-in-one home theater centerpiece.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Nov 20, 2012 0 comments

Here are two words I never thought I’d use together in a sentence: audiophile soundbar. Yet MartinLogan’s new Motion Vision model indisputably qualifies.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Nov 20, 2012 0 comments

Most A/V receivers with any pretensions toward high performance — and most audio and video products in general, for that matter — are designed and marketed for hardcore hobbyists, not average consumers. What’s the difference? The hobbyist revels in scores of setup options, dozens of surround modes, and fistfuls of video-processing choices.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Oct 16, 2012 0 comments

Like so many British (and, for that matter, American) ür-audio brands, KEF — originally Kent Engineering & Foundry — had its roots in the post- WWII technology boom. In KEF’s case, it grew inside a Quonset hut on the grounds of the aforementioned foundry. A half-century down the road the Kentish maker is still there (in Kent, not in the metal shed!), still focused on its core competency (loudspeakers), and still producing wholly excellent designs.

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