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Daniel Kumin Posted: Mar 22, 2012 0 comments

It’s a fact of modern life. The higher you climb in the high end of anything, the less, at least in one sense, you will get. You will find, I believe, few gargoyles on buildings designed by I.M. Pei, and even fewer rear-seat DVD screens in Paganis.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Mar 12, 2012 0 comments

Were we to travel to, say, Jupiter, and abduct its leading audio engineer (turnabout is fair play, after all), we might want to ask him (or it) this question: what’s the very best way to design a loudspeaker for the reproduction of high-fidelity music?

There’s no doubt in my mind as to how our Jovian guest would answer: “Active/powered!”

Daniel Kumin Posted: Jan 30, 2012 1 comments

How long have Integra’s A/V preamplifier/processors been around? Long enough to become a bit of an institution among home theater insiders. If you were assembling a serious system and demanded legitimately audio/videophile performance in every aspect but were unable or unwilling to pay the sometimes absurd prices asked for “seriously high-end” gear, an Integra pre/pro is what you bought.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Jan 30, 2012 0 comments

Focal has flipped me the bird. The company is hardly the first to have done so (even just among audio manufacturers) and is unlikely to be the last. But none before has done so quite as elegantly or enjoyably.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Jan 30, 2012 0 comments

It seems like there have been Paradigm Monitor-series speakers roaming the earth since shortly after Rice and Kellog patented the dynamic loudspeaker as we know it in 1924. (The original practical design was by Peter Jensen, co-founder of Magnavox, some years earlier.) And as the arrival of its “Series 7” might suggest, the Canadian maker’s Monitor family does in fact date back a couple of decades. Like the speakers that preceded them, Paradigm’s new Monitor models are benchmarks of performance/value quotient in the best Canadian-speaker tradition: rationally priced, excellent-performing, technically advanced designs that compete very effectively with some far more costly “high-end” designs.

So what has changed for Series 7? According to Paradigm, the answer is smaller, deeper, broader: The new models are smaller in size (and so more décor-friendly), yet thanks to redesigned waveguides and the adoption of aluminum bass/mid cones and tweeter domes, they offer improved low-frequency extension and smoother, wider off-axis response. In other words, just like before — but more so.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Dec 28, 2011 0 comments

The company that makes most everything (and makes most everything it makes pretty damned well), Yamaha has been tuning up its forks, and the result seems to be ever more feature-packed, value-focused designs.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Dec 07, 2011 0 comments

ALMOST THIRTY YEARS AGO (can it be?) the compact disc promised "perfect sound forever." Two decades later the iPod, iTunes, and their ilk offered all music, everywhere, all the time.

Today, the first innovation is in decline while the second - despite all the quibbles about data-compressed sound quality, piracy, and the degradation of music into a disposable, mixable, mashable commodity - is ascendant. And yet, some few of us are ungrateful enough to want both; the convenience and ubiquity of iPod-like music files, and the listening experience that digital audio at its best can deliver.

Of course, the people in Hell want ice water too.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Nov 30, 2011 0 comments

When I reviewed one of the first of NAD’s long-awaited “new-generation” A/V receivers almost 2 years ago (can it be?), I liked it a lot.

Know what? I like this one even better.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Oct 19, 2011 0 comments

Each generation of A/V receivers brings at least a few new features — one of which will prove useful while others stick out as head-scratchers that nobody asked for. You could hardly find a better illustration of this natural law than Pioneer’s new VSX-52, the sub-penultimate model of its latest Elite A/V receiver range.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Oct 19, 2011 0 comments

I have something that I must confess: I’ve got a love/hate thing with soundbars. On the love side, these one- or two-piece, flat-panel-pandering “surround” systems have rescued tens of thousands of innocent suburbanites from the horrors of tinny TV tintinnabulation.

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