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John Sciacca Posted: Jun 29, 2016 1 comments
As I write this I’m sitting in a hospital room waiting for my wife, Dana, to be induced sometime around 5:00 this evening. My weekend plans had been to grab some craft beer and watch The Masters in 4K on DirecTV, but this was a late-in-life, bonus baby (I’m 46), and the pregnancy has been fraught with “excitement” as we’ve dealt with high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. If you get nothing else from this column, heed my advice to have kids sooner rather than later.
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John Sciacca Posted: May 27, 2016 0 comments
Your new 4K, Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV is finally home and now you’re ready to start enjoying 8 million pixels of next-gen, ultra-video awesomeness. But that screen isn’t gonna just fill itself with UHD. Doing so is going to take a bit of planning and logistics to ensure you wring every bit of performance you can from it. Should you buy one of the new UHD Blu-ray players? If you care first about image quality, you probably should. But what about Ultra HD streaming from Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, and others—should you write them off? Negative!
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John Sciacca Posted: May 25, 2016 1 comments
One of the biggest benefits computing integration has brought to modern AV gear is the advent of flash memory that can be repeatedly and easily updated with new firmware. Firmware updates provide not only ongoing improvements and performance benefits, but can even add new features. Let us count the ways…
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John Sciacca Posted: Apr 13, 2016 8 comments
One of the more unexpected non-events of January’s CES 2016 was the soft and lackluster launch of Ultra High Definition Blu-ray (UHD BD) players. While the industry had been expecting hardware capable of spinning new 4K discs to feed the millions of 4K TVs that have been sold, the fanfare at the show was surprisingly ho-hum. In fact...
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John Sciacca Posted: Apr 06, 2016 8 comments
Last summer NPR posted a story entitled ”How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality?” that let users “blindly” compare six different tracks recorded at identical volume levels at three different qualities: MP3 at 128 Kbps, MP3 at 320 Kbps, and uncompressed WAV. The goal was to see if listeners could discern the quality difference and then correctly pick which version was WAV.

After thousands of results it turns out that people can tell the difference. But just barely.

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John Sciacca Posted: Mar 16, 2016 6 comments
For most of its life, your audio gear probably just sits there, quietly doing its thing, providing (hopefully) years of quality entertainment. But all the while, a silent killer lurks in your house: dust. And unless your listening room is like some kind of Silicon Valley clean space or you have a hermetically sealed audio rack—in which case you’ve probably got some ventilation issues to address—your gear is under constant attack from dust particles that could shorten its life.
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John Sciacca Posted: Feb 17, 2016 2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $899

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Ultra-thin form factor
Triple-threat with movies, music, and wholehouse audio
Great sound
Minus
Awkward handling of network media

THE VERDICT
The W Studio Micro’s strong performance and tons of streaming music features make it an easy recommendation.

The soundbar is one of the fastest-growing market segments in recent years, and that’s no surprise. As consumer demand grows for ultra-thin TVs with virtually zero bezel, display manufacturers are in the quandary of where to put the built-in speakers. The answer for most has been placing shallow speakers behind the screen, firing away from listeners. Obviously, these sonic compromises make it increasingly difficult to understand dialogue— let alone actually enjoy the wider dynamics of movies or music— and the simple solution is adding a soundbar.

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John Sciacca Posted: Feb 03, 2016 7 comments
Resident audio professor, Ken C. Pohlmann, recently wrote a blog entitled “Millenials: Your Soundbars are Killing Us” that generated quite a bit of ire among readers. The post generated over 30 comments both for, but mainly against, Ken’s assertion that millennials’ “insatiable love of soundbars” was going to ruin audio for the rest of us.
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John Sciacca Posted: Jan 20, 2016 2 comments
I’ve been fortunate enough to watch nearly every Dolby Atmos-encoded Blu-ray disc that has been released so far and while some of the movies are terrific (Gravity) others are more just things you suffer through (Jupiter Ascending). To save you some time trying to find the best scenes to demo, I’m gonna pinpoint each film’s marquee Atmos audio moment!
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John Sciacca Posted: Jan 09, 2016 Published: Jan 10, 2016 2 comments
Sony showed one of the coolest audio innovations of the Consumer Electronics Show with the debut of the company’s new PS-HX500 turntable. While the HX500 is a fully functional, belt-driven turntable on its own with an analog output that can feed any audio system, it also features a USB output that can be connected to a computer to create ultra-high resolution, exact digital captures of the album including all of the vinyl's signature sound.

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