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Al Griffin  |  Apr 09, 2014  |  First Published: Apr 10, 2014  |  2 comments
Q I used Windows Media Player to rip and archive my collection of roughly 2,000 CDs in WMA Lossless format. I chose that format because I believed it would capture a bit-perfect copy of my CD as well as retain important metadata like album and song titles.

Here's my dilemma: I am learning the hard way that WMA-L does not enjoy widespread support. I recently returned a NAD network player because, while it did play the lossless WAV files in my collection, it down-rezzed WMA-L ones to 192 kbps. Now here’s my question: Is there a way to convert my files to a different format while preserving the lossless audio quality and metadata, or have I made a terrible mistake in wasting countless hours ripping so many CDs to a useless format? —Carlos Lobo / Hawthorn Woods, IL

Al Griffin  |  Apr 03, 2014  |  7 comments
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Q I just bought an Oppo BDP-103 universal player and am connecting it to a Marantz AV7005 pre/pro. How do I make sure the signal gets through when playing SACDs? Use the analog RCA outputs, or can HDMI handle it? —Mike Groft / via e-mail

Al Griffin  |  Mar 27, 2014  |  3 comments
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Q If I download 24-bit high-res music from an online source such as, can I then burn it to a blank DVD and play it on the DVD-Audio player in my home theater system? It sucks that you can no longer buy DVD-Audio discs, but I was hoping to get DVD-Audio-like performance using this method. —Rick Cooper

Al Griffin  |  Mar 20, 2014  |  4 comments
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Q I would like to get my feet wet with high-res audio, but don’t want to make a huge hardware investment. I’ve found some 192/24 tracks I’d like to buy from What would be the next step after I download these in ALAC format to my MacBook Air? Can I play them via my Mac’s optical output to the optical input on my preamp-processor (Emotiva UMC-1)? Can I stream them to said pre-pro via Apple TV or Airplay? Since the UMC-1 doesn’t have a USB input, do I need to buy a Dragonfly DAC or something like that? How about a USB headphone amp?  I obviously want a hardware setup that preserves the highest resolution. —Steve Burbidge / Minneapolis, MN

Al Griffin  |  Mar 17, 2014  |  6 comments
The effects of dynamic volume control are illustrated in this diagram from Audyssey.

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Q When watching a movie, I often have to turn the volume up to hear the dialogue but then find that the action scenes are too loud and have to turn it down again. My speakers are all from the same product line, so I know they are meant to play well together. I also use the automatic room correction on my Pioneer VSX-914-K AV receiver to adjust levels and distances for the speakers. Is the volume issue due to the way movies are mixed these days? —Ricky Meadows / via e-mail Ricky Meadows / via e-mail

Al Griffin  |  Mar 13, 2014  |  4 comments
Q I'm looking for a way to play two-channel music via iTunes AirPlay streaming through my Pioneer SC-57 receiver while watching muted sports on my plasma TV, which doesn’t have ARC. All my HDMI sources currently go into the receiver, with a single HDMI output to the TV. Is there a way to set up a second zone on the SC-57? Some other simple solution that I'm missing? —Jason Karley / via email
Al Griffin  |  Mar 06, 2014  |  3 comments
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Q I have a 56-inch Samsung rear-projection DLP TV that I purchased in 2006. The set is installed in a room with low to medium light, and I sit about 12 to 14 feet away. I have never had any problems with the TV and have yet to replace its lamp. I’m now wondering, though, should I wait for the lamp to die, or replace it? Would a lamp replacement improve the picture? I have a two-year-old 40-inch Samsung LCD in another room that I’ve always admired for its crisp picture, though it looks a bit like a daytime soap opera even with the Movie mode selected.—Brian Pridgen / via e-mail

Al Griffin  |  Mar 03, 2014  |  5 comments
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Q I am moving to a new home and plan to transfer my AV receiver and speakers to the new location but don’t want to have to run new wiring. Is there a system available that will let me attach a wireless transmitter to my AV receiver and wireless receivers to my speakers and avoid running wires?—Michael DeWaters / via e-mail

Al Griffin  |  Feb 27, 2014  |  7 comments
Q I thought that plasma TVs don’t suffer from motion blur, but I definitely see it when watching with my new Panasonic TC-P60ST60 plasma. Is there some setting I have configured incorrectly, or was I wrong in thinking that plasma tech is free from motion blur? —Bob Shedlock / Strongsville, Ohio
Al Griffin  |  Feb 20, 2014  |  4 comments
Q I recently learned that my television’s 120 Hz feature is global—when I turn it on, it remains on for all sources. I'm not a fan of this because I don't like seeing the “Soap Opera Effect” on TV and movie sources, though I do like it when playing videogames because the higher frame rate gives them a silky-smooth look. Here’s my question: Do you know of any TVs with a 120 Hz feature that can be turned on or off for specific inputs? —Ricky Meadows / via email
Al Griffin  |  Feb 13, 2014  |  3 comments
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Q I need a new TV. Here’s what I want: LED-backlit LCD, 55- to 60-inch screen, thin (2 inches or less deep), great picture.  I also want it to be truly dumb, with as few Smart features as possible. My research has turned up a new NuVision Lucidium NVU55FX10LS, a 55-inch model that appears to have a good picture. Can you suggest another dumb TV with an equally good picture that might be cheaper?  —Dennis A. Fuller / Dallas, TX

Al Griffin  |  Feb 06, 2014  |  9 comments
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Q I’d like to know if it would be a waste to use a power amplifier connected to the preamp outputs of an AV receiver with the same rated power. The AV receiver I have in mind is the Denon AVR-3313CI.—Morris Barber / via e-mail

Al Griffin  |  Jan 30, 2014  |  0 comments
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Q Both my TV and Marantz AV8801 surround processor provide video adjustments. If I tweak the settings for both, will they conflict with each other? Also, if the Marantz does a good job handling video processing, will there be any advantage to using a high-end player like the Oppo BDP-93 instead of a PS3 for Blu-ray playback?—Michael McGehee / Macon, GA

Al Griffin  |  Jan 23, 2014  |  5 comments
Q I recently updated my old receiver with a Pioneer VSX-1123-K. The difference in picture and sound quality is fantastic. I had also planned to update my old Blu-ray player with an Oppo, which I hear has superior picture quality due to its use of a Marvell Qdeo video processing chip. I’ve heard that the VSX-1123-K also uses the same processor. Does that mean I wouldn't see a difference in picture quality if I upgraded to the Oppo? —Al Baran / Stratford, CT