A/V Veteran

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 12, 2021  |  0 comments
A reader recently responded to a loudspeaker review complaining that, as set up for the review, the speakers were positioned 4-feet out from the wall behind them. Impractical, the poster commented, as he didn't have the space in his room to do that. But I always position speakers that way and suspect that most reviewers do so as well—though not all of them specifically state it. But I can't help myself; I cut my teeth writing for our sister publication Stereophile. While dubious "truths" abound in audiophilia, this one has a real basis in "the science."
Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 28, 2021  |  2 comments
If your TV is 7-10 years old and free of built-in streaming services, or you haven't yet used an outboard streaming device, your life is simple. But if your set is anywhere near new, and you're using its on-board, so-called Smart TV opening screen, it's a very different experience that starts with a cluttered home screen. Ever wonder why that home screen is packed with a dizzying array of apps?
Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 14, 2021  |  0 comments
As any serious photographer can tell you, color is a complex subject. There are researchers devoting their careers to it. It's also central to properly setting up a television in a process we call calibration.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 31, 2021  |  3 comments
A strangely vivid dream reminds Tom Norton of another time, long ago, when movie theaters were in trouble.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 17, 2021  |  3 comments
In case you haven't noticed, big screen TVs are becoming almost affordable. And by big screen, I mean BIG, as in over 80-inches diagonal. I was browsing in Sam's Club the other day where rows of TVs in that size were on sale. If an 85-inch Vizio P-Series Quantum X at $2,900 isn't surprising enough, how about an 82-inch Samsung Crystal UHD 7-Series TU700D for $1,396?

Granted, both sets were 2020 models on closeout and not the latest 2021s. The Vizio was that company's best, or next to best, model for 2020, but the Samsung was in a 2020 budget range. But still, about $17 per diagonal inch for the Vizio and $34 per inch for the Samsung?

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 20, 2021  |  5 comments
We've fretted a lot (or at least some of us have) over the growth of streaming because it threatens the survival of packaged media—having your favorite films readily available on Blu-ray or UltraHD Blu-ray, at the highest possible consumer quality, sitting on your bookshelf where no tools from a streaming service with cancellation orders can barge in and carry them away (at least not yet!).
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 06, 2021  |  1 comments
Remember the scene in Oblivion where Jack cues up a record in his secret hideaway? I could expand here on the ratty condition of the record sleeves, but I'm referring instead to the clump of dust on the stylus—the "needle" for the analog-deprived. In the movie world, and in the absence of a proper stylus brush, he might use a finger swipe to clean it off (yikes!), but since he (and the movie's art director) has only recently experienced the vinyl enlightenment if at all, and in the absence of a proper stylus brush, he simply ignores it. The record plays nevertheless.

But this tome isn't about vinyl. It's about the sticky business of keeping our audio-video systems relatively tidy. Working on this should be at least an annual event for every A/V fan, and for the inveterate tweaker and/or reviewer it should happen even more often.

Begin with the equipment stand or rack...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 15, 2021  |  1 comments
Heat is the enemy of electronics, including all of that audio gear crammed into your A/V cabinet. In the early days of electronic entertainment, vacuum tubes (or as our Brit friends call them, valves) were the thing—the only thing. As one of my teachers once explained, the key to vacuum tubes was the little man with a switch inside. But he must have been sweaty, as a tube device could serve well as a space heater.

Back in the day our electronic entertainment consisted of little more than a radio. The family gave no thought to what was inside until one of the tubes failed, prompting a visit to the local drug store with its tube tester and ready supply of replacements.

Then came hi-fi and an interesting thing happened. Because of the heat issue, relegated largely to the output stages of an amplifier, separates were born. The separate preamp driving an amp on a separate chassis was a popular way to go.

The divide, between separates and the integrated amplifier (or perhaps AVR), still exists today in both the 2-channel and home theater worlds. Long forgotten is its genesis, since with solid state electronics heat is no longer an issue.

Or is it?...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 01, 2021  |  2 comments
Epson America recently filed a lawsuit against Vava (Sunvalleytek International Inc.), claiming erroneous ANSI Lumens claims for the latter's VA-LT002 4K UST (Ultra Short Throw) laser projector.

It's easy to get into the weeds on this subject (I pity the poor judge assigned to adjudicate the claim!). You'll usually see a projector's overall luminance specified in one of two ways: either simply in lumens or in ANSI Lumens. The latter spec must follow procedures established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The former doesn't...

Thomas J. Norton  |  May 18, 2021  |  1 comments
In case you haven't noticed, prices in the consumer world are creeping up. It's not yet a tsunami, but the signs are there. This should be a concern for everyone, and audio- and videophiles won't be immune from it. Some of the rising costs are due to unexpected events, such as the hacking of an oil pipeline, which might settle back in time. Others are due to government monetary policies, for better or worse in the unsettled time of Covid-19. Inflation is always produced when too much money chases too few goods. And there's no money tree in the back room of the Capitol in Washington. We're borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, but Peter can't object; he's just a printing press. The typical payback is inflation, a hidden tax on everyone.

Economics is a boring, black art, but it could inevitably affect our own little A/V corner of the wider world...

Thomas J. Norton  |  May 04, 2021  |  4 comments
David Vaughn’s 2019 review of the SVS SB-3000 sealed subwoofer inspired me to request a pair of SB-3000s for a feature article on finding the best locations for dual subs. But because my listening space is open to much of house I had the urge to experiment with two larger, ported subs, so I pitted two SB-3000’s against a pair of PB-3000’s to see how they would hold-up against their big brothers.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 20, 2021  |  0 comments
Ken Pohlmann got the jump on me in his blog this week, but the recent permanent (?) closing of the Cinerama Dome theater in Hollywood is a significant event. Perhaps I can add a slightly different perspective.

When I lived in LA from 2000 to 2015 the Arclight theater in Hollywood was one of my go-to haunts whenever I wanted to see a top-drawer movie release in a premier theater. The Cinerama Dome was the main attraction in this multiplex, but the other Arclight screens were also impressive...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 06, 2021  |  3 comments
The big news story of last week wasn't out of Washington D.C., or about the current state of Covid, or who has just cancelled who or what, or even the new line of TVs ready to flood your local Costco, Sam's Club, Best Buy, or any number of other retailers. It involved a giant cargo ship, the Ever Given, getting stuck in the Suez canal with hundreds of other ships lined up behind it and unable to get through with their cargo. What's this have to do with home audio and video?
Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 23, 2021  |  3 comments
Building your own speakers from scratch Is an activity I've written about before. But that first blog is now accessible only by delving deeply into our Wayback Time Machine, so a revisit to this intriguing audio subculture is worth a follow-up here. Read on to find out if you have what it takes to take on a DIY speaker project.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 09, 2021  |  2 comments
The changes to how we watch media resulting from the closing of theaters due to the Covid-19 pandemic have been unprecedented. True, not all theaters are closed. Here in the wilds of Florida my local AMC has been open for some time. But its current slate of movies is hardly the stuff of dreams: Boogie, Chaos Walking, The Mauritanian (not The Mandalorian!), The Little Things, The Marksman, The Croods: A New Age, and Raya and the Last Dragon. The latter is the only one tempting me to break my year long hiatus from that theater's Dolby Vision and IMAX auditoriums, but not quite enough for me to do so even though I've now joined the few, the proud, and the vaccinated.

A whole spate of potential blockbusters have either been released to streaming or are being held over until the studios are confident that if they show them (in theaters) they will come.

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