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Scott Wilkinson  |  May 25, 2012  |  0 comments
The concept of 3D audio is gaining a lot of traction lately, in both commercial and consumer settings. Tom Norton recently wrote about his experience with a system called Imm Sound, which employs many speakers around and above the audience in commercial cinemas, as does Dolby Atmos and Barco Auro. On the home front, several companies have developed technologies that purport to create 3D soundfields from two speakers or a soundbar, including Gen Audio's Astound Sound and Sonic Emotion's Absolute 3D, both of which have been discussed on the Home Theater Geeks podcast here and here, respectively.

Then there's SRS Labs, which has been working on 3D audio perhaps longer than anyone else. Not only does this company offer a variety of proprietary soundfield-expansion algorithms, it is also the founding member of the 3D Audio Alliance (3DAA), which is working on an open-standard specification called Multi-Dimensional Audio, or MDA.

Bob Ankosko  |  May 24, 2012  |  7 comments
Stunning or strange? One of these words is likely to come to mind when you first lay eyes on the 101 X-treme speaker system, the flagship of MBL’s Reference Line. And what a system it is, handmade to order in Germany and comprising a pair of approximately 6-foot-tall towers, each of which supports two utterly unconventional driver arrays in an open frame, and two subwoofer towers, each comprised of six 12-inch woofers, a crossover, and an amplifier broken into three ported birch and aluminum boxes that can be stacked or laid side by side as needed. (No lows left behind.)
Rob Sabin  |  Dec 20, 2011  |  4 comments
Eleven years ago, in the fall of 2000, the Sunday Arts & Leisure section of The New York Times published a long freelance article I wrote announcing the birth of digital cinema. Digital projection for large venues was mostly a dream at the time, but the technology existed and had been proven to provide satisfying images for the average moviegoer. Meanwhile, digital cinema’s biggest booster, filmmaker George Lucas, had just finished shooting Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones in 1080p/24-frame-per-second digital using a cutting-edge camera developed by Sony and Panavision. It was the first major motion picture to be shot entirely in video.
Rob Sabin  |  Dec 20, 2011  |  4 comments
When the Federal Communications Commission approved the ATSC digital broadcast standard in December 1996, most consumers shrugged as the pundits (us at Home Theater included) heralded the greatest advance in television since the introduction of color in the 1950s. Time has proven us right. With six times the detail of standard-definition video, HDTV has been both a revelation and a revolution. For those who care about picture quality, one quick look was enough to know the world had changed, and we were never going back.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Jul 14, 2011  |  0 comments
And now for something completely different—a speaker made of concrete! Designed by Shmuel Linski as his final project to graduate from Shenkar College in Israel, the so-called Exposed speaker is nothing if not unique.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Jul 07, 2011  |  0 comments
In addition to the Reference system I wrote about a few weeks ago, MBL also showed its mid-range Noble line in an adjoining room at T.H.E. Show in Newport Beach, CA, last month. I must say, this more moderate setup fit the funky hotel room better than the bigger system next door.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Jun 30, 2011  |  1 comments
Who would have thought that Estonia, a tiny republic on the Baltic Sea in the far northeast corner of the European continent, is home to a high-end speaker maker? Estelon was founded in 2006 to bring the vision of designer Alfred Vassllkov to life. His first product—the Model XA—is still the company's flagship.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Jun 28, 2011  |  0 comments
Since 2005, the mission of NuForce has been to "thrill the ear, delight the eye, and please the pocket." I've not heard the company's flagship Reference 18 monoblock power amp, but it does have a delightful appearance and a pleasing price—at least as far as high-end power amps go.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Jun 21, 2011  |  0 comments
Wolf Cinema is known for its extremely high-end home-theater projectors, several of which I've profiled in this blog. Now, the company has announced its latest offering, the SDC-15—also known as "the Cub"—a 1080p projector with full 3D capabilities and a surprisingly affordable price, at least for Wolf.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Jun 16, 2011  |  0 comments
According to the brochure for the Hiato 2-channel integrated amplifier from Plinius Audio, "Benefiting from our tranquil location in the inspirational natural environment of New Zealand, the Plinius design team brings you products that faithfully reproduce the emotional touchstones of your favourite music. The holistic integrity of nature's designs inspire Plinius to combine wonderful sound, superb finishes, and technical excellence to delight the senses." Sounds good to me.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Jun 14, 2011  |  5 comments
Even though hotel rooms are not the best environment to show off high-end audio products, some companies managed to achieve a mighty impressive sound at T.H.E. Show in Newport Beach, CA. Among them was MBL, which set up two systems in adjoining rooms. My first stop was the room with the flagship Reference system, including two 101E MkII speakers ($70,500/pair, profiled here) and two 9011 monoblock power amps, which generate 750 watts per channel and cost a staggering $53,000 each.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Jun 09, 2011  |  0 comments
Video demos were mighty scarce at T.H.E. Show last week. One notable exception was located in a ballroom hosted by Digital Ear, a high-end dealer in Tustin, CA. The centerpiece of the demo system was the 810 4K D-ILA projector from Meridian (profiled here) in its first public showing.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Jun 09, 2011  |  0 comments
Last week at T.H.E. Show in Newport Beach, CA, I heard the G2 Giya speaker from Vivid Audio for the first time. This is the newer, smaller sibling to the original G1 Giya, both of which I profiled here.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Jun 02, 2011  |  2 comments
Two years ago, I wrote an Ultimate Gear blog about the Concept Blade, a one-off speaker built by British stalwart KEF as a research project to push the envelope of speaker design. Now, that project has yielded a product you can actually buy—the KEF Blade.
Scott Wilkinson  |  May 31, 2011  |  3 comments
With the rise of digital-audio servers, the role of digital-to-analog converters (DACs) is becoming ever more important. Those who want the very best DAC might do well to consider the DaVinci from Light Harmonic.