LATEST ADDITIONS

Kris Deering  |  Oct 07, 2020  |  10 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $20,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
True 4K resolution
Laser light source
Excellent out-of-box color accuracy
Minus
Some limitations with HDR
Steep price for feature set

THE VERDICT
Sony's new projector is capable of delivering dazzling images, though it lacks some cutting-edge features and components expected at this price point.

Three years ago, Sony introduced the VPL-VW885ES, a 4K LCOS projector with a laser light engine. I found the 885ES to be capable of throwing high-quality images when I reviewed it, but in the end wasn't fully enamored with the new projector. Basically, I felt it had obvious shortcomings that were hard to ignore at the premium $25,000 price.

Mike Mettler  |  Oct 07, 2020  |  0 comments
It only took Eddie Van Halen 102 seconds to change the face, sound, and scope of rock guitar forever.

The first time any of us dropped the needle on “Eruption,” the onomatopoeic 1:42 instrumental that served as the literally explosive second track on Van Halen’s self-titled February 1978 debut album, we knew instantly that rock & roll had turned yet another corner. During the pop-music malaise of the late-1970s, wherein the razor-edge ethos of punk and seemingly endless days/nights of disco had already upset the bloated rock applecart, Eddie Van Halen shifted the narrative back to the value of the virtuoso musician in ways not seen in almost a decade.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 06, 2020  |  4 comments
Most sci-fi fans have their favorite genre films from each decade. The 1980s had more than their share of them. There would be plenty of votes for the second and third Star Wars releases: The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. Star Trek TOS would also crash the party with perhaps the best sci-fi trilogy of all: The Wrath of Khan, The Search for Spock, and The Voyage Home. There were one-shot candidates as well, including Aliens, Cocoon, Inner Space, War Games, Enemy Mine, and, of course, E.T.

Yes, the ‘80s were a good time for sci-fi. Even more amazing is the fact that most of these films used only physical (practical) effects; CGI was barely a buzzword. But two live-action films from the first half of the decade hinted at what was to come. Tron made an attempt at using computer generated images, though many of the effects were supplemented by animation. But it was another film from the ‘80s that more clearly pointed the way to the future: The Last Starfighter.

Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Oct 05, 2020  |  1 comments
A few months ago, we considered the playlist used to tune the bespoke sound system in the Rolls Royce Phantom, a car that sells for a tidy $500,000. We discussed playlists generally and why they are so important. But is the Rolls Royce Phantom playlist a good one, and truly worthy of the marque?
Mike Mettler  |  Oct 02, 2020  |  2 comments
Performances
Sound
The Grateful Dead couldn't catch a break. Sure, they were the head-trip belles of San Francisco's 1960s psychedelic ball, but they were unable to get their recording act together enough to cut an album that best captured their true spirit—that is, until they struck prospector's gold with their fourth studio album, June 1970's Workingman's Dead. By dialing back on the overtly psychedelic-cum-outré experimental modes that dominated June 1968's Anthem of the Sun and June 1969's Aoxomoxoa and instead zeroing in on their folk-bred songcraft for Workingman's, the Dead had finally found their recording niche at last.
Bob Ankosko  |  Oct 01, 2020  |  0 comments
Basements are usually dank, dreary spaces reserved for storage but when the owners of a majestic home in the Milwaukee suburb of River Hills hired Deep River Partners to bring a cleaner transitional aesthetic to the traditional décor, they decided to extend the design magic below grade and transform a boring space into a comfy media room.
Al Griffin  |  Oct 01, 2020  |  7 comments
It seemed like a miracle when Christopher Nolan’s new film Tenet was released in theaters a few weeks ago. But there was a dilemma. I live in New York State, and the governor hadn’t yet cleared movie theaters for reopening. And that’s still the case.
Barb Gonzalez  |  Sep 30, 2020  |  0 comments
This year’s Roku fall lineup is a bit more interesting than in the past as the company has added new products and OS features aimed at A/V enthusiasts. The Roku Ultra streamer has been redesigned for better sound, video, and overall performance. The new Streambar is a hybrid Roku player and TV soundbar in a compact form. And updates to Roku OS 9.4 add some useful features. 
Leslie Shapiro  |  Sep 30, 2020  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Rechargeable, fully wireless surrounds
Upfiring speakers for overhead effects
Easy to use auto-calibration
HDMI with eARC and Dolby Vision pass-through
Minus
Smart Mode processing difficult to switch on/off

THE VERDICT
The JBL Bar 9.1 system combines soundbar convenience with a level of immersive performance only achievable through dedicated surround and overhead effects speakers.

The JBL Bar 9.1 soundbar system provides one of the easiest ways to get a realistic Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive audio experience. JBL's secret? The Bar 9.1 uses a pair of detachable wireless, battery-operated surround speakers that can be situated anyplace in the room that's convenient. In addition, the Bar 9.1 has an auto-calibration feature that will adjust the sound to compensate for speaker placement.

Al Griffin  |  Sep 29, 2020  |  1 comments
Canada’s Bluesound, maker of multiroom wireless streamers, amps, speakers, and soundbars, has added a new subwoofer to its product lineup. With a larger 8-inch driver and 150-watt Smart DSP amplifier, The Pulse Sub+ ($749) appears to be a significant improvement over the company’s previous offering, the Pulse Sub. The new model can also be set up and adjusted via the company’s BluOS Controller app—a feature the earlier Pulse Sub lacked.

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