EDITOR'S EYE

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Rob Sabin  |  Mar 12, 2014  |  4 comments
It’s been said that the sound associated with watching video is “half” of the experience. But is it really? Or is it actually more than half? Or less?

Answering this question was the goal of a clever study recently commissioned by DTS, with an eye toward promoting its new DTS Headphone:X technology. For those unfamiliar, Headphone:X has been at the heart of one of the more impressive CES show demos for the last two years running.

Rob Sabin  |  Feb 18, 2013  |  17 comments
As a consumer electronics editor and reporter, I’ve never been a big fan of company profiles. We are frequently contacted by public relations reps who think their client has a good backstory worth telling consumers. But I usually prefer to let those company’s products speak for them in the Court of Test Reports, believing that hands-on feedback about the equipment is what readers really want, and that positive observations we might report in an article do a disservice if the gear fails to live up to it. Matters are complicated further when the company is one that advertises in our magazine or on our Website. Any upbeat comments naturally become suspect, and might cast doubt on a good product review arrived at independently and fairly. We never want to look like we’re in bed with any manufacturer, so why even go there?

Such was the case with Emotiva, a Web-based direct-sale audio company out of Nashville, TN that has carved a niche for itself delivering what’s best described as “affordable high-end.”

Rob Sabin  |  Apr 01, 2017  |  0 comments
As night settled in with hours left to drive, I pulled off the highway in Barstow to tap the Wi-Fi at Starbucks and download the Audible version of Fear and Loathing to my iPhone. That’s when I saw him, working behind the counter, his wild gray hair dancing in the overhead lights...
Rob Sabin  |  Jun 27, 2014  |  First Published: Jun 28, 2014  |  13 comments
The Dolby Atmos surround-sound format for home theaters made its debut this week with product announcements from several manufacturers and live demos in New York City at the Consumer Electronics Association's CE Week trade show. The technology that Dolby first introduced to theaters in 2012 offers the potential for a far more immersive audio experience than the traditional 5.1- and 7.1-channel systems that are still mostly employed today, and having experienced Atmos in the cinema, I admit I was pretty pumped heading into the demos.

And I wasn't let down. Atmos in the home environment seems to work—surprisingly well, in fact. Caveats? Yeah, there are a few worth watching out for that I'll get to later. But overall, I'll go on record that this is probably the most discernable advance in home theater sound since the introduction of lossless digital audio in the Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio formats on Blu-ray. And it's one that leaves all the pre-existing height- and width-channel surround formats— including Dolby Pro Logic IIz and DTS Neo:X—in the dust. Finally, this may be one that will truly make it worth the trouble of adding those extra speakers. Maybe...

Rob Sabin  |  Aug 11, 2017  |  0 comments
I love that time of year when, after a couple of false starts and brief teases, the persistence of winter finally breaks for good and the soft breezes of spring arrive. That’s a decidedly northern experience, of course, one that some folks eventually move south to get away from permanently (well, the winter that precedes it, anyway), and which others have never known because of their origins in warmer climes. I get it — I’ve got family all over the country and have spent plenty of time out west and in Florida, and I see how a guy could get used to it. But the New Yorker in me thinks those folks are missing out. If you haven’t struggled through a winter, even a mild one, you can’t fully appreciate the fleeting beauty of a spring and summer in the same way. You need that frame of reference. It makes being outside that much better.
Rob Sabin  |  Aug 05, 2015  |  6 comments
Hint: It's One You Already Know...

In a recent Signals blog (“Saving Hi-Res Audio”) Ken Pohlmann spotlighted the near-rabid sniping in the audiophile community and the public at large about whether hi-res audio delivers real, discernible benefits. Ken suggested that if the music industry wants hi-res to succeed, they should drop the significant premium now attached to hi-res downloads and charge the same as for any other music file, then reap the benefit of people buying more music because they like engaging with high-quality content.

Rob Sabin  |  Feb 01, 2016  |  4 comments
I’ve had almost a month to ponder CES 2016 and what strikes me most as I look back is how a show that was once strictly about audio/video has grown into an enormous and wild Mardi Gras of tech, encompassing everything from drones and hoverboards to smartphones and digital health wearables and much more.

Rob Sabin  |  Jul 24, 2013  |  First Published: Jul 25, 2013  |  31 comments
Readers who follow developments in audio/video electronics might have heard back in May that Home Theater's parent company, Source Interlink Media, acquired its chief competitor Sound & Vision. These were the two biggest print magazines serving the A/V enthusiast.

It was announced on Monday that, beginning with the October issue, Home Theater and Sound & Vision will be merged, and only one magazine will go forward under the Sound & Vision brand.

Rob Sabin  |  Oct 03, 2011  |  8 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
A lot of consumer electronics editors and reviewers have a love-hate relationship with product ratings. The love side comes from knowing they make readers happy. Assuming the ratings structure is well thought out (that is, simple and easy to understand) and the ratings are applied with fairness and accuracy, they wrap the whole product up in a nice little ball and tell you, at a quick glance, whether it's a winner, loser, or in-betweener. Perhaps most important, a good rating, or a good rating coupled with a seal of approval like our Top Picks designation, is validation that the product is worthy of the money you plan to spend on it. Given the sea of black boxes, identically thin TVs, and similar speaker systems out there, we recognize that giving you this validation is really the essence of our job at Home Theater.
Rob Sabin  |  Jul 29, 2016  |  7 comments
There aren’t too many to choose from, but bipole and dipole speakers are a special breed that I've long admired. Here's why.
Rob Sabin  |  Jun 12, 2017  |  First Published: Jun 13, 2017  |  0 comments
The company best known among cinephiles for entertaining big audiences with big screens and big sound has gone the opposite way with its latest big idea: Virtual reality (VR) centers to provide one-on-one entertainment to walk-in customers at cineplexes and other venues nationwide.

Rob Sabin  |  Jun 30, 2017  |  0 comments
In a recent post I chided manufacturers for releasing Wi-Fi-based speakers that failed to perform reliably. But then I began to wonder about the role of our Wi-Fi networks and whether the demands of these new products are outpacing the capabilities of today’s “average” network. Ravi Rajapakse, founder and CEO of Blackfire Research, sheds some light on the subject…
Rob Sabin  |  Jan 29, 2014  |  8 comments
Panasonic’s Departure from the Plasma Market is Heartbreaking, and Inevitable

There is both irony and tragedy in the fact that this year’s much-deserved prize for our Top Pick product for all of 2013 goes to TC-P65ZT60, whose short life and lineage will begin and end with the 2013 model year...

Rob Sabin  |  Jul 14, 2017  |  6 comments
Photo by Matt Murray, Courtesy Value Electronics

In what appears to be an ongoing trend, LG took top honors Thursday at this year's TV Shootout at CE Week in New York. This marks the 4th consecutive year that LG's current top OLED model, this time the 65-inch E7, was declared the annual "King of TV" — a title even more deserving than in year's past thanks to the set sweeping all three of the judging categories.

But despite what by now seems like a familiar or expected result, this year's event was more competitive and interesting than in recent years, with at least one set that very nearly equaled the LG, and others that failed to come as close as we'd have expected.

Rob Sabin  |  Jun 24, 2016  |  0 comments

ISF's Joel Silver presenting at the 12th annual Value Electronics TV Shootout.

For the third consecutive year, LG's OLED technology has found itself atop the heap at the annual TV shootout held by Scarsdale, NY-based retailer Value Electronics.

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