A/V Veteran

Sort By: Post DateTitle Publish Date
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 14, 2022  |  1 comments
Looking to improve the sound of your system? Before you start switching out gear, assess the acoustics of your room. You may be surprised by what you find.
Thomas J. Norton  |  May 31, 2022  |  3 comments
Spring is traditionally prime time for the audio industry to dust off the cobwebs and bring out their best and latest gear at a hi-fi show for the public to see, hear, and touch. But the pandemic of the past two years wreaked havoc on the show front.
Thomas J. Norton  |  May 17, 2022  |  2 comments
It's been a strange two years for home entertainment as Covid came and went, came and went, came and... It's been even stranger for home theater.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 26, 2022  |  2 comments
Audiophiles have an inherent advantage over home theater enthusiasts: when it comes to setting up their systems, they need only make room for two loudspeakers plus a convenient location for the sources and amplifiers needed to drive them. For a home theater we need to find space for more, often much more. Those multiple speakers must also support the screen, and often there isn't much flexibility in where to put the latter—be it a TV or a projector with a separate screen. In any home theater setup the locations for the center, surrounds, and perhaps overhead speakers are then usually fixed by the placement of those front speakers and the main listener/viewer positions, with little room for deviations in a proper setup.

But positioning one or more subwoofers for the best results is a chore that takes time and patience. Subwoofers are relatively rare in 2-channel systems, which is unfortunate because they can achieve soul-satisfying bass while limiting the need for hulking, and expensive, front left and right loudspeakers.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 12, 2022  |  6 comments
All full-range loudspeakers have a tweeter, apart from relatively uncommon, single driver designs. A tweeter's performance can vary widely, but generally reflects the budget and/or the intentions of the designer. Most buyers are happy with the tweeters in their loudspeakers, but are they missing something?

Aperion Audio believes they are. They offer three different super tweeters as add-on devices to your current loudspeakers. There are other super tweeters on the market, but as a category they're rare. Aperion sent me one of each — the pure Aluminum Ribbon at $649 (shown in the photo above), the Planar-Ribbon at $399, and the pure Dual Aluminum Ribbon (radiating toward both the front and the back) at $999.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 29, 2022  |  0 comments
When I wrote about the new film version of Dune some months back my reaction was positive. I saw it in a movie theater—my first visit to one in two years. There was plenty of social distancing during my visit; with a dozen or so other attendees at a midweek, midafternoon showing I could have swung a cat on a 10 foot rope without hitting anyone (with apologies to cat people). I enjoyed the film, but as I noted in that October 2021 blog, I was disappointed by the quality of much of the cinematography. This was surprising, since it was the Dolby Cinema in my local AMC-plex. Dolby Cinema is by far my favorite way to see a movie in a commercial theater. It wasn't the sort of disappointment the average viewer would feel, and even I could set my concerns aside once I got into the film. But I know Dolby Cinema can do better and the film deserved it.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 15, 2022  |  2 comments
...Long before the CGI animation revolution, a number of Disney animators quit to go off on their own. It was the late 1970s, and Disney, they felt, had fallen into a rut, resisting new animation techniques and failing to adequately train new animators. Their leader was Don Bluth, and while the efforts of his nascent company were only modest successes at best over the years, they did leave us with one title that deserves to be remembered as a genuine classic: The Secret of NIMH.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 22, 2022  |  2 comments
The human visual system is a lot more complicated than we might imagine. A recent paper published in the journal Science Advances (January 12, 2022), Illusion of visual stability through active perceptual serial dependence, by researchers Mauro Manassi (University of Aberdeen, UK) and David Whitney (UC Berkeley), takes this idea a step further. I can't pretend to have slogged through the bulk of this article. The text is dense with the sort of science-speak common to experts in their field of expertise but nearly incomprehensible to the layman (a worldwide issue over the past two years, but I digress!)
Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 08, 2022  |  3 comments
Chances are if you're reading this you're careful about setting up and configuring your loudspeakers. But if you're new to this game, perhaps you're not. The average consumer may unpack those new speakers carefully, but then simply plunk them down wherever they happen to fit. We've heard stories of surround speakers being placed up front near the mains because it was too inconvenient to run wires to the back of the room! That's certainly understandable, but then why even bother; such placement will almost certainly make the sound worse than simply leaving the surrounds in their box.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 25, 2022  |  0 comments
At the January 2022 CES in Las Vegas the latest version of HDMI, HDMI 2.1a was announced. What does it bring us, and perhaps more to the point, what will it demand from us?
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 11, 2022  |  1 comments
The so-called Golden Age of Television is a bit of a moving target, but is generally thought to have run from the early 1950s to perhaps the mid 1960s. Depending on where you draw the line it began with the first mega-hit sitcom, I Love Lucy, and ended with the launch of the original ( Kirk, Spock, Bones) Star Trek.

A key characteristic of that age was the limited number of channels available. There was no home video of any kind, no way to record a show and later skip the commercials, and (at least in the '50s) black and white viewing on an enormous 21-inch (or smaller!) screen. As primitive as all that sounds, television was then the hot new entertainment technology, and the ratings for the best shows (with their limited competition) were enormous by today's standards. We might laugh today at the TV options of that era, but remember that TV nearly killed off the movies. Audiences in 2100 might well look back at what we have today—and laugh.

Our current cornucopia of options now features 99-channels of cable (and nothing to watch!), content streamed from a range of services (and over $100/month to pay for them!), and an unlimited variety of physical video discs (and yes, physical media is struggling but still far from dead).

Then there's YouTube, a free service supported by advertising. Up until a few weeks ago I considered YouTube an Internet oddity devoted to cat videos and looney stunts...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 28, 2021  |  0 comments
The discussion here was inspired by a letter from a reader. He noted that in a recent review I mentioned that the set in question offered auto calibration. But the remainder of the letter suggested that my comment was misunderstood (or perhaps not precise enough to begin with). In the review/calibration/video-crazy business world, auto-cal refers to a specialized subroutine in a standard calibration program such as Calman from Portrait Displays. A different version of this subroutine exists for each brand/model of TV, and perhaps even for each year of each brand/model. Once set up it's fast and accurate. But this auto-cal requires the same expensive test gear and calibrator training as any manual calibration...
Tom Norton  |  Dec 14, 2021  |  3 comments
IMAX, as most people experience it, is a high quality movie format used in specialized theaters worldwide. But its history, and development, is complicated. Here's the low-down on a relatively new home theater format that trades on the IMAX name.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 30, 2021  |  1 comments
Tom Norton jumps into his Movie Time Machine to revisit the enduring 1957 sci-fi classic, The Incredible Shrinking Man.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 16, 2021  |  4 comments
I wrote about moving cross country back in 2015, but there's always more to say on the subject, particularly as it applies to home theater fans with expensive gear to transport safely. No, I'm not moving again, but what with Covid and other incentives, more folks are moving today than ever — particularly out of a few big and management-challenged states such as New York and California.

Moving from the wilds of Glendale California to the (different) wilds of western Florida in 2015 presented me with a number of challenges. But that was nearly seven years ago. Those challenges are somewhat different now, but the basics haven't changed. Moving remains one of life's more disorienting experiences.

Pages

X