A/V Veteran

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 09, 2024  |  3 comments
While movies and other categories of (primarily) non-musical programming dominate what we hear and see in our home theaters, it's a good bet that if you've been into this hobby for more than a few years it all began with music. But there's more to music than simply listening to it with no images involved apart from those in our head. How those artists not only sing but also act out a song can be a critical part of the overall experience.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 26, 2024  |  3 comments
I recently visited LG's New Jersey U.S. headquarters to get the scoop on its 2024 lineup of QNED and OLED TVs. Here's what I learned.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 12, 2024  |  2 comments
Since the early days of primitive computing, humanity has pondered the possibilities of advanced computers ultimately taking over and rendering their creators irrelevant. Most of you will recognize the quote in the headline as originally spoken in the 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. It seems more relevant today than ever.
Tom Norton  |  Feb 27, 2024  |  7 comments
Just in case you've been living under a rock somewhere, you need to know that the film Dune: Part Two will arrive at a theater near you this coming Friday, March 1, 2024. That would place its story about 10,000 years into a future envisioned by writer Frank Herbert in his famous 1965 science fiction novel, directed in this latest film incarnation, by Denis Villeneuve.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 13, 2024  |  4 comments
If you find yourself experiencing a flashback on reading this blog, you're not alone. Last summer I wrote a similar piece. But there's always new ground to cover, particularly on the subject of TV setup and calibration. Some of the material here is similar to that in the prior blog, but in other ways the results are different.

An accurate calibration requires that the calibrator be trained, have access to specialized test gear and PC calibration software (of the latter, Calman from Portrait Displays is the best known and most widely used)...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 30, 2024  |  5 comments
I've commented before on finding interesting posts on YouTube. Though marred by incessant commercial interruptions (I keep my TV's remote close enough to exit the promotions as soon as possible) that service's offerings cover endless topics: sports, history, current events, music, and much more...Several recent British documentaries, for example, covered the hazards found in English homes of different eras...I recently discovered another far more serious entry. Running for 86 minutes, The Maestro and the Cellist of Auschwitz (a German production with subtitles and translations where needed) covers the very different stories of two musicians during World War II...The maestro of the title here was Germany's Willhelm Furtwangler, arguably one of the most storied and feted symphonic and opera conductors of the 20th Century.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 16, 2024  |  13 comments
The subject of the Titanic disaster makes for endless commentary. The ship went down in 1912, but once it was precisely located on the ocean floor in the 1980s the story of its demise has inspired an orgy of new coverage. The star attraction of that coverage, of course, was, and remains, the 1997 James Cameron film, Titanic. But it wasn't the first, or only, film on the subject. There was the 1958 black and white British film A Night to Remember, based on the Walter Lord book of the same name.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 26, 2023  |  5 comments
Part two of an interview did I did more than 25 years ago reveals that not everything has changed when it comes to home audio.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 12, 2023  |  3 comments
In 1997 I was on the staff of Stereophile magazine as a consulting technical editor, and also a contributor to (and later the editor of) the Stereophile Guide to Home Theater, at the time a nascent publication subsumed into Sound & Vision in the mid 20-aughts (itself a very long story!)

In any case, we were visited that year by Phil Abbate, then a reporter for the AAS (Atlanta Audio Society, today the Atlanta Audio Club). Phil interviewed me during his visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico, then the headquarters of Stereophile. Whether that interview ever made it into the pages of the AAS (or onto the bits of the then also nascent Internet) I don't know. But during a recent effort to sort out my increasingly cluttered files I ran across a copy of that interview, which Phil had sent me shortly after it happened.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 21, 2023  |  8 comments
I was recently riffling through my collection of video discs, searching for one to use to use as a source in a review, when 2017's The Finest Hours dropped into my hands for the first time years. It's the true story of the nearly impossible rescue of an oil tanker, the SS Pendleton caught in a furious February 1952 nor'easter off Chatham Massachusetts on Cape Cod. It remains the most incredible small-boat rescue in Coast Guard history. Coast Guard Petty Officer Bernie Webber and his small crew set out in a 32-foot boat to save the tanker's 32 surviving crewmen.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 07, 2023  |  13 comments
A recent editorial in our sister publication, Stereophile, and some recent experiences I've had in dealing with Bluetooth, raised once more the related subjects of digital audio and audio compression. Digital audio can only exist by slicing the source signal up into pieces that can be manipulated and used immediately or stored for later reassembly in the analog domain.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 17, 2023  |  6 comments
In television, as in all things, you can't fully appreciate where you are, and where you're headed, without knowing where you've been. Not all that long ago plasma was king but that was only one step in an ongoing parade of TV designs...
Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 03, 2023  |  5 comments
I've written about animated films before, but there are always new ones to discover, as well as older titles to revisit. To beat a live horse yet again (Maximus in Tangled, for example, not Maximus in Gladiator) I continue to be disappointed that adult friends, when visiting for a movie night, reject out of hand any suggested animated titles. Some, I suspect, haven't seen an animated movie since they were 12, an age at which they abandoned anything they considered to be childish diversions beneath their newfound sophistication. But just as live action films can offer things that animated titles cannot, the reverse is certainly true. Here are six more of my favorite animated movies.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 19, 2023  |  3 comments
Long-time readers and experienced videophiles will instantly recognize the Spears and Munsil brand. Over the years S&M has released what are arguably the best video evaluation discs on the market for setting up video displays of all descriptions. At $59.95, the new Spears & Munsil Ultra HD Benchmark is the company's priciest offering to date. But it's also the most thorough.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 05, 2023  |  3 comments
1983's WarGames offered a prescient take on today's emerging concerns about artificial intelligence (AI), though the film envisioned something more apocalyptic than worries over being replaced by robots.