Mark Fleischmann

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Mark Fleischmann  |  Oct 11, 2006  |  2 comments
"A Full-Blooded Approach, with Surround Sound," promised the New York Times headline of a piano-recital review. I knew I wouldn't be able to resist quoting it when the concert venue, the Frick Collection, was described as "perfect for the iPod generation, offering intense surround sound, minus the hearing damage." I thereupon combed the Apple website for hours looking in vain for the new surround-capable iPod before realizing that critic Vivien Schweitzer was, quite reasonably, designating surround sound as a virtue lacking in earbud-tethered devices. She praised British pianist Leon McCawley for his performances of the Mozart "Sonata in D," Rachmaninoff's "Études-Tableaux," and the "Suite for Piano" by Hans Gál, with its "Debussy-like harmonies, Schubertian lyricism, echoes of Brahms and Prokofiev and a hint of atonality.... The listener, meanwhile, was enveloped in an acoustical cocoon of bright, passionate sound." If you think the sole purpose of this blog is mockery, think again. Chamber and symphonic concertgoing offers an all too rare chance to build an acoustically pure frame of reference, unmediated by electronics, that can be applied to gauge the quality of equipment. I treasure my experiences in the Vienna Musikverein and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. You'll never hear better surround sound than in the right seat of a first-class concert hall.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Oct 10, 2006  |  2 comments
We interrupt this blog to bring you a commercial message about Practical Home Theater: A Guide to Video and Audio Systems (2007 Edition). Now moving into its sixth edition, it is the only annually updated book on home theater. This year the looong chapters on digital television and surround sound have been compassionately subdivided and reorganized. There are 40 more pages of content than in the first edition, including 16 new pages for this edition alone. Digital, or "on demand," printing technology lets me refresh the book every October, pulling the old edition and activating the new one. However, there are still old editions in the pipeline, and if you search the title on retailer sites, the new edition may not be the first to come up. Further complicating this year's switchover is the transition from the 10-digit International Standard Book Number (ISBN) to the new 13-digit variety on January 1, 2007. To ensure that you order the latest edition, look for the following identifiers...
Mark Fleischmann  |  Oct 21, 2010  |  1 comments
An annual source of delight for readers everywhere is the updating of my book Practical Home Theater: A Guide to Video and Audio Systems (2011 Edition) from Quiet River Press. The latest edition is the 10th. Look out for the one with the spiffy green cover (yellow is so last year). In this year's edition you'll find a brand-new chapter on 3DTV with my own admittedly skeptical take on the subject. I've also consolidated the DVR and audio-server chapters into a new chapter on DVRs, streamers, and servers. It makes a lot more organizational sense. For the ISBN-minded, the ISBN-13 number is 9781932732122, and ISBN-10 is 1932732128. To ensure you order the right edition, click the links above and below. They'll take you to my website and that will take you to Amazon. You're also welcome to shop other online booksellers by searching the title on AddAll. Or, if you're the old-fashioned kind, walk through the door of your local bookstore and special-order the book. Just be sure to give the correct ISBN. This year's edition will be the first to be distributed in Europe, Canada, and Australia as well as U.S. and U.K. retail channels. The price remains $19.95 in the U.S., same as the first edition in 2002, a nice value in these hard times. Please buy my book so I won't have to beg in the street.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Oct 02, 2009  |  9 comments
It's that time of year again. My book Practical Home Theater: A Guide to Video and Audio Systems has been reborn in what has become an annual tradition. You can distinguish the new edition by its yellow cover or its ISBN number: 9781932732115. This edition is number nine and its cover date (printed on the spine) is 2010. As always, I've gone over it obsessively, rooting out stale information and freshening up as much as possible. On the video side, LED-backlit LCD HDTV and the conclusion of the DTV transition. On the audio side, this is the first edition to discuss the new height-enhanced surround modes, Audyssey DSX and Dolby Pro Logic IIz. It goes into detail about the latest version of HDMI, 1.4, and separates HDMI-cable fact from hype. And it delves into the exotic amplifier topologies that are finding their way into receivers, including the new Class D, Class G, and Class H. I remain committed to the annual update and have already stripped the book's giant text file so I can begin work on the next edition. It never ends. Finally, please note that the book is sold mainly online via Amazon and other booksellers in the U.S., U.K., and Europe. But you can special-order it from a brick-and-mortar bookstore.
Mark Fleischmann  |  May 06, 2011  |  3 comments
The Blu-ray release of Star Wars: The Complete Saga is coming September 16, 2011 in the U.S. and four days earlier internationally. LucasFilm made the announcement this week, on May 4, Star Wars Day.

The versions used will be the ones released theatrically in 1997 and restored for the 2004 DVD release, George Lucas told The New York Times. The press release does not list resolution but we're guessing it's 1080p. The audio codec is listed as "6.1 DTS Surround Sound." It is not known whether that's DTS-HD Master Audio or lossy DTS 5.1. However, Fox has supported Master Audio in many other BD releases.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Aug 07, 2005  |  0 comments
Video: 4
Audio: 5
Extras: 0
Mark Fleischmann  |  Apr 05, 2013  |  1 comments
In a global economy convulsing with change, middle-level journalists in my dusty corner of the technology sector don't get many invitations to board a plane for Tokyo. Especially when the ticket is business class. But that's where I found myself a few weeks ago, in a luxurious seat with four different points of adjustment, on my way to visit one of the world's great audio companies: Sony. True, Sony isn't the first company most American audiophiles would think of in connection with high-end audio, or even the second or third. Yet I've been consistently knocked flat by demos of its two new loudspeaker lines in recent years. And it looks as if Sony is also looking to improve its game as a maker of surround receivers. Following is a brief summation of what you need to know about Sony's rebirth as an audio brand.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 05, 2016  |  7 comments
It is now blindingly obvious that music has burst free of its chains. Even the traditionalist audio categories I cover have ways to make music fly through the air. Let me run through some approaches to wireless connectivity—some well established, others new and novel. When we get to the finish line, I'd love to hear about what you use and what you would like to try.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Aug 02, 2013  |  0 comments
Review samples traipse through my 5.1-channel home theater system in a constant procession. A smaller number get hooked up to my 2.1-channel desktop system. But very few make it into the bedroom to serve me before I drift off to sleep. A speaker named The ONE, from a company named Audience, is one of the rare exceptions. What follows is not an orthodox review. It's just a story about how a distinctive product was able to fit briefly into my life.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Oct 03, 2014  |  4 comments
Should there be a Soundbar Bill of Rights? Consumer rights are trivial compared to the majesty of the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights—for example, the right to freedom of speech (Fourth Article) or the right to a speedy and public trial (Ninth Article). Even so, the question is provocative enough for one little blog.