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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 03, 2017 0 comments
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that it will support Auro-3D in some disc and “digital” titles. Auro-3D is an unusual method of immersive surround encoding that one-ups Dolby Atmos and DTS:X by offering not one, but two, height layers above the floor speakers in a 13.1- or 11.1-channel native mix. Until now it has been scantily supported in software, with just a few dozen Blu-ray releases, but this might be a game changer for the plucky little Belgian company. Auro-3D has also firmed up its hardware support with new (and more mainstream) receivers and pre/pros from Denon, Marantz, and Lyngdorf that support the necessary surround processing. (Note that the Denon and Marantz products require an optional $199 update.) Height-enhanced surround sound may be about to become a three-way horse race.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 03, 2017 9 comments

Audio Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,200

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Nine amp channels, 11.2 (7.2.4) pre-outs
Automated angle and height calibration
Minus
No Auro-3D

THE VERDICT
Yamaha’s new flagship receiver packs nine amp channels into a well-built package.

Buying an A/V receiver has always been a challenge, even to the well informed. Incoming technologies add still more complexity. Sometimes, however, they also generate new priorities and narrow your choices. Sure, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X require you to add more speakers and make your system more elaborate. But if you want to run those formats in their most effectively enveloping configurations, your shopping expedition for a receiver has suddenly become a lot simpler.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 28, 2016 0 comments
LG has added a new HDR standard to the two it already supports.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 28, 2016 2 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,047 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Concentric mid/tweeter
Pinpoint imaging
App-driven, room- correcting sub
Minus
Extra power required
App required for sub control

THE VERDICT
Speaker designer extraordinaire Andrew Jones continues his work for German manufacturer Elac with some of the best monitor-class speakers we’ve ever heard plus a provocative, app-driven sub.

There are a lot of ways to put together a home theater system. Small speakers—or, as I call them, monitors—are among the best foundations for a multipurpose room that isn’t cavernous in size. The audio industry used to pump out so many potentially interesting passive monitors (not to mention towers) that we could barely review a fraction of them. But with the increasing emphasis today on soundbars and powered lifestyle speakers at the lower end of the market, it’s becoming increasingly hard to put together small-speaker configurations for surround sound.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 21, 2016 0 comments
Phones, tablets, computers, and cameras using the up-and-coming USB Type-C port won’t need a dongle or dock to convert the new standard’s DisplayPort video signals to HDMI.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 15, 2016 0 comments

RED
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

BLACK
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $199 (Red), $99 (Black)

AT A GLANCE (RED)
Plus
Step-up USB amp/DAC
For computers and smartphones
Digital volume control on chip
Minus
No bit rates above 96 kHz
No DSD

AT A GLANCE (BLACK)
Plus
Affordable USB amp/DAC
For computers and smartphones
Analog volume control
Minus
No bit rates above 96 kHz
No DSD

THE VERDICT
Among AudioQuest’s latest round of compact USB amplifier/DACs for headphones, the Red has more fine-grained premium sound, while the Black is a superb under-$100 hi-res entry point.

Having made tons of money as one of the pioneers of the premium cable industry, AudioQuest has little left to prove. So it came as a surprise four years ago when the company turned its attention to signal sources and developed the compact DragonFly USB headphone amplifier/DAC with respected audio designer Gordon Rankin. But the move made sense for AudioQuest, whose very existence rides on the proposition that sweating the details can make an audible difference.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 14, 2016 0 comments
The latest pay-TV operator to offer a reduced-priced “skinny” bundle is the Dish Network. The Flex Pack offers more than 50 channels including AMC, CNN, and other favorites for $29.99/month. The base price includes dish, receiver, free installation, and a two-year price guarantee for new subscribers. For another $4 to $10 a month, you can also get one of eight themed packages, which include local, regional, national, or kids’ channels. Another $10 a month will get you an upgrade to the Hopper 3 DVR with ad-skipping AutoHop (partly disabled to settle a lawsuit from the TV networks).
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 12, 2016 0 comments
Is the FCC doing enough to stop payrelated channel blackouts on cable and satellite systems? The commission says yes. The American Cable Association says no.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 07, 2016 2 comments
Pay-TV subscribers love watching programs but hate searching for them, according to Evolution Digital.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 06, 2016 0 comments
For years, CEDIA has been promoting the term custom integrator over the older term custom installer—even though the latter is more or less embedded in its full name, the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association. But the trade group has changed its tune.

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