Al Griffin

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Al Griffin  |  Apr 12, 2018  |  7 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q My system consists of a Sony XBR-X900E TV, a PlayStation 4Pro console, and a Yamaha YAS-207 soundbar. The PS4 Pro does not play Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs, so I’m planning to buy an Ultra HD Blu-ray player. Here’s my problem: I want to connect both the PS4 Pro and the disc player to the Yamaha, but the soundbar only has one HDMI input. I’ve looked around for an HDMI switcher that’s compatible with both 4K/60-Hz video signals and high dynamic range but haven’t been able to find one. Will I have to switch the cable connected to the soundbar from my sources on an as-needed basis to maintain best picture and sound quality? —Paul Trava / via e-mail

Al Griffin  |  Apr 12, 2018  |  3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,995

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Ample power for all channels
Dynamic sound
Affordable
Minus
Signal-sensing power-on mode can be fussy

THE VERDICT
Parasound’s new five-channel amplifier is a versatile performer, delivering clean power with ample headroom for both movies and music.

While attending the 2017 CEDIA Expo in San Diego, I happened upon a small European audio electronics manufacturer that was showing a prototype five-channel amplifier. When I asked why the company was planning to release a multichannel amp after many years of making stereo-only gear, I was told matter-of-factly that home theater was “making a comeback.” A comeback? To me, home theater had never gone anywhere, so I found the response surprising.

Al Griffin  |  Apr 05, 2018  |  1 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I recently bought an Epson Home Cinema 3700 LCD projector after reading a review of it in Sound & Vision. The projector remains boxed up as I decide on a screen to install in my light-controlled basement. While I plan to watch regular 2D content with the projector, my main interest is viewing my Blu-ray 3D movie collection, which I continue to add to as new titles become available.  

I understand from reading your magazine that active 3D glasses considerably reduce image brightness. Another Sound & Vision review of Da-Lite’s 2.8 gain High Power screen , led me to believe it would be a perfect screen option, but Da-Lite has discontinued that model. As an alternative, Da-Lite recommends its HD Progressive screen, which has a gain of 1.3. Will the HD Progressive provide a bright enough image for 3D viewing? I feel that I should look for a higher gain screen, but don’t want to spend more than $2,000. —Mitchell Ulrich

Al Griffin  |  Apr 03, 2018  |  3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $10,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Bright picture with excellent uniformity
Crisp detail with 4K sources
Powerful built-in audio system
Minus
So-so contrast ratio
Occasional banding artifacts
No extended color gamut coverage

THE VERDICT
Hisense’s Laser TV strikes a good balance between performance and price for a 4K-res ultra-short-throw projector-and-screen package.

Hisense has been slowly making headway in the U.S. TV market over the past few years, mostly through its lineup of affordable big-screen LCD sets. Another product that the company has teased at trade shows, and is now actively selling, is Laser TV, a flat-screen alternative that consists of an ultra-short-throw (UST) laser-driven DLP projector paired with a 100-inch screen. While other companies including Sony and Epson offer their own UST solutions, Hisense seems especially bullish on the category: At last CES, the company announced a second Laser TV offering that incorporates a dual-laser DLP light engine and comes with a 150-inch screen, and there’s also an 88-inch version in the works.

Al Griffin  |  Mar 29, 2018  |  13 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I’m considering buying either an 82-inch Samsung LCD or a 65-inch LG OLED and am wrestling with the issue of TV picture quality versus size. Having happily owned a 50-inch plasma TV for the past 11 years, I’m wondering how the new LCDs stack up against plasma models when it comes to picture quality? — Gregorio Lopez / via e-mail

Al Griffin  |  Mar 22, 2018  |  3 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q What software and computer control panel volume settings deliver the best sound when playing music using apps like iTunes and sending the digital output to a DAC? —John de Perczel

Al Griffin  |  Mar 20, 2018  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clear, crisp sound
Cool, retro design
Can drive efficient speakers to reasonably loud levels
Minus
Hi-res Bluetooth requires LDAC source
Pricey

THE VERDICT
TEAC’s stylish, computer-friendly integrated amp is a great option for both desktop and living-room listening.

Integrated amplifiers designed for use both on the desktop and in the listening room are a niche category that we’ve looked at before, most recently in reviews of Elac’s $699 Element EA101EQ-G and Cary Audio’s AiOS. But of all the hi-fi manufacturers working this space, TEAC is the one that embraces it most enthusiastically.

Al Griffin  |  Mar 15, 2018  |  9 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q The idea of physical media going away bothers me because video streaming quality still seems so spotty. Even my wife — I’ll call her a home theater appreciator, if not an enthusiast — noticed how bad the last season of Game of Thrones looked when we streamed it on HBO Now. To be fair, that’s not the case with all streaming services. For example, Stranger Things looked great on Netflix in 4K. With both examples, however, you will most certainly get the definitive experience by watching the show on disc. Here’s my question: Which of the video streaming services currently offers the best possible AV quality? Are there any advances on the horizon? —Jason Acosta / via e-mail

Al Griffin  |  Mar 08, 2018  |  0 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q My Denon AVR-S930H receiver supports pass-through of Dolby Vision high dynamic range. However, when I connect my Apple 4K TV to it, the Dolby Vision setting on the Apple box becomes unavailable and the signal changes to the HDR10 high dynamic range format.

I know the Denon passes Dolby Vision because when I connect my Oppo Ultra HD Blu-ray player to it, movies are displayed in the Dolby Vision format on my LG TV. I also know the Apple box isn’t the problem because Dolby Vision works when I connect it directly to the TV. Is there a setting in either the Denon receiver or Apple TV that I’m overlooking? —David A. Pilsner

Al Griffin  |  Mar 01, 2018  |  0 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q My Windows-based Music Server (MediaMonkey) recently died and I want to replace it with one that supports music streaming services and will let me control playback with a tablet. I spent many hours ripping FLAC versions of my CD collection. Those files were stored on my PC’s hard drive, and I had them backed up offsite using iCloud. Here’s my question: If I buy a standalone music server like the Elac Discovery or Bluesound Vault 2, how can I restore access to my music collection that’s now sitting in the cloud? Also, can you backup data directly from the Elac or Bluesound servers to storage services like iCloud? —Jacques Simard

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