Darryl Wilkinson

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Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jul 05, 2017  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $4,500 (plus installation)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Enclosure designed for walls with standard 2 x 4 construction
13.5-inch low-profile driver
1,000-watt external amp with Automatic Room Optimization
Minus
Retrofit install can be difficult
Expensive

THE VERDICT
This subwoofer system does the seemingly impossible in an impossibly seeming way by hiding an amazingly shallow, high-excursion 13.5-inch woofer, along with the 70-inch-tall cabinet it requires, inside a wall having standard 2 x 4 construction, with only a driver-hiding grille screen as evidence—and it does this surprising feat without causing excessive wall vibrations. Even better, it does all that while performing like a top-end in-room sub.

If I needed additional proof of how much Rob Sabin, our esteemed editor-in-chief (and part-time male stripper for the visually impaired) dislikes me, this would be it. He asks me the other day if I’d want to review another JL Audio subwoofer, one similar to the company’s ginormous Fathom f212, which I reviewed in 2012. I have fond memories of, bruises from, and a partial hernia caused by that 220-pound behemoth.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jun 19, 2017  |  1 comments
Not long ago, I stumbled across an unusual podcast series, called Sound Matters. I had some hesitation before listening to what was, at the time, the most recent episode (Episode 10: Sounds From Outer Space) because the podcast series is sponsored by B&O Play...
Darryl Wilkinson  |  May 03, 2017  |  3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Only 2.28 inches tall
Utilizes Sonos Trueplay acoustic tuning technology
Can be part of a Sonos multiroom audio system
Minus
No volume level indicator
Optical digital and network audio inputs only

THE VERDICT
For the folks who don’t mount their TV on a wall—that is, for the overwhelming majority of TV owners—the Sonos Playbase is an elegant way of creating an excellent-sounding home theater system that’s nearly invisible, super-easy to set up, and blessedly simple to use.

A surprisingly salient special survey by Sonos says that something like 70 percent of slender-TV owners select to stand their set on a flat surface rather than sticking it on a wall. (Say that silently seven times.) Seriously—OK, that’s enough of that—Sonos says that the vast majority of people who own a flat-screen TV don’t mount it on a wall. Instead, they set it on a cabinet, cart, table, shelf, the floor, or just about any other semi-sturdy, close-to-flat surface that isn’t already covered with useless sh-tuff.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Apr 03, 2017  |  3 comments
By the time you read this, it may already be too late to stop it.

And your ISP may have just logged the fact that you landed on a page containing a discussion about online privacy.

Paranoid? Well, yes, but with good reason...

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Mar 16, 2017  |  3 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $48,000 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Audyssey MultEQ XT Pro room equalization
Variable-axis soft-dome tweeters on surrounds
All speakers are biamped or triamped
Minus
Expensive
Status LEDs on amplifier are bright and can’t be dimmed
Requires professional installation

THE VERDICT
When it comes to the evolution of loudspeakers, Phase Technology has an enviable pedigree filled with innovation. The company’s newest dARTS speaker/amp package is a spectacular achievement that mitigates the effects of room acoustics and creates a highly theatrical, intensely musical experience that’s extremely rare.

One day last summer, I found myself grumbling more than usual as I stood staring at 550 pounds of speakers and amps that Phase Technology had shipped to my house. (Actually, because the gravel road I live on is very unfriendly to tractor-trailers, I had to drive to the depot, load a couple of pallets of heavy boxes into two vehicles, drive home, and then unload it all.) The gear makes up the top-of-the-line version of the company’s new, second-generation dARTS system.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Mar 06, 2017  |  0 comments
“I’d rather be a smart feller than a fart smeller,” or so said an old co-worker of mine whenever it was even vaguely appropriate to the conversation at hand. Of course, it’s a low-brow spoonerism that you don’t often hear in “polite society”. On the other hand, you have to agree that the basic sentiment is legitimate: it is, after all, much better to be smart than to sit around smelling…um…bad smells. That’s the train of thought that chugged through my brain late one day during CES2017; and it was set in motion by a sign proclaiming that the new product on display, Aera, was a “Smart Home Fragrance Device”.
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Feb 09, 2017  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
50 context-sensitive programmable buttons on remote
IR, serial, and IP-based control
Amazon Alexa voice-control integration
Minus
Controller generates a lot of heat
Low-resolution screen on remote

THE VERDICT
Control4’s EA-1 bundle sets a new standard for affordability and opportunity when it comes to professionally installed A/V control and home automation.

One of the great inventions of the 20th century, the humble Lego brick, doesn’t inspire much admiration on its own. Take more than 32 million of them and throw in a little imagination, though, and you can create awe-inspiring 1:20scale replicas of famous American landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the Capitol Building, and (of course) the Las Vegas Strip. Then set them up together. Call it Miniland USA. Build a theme park around it. Suddenly you’ve got Legoland California. If I were called upon to write a review of a single Lego, there’d be no bricking way I could come up with the concept of Legoland on my own if it didn’t already exist.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 09, 2017  |  0 comments
Linkplay is a “a leading WiFi audio solution provider,” which basically means they make the core communication hardware and software that speaker manufacturers can use to design new wireless, streaming speakers without having to engineer everything from the ground up. In other words, a loudspeaker manufacturer—such as Fabriq or Jam Audio, two of the first companies to embrace the Linkplay solution—can concentrate on the thing it does best (make speakers) and get the digital backend from Linkplay. Another huge bonus of incorporating Linkplay into a streaming speaker is that Linkplay provides integration with Alexa Voice Service, wirelessly and hands-free.
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 09, 2017  |  0 comments
The stupidest thing about most smart homes is that you have to fire up your smartphone any time you want to do something as simple as remotely opening a lock or turning a light on or off. Don’t get me wrong. I like my smartphone. But the reason why I wear a Martian Aviator smartwatch is because I like my smartphone to stay in my pocket and only make an appearance when I absolutely need to use it. (Of course, since I’ve been keeping it in my pants pocket, maybe I should be looking into getting a pair of Spartan Boxer Briefs…) The problem is that the smart device industry has ignored the dire need for small, simple input devices that are portable, don’t require a hard-wired power connection, and are compatible with a wide range of smart home systems. French automation company, NodOn, appears to have cornered the market—and, unlike what usually happens when one company has a near total domination of an industry segment, when NodOn’s smart devices become available in the US market within the next few months, they promise to be quite affordable.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 09, 2017  |  0 comments
Water, water everywhere, and not a drop in the sink—at least that’s what happens approximately 14,000 homeowners every day, according to Dome. The company also estimates that water leaks in a home can cost upwards of $8,000 if not caught early. That’s where Dome’s new wireless water leak detector, called Guardian, can save your butt (and prevent you from having to see a plumber’s butt).

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