Thomas J. Norton

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 21, 2021  |  1 comments
Today's projection screen scene is far more complex and competitive than it was even a short 10 years ago, with numerous companies now offering a wide range of screen types at various shapes, sizes, and prices. Narrowing the options requires research, together with careful consideration of your specific needs and viewing environment. How tightly can room lighting be controlled? How big does the image need to be? What is the preferred aspect ratio? Should the screen's frame be fixed or retractable? Finally, how do today's high dynamic range (HDR) requirements—unknown a decade ago—figure into the choice?
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 20, 2021  |  5 comments
We've fretted a lot (or at least some of us have) over the growth of streaming because it threatens the survival of packaged media—having your favorite films readily available on Blu-ray or UltraHD Blu-ray, at the highest possible consumer quality, sitting on your bookshelf where no tools from a streaming service with cancellation orders can barge in and carry them away (at least not yet!).
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 14, 2021  |  2 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $7,999/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Open, detailed sound
Powerful bass
Excellent build quality
Minus
Somewhat pricey
Matching Synchrony center speaker not yet available

THE VERDICT
With Canadian speaker maker PSB's 50th anniversary on the horizon, the company's new flagship Synchrony T600 tower is cause for celebration.

PSB Speakers was founded by Paul Barton in 1972. While the brand has long been part of the Canada- based Lenbrook Group, which also includes NAD and Bluesound, Barton began as and remains PSB's chief designer, cook, bottle washer, and one of the most respected speaker authorities in the industry. His work, including the new Synchrony T600 under review here, has long made use of the Canadian National Research Council's (NRC) audio testing facilities, including its anechoic chamber.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 06, 2021  |  1 comments
Remember the scene in Oblivion where Jack cues up a record in his secret hideaway? I could expand here on the ratty condition of the record sleeves, but I'm referring instead to the clump of dust on the stylus—the "needle" for the analog-deprived. In the movie world, and in the absence of a proper stylus brush, he might use a finger swipe to clean it off (yikes!), but since he (and the movie's art director) has only recently experienced the vinyl enlightenment if at all, and in the absence of a proper stylus brush, he simply ignores it. The record plays nevertheless.

But this tome isn't about vinyl. It's about the sticky business of keeping our audio-video systems relatively tidy. Working on this should be at least an annual event for every A/V fan, and for the inveterate tweaker and/or reviewer it should happen even more often.

Begin with the equipment stand or rack...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 15, 2021  |  1 comments
Heat is the enemy of electronics, including all of that audio gear crammed into your A/V cabinet. In the early days of electronic entertainment, vacuum tubes (or as our Brit friends call them, valves) were the thing—the only thing. As one of my teachers once explained, the key to vacuum tubes was the little man with a switch inside. But he must have been sweaty, as a tube device could serve well as a space heater.

Back in the day our electronic entertainment consisted of little more than a radio. The family gave no thought to what was inside until one of the tubes failed, prompting a visit to the local drug store with its tube tester and ready supply of replacements.

Then came hi-fi and an interesting thing happened. Because of the heat issue, relegated largely to the output stages of an amplifier, separates were born. The separate preamp driving an amp on a separate chassis was a popular way to go.

The divide, between separates and the integrated amplifier (or perhaps AVR), still exists today in both the 2-channel and home theater worlds. Long forgotten is its genesis, since with solid state electronics heat is no longer an issue.

Or is it?...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 01, 2021  |  2 comments
Epson America recently filed a lawsuit against Vava (Sunvalleytek International Inc.), claiming erroneous ANSI Lumens claims for the latter's VA-LT002 4K UST (Ultra Short Throw) laser projector.

It's easy to get into the weeds on this subject (I pity the poor judge assigned to adjudicate the claim!). You'll usually see a projector's overall luminance specified in one of two ways: either simply in lumens or in ANSI Lumens. The latter spec must follow procedures established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The former doesn't...

Thomas J. Norton  |  May 18, 2021  |  1 comments
In case you haven't noticed, prices in the consumer world are creeping up. It's not yet a tsunami, but the signs are there. This should be a concern for everyone, and audio- and videophiles won't be immune from it. Some of the rising costs are due to unexpected events, such as the hacking of an oil pipeline, which might settle back in time. Others are due to government monetary policies, for better or worse in the unsettled time of Covid-19. Inflation is always produced when too much money chases too few goods. And there's no money tree in the back room of the Capitol in Washington. We're borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, but Peter can't object; he's just a printing press. The typical payback is inflation, a hidden tax on everyone.

Economics is a boring, black art, but it could inevitably affect our own little A/V corner of the wider world...

Thomas J. Norton  |  May 04, 2021  |  4 comments
David Vaughn’s 2019 review of the SVS SB-3000 sealed subwoofer inspired me to request a pair of SB-3000s for a feature article on finding the best locations for dual subs. But because my listening space is open to much of house I had the urge to experiment with two larger, ported subs, so I pitted two SB-3000’s against a pair of PB-3000’s to see how they would hold-up against their big brothers.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 28, 2021  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,296

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crisp detail and open-sounding midrange
Immersive 5.1 performance
Stylish and affordable
Minus
Cl center speaker has limited off-axis response

THE VERDICT
The name Sonus faber conjures up visions of exotic speakers priced at a level that will buy you a reasonably nice house in some places. But a full 5.1 package from the company's new Lumina line will cost you less than a modest patio upgrade.

Loudspeaker manufacturer Sonus faber was founded in the early 1980s by the late Franco Serblin in Vicenza, Italy. It's been known since then for offering superb sound with classic Italian attention to style, with products aimed at buyers for whom price was at most a secondary consideration. But in recent years the company has tested more affordable waters, particularly in its home theater offerings, with the latest addition to its lineup, the Lumina Collection, designed to appeal to a wider range of listeners with real-world budgets.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 20, 2021  |  0 comments
Ken Pohlmann got the jump on me in his blog this week, but the recent permanent (?) closing of the Cinerama Dome theater in Hollywood is a significant event. Perhaps I can add a slightly different perspective.

When I lived in LA from 2000 to 2015 the Arclight theater in Hollywood was one of my go-to haunts whenever I wanted to see a top-drawer movie release in a premier theater. The Cinerama Dome was the main attraction in this multiplex, but the other Arclight screens were also impressive...

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