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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 17, 2017 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $8,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Jaw-dropping black level and contrast
Wide viewing angle
Thin, thin, thin. And light
Minus
Expensive
Must be wall-mounted

THE VERDICT
We could argue with the mandatory inclusion of an outboard soundbar, the lack of a stand-mount option, and a lower (but still perfectly satisfactory) peak brightness for HDR than the best of the LCD competition provides. But it’s hard to imagine that any other 65-inch Ultra HDTV in 2017 will offer overall performance superior, or a more impressive aesthetic, than the best LCD competition.

Dateline: March 2017. Along with several other bit-drenched members of the audio/video press, we’ve been brought to San Francisco for a day with LG. The events will include a briefing on the company’s Ultra HDTV lineup for 2017, a visit to Dolby headquarters for the latest pitch on Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR), and several hours of hands-on experience with the 65-inch OLED65W7P, the smaller of the two new 2017 OLED models in LG’s flagship Signature series. (A 77-inch version should be available later this year; no price had been announced as we went to press, but if that’s your ticket, bring money.)

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 16, 2017 0 comments
To make sense of some of the complexities of the new Ultra High Definition (UHD—4K or 2160p) high dynamic range (HDR) sets, you have to appreciate some of the simplifications that have long been a part of standard dynamic range (SDR) high definition television.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 02, 2017 1 comments
We all have our favorite reference discs—the ones we pull out to show off our system to friends. UHD has now given us a lot to choose from, whether your preference is for action spectaculars or more subtle, thoughtful fare. But there’s now a new king of the home theater hill.

In 2007 the multi-part BBC nature documentary Planet Earth first appeared on broadcast television, and later came out on DVD and Blu-ray. Directed and narrated by British naturalist David Attenborough, it was widely praised (though as I recall the commentary on the US broadcasts substituted actress Sigourney Weaver for Attenborough—a not entirely effective move).

But now we have its 2016 follow-up, Planet Earth II...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 28, 2017 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Max is living a great dog’s life. But one day his owner brings home Duke, a huge, stray shaggy-dog from the pound. Duke makes himself at home, much to Max’s chagrin. But one day, when the apartment house’s loopy dog walker is distracted, both Max and Duke get into a tussle, break free, and end up lost in New York.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 18, 2017 3 comments
In two-channel stereo playback, you invariably get the best results with the speakers set up properly—in the same plane and generally between 6- and 10-feet apart. The listening seat is normally at least as far back as the speakers are apart, or somewhat more. They’re set up to fire either straight ahead or toed in—sometimes just a little, sometimes more.

These flexible parameters allow for a wide variation in setups, depending on the speakers themselves, their radiation patterns, the room, the positions of the speakers and the listening seat in the room and, of course, the listener’s preferences. But for a solitary listener there is one fixed goal: the seating position should be dead center between the left and right speakers. This is often referred to as the “money seat,” (ostensibly in honor of the assumed founder of the audio feast). That seat invariably offers the best stereo perspective.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 14, 2017 9 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $549

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Outstanding overall performance
Detailed info screen
Plays virtually everything
Minus
No headphone output
No support for HDCD

THE VERDICT
Oppo’s first Ultra HD Blu-ray player has been eagerly anticipated by UHD enthusiasts everywhere. The wait was worth it.

We’re now into the second year of the Ultra HD Blu-ray era, but up to this past January, Samsung, Philips, and Panasonic pretty much had the UHD player market all to themselves. That month’s Consumer Electronics Show, however, saw the introduction of models from LG and Sony, together with new ones from Samsung and Panasonic.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 06, 2017 1 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $8,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Stunning resolution
Excellent blacks and shadow detail
Compatible with 4K content
Minus
Some clipping in HDR

THE VERDICT
If you want a projector illuminated by laser light, this Epson is the only game in town for less than five figures. But there’s a lot more here to rave about than just the lasers.

If video projectors have one serious limitation as display devices, at least for the home, it’s lamp life. Manufacturers make glowing claims for this, sometimes as high as 6,000 hours; that’s to half brightness. However, the video perfectionist is unlikely to get to half that figure, or even a third of it, before he or she senses that the picture is growing dim. It’s not unheard of for critical users to replace the lamp at 1,000 hours to maintain the projector’s youthful good looks. But projection lamps aren’t cheap.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 04, 2017 0 comments
In olden times, folks dressed up when they went to the movies. They often did so twice a week since there were no screens in their houses (television or computer) to keep them home. Radio was ubiquitous, but its pictures were hard to see. Those movie visits were almost invariably double features—two for the price of one. Usually, of course, it was a pairing such as an “A” picture like The Fountainhead and a throw-away “B” movie like Ma and Pa Kettle on the Farm.

Ma and Pa Kettle are now on the farm’s back 40, and few B pictures are made today (though some might argue that superhero films are B pictures with A budgets). Today, a visit to the multiplex is a one-shot affair. If two movies are playing that you want to see on the same day, you have to plan carefully to fit them in (and, of course, pay double). You also have to decide which to see first. That’s not a trivial consideration. Recently I was unable combine, on the same day, two movies I wanted to see. But perhaps that was for the best. For those like me, with a wide taste in movies, would you want to view Life (an obvious Alien knock off) before or after Beauty and the Beast?!

But with our home theaters and the selection of discs available we can now create our own double features. They can be related in some way, as in the photo—sometimes they’re sequels, or perhaps they have a common theme, like sports. But it’s more fun to link them up in less obvious or even bizarre ways…

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 30, 2017 0 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent color and detail
Bright, punchy picture
That price!
Minus
Middling blacks and shadow detail

THE VERDICT
With all of today’s hullabaloo about 4K and HDR, it’s easy to forget that there’s something special about a theater-like image on a big projection screen—even if it’s plain vanilla, standard dynamic range, and 1080p. One look at the Sony VPL-HW45ES will remind you of that fact.

I've been projector-less for a good two years. It began with a 2015 move across the country from California to Florida. Then came a steady stream of flat-screen TVs as that technology progressed from the 2K era to the age of Ultra HD with 4K resolution, advanced color, and high dynamic range (HDR). Still, it’s not like I’ve been exiled to the proverbial desert island. Those top-of-the-line TVs have been a treat, and there’ll be more to come. I’ve missed having a big screen, however, with the sense of image immersion that only a frontprojection setup can provide.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 21, 2017 2 comments
I was midway through a long delayed reorganization, riffling through piles of as yet to be filed home- and work-related stuff. As anyone can tell you, when you start to clear out documents and publications you haven’t seen in years you’re constantly tempted to stop and re-read much of it, which inevitably brings the entire process to a screeching halt.

Rather than keep entire audio-video magazines beyond about three years (the growth of the Internet is making even that a dubious practice), I tend to tear out articles that might be of value in the future. That was how I came across an article I hadn’t seen in 22 years. Titled “Subwoofer Secrets” (the inspiration for the name of this blog) and penned by the late Tom Nousaine, it had been published in the January 1995 issue of Stereo Review, the latter a distant godfather of Sound & Vision.

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