Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 07, 2009  |  0 comments
Price: $2,700 At A Glance: Best blacks yet from Panasonic • THX certified • Excellent value • Superb off-axis performance

Plasma Brings the Juice

For many reasons, not the least of which is the sheer brightness that grabs eyeballs on the showroom floor, LCD HDTVs now outsell plasmas by a significant margin.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 30, 2009  |  0 comments
Price: $4,500 At A Glance: Deep blacks • Excellent resolution • Full range of color adjustments • Local-dimming LED technology

Back to the LED Future

Samsung, it appears, is going LED in a big way. Thirteen of its LCD sets in the 6, 7, and 8 Series use LEDs for back-lighting instead of CCFLs (cold cathode fluorescent lights), which until recently have been nearly universal in flat-panel LCD HDTVs.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 27, 2009  |  0 comments

Last week the History HD channel broadcast the multi-part documentary </I>World War II in HD<I>. Most of the footage was in color, dredged in an exhaustive two-year search from private collections or the back shelves of dusty museum storerooms. (Rumors to the contrary, it was not found in an Area 51 warehouse next to a crate with an ark in it.)

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 18, 2009  |  7 comments

It all started when I wondered what kind of audio I'd hear from the Blu-ray players I had on hand if I used them from their analog outputs. Most Blu-ray player reviews treat audio playback as a given. But is it?

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 02, 2009  |  0 comments
Price: $2,900 At A Glance: Unique 20-step calibration option • Crisp image with vivid color • Mediocre black level • THX certified

Calibration Sensation

The drop in the prices of flat-panel HDTVs during the past few years has been dizzying. While the news about this may be noisiest on the LCD side, the footsteps you hear are plasma racing back to stake its claim to the booty.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 26, 2009  |  0 comments
Price: $12,999 At A Glance: Fast calibration, accurate color • Superb detail • Video processing under par

Dynamic and Detailed

In these days of increasingly improved LCD and LCOS projectors, new DLP models seem to be few and far between. Some manufacturers have cut back on their premium DLP projector offerings (Sharp), and some have eliminated them altogether (Yamaha).

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 14, 2009  |  0 comments

The 2009 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest was held earlier this month in Denver, Colorado, as it has for several years now. While my main beat these days is home theater, both for <I>Ultimate AV</I> and, increasingly, for <I>Home Theater </I> magazine, once an audiophile always an audiophile, so I was anxious to find out what was happening in the world of hair-shirt Hi-Fi.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 14, 2009  |  0 comments

The Hegel room was one of the first good-sounding rooms I heard, and remained one of the most affordable. Hegel? It's a Norwegian company that has been doing business almost everywhere in the world for about 20 years, but this is their first serious foray into the U.S. market. A tough time to start, but they come well equipped. The demo featured the H200 integrated amp ($4400), which at 200W per channel is one of the more powerful integrateds around, the CDP2A mk II CD player ($2650), and the new HD10A D/A converter ($1200) featuring USB and SPDIF digital inputs. The speakers that completed the system were the Dali Helicon 400s.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 14, 2009  |  0 comments

YG Acoustics claims to make the best speakers in the world. While there are plenty of challengers for that throne, they certainly are some of the most expensive. The big
YG Acoustics Anat Reference II Professional loudspeakers ($107,000/pair) were as imposing physically as their price might you to believe in two rooms at the show. But they didn't quite do it for me in either room, considering their cost. I was much more impressed by the smaller Kipod Studios (shown in black in the photo) at a mere $38,000/pair, though the room they shared with their big brother was too big and too lively. Throw in three of the Kipod modules (the two-way that sits on top of the pyramidal subwoofer) for $8500 each and you have a full surround package for $63,500&#151;plus your choice of subwoofer, of course. The calling card of both YG speakers, apart from quality drivers and crossovers, is their solid aluminum cabinets, said to virtually eliminate unwanted resonances.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 14, 2009  |  0 comments

At the opposite extreme are the Sony SS-AR1 speakers, shown in the middle of the photo (the larger speaker on the left is a JBL). The SS-AR1s are not yet available in the U.S., but likely to cost $20,000/pair if and when they are brought in. They sounded excellent in the Kimber Kable room, where Roy Kimber was playing his impressive IsoMike multichannel recordings (the only multichannel music to be heard at the show). The brochure on the speakers talks a lot about using the wood from maple trees grown in the cold northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, harvested in November when the grain is tightest. Combine that with the birch plywood from Finland and you get a "reverberation with a beautiful northern-European ambience." OK. In any event, the midrange and tweeter also appear to be of Scandinavian origin—likely made by the same Scan-speak that energizes the YG Acoustics speakers.

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