Thomas J. Norton

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 28, 2021  |  1 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...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 16, 2021  |  0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
(Cue deep, sonorous narration.) In a world infested with giant, hungry bugs, what's left of mankind has hunkered down in underground colonies where they're safe (mostly) from being eaten alive. How this post-apocalyptic nightmare began is explained in the brief opening sequence of Love and Monsters, but in short it was mankind (as usual) that messed things up.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 06, 2021  |  3 comments
The big news story of last week wasn't out of Washington D.C., or about the current state of Covid, or who has just cancelled who or what, or even the new line of TVs ready to flood your local Costco, Sam's Club, Best Buy, or any number of other retailers. It involved a giant cargo ship, the Ever Given, getting stuck in the Suez canal with hundreds of other ships lined up behind it and unable to get through with their cargo. What's this have to do with home audio and video?
Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 23, 2021  |  3 comments
Building your own speakers from scratch Is an activity I've written about before. But that first blog is now accessible only by delving deeply into our Wayback Time Machine, so a revisit to this intriguing audio subculture is worth a follow-up here. Read on to find out if you have what it takes to take on a DIY speaker project.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 09, 2021  |  2 comments
The changes to how we watch media resulting from the closing of theaters due to the Covid-19 pandemic have been unprecedented. True, not all theaters are closed. Here in the wilds of Florida my local AMC has been open for some time. But its current slate of movies is hardly the stuff of dreams: Boogie, Chaos Walking, The Mauritanian (not The Mandalorian!), The Little Things, The Marksman, The Croods: A New Age, and Raya and the Last Dragon. The latter is the only one tempting me to break my year long hiatus from that theater's Dolby Vision and IMAX auditoriums, but not quite enough for me to do so even though I've now joined the few, the proud, and the vaccinated.

A whole spate of potential blockbusters have either been released to streaming or are being held over until the studios are confident that if they show them (in theaters) they will come.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 23, 2021  |  3 comments
Anyone who has read any of my speaker reviews over the past few years knows that my current room has bass issues (the photo here is, sadly, NOT my room!!). Welcome me to the club; rooms without bass problems are few and far between. Only the obsessed worries about a peak at 30Hz, but erratic response higher in the bass, particularly in the 80 to 200Hz region, can have serious negative effects on the overall sound. To little response there can reduce a source's natural weight, particularly on large scale music or home theater effects. Too much and the bass sounds bloated.

Once you get above a certain frequency, usually between 200 and 500 Hz (known as the Schroeder frequency, after the physicist who first identified it and not the Peanuts character), the room's effect on the sound becomes less significant.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 17, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Effective, 160- zone local-dimming
App-based color calibration
Affordable price
Minus
Image quality reduced at off-center seats
Some green push with HDR content

THE VERDICT
TCL's 6-Series UHD Roku TV brings the benefits of Mini-LED backlighting to a very affordable price point.

In late 2019, TCL flew me to the company's U.S. offices in California to spend an afternoon with its new flagship, the 75Q825 8-Series UHD Roku TV, a 75-inch 4K LCD model. Not all of the set's firmware was complete, but we took advantage of the opportunity to give our readers a sneak preview. The 75Q825's signature feature was TCL's use of mini-LEDs for backlighting, and at its then price of $3,000, it was something of an outlier for a brand associated with budget TVs.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 09, 2021  |  0 comments
When fishing around for a film to show on a movie night with friends, before Covid-19 rudely interrupted, I recommended The Court Jester. I had it on DVD, but I knew it looked good enough to satisfy non-critical viewers who likely also wouldn't be bothered by its 1950's mono sound. We passed on it that time around, but that old DVD has now taken its last spin. A spanking new Blu-ray of the film has just been released in a video transfer nothing short of stunning.

The movie was originally shot in VistaVision, a widescreen process used (mainly by Paramount) in the 1950's and 60's. It's long-since been dropped as a release format, but is sometimes employed for in-camera special effects created for non-VistaVision productions, particularly in the pre-CGI era. It was used, for example, in the creation of the effects for some of the early Star Wars and Star Trek films when CGI wasn't yet a thing.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 27, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $4,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Exceptional performance
Exceptional build quality
Dimmable power indicator light
Minus
Pricey

THE VERDICT
It doesn’t come cheap, but NAD’s Masters M28 is a genuinely unique product designed to compete sonically with some of the highest-end amps on the market, regardless of how many channels they offer.

Whether you fall into the "all well-designed amps sound the same when used within their limits" camp or the "amp selection is critical" army of true believers, it's arguable that prior to the turn of the millennium amps designed for high-performance audio had fallen into a rut. They were so good that the advertising for them had to become increasingly creative. But a parade of skilled designers remained convinced that the new concepts they had come up with were superior, and audiophiles still lined up to buy them. The turf was always familiar: tubes remained tubes with their lovable quirkiness, and solid state was dominated by class-A/B designs as it had been since the transistor was invented.

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