Rob Sabin

Rob Sabin  |  Sep 07, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Stupendous bass without an external subwoofer
Outstanding timbre and dynamics
Easy to use via HDMI-CEC or Devialet app
Minus
No remote learning for optical connections
No voice integration
No DTS decoding

THE VERDICT
You'll pay for the privilege, but Devialet's Dione lives up to the full promise of an audiophile-quality, all-in-one soundbar.

From time to time I get to review an audio product that is so thoroughly engineered, so cutting-edge and so high performing that it leaves me in awe. And let's be clear, after three decades of doing this, I'm not easily impressed. But I'll tell you here that the subject of this review, the $2,400 Devialet Dione, is hands-down the best all-in-one soundbar I have ever heard, and undoubtedly one of the two best soundbars currently available. We'll get to that later, but for now, let's take a closer look.

Rob Sabin  |  Jun 23, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Audiophile sound for music and movies
Atmos height effects
Good bass
Integrated high-res music streaming
Minus
No expandability for surrounds or sub
No voice-boost or height-channel adjustments

THE VERDICT
B&W's Atmos-enabled Panorama 3 delivers audiophile-quality music and excellent movie sound without a subwoofer or surround speakers.

Bowers & Wilkins has developed a solid name in the soundbar category for premium products that reflect the brand's longstanding philosophy of putting respect for the music above all else. This doesn't mean their soundbars don't make sonic compromises, only that those compromises tend to be more careful and measured than we see elsewhere. As B&W's first soundbar to offer Dolby Atmos playback and its least expensive soundbar to date at $999, the Panorama 3 is a perfect example of this philosophy.

Rob Sabin  |  Apr 13, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Atmos height effects from a high value soundbar
Easy to set up and use
Well-integrated small subwoofer
Good sonics for TV and movie watching
Minus
No expandability for surrounds
No network connection for music
No height channel level adjustment
Better for movies than music

THE VERDICT
Polk Audio’s Signa S4 makes some canny compromises to bring immersive audio to the masses at an affordable price.

When it comes to hi-fi and home theater, I'm a space hog. Some folks zero in on tight, room-shaking bass, others seek immaculate midrange accuracy or high frequency extension with gobs of etched detail. For me, it's always been about imaging and soundstage first. I can forgive a lot of sins if a system conveys the sense of a three-dimensional instrument, voice, or sound object in the listening room. This is what makes things real for me.

Rob Sabin  |  Mar 30, 2022  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $799

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive Imaging
Excellent timbre
Well-controlled dynamics
Alexa voice-control
Minus
Limited bass output
No wired inputs

THE VERDICT
The Zeppelin remains expensive as always, but the new 4th generation still delivers uncanny imaging and superb timbre from a small desktop speaker design.

The loudspeaker landscape is dotted with so-called classics. Legends like the Klipschorn, the Quad ESL, and the JBL L100 have remained in production for decades or enjoyed successful reboots not just because they appeal to our nostalgia, but because they remain bonafide audiophile-grade products.

Rob Sabin  |  Sep 22, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,899 (Editor’s note: Between the time the review was conducted and when it was posted on September 22, Klipsch increased the system price from $1,699 to $1,899.)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
All-in-one 5.1.4 Atmos system
Stupendous dynamics
Great sound quality with music and movies
Class-leading 12-inch subwoofer
Minus
Ineffective surround processing of stereo music
No mic on remote or bar for Alexa and Google Assistant
No DTS decoding

THE VERDICT
The Klipsch Cinema 1200 is among the least expensive of today's high-end soundbar solutions and over-delivers on both sound quality and value.

Klipsch's new Cinema series soundbars are the latest effort of an iconic, 75-year-old speaker maker to push new performance barriers while delivering a product that is quintessentially, well, Klipsch. There are four systems, each with the real wood cabinetry and the signature Tractrix horn- loaded tweeters that have come to define the brand. These run from the entry-level Cinema 400 ($329), a 40-inch-wide 2.1-channel bar with an 8-inch wireless subwoofer, to the Cinema 1200 ($1,899) reviewed here—a 5.1.4 system with a 54-inch-wide Atmos-enabled bar, a wireless 12-inch sub, and a pair of wireless Atmos- enabled surrounds.

Rob Sabin  |  Aug 26, 2020  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,000 (system bundle, minus installation; $4,000 as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb sonics
WiSA wireless connection for surrounds and sub
Integrated Savant automation platform
Control via app or touchscreen remote
Minus
No Dolby Pro Logic or other stereo surround mode
No HDMI-ARC connectivity
No processing for lossless surround formats

THE VERDICT
Savant's smart soundbar may be a gateway to home automation, but it distinguishes itself first through its excellent sound quality.

Sound & Vision readers will know Savant as one of two upstarts that, along with Control 4, arrived in the early 2000s to challenge Crestron and AMX in the emerging home automation market. Today, some 15 years after its founding by tech entrepreneur/billionaire Bob Madonna, Savant continues to expand its Mac-based smarthome solution, and with some recent acquisitions, to broaden its market reach. Most notable is the high-profile purchase this year of GE Lighting.

Rob Sabin  |  Jul 01, 2020  |  3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $799

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Outstanding music and movie sound
Impressive rendering of height information
Solid bass for standalone soundbar
Minus
May require latest eARC HDMI connection for Atmos
No DTS decoding

THE VERDICT
The latest home theater offering from Sonos delivers an impressive Atmos experience from a standalone soundbar. Add the company's Sub and bookshelf speakers as surrounds for even more intense audio immersion.

The new Sonos Arc soundbar is the company's fourth home theater product and the clear result of an evolution. Its first soundbar, the Playbar (currently $599 and being closed out), debuted in 2013. But with only a single optical input intended to ease installation and no HDMI port, it was already outdated on Day 1.

Rob Sabin  |  May 13, 2020  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Easy, app-driven automatic setup
Good audio quality via hi-res wireless WiSA platform
Simple and intuitive control app
Minus
Lack of A/V switching may be an issue for some systems
No included remote control or learning feature
No decoding or full-resolution transmission of DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD bitstreams

THE VERDICT
Enclave's THX-certified wireless system delivers highly dynamic and enjoyable surround sound in an easy-to-install and use package...though it comes at a price.

When I was a trade reporter many years ago, I wrote an article about the skyrocketing sales of packaged home theater audio systems. Inside each box was a rudimentary A/V receiver, five or six speakers (typically compact satellites in plastic cabinets), color-coded speaker cables, and graphic instructions to get things hooked up. The article's big takeaway was that the brands selling these (Sony, Panasonic, et. al. ) had discovered that many buyers either left the rear surround speakers in the box or wired them up and placed them on top of the front left- and right-channel speakers.

Rob Sabin  |  Dec 24, 2019  |  5 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Audiophile-quality sonics
Easy access to networked and internet-streamed music
Extensive HDMI switching
Minus
Non-backlit remote

THE VERDICT
Denon’s modern take on the classic stereo receiver delivers excellent sound quality, video switching for 2-channel home theater, and all the amenities of an app-driven, internet-connected music system.

As I uncrated the Denon DRA-800H stereo receiver and set it on my rack for review, I was struck by a powerful wave of nostalgia. Back in my early days of audiophilia, stereo—no wait, stereo and vinyl—was pretty much the game. Buying a basic receiver was a typical rite of passage for a high school or college student back then, and it was staring at rows of them at the local TV/appliance store—with their shiny brushed chrome faceplates, dials and buttons, and backlit tuning displays—that got me hooked on audio in the first place.

Rob Sabin  |  Sep 18, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Stupendous build quality
Dead-waking dynamics from a single box
Balanced, audiophile-quality sound
Minus
Limited bass extension
Narrow soundstage
Pricey

THE VERDICT
Though it doesn’t come cheap, Naim’s newly revised Mu-so brings true audiophile sensibilities and surprising wallop to a well thought-out and full-featured wireless speaker.

The original Mu-so wireless music system released in 2014 was a first in the emerging "lifestyle audio" category—a truly high-end, wireless, multiroom speaker from one of the most respected brands on the planet. I auditioned the Mu-so back then, and what I remember most from the unboxing was its nearly 30-pound heft, and the manly, finned heatsink that ran the width of the back panel and threatened to cut any flesh that wandered too carelessly in its direction.

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