Randy Tomlinson

Randy Tomlinson  |  May 27, 2007  |  0 comments

My how times have changed in video over the past few years! I remember reviewing the first Samsung DLP projection TV for another publication several years back and being stunned at just how dreadful it could look&mdash;grass athletic fields that looked like millions of squirming worms, dreadful eye-assaulting greens, terrible blacks, and on and on. But Samsung clearly listens to dealers, customers, consultants, and maybe even reviewers, because with this 1080p HL-S series, nearly every previous point of criticism has been addressed, making this set a clear contender for best RPTV. This 56" model has been widely acclaimed by the press (rated #1 by our sister publication, <I>Home Theater</I>), but in this review you'll learn some details that nobody has told you yet about how the set looks right out-of-the-box and what's <I>really</I>involved for the end user to get that award winning picture. If you're considering Samsung based on raves elsewhere, this is a review you'll really need to read.

Randy Tomlinson  |  Apr 22, 2007  |  0 comments

Since I’d calibrated several Mitsubishi Diamond series sets for clients, I knew that while the WD-65831 might not win every category in an RPTV shootout, it would be a top contender in a few of the most important ones. And I knew for sure it could make an excellent HD picture. Several months ago, however, I received a Mitsubishi WD-65731 ($3,099) 65" DLP set to evaluate. This model is not in the Diamond line, and I wasn't impressed. Rather than spend more time on a product I knew I couldn't recommend, I opted to return it and test this $3,999 Diamond series set&mdash;the 65" 65831. I was particularly interested in this model since I knew it has far better blacks than the 731 (my biggest complaint about that set).

Randy Tomlinson  |  Jan 11, 2007  |  0 comments

Magnepan also introduced a new freestanding woofer for their smallest home theater/ plasma wall mounted speakers (the MGMC1). Left and right MGMC1s cost only $750/pr and the woofer adds only $800 unless you want a special finish. The MGMC1s can also be mounted flush with the wall and made to swing out automatically into playing position with the touch of a button. Note the nice table in the picture under the wall mounted MGMC1. That’s the new woofer. The MGMC1s have been criticized for an overly thin sound, but not anymore.

Randy Tomlinson  |  Jan 11, 2007  |  4 comments

Magnepan introduced a new center channel speaker with ribbon tweeter, quasi-ribbon mid-range, and planar magnetic woofer. The CCR costs $2700 and blends perfectly with existing left and right Maggies. The demo I heard was a 5 channel choral SACD using 3.6s for left and right front and rear and was probably the most transparent and inspiring sound I heard at the show. Of course, that’s only one kind of music, but it did show the perfect blending of the new center channel and the incredible sound and value of a full Magnepan 5 channel setup.

Randy Tomlinson  |  Jan 11, 2007  |  2 comments

JBL is showing their new cost-no-object Everest speaker system. This system has a virtually unmatched combination of high-end transparency and extreme dynamic range. The horn midrange covers from 700 Hz to 40KHz with less coloration and better transparency than I’ve ever heard from a horn transducer, thanks to newly developed Beryllium diaphragms. A horn super-tweeter increases dispersion in the extreme highs. With an efficiency of 118 db/1w/1m, the main horn operates at such a low power that distortion and dynamic compression never increase, even in high level listening. Touted as the finest speaker JBL has ever built, these $60,000 beauties, with their slightly retro look, are a fitting tribute to JBL’s 60th anniversary. Hopefully the technology will trickle down to more affordable home theater models.

Randy Tomlinson  |  Jan 10, 2007  |  Published: Jan 11, 2007  |  0 comments

This is a view of the box the fan subwoofer requires. It could actually be mounted in a hole in the wall between two rooms if it weren’t for the fan noise. The box you see is a fiberglass-lined labyrinth inside, mostly needed to eliminate the whirring sound. The actual infinite baffle enclosure behind the fan is the second room itself, not the box. The box fits up against the wall and its opening into the listening room looks like a large air-conditioning grille. The fan subwoofer moves so much air that ET kept the windows open in the enclosure room to prevent any kind of restriction. How low will it really go? ET had a precision real-time analyzer showing absolutely no rolloff down to near DC! 10-20 Hz effects in film soundtracks were spectacular!

Randy Tomlinson  |  Jan 10, 2007  |  Published: Jan 11, 2007  |  0 comments

And now for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. How about an electric fan subwoofer? Sound far-fetched? Well, here it is from Eminent Technology’s Bruce Thigpen. How does it work? The motor spins the fan at 1000 rpm. The blades are flat with no signal and do nothing. Fast rotation causes them to couple to the air far more efficiently than a cone. The angle of the blades themselves is changed according to the signal by a 15” woofer magnet and voice coil causing them to quickly blow one direction then the other as the voice coil, attached with a mechanical linkage, directs. With a DC input, it makes an excellent $12,900 fan. The result is a transducer capable of response flat from 25 Hz down to 1 Hz at earthquake levels (over 110 db) even with a 200-watt amplifier and with decreasing distortion as frequency drops. After hearing this invention with several film soundtracks I think I can safely say that it has truly gone where no speaker has ever gone before, and with plaster cracking force!

Randy Tomlinson  |  Jan 10, 2007  |  0 comments

PS Audio is showing a new version of their Power Plant. The Premier is smaller and runs cooler than its predecessor yet puts out 50% more power (1500 watts continuous). At $2195, it’s not a budget power conditioner, but it’s really in a league of its own. The Premier is actually a power amplifier capable of outputting pure, distortionless (and thus noiseless) 120 volt sine wave AC sufficient to power most entire home theater systems. A case could be made that no combination of conditioners, power line filters and expensive power cords could ever match this at any cost. Included is filtration and surge protection for cable and telephone plus 10 AC outlets.

Randy Tomlinson  |  Jan 10, 2007  |  0 comments

Bang & Olufsen is showing their latest plasma TV product—the Beovision 9, shown here with B&O NA President Kim Gravesen. On the surface, it appears to be just a good 50” plasma with unusually advanced styling, but underneath it’s really far more. B&O claims it’s run by the fastest picture engine in the world. Various parameters (black level, sharpness, white level, etc) are controlled dynamically to maintain an optimum picture regardless of source content. An integrated center channel speaker has an acoustic lens to provide extremely wide horizontal dispersion. Aside from these basics, the Beovision 9 also serves as a home cinema master fully integrating and controlling music files, photos, net radio, and other web media, plus controlling lights, screen, and drapes—all with one remote. An HD video output will drive a projector in a separate dedicated theater. Up to 10 Beolab speakers and 2 subwoofers can be connected simultaneously. It’s not cheap (about $20,000) but then it IS B&O.

Randy Tomlinson  |  Jan 10, 2007  |  0 comments

TAD (division of Pioneer Electronics) is showing the Reference One, their latest ultra high-end loudspeakers. At $60,000/pr they’re certainly not for every home theater, but the sound was outstanding (warm, powerful, and detailed) and the cosmetics superb. Sound source here was open reel tape. Both the midrange cone and tweeter dome (made into a concentric driver) are made of beryllium. This one driver covers the entire range from 250 Hz to a staggering 100K Hz.