Al Griffin

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Al Griffin  |  Jul 28, 2016  |  2 comments
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Q In my current system, the receiver’s subwoofer output connects to an external amp linked to a passive subwoofer via a 20-foot length of speaker wire. The speaker wire runs under the floor and is tacked to the basement floor joists, where it crosses several household electrical wires. I would like to upgrade my subwoofer, but am having trouble finding one that is not self-powered. What concerns me about using a powered sub in my current setup is that the 20-foot coaxial cable run from the receiver to the sub would be susceptible to noise and interference. Are my fears unfounded? — David C.

Al Griffin  |  Jul 25, 2016  |  2 comments
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Q About five years ago, I got serious (at least by my tightly budgeted standards) about home theater and purchased a 50-inch Panasonic plasma TV, a Yamaha 7.1-channel AV receiver, and Klipsch speakers. This setup has provided me with a great in-home listening/viewing experience, but I wonder which upgrade could better take things to the next level: Atmos/DTS:X audio or 4K/HDR video? Both would require a new receiver. For audio, I could easily add Klipsch Reference Premiere Dolby Atmos elevation speakers to my current system and be ready for Atmos/DTS:X. That option would be quite a bit cheaper than buying a new receiver plus a 60-inch or larger high dynamic range (HDR)-capable 4K TV. Which upgrade do you think would provide the biggest wow factor?—Adam Head / via email

Al Griffin  |  Jul 21, 2016  |  2 comments
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Q For years, I had a projection system that dropped down in front of a plasma TV in my multi-use living room. I loved it but ended up using it less and less as the hassle of viewing in a blacked-out room grew to bother me. I have now moved and am considering options for my new living room. With the price drops of 80-inch LCDs, it’s hard to see a reason to use a projector anymore. I know the screens are getting better, but projection systems still can’t match the brightness and contrast of an LCD panel with local dimming. Then again, 80 inches is nowhere near as big as 120 inches. Right now I’m leaning toward the new Vizio M-series 80-incher. What are your thoughts? —Alex Smith / via email

Al Griffin  |  Jul 14, 2016  |  6 comments
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Q I have become enamored with the Denon AVR-X7200W receiver after reading a review of it in Sound & Vision. Not only does it have all the features I want, it should allow me to expand my home theater/audio world with little compromise to my existing system.  

Now this is really old school, but I need to know if there is some provision for connecting a cassette deck and CD recorder.  I know the AVR-X7200W lacks dedicated tape loop inputs/outputs, but I wonder if some of its other assignable audio jacks could be used for that purpose.  Why? I have a couple of vintage cars with cassette players in them and want to preserve the original equipment aspect of the cars, right down to the audio systems. It’s great to go cruising and listen to music, no matter what the vintage, in a vintage car. Please let me know if my plan is possible with this Denon receiver.—Ed Sobiecki

A Preserving the original equipment aspect of a vintage car — now there’s a good reason finally to initiate serious discussion of the recently resurrected cassette tape format !

Al Griffin  |  Jul 07, 2016  |  7 comments
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Q I have plans to buy a new LG 65EF9500 OLED TV. Here’s my question: How long a break-in period would you recommend before having it professionally calibrated? I used my current Panasonic plasma for about 100 hours before having it calibrated.  Also, can any ISF-certified technician handle an OLED TV, or does it require special training? —John Violette

A It’s recommended that you treat an OLED TV the same as you would a plasma for the first 100 hours of use, being careful not to leave fixed images like electronic program guides or paused video game frames onscreen for an extended amount of time. This will be especially important when viewing high dynamic range (HDR) content with the 65EF9500. LG even warns about the potential for burn-in in the EF9500’s manual and recommends steps you can take to prevent it, though any image retention you experience in most situations should only be temporary.

Al Griffin  |  Jun 23, 2016  |  6 comments
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Q It’s my understanding that the overhead speakers in a Dolby Atmos system are meant to create diffused sound. I have a pair of dipole surround speakers with a front-facing woofer and side-facing drivers. Could these be used in a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos system if I hung them from my cathedral ceiling with the woofer facing down and the side drivers firing to the front and back of the room? — Al Erdelyi / via email

Al Griffin  |  Jun 16, 2016  |  6 comments
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Q I have a substantial amount of money invested in my home theater. With the arrival of object-based Dolby Atmos/DTS:X audio and High Dynamic Range video, not to mention the forthcoming ATSC 3.0 Digital TV standard, I’d like to know which components in my rig should I replace first? Also, how much should I plan to spend for each upgrade? —R. Hill / Chattanooga, TN

Q The first component I’d recommend upgrading is your A/V receiver. Why? New 2016 receivers from Onkyo, Denon, Marantz, Yamaha, Pioneer, and Anthem are equipped to provide Dolby Atmos and, in some cases, DTS:X processing (either out of the box or via a firmware upgrade). Along with offering the latest advancements in home theater audio, 2016 receivers should all be outfitted with HDMI 2.0a connections. Why is that important? Because HDMI 2.0a, the latest HDMI version, accommodates a range of new video technologies including 4K/Ultra HD resolution, 10-bit color, and High Dynamic Range (HDR). Plan to spend $500 and up for a new HDMI 2.0a-equipped receiver with object-based audio support.

Al Griffin  |  Jun 09, 2016  |  6 comments
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Q I have an Onkyo TX NR1009 AV receiver that I operate in a 7.2 configuration. All is well when I watch a movie with a 7.1 soundtrack since my couch is inline with the back surround speakers. However, when I watch movies or TV with 5.1 sound the rear speakers go silent and I need to shift my position to be inline with the side surround speakers. Is it possible to have the receiver route the 5.1 signal so the back surround speakers remain active and I don’t have to change my seating position? —George Yeoh

Al Griffin  |  Jun 03, 2016  |  1 comments
When you hear the term wireless speakers, chances are you think of Sonos. There’s good reason for that. Sonos staked out the wireless speaker category early on, establishing a solid product line known for reliable performance, engaging sound, and a user-friendly app that controls speakers in multiple rooms around the home. It also didn’t hurt that Sonos had the marketing budget in recent years for Super Bowl commercials—not exactly something that audio manufacturers are known for doing.
Al Griffin  |  Jun 01, 2016  |  2 comments
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Q My TV is currently installed at the perfect eye-level for 3D viewing. To make space for new equipment, however, I will need to move my set from its stand and mount it higher than eye-level on the wall behind the stand. If I use a tilt mount to adjust the screen’s angle, can I get the same great 3D viewing experience that I’m accustomed to? —Jack Barker