Al Griffin

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Al Griffin  |  May 15, 2014  |  5 comments
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Q I’ve owned two high-end plasma HDTVs, but recently purchased a new LCD UHDTV (Samsung HU8550). Watching Blu-rays on the new set using an Oppo player and Onkyo NR929 AVR, I am seeing something disconcerting that I never noticed before with the plasmas: Whenever there’s a fade-to-black transition between movie scenes, the screen abruptly goes black for about 1-2 seconds in the middle of the transition/edit. Is this sort of thing typical for LED-backlit LCD TVs? It ruins the viewing experience for me. —Richard Rife via email

Al Griffin  |  May 12, 2014  |  4 comments
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Q I was thinking of buying a Sony XBR-65HX950 3D LCD HDTV based on Sound & Vision ’s positive review of that set. [Editor’s note: We actually reviewed the smaller XBR-55HX950.] However, I see plenty of ticked-off people on Amazon complaining about banding issues with that model. Do you consider banding a factory defect or just a quirk that has to be accepted with LCD technology? —Mike Cahan / via e-mail

Al Griffin  |  May 08, 2014  |  1 comments
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Q I plan to buy a Pioneer BDR-XU03 Blu-ray burner for my iMac. I'd also like to connect it to the HDTV in my family room for watching movies. Is there such a thing as a USB to HDMI converter? If not, do you have any other suggestions? —Kendall Knights via email

Al Griffin  |  Apr 30, 2014  |  4 comments
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Q I have an old Harman Kardon receiver that has served me well for several years and would like to continue using it. Do you have any suggestions for a way I could stream audio from my computer (primarily from iTunes and Spotify) to my receiver over Wi-Fi? —Doug Burton / via e-mail

Al Griffin  |  Apr 24, 2014  |  10 comments
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Q I have an Integra DHC-80.3 preamp/processor with Audyssey MultEQ XT32. Reading the manual, I learned that I should set the speaker crossover to 80 Hz because “Audyssey recommends that speakers are ALWAYS set to Small when there is a subwoofer in the system.” This apparently allows for proper bass management and more headroom in the receiver or amplifier.  

So here are my questions. My speaker system is based around full-range B&W CM10 towers (powered by 250-watt mono amps) and includes a single subwoofer. Do I still need to choose an 80 Hz crossover point for my setup? Also, is there a point in upgrading to speakers with more powerful bass if I do cross them over at 80 Hz? —Bill Wong / via email

Al Griffin  |  Apr 17, 2014  |  6 comments
Q I am in the market for a new 3D player and have been looking at the Oppo 103 and 103D.  But the various online forums I’ve visited all say that there is hardly any picture quality difference between the Oppos and other Blu-ray players like those from Sony and Panasonic. Is that true? —Joe Montanez / via email
Al Griffin  |  Apr 14, 2014  |  4 comments
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QI have an Oppo BDP-105 Blu-ray player, a Marantz AV7701 preamp, five Marantz monoblock amps, and Definitive Technology speakers. Given the rave reviews of the Oppo player’s built-in DACs, how would you recommend I set my system up to optimize sound quality? Should I bypass my preamp and hook the Oppo up directly to my monoblock amps, or should I use an HDMI connection to run everything through the Marantz? —Dick Costello / via e-mail

Al Griffin  |  Apr 09, 2014  |  Published: Apr 10, 2014  |  2 comments
Q I used Windows Media Player to rip and archive my collection of roughly 2,000 CDs in WMA Lossless format. I chose that format because I believed it would capture a bit-perfect copy of my CD as well as retain important metadata like album and song titles.

Here's my dilemma: I am learning the hard way that WMA-L does not enjoy widespread support. I recently returned a NAD network player because, while it did play the lossless WAV files in my collection, it down-rezzed WMA-L ones to 192 kbps. Now here’s my question: Is there a way to convert my files to a different format while preserving the lossless audio quality and metadata, or have I made a terrible mistake in wasting countless hours ripping so many CDs to a useless format? —Carlos Lobo / Hawthorn Woods, IL

Al Griffin  |  Apr 04, 2014  |  0 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
PRICE $2,899

Excellent contrast and black level for LCD
Capable of powerful brightness
Good overall 2D and 3D performance
Wireless transmitter needs to be in same space as projector

Powerful light output and contrast combined with impressive 3D make the 5030UBe a great projector option at an affordable price.

When Sound & Vision reviewed the Epson 5030UBe’s predecessor, the 5020UBe, in 2013, we were impressed by its exceptional brightness and its ability to convey satisfying blacks. Clearly, LCD projection has come a long way in a short time. Home theater projectors like the 5020UBe tend to get reviewed in a cluster with models from companies like JVC and Sony, and while the Epson ultimately didn’t match its LCOS competition when it came to contrast (JVC) or color accuracy (Sony), overall it held up extremely well—especially considering that the Epson cost several hundred dollars less and offers significantly greater brightness than either of those options.

Al Griffin  |  Apr 03, 2014  |  0 comments

Build Quality
PRICE $399

Spacious bipolar sound
Ample bass for a desktop speaker
Stylish look
Slightly edgy midrange at high volume levels

Def Tech’s desktop speaker succeeds in bringing dynamic hi-fi sound to the home office.

Most early examples of desktop computer speakers were funny-looking, bad-sounding, cheaply constructed things. There were exceptions (models from Audioengine come to mind), but these tended to be rare. Although things have improved somewhat since then, any new desktop speaker trying to earn some respect still has its work cut out for it.