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DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
A Little Chaos Blu-ray Review
Aug 04 2015 04:14 PM
Director Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos is an enjoyable and romantic period drama set against the creation of King Louis XIV’s gardens at Versailles, starring... Read More
The Front Page (1931) Blu-ray Review
Aug 04 2015 06:15 PM
From Broadway smash to hit film in three years: thus was the trajectory for Lewis Milestone’s filmed version of Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht’s The Front P... Read More
Still of the Night Blu-ray Review
Aug 04 2015 05:09 AM
Even before Alfred Hitchcock made his last film (the not altogether satisfying Family Plot), filmmakers were jockeying to fill his position as the master of... Read More
Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo Blu-ray Review
Aug 02 2015 01:17 PM
Love is in the air for several of the characters (including the title automobile) in Vincent McEveety’s Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo. It’s the third entry of t... Read More
As a firm believer in the importance of amplification in my home theater, I am always eager to hear the effect a change in amplification can have on the performance of my system. For the past few years, my daily driver speakers have been Paradigm Studio 100 v.5’s, powered by a Wyred4Sound MiniMC-7. The MMC-7 is a great class D amplifier, but that doesn’t mean I’m married to it either.
The mid-range projector market is a crowded field at the moment, with compelling products available from a variety of manufacturers. What sets these products apart is often the little things, details such as fan noise and adjustability will often win out in an age where picture quality is consistently excellent. Sony’s VPL-HW55ES has an MSRP of $3999.99, and sits squarely in the grey area between mid-range and high end. Offering manual zoom and lens shift, 3D (2 pairs of glasses are included in the retail price), and uses a three panel LCoS LCD branded as SXRD by Sony.
As I was walking the halls of CEDIA Expo 2013, I chanced upon Definitive Technology’s booth, where they had a pretty long line of folks waiting to hear their new flagship loudspeaker. At the time I had no idea that this was the Mythos ST-L, and had no interest in hearing it because I’d generally been rather unawed by Definitive Technology products in the past. It wasn’t that Definitive Tech speakers I had heard in the past sounded bad, but rather that they either weren’t set up properly or the particular model wasn’t well suited to my listening tastes.
What happens when a couple of subwoofer luminaries try to design speakers? That was my first question when Tom & Jim of Power Sound Audio launched their new MT series loudspeakers. Given the unique components and pricing, I gave them a call and asked if they could send over some MT-110’s for me to review prior to the holidays.
If you’re anything like me, the 4K displays on the horizon are a promising sign of a future we enthusiasts eagerly await. A future that offers increased resolution and contrast, sharper images and hopefully an extended color gamut. Sony is among the first manufacturers to offer a “true” 4K projector on the consumer market that is relatively affordable with their new VPL-VW600ES.
PC Gaming in the Home Theater – ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC Review
Some of us have reluctantly admitted that gaming in the home theater is something best done on consoles, and despite the best efforts of Sony and Microsoft to bring state of the art visuals to the new generation PS4 and Xbox One respectively, the quality and native resolution of games leaves much to be desired in the home theater. For a price, PC gamers have always been able to enjoy an advantage in visual quality over consoles, but until now gaming in the home theater has been difficult if not impossible to achieve.
As a current owner of BenQ’s W6000 projector I was eager to see what has changed in BenQ’s DLP lineup for the home theater two generations after my projector was introduced. Following 2013’s W7000, the W7500 includes the same 3D functionality but ships without any included 3D glasses. The W7500 utilizes a single chip implementation of the DarkChip 3 DLP engine from Texas Instruments and advertises a claimed 60,000:1 contrast ratio and 2000 lumens of light output. At a retail price of $2799, this all sounds pretty good, lining up relatively well with the similarly priced competitors from Epson and Panasonic.
For those not familiar with single chip DLP implementations, it should suffice for me to say that they are extremely sharp (no convergence issues) and the W7500 lives up to this reputation. I found the review sample of the W7500 approximately 10-15% sharper than my W6000 which is a fairly substantial improvement in a few short years. Likewise, black levels were also noticeably deeper than my W6000, particularly once dialed in with calibrated settings.
While I don’t suffer from the dreaded “rainbow effect”, the 6x color wheel in the W7500 should prevent this issue for all but the most unlucky home theater enthusiast.
When long time HTF sponsor Oppo announced they were getting into the headphone market, I was very excited for a multitude of reasons. First, and probably most obvious to those members who own an Oppo player, is that Oppo doesn’t build any mediocre products. Since their first foray into the DVD player market and all the way up to their most recent BDP-105, Oppo’s products have always been high quality, functional and reliable. Second, Oppo knows how to design attractive electronics. From their new audio products to their optical disc players, Oppo’s design language is an appealing one. This is even more important with a device like headphones because they are worn by the owner, not simply sitting on a shelf.
I admit to being a bit of a 5.1 snob but have recently had a chance to spread my wings a bit and look at a few 2 channel options that have made me give some consideration to that format and come away more impressed than I expected.
The first was in checking out a set of near audiophile quality headphones. I was pretty blown away with the immersive-ness and comfort on those. Look for the name of that product and other details in a (hopefully) upcoming review soon.
The second was in the availability of this unit up for review: The Paradigm Sound Track 2 Sound Bar, Paradigm’s follow up to their successful and well reviewed Sound Track
Marantz is a well respected name in the A/V industry. Founded by Saul Marantz in 1953 in Kew Gardens, New York, the company subsisted by licensing its products to other companies. Acquired by several other companies over the years, Marantz has been owned by Superscope, Philips Electronics, and now finally by D&M Holdings, a merger between Marantz Japan and Denon. Through all this change, the company has remained consistent in its mission, producing electronics for the discriminating audio video enthusiast.
When it comes to R&D and product development, Marantz does not move at the same breakneck pace as its sister company Denon nor midmarket competitors like Onkyo and Pioneer. In fact, Marantz is the sort of company that would rather release something truly special less frequently, than release a good product on a regular basis.
In the world of high fidelity audio, Cambridge Audio is a venerable name with many awards and accolades spanning a company history of over 40 years. In the last few years. CA has begun to produce entry level offerings targeted at the PC audio market where quality DAC’s are hard to find. Enter the DacMagic XS – a matchbook sized DAC that offers USB 1.0 and 2.0 functionality and supports bit depths and sample rates as high as 24 bit / 192 kHz.