Archive for March, 2008

Liberty Wire & Cable Issues New 2008 Commercial and Residential Catalogs

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Solution-Rich, Reference-Quality Guides Deliver Thousands of Products For Commercial and Residential A/V Professionals in Easy-to-Use Format

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, Mar. 26, 2008 — Liberty Wire & Cable, worldwide supplier of a broad range of wire and cable products for the audio/video trade, including custom installers and systems integrators, has announced the publication of two new 2008 product catalogs—each offering more than 3,500 products—for commercial and residential A/V professionals. (more…)

Daily Blog – Brian Florian – March 26, 2008: HAVE YOU BROKEN AN HDMI PORT?

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

We’ve known for a while how poorly designed the HDMI socket/connector is.  You have to be very conscious of alignment, and once in place even minor force on the cable, other than strait in or out, can break the port.

Now, apparently, its starting to have an effect:  I notice some manufacturers are now putting warnings either in the owner’s manual or often right ON the product, usually to the effect of “be very careful when inserting and/or removing HDMI cables…otherwise you may break the port and if you do it is most definitely not covered under warranty…”

I guess they’ve seen one too many broken HDMI ports…

NAD Electronics wins 2008 red dot product design award for new VISO DVD Receivers

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

VISO FIVE DVD/CD Surround Sound Receiver and VISO TWO
DVD/CD Receiver Honored for High Quality and Innovative Design

SHARON, MA, March 25, 2008 — NAD Electronics, the highly regarded manufacturer of high-performance audio/video components, has been awarded the prestigious international 2008 red dot award in the product design category for its new VISO FIVE DVD/CD Surround Sound Receiver and VISO TWO DVD/CD Receiver. (more…)

Daily Blog – Piero Gabucci – March 25, 2008: A VISIT WITH BOSTON ACOUSTICS.

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

I had a chance to visit with Boston Acoustics and see some of their new products. We are late with this report, but here it is anyway.

You knew Boston Acoustics had something special in mind when they unveiled a new slick logo replacing their longstanding conservative emblem as a symbol of things to come. Introducing three significant new concepts in the audio world, BA has developed in the last year or so some new and hip concepts. So come play!!

boston-acoustics-hs60.jpg 

 Responding to the current market of customizing and personalizing your gear, Boston Acoustics introduced their Personal Options Plan, or P.O.P. With this new “make it your own” concept, Boston Acoustics developed the first modestly priced and sized series called Horizon that allows the buyer to select from a number of off-the-shelf colors for grilles and for the speaker shells. An upscale series, called Vista (Horizon today, Vista tomorrow, get it?) is now available.

 boston-acoustics-hs450.jpg

The Horizon series is a youthful looking package that is complete from small bookshelf units to full size floorstanding speakers and subwoofers. Very nicely engineered, the bookshelf units, HS 40, 50, and 60 priced at $99.00, $129.00 and $150.00 each respectively can be stand or wall mounted, or literally sit on your shelf – the same for the larger LCR HS 225 at $249.00 each. The HS units are 2-way designs, rear-ported with 4 ½”, 5 ¼”, and 6 ½” drivers respectively. The LCR units each have dual 5 ¼” drivers.

boston-acoustics-hs450-colors.jpg

Floorstanding speakers with the HS 450 and 460 priced at $300.00 and $400.00 each continue the variable color theme. Subwoofers available include the down-firing wireless 150w powered unit HPS 8Wi at $399.95 and three larger front-firing (non-wireless) subs, the 10” 150w HPS 10SE at $299.99, 250w HPS 10HO at $399.99 and the 300w 12” HPS 12HO at $499.99.

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Along with Horizon, Boston Acoustics also jumped into the lifestyle products game by introducing the TVee™ Model Two – a small “bar” array stereo speaker meant to replace the often poor quality sound from the flat panel displays flying off the shelves. Not to be confused with the other surround bar packages out there, the TVee™ product is strictly 2-channel with an important twist – a wireless (don’t call it a subwoofer) woofer. At an affordable $399.00, the package sounded terrific and in keeping with the Play Smart™ concept, a variety of new trendy colors are available.

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“Smartly” designed, the TVee™ series product learns the commands from your own remote for volume and mute. It features 4- 2 ½” mid-base drivers and 2-1/2” dome tweeters. The system delivers a healthy 100 watts total power.

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Boston Acoustics also introduced in the Horizon line, the MCS (multi-channel series) with the 5.1-MCS 100 priced at $499.99 and 130 at $799.99. Consistent with their P.O.P. concept, this package is available in the same variety of colors, currently 8 for grilles and 2 shell colors. The LCR’s have 1” tweeters and multiple 3 ½” drivers with 5-way binding posts and the powered subwoofers are 8” (100w) and 10” (200w) for each series.

boston-acoustics-tvee.jpg

Lastly SoundWare – a cubic flexible speaker designed for indoor/outdoor use at $99.99 each continues the play fun attitude BA has adopted. The 2-way unit features a 4 ½” driver along with a ¾” tweeter. Although the face is flat, each of the other surfaces have chamfered edges to allow corner, or wall-to-ceiling installations staying very tight to the surface.

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All in all, some very interesting product design and engineering from our friends at PEE-buddy, don’t-call-it Pea-body Massachusetts. Can’t wait to see Vista!

Daily Blog – John E. Johnson, Jr. – March 24, 2008: HIGH DEFINITION TV PROGRAMMING GONE WILD.

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Over the Easter weekend, I saw that ABC was broadcasting its annual presentation of The Ten Commandments, the 1956 film with Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston. It’s a masterpiece.

A couple of years ago, it was listed as being televised in HD. Of course, I was very excited because I had not watched it in high resolution since I first saw it at the theater as a child.

Well, it was in widescreen, but it was not HD. It was simply scaled to 1080i from 480i NTSC. That is not high definition.

So when I turned it on this weekend, I was not surprised to see that was not even in widescreen and not in HD. Of course, Revenge of the Zombies, the 1940’s movie I blogged on last week, is in HD so I could always go back to that one to see what an old movie in HD looks like.

Hollywood seems to be paranoid about delivering their old classics in HD, either on TV or on DVD. I don’t understand the logic in this. They are not showing them in major theaters as re-releases, so there is no argument that the HD versions would keep us from going to the theater to watch them. And, for the millions of consumers who have purchased their new HDTVs and subscribe to HD satellite or cable, we tend to turn away from programming that is not in HD.

Eventually, all programming will have to be in HD. No one will watch anything that is still in old NTSC 480. And, that means all the old good stuff too. That means The Ten Commandments. Why put it off? I understand that Ben Hur (1959) will be released in Blu-ray next year (2009). Why has it taken so long for one of the finest motion pictures ever produced to get to us in high definition? If they can take the trouble to give us Revenge of the Zombies . . . .

Daily Blog – Jason Victor Serinus – March 23, 2008 – ON VIBRATION, REFERENCE DEMOS, AND DIGITAL CINEMA.

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

In our last episode, subtitled Jason’s Happiness Hinges on Controlling Bass Booming Madness, I discussed the challenge of perfectly positioning loudspeakers when they rest on unstable ball-bearing supports. My last words of that blog – not my famous last words, despite what some may wish – were that I might have to go out and get some Cerapucs to put under my speakers.

Manufactured by Finite Elemente (http://www.finite-elemente.de/en/products/cerapuc), Cerapucs use direct coupling to achieve effective transfer of sound-interfering resonance. Inside the Cerapuc is an extreme hard, high-tech ceramic ball that helps achieve correct damping. Cerapucs claim to create no resonance build, no overdamping, and no loss of deflection. I finally gave in. Try and try as I might, I could not precisely position my speakers. Nor could I level them, given that the floor itself was not level, and the Ganymedes are not height-adjustable. Cerapucs are not only infinitely more stable than ball-bearing Ganymede supports, but they also accommodate adjustable spikes, which enables you to level speakers on uneven or sloped floors.

Of course, you can also level speakers simply by using spikes. But given that vibration readily carries through my house, which seems to act as a bass resonator of sorts, spikes do not provide sufficient isolation from vibration. Hence the need for a more sophisticated (and stable!) decoupling system.

Eventually, I called Cerapucs distributor Allen Perkins at Immedia in Berkeley. Allen looked around, and discovered that he had eight of these expensive babies available for loan. An hour or so later, I was driving to Berkeley to pick them up.Later that afternoon, with the help of a neighbor and some leveling devices, I had for the first time properly positioned and leveled the Eggleston Works the Nines. To say that I was excited to hear what difference my efforts might make is an understatement. I was of course hoping for sonic improvements, which I could then discuss in my forthcoming review of the speakers.

Thank goodness, I was blown away by what I heard. Not only did I hear more control and clarity than ever before, but I also heard a richer sound than my system had been yielding of late. It was as though an extra layer of natural color had been added to the presentation. I was delighted.

The next day, three folks from Reference Recordings came by to scope out my system and discuss set-up for the first-ever public demonstration of RR’s HRx high-resolution CD-Rs. Although it would have been nice to have had speakers with deeper bass than a single 8″ woofer can provide, the RR folks concluded that my set-up will work just fine for the demo. After all was said and done, the system passed. — Earlier in the week, I attended San Francisco Opera’s first San Francisco in-theater showing of its new digital cinema opera presentations (http://www.thebiggerpicture.us/opera/). The venue was the Castro Theater, one of the few remaining movie palaces from the 1920s still in operation. It is also the only movie theater in town that San Francisco Opera was able to secure for these movie showings. Which is somewhat of a paradox, since 120 other sites across the country had signed on before SFO was able to secure a single venue in its hometown.

The opera was Puccini’s La Rondine. Starring soprano Angela Gheorghiu and tenor Mischa Didyk, it played to deservedly sold out houses in San Francisco last fall, and inspired this glowing review by yours truly. (http://www.ebar.com/arts/art_article.php?sec=music&article=416). The movie was shown in highest quality digital format, having been filmed and edited in the state-of-the-art Koret-Taube Media Suite, the first permanent high-definition, broadcast-standard media production facility installed in any American opera house.

The picture quality was stunning. Captured at close range, so vivid were the singers that it was possible to understand just how hard some of them were working to produce their sound. You could see the shaping of every vowel, the preparation for every phrase – the ease of some, and the intense concentration of others. Gheorghiu was literally trembling with excitement, unable to remain still through the entire first act. And Didyk was all ardor and passion, with huge amounts of force behind his sound. The experience was a revelation. You could even see the tremendous amount of effort that SFO devoted to the production. Every detail was complete – faux marble pillars, fixtures, you name it – everything had a ring of authenticity about it.

The sound system also had a ring, and not an authentic one. There was an unacceptable level of distortion that added an objectionable edge to the sound. Gheorghiu, whose voice is mostly smooth rather than pointed, fared best, while Didyk and the orchestra really suffered. By the final act, my ears had reached saturation levels. I survived by gentle placing my fingers in my ear canals – just enough to soften the sound without obscuring too much detail.

I am hoping that the problem lies in the Castro Theater sound system, and not with the technology. The picture quality is so stunning that it demands state-of-the-art sound. For the first time, I’m tempted to do what the majority of Secrets readers have done – buy myself an HDTV and Blu-ray player, and watch a mini-version of what I saw on the big screen in the privacy of my own home. But, given my income, there won’t be anything left over for speakers, let alone the Cerapucs that my main sound system needs. So, for the time being, I continue to watch operas at the Castro, and save my shekels for other things. 

Daily Blog – John E. Johnson, Jr. – March 22, 2008: HEARING HIGH FREQUENCIES.

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

Some speaker manufacturers state that their tweeter’s response extends to 30 kHz, or more. Amplifier specifications often state a flat response to 100 kHz. Is such a response useful?

Well, yes, it is. The reason for this is that as the response rolls off, phase shift occurs, so the farther away from the limits of our hearing, the farther away the phase shift will occur. Phase shift can make instruments sound less “real” because their harmonics are not exactly lined up with the fundamentals.

In our youth, the upper limit of hearing is about 20 kHz. The irony is that, when we reach middle age and can afford the really high-end equipment, our ability to hear high frequencies diminishes significantly, such that the upper limit is now about 12-14 kHz. Women suffer less high frequency hearing loss than men, so we guys should certainly take our wives with us when we shop for hi-fi equipment.

But, does the fact that middle-aged adults can’t hear above 14 kHz mean we don’t need to worry about the quality of the components when we are older? Certainly not, because the quality makes a difference in the entire audible spectrum, not just the high frequencies.

So, there is your reason to continue buying the good stuff all your life.

Daily Blog – John E. Johnson, Jr. – March 21, 2008: BIG HI-FI SYSTEMS IN ELECTRIC CARS.

Friday, March 21st, 2008

I see that the car companies are gearing up to make cars that will operate solely on batteries except when you stomp on the gas pedal. They will drive 30 miles on the battery alone, if you don’t try to speed past someone. Previous cars use the battery as backup, and these use a gasoline engine as backup. I guess someone is getting the message that Americans don’t intend to put up with $4 a gallon for gasoline.

Such a car will be perfect for commuting to work and back. At night, you just plug it into a household extension cord and by morning, you are ready to go. The batteries to take us 30 miles are finally becoming a reality.

OK, so say you buy one of these cars. Air conditioning and heaters will be a problem because air conditioner compressors use a huge amount of electrical power, and heaters rely on the heat from gasoline engines so they would need an electrical heating system, and that again would consume lots of electrical power.

However, with switching power amplifiers and more efficient speaker drivers, we could have a nice big audio system in the car right now. Play it as loud as we want, too. No new technology required.

So, while they figure out how to heat and cool the electric vehicle, I am making plans for the audio system I will be putting in my electric car. I plan to get one as soon as they are available. I can’t post a photo here of the sign I will be putting in the rear window of the electric car as a message to oil conglomerates, because this is a family magazine. I suspect such signs will be available everywhere as we all feel the same way.

Liberty Wire & Cable Offers ‘Green Market’-Friendly Halogen-Free Cables

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Global Supplier Leads Industry in Products Complying with Spreading
‘Low Smoke, Zero Halogen’ Standards for Safer Insulation Materials

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, Mar. 20, 2008 — Liberty Wire & Cable, worldwide supplier of a broad and expanding range of wire and cable products for the audio/video trade, offers a wide selection of environmentally friendly Halogen-Free wire and cable products. The products comply with spreading Green Market requirements for eliminating potentially dangerous chemicals from common insulation materials like PVC. When burned, the chemicals produce heavy smoke, corrosive gases and hazardous fumes. (more…)

ITC One Adds Apple Tv 2.0 And Microsoft Windows Media Center

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Caster Communications at 401.792.7080

ITC ONE MAKES A PLAY FOR CONTENT BY ADDING APPLE TV 2.0 AND MICROSOFT WINDOWS MEDIA CENTER OPTIONS

Customizable all-in-one home theater console for the luxury market supports all entertainment options provided by the two popular platforms. (more…)

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