Archive for July, 2008

Daily Blog – Ross Jones- July 31, 2008: HI-DEF HOTEL?

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

I don’t travel much, but in the last two months have stayed at three different hotels in major metropolitan areas (Los Angeles and Silicon Valley). While they weren’t five-star resorts, they were upscale hotels of major chains that cater to business travelers. I had nicely appointed rooms, complete with flat-screen HDTV’s.

Not only could I not find any hi-def programming, but the picture quality was terrible! It reminded me of watching over-the-air signals through a set of rabbit ears, or basic analog cable. All of the displays were hooked up to a special box for purchasing services (such as on-demand movies and internet through the TV). I don’t know whether the box is to blame, or something else in the signal chain. But it seemed such a waste to spend money on HD displays, when they produced such poor images. Kind of like buying a filet mignon and then boiling it.

Daily Blog – John E. Johnson, Jr. – July 30, 2008: AN ADDITIONAL REFERENCE TURNTABLE IN OUR LAB.

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

The VPI HR-X turntable arrived, and I installed it in our lab over the weekend. Here is a photo.

This turntable is very large and is extremely heavy (the platter alone is about 25 pounds), so I have ordered a 2″ thick platform to place on top of the welded steel rack which will give me a few more inches of depth. THe HR-X is hand-made, with each component lathed to fit that individual turntable. Although using a 12″ tonearm does not usually require an anti-skate mechanism, I had one installed on the turntable so I could experiment with it and measure the results on our Audio Precision test instrument. At $13,600 this fully tricked out HR-X should give me a lifetime of listening fun.

The McIntosh MT10 turntable will be used to compare various cartridges that we review (our Manley Steelhead phono preamp has three inputs, so I can simply switch back and forth between cartridges as both turntables are playing). The cartridge in the MT10 is also MC, and it will be the reference because of its fantastic sound quality, and I will put review cartridges in the HR-X. A second reason the MT10 will be the reference is that the turntable, tonearm, and cartridge were designed as a unit by Clearaudio. This means that everything was matched in the design stage to work together, whereas with most turntables, you just choose a cartridge to go with it, or, if a cartridge is supplied, it is not necessarily one that the turntable was specifically designed for. (I have already found some interesting things comparing the Blackbird to the MT10 cartridge, and will discuss them in our Vinyl vs. CD series.)

The tonearm rests on a very sharp pivot point rather than moving on a gimbal joint, so there is virtually no friction as the arm moves up or down or side to side. Thus, when I installed the Sumiko Blackbird cartridge (MC, $799, compliance 12, mass 9.6 grams, tracking force 2 grams), the arm tended to tilt to the left as shown below (look at the rear of the tonearm).

To correct this, I adjusted the “lateral tracking angle” by rotating the tonearm counterweight, pointed out by the arrow in the photo below. The counterweight is oval shaped so that when you rotate it, additional weight is placed on one side or the other, depending on which way it is rotated. I then had to recheck the tracking force, just to make sure it remained at 2 grams.

This eliminated the tilt, such that the cartridge was now horizontally level with respect to the surface of the platter, as shown in the photo below (the cartridge is mounted with an angle to the left so that it is tangential to the grooves, which is the “azimuth” adjustment).

I am using the HR-X turntable for the discussion of three phono preamps in the next installment of our Vinyl vs. CD article series tro be pubished shortly.

Daily Blog – John E. Johnson, Jr. – July 28, 2008: WHY SO EXPENSIVE?

Monday, July 28th, 2008

I went into the local grocery store a couple of days ago and saw that they had installed a gelato stand. That is basically ice cream with an Italian twist. Anyway, it was $3.99 for one scoop.

I am shocked that stores are not realizing the state of the economy here in the USA.

Needless to say, there was no one in line to purchase a scoop of ice cream at 4 bucks a pop.

I see also that there are still groups of people in unions threatening to strike for more money and better medical benefits.

Blu-ray movies are about $30 each.

Is everyone in La La land these days?

It is time to cut the “got to make a nice profit no matter what” attitude.

So, the ice cream will get icy and not get sold, the unions will stay out of work for months and get a small settlement that ends up actually costing them compared to what would have happened if they just stayed on the job in a horrible economy, and I don’t know about you, but I am not prepared to pay 30 dollars for a Blu-ray movie except maybe for Gone with the Wind, Ben-Hur, Casablanca, and a few others. Perhaps in a year or two when the word RECESSION is a memory, but not now.

Everyone must get used to the concept of decreased cash flow. Everyone, including big businesses. The time will come when Big Oil faces that too, because the electric cars are roaring towards consumers like a freight train. My family will be driving two of them in 2009 when they hit the dealer showrooms.

So, we have less money to spend. The gelato needs to sell for $1.29 a scoop. Those ready to strike should forget about it for at least one year, and be delighted that they just have a friggin job. Blu-ray movies should sell (sticker price) for $19.99, with the conventional DVDs at $14.99 maximum. And, “20% Off on all Movies this Week” should be on lots of store windows.

Onkyo’s Mid-year Product Launch Includes Two THX Receivers and Two HTiBs

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

(More detailed product information provided on separate press releases at

UPPER SADDLE RIVER, NJ (7/22/08) – Onkyo USA has introduced two mid-????? home theater receivers and two packaged home theater systems, as part of its mid-year new product announcements. Both receivers are THX certified and include the new THX Loudness Plus audio processing technology for improved low-volume-level listening. All of the new models include expanded HDMI connectivity, Faroudja DCDi video processing capabilities, Audyssey room acoustics correction and Dynamic EQ, and Onkyo’s Music Optimizer for improved sound from heavily compressed digital sources.? (more…)

Meridian Introduces Their 810 Reference Video System

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Huntingdon, Cambridge, UK, 21 July 2008—For over ten years, leading UK-based luxury home entertainment manufacturer Meridian Audio Ltd has been developing and manufacturing award-winning video products – from DVD players to projectors – that, together with the company’s advanced digital audio components, create the Meridian Digital Theatre, offering the highest quality reproduction of both image and sound. (more…)

Loiminchay Audio’s Kandinsky Hybrid Speaker System

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Loiminchay Audio Speakers
The Perfect Fusion of Art and Science

The Kandinsky
“There is no must in art because art is free.”
— Wassily Kandinsky

July 21, 2008 • New York • Loiminchay Audio, manufacturers of hand-crafted luxurious, extreme performance, limited-edition loudspeakers for connoisseurs, features their Kandinsky horn/hybrid speaker system. They’re artist inspired and artisan crafted for a unique and exceptional appearance and a totally remarkable musical experience. (more…)

oiminchay Audio’s Chagall Speaker System

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Loiminchay Audio Speakers
The Perfect Fusion of Art and Science

The Chagall
“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.”
— Marc Chagall

July 21, 2008 • New York • Loiminchay Audio, manufacturers of hand-crafted luxurious, extreme performance, limited-edition loudspeakers for connoisseurs, features their Chagall speaker system. They’re artist inspired and artisan crafted for a unique and exceptional appearance and a totally remarkable musical experience. (more…)

Daily Blog – Ross Jones – July 17, 2008: MUST-HAVE A/V EQUIPMENT?

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Well, it’s a week after launch, and I still can’t get the new 3G iPhone. All of my local stores are sold out, with estimates of several weeks before new shipments arrive. That’s what I get for not camping out in line, but I haven’t pulled one of those all-nighters since queuing up for tickets to the 1985 Springsteen tour.

But it got me thinking, when was last time (or any time, for that matter) that a new A/V product caused that level of consumer frenzy? I’m taking the traditionalist view, so game consoles don’t count. Do you recall any piece of audio or video equipment that was so unique, paradigm-shifting, must-have cool that people were lined up to get them and the manufacturer couldn’t keep them in stock? I’m drawing a blank. It does make me wonder what would happen if the designers and engineers at Apple decided to sink their teeth into a traditional home theater product.

Series of Professional DVI-D Distribution Amplifiers Shipping from TV One

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

ERLANGER, KY, July 16, 2008— The TVOne-task series of DVI-D Distribution Amplifiers consist of three professional units that distribute two and four DVI-D signals. The 1T-DA-552 provides two DVI outputs, the 1T-DA-554 provides four DVI outputs and the 1T-DA-564 provides four DVI outputs plus four Analog Stereo and four S/PDIF Coaxial Audio outputs. Each product in this series is compliant with HDMI v1.3 and all are HDCP Compliant. (more…)

Daily Blog – Brian Florian – July 16, 2008: BLU-RAY PRICE RELIEF IN SIGHT

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Two weeks ago I got wind of a sub-C$400 price on Sony’s BDPS300.  At the time I questioned whether that supplier was on the up and up, but now this past week any number of sources indicate that some price relief on Blu-Ray is in the pipe, at least on players.  Even my local dealer pro actively called me up saying he had new pricing on the coveted Panasonic ‘50.

Finally some indication of long-term incumbency for HD-on-disc.

Movies on the other hand seem to remain at a relatively high premium compared to DVD which, although of no consequence to the movie renting masses,  seems like poor reward for the movie collectors who have driven the market up to the present.

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