Mark Fleischmann

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Mark Fleischmann  |  Jun 21, 2018  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $1,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Aluminum/magnesium diaphragms
Impeccable construction
Balanced presentation
Minus
Less than spacious imaging

THE VERDICT
Focal’s Clear headphones are admirably well-balanced performers with irreproachable build quality and a gorgeous look.

Is $1,499 a lot to pay for headphones? Well, how much is a lot? Only you can make the definitive decision about what is a good buy and what would be an undue burden on your checking account. Here’s how Focal thought through the problem. This formidable loudspeaker manufacturer gave its emergent headphone line its best shot in the Focal Utopia, a four-thousand-dollar product that we hailed with a five-star review. Its latest offering, the Focal Clear, borrows technology developed for the Utopia and cuts the price by more than half.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jun 15, 2018  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $350

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Even coverage from unusual drivers
Down-firing bass driver
Minus
No Dolby or DTS decoding
Limited EQ options

THE VERDICT
The Q Acoustics M2 soundbase is a well-built and well-voiced product whose cleverly constructed flat-diaphragm drivers provide wide dispersion and excellent overall sound.

I will never forget my first flat-panel TV. Its substantial metal chassis included large side-mounted speakers that sounded, by TV standards, pretty good. Sure, I used my surround system for movies, but it never would have occurred to me to use an external audio system just to watch the news. My next flat-panel TV was flatter, though not in any way that especially benefitted me, and its back-firing speakers were too awful to survive more than a single newscast. I hooked up a good pair of powered speakers and called it a day. Since then, TV enclosures have only gotten slimmer and flimsier. With rare exceptions, their speakers sound worse than ever. That’s an opportunity for companies like Q Acoustics, which offers two soundbars and the new M2 soundbase ($350), reviewed here.

Mark Fleischmann  |  May 30, 2018  |  2 comments

Q Series Q350 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

The Kube 12b Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $3,150 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Atmos add-ons
Coincident Uni-Q drivers
Sub has three placement EQ modes
Minus
Grilles not included
Not as dressy as other KEF products

THE VERDICT
KEF’s Q series combined with its new Kube subwoofer line brings the trademark Uni-Q driver array and a potent bottom end to a lower price point, with reliable performance and an Atmos add-on option.

One of the headlines I considered for this review was “What Becomes a Legend Most.” It’s a poignant song from Lou Reed’s New Sensations. Before that, it was an advertising slogan that sold mink coats in ads featuring Judy Garland, Lauren Bacall, and Marlene Dietrich, among others. Somehow, it fits KEF, the British speaker manufacturer responsible for numerous driver-related innovations, including the Uni-Q coincident array. KEF’s Muon and Blade towers have the fragrance of luxury about them.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Apr 06, 2018  |  6 comments
The cobbler's kids always go unshod. I know nearly as much about video as I do about audio, but for a Sound & Vision editor—even a mere Audio Editor—I have been subsisting on a shockingly old and small TV. My 10-year-old Sharp LCD set was only a 32-inch because it was originally intended to supplement a front-projection display. But since then it has become my only video display. For that and a long list of other reasons, it was due for replacement.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Apr 04, 2018  |  5 comments

Audio Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Modularity allows upgrades
Dirac room correction
BluOS audio streaming
Atmos 7.1.4 capable with external amplification
Minus
Only three HDMI inputs
No DTS:X (yet)
Dirac execution more complex than most auto room EQ

THE VERDICT
NAD’s modular-upgrade strategy endows V3 of the T758 with bleeding-edge room correction and audio streaming without impairing its excellent sound.

Why on earth would a magazine devoted to the latest and greatest in surround sound review a receiver that made its debut in 2011? Seven years in receiver years is—well, a lot of years. But the NAD T758 V3 is not some old wheezer on its way out. The company’s Modular Design Construction allows the addition or swapping of slide-in modules offering new connections or features. “Instead of planned obsolescence,” the company says, “we have planned evolution.”

Mark Fleischmann  |  Mar 27, 2018  |  0 comments

Reference Theater Pack
Performance
Build Quality
Value

R-8SWi Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Klipsch’s classic horn-loaded sound at a budget price
Minus
Enclosure adds some coloration

THE VERDICT
This redesign of Klipsch’s bestselling sat/sub system makes some compromises from its predecessors—but still produces excellent sound.

Some people are just good at things. People like Rembrandt van Rijn, who could make a painted image gaze into your soul; or Meryl Streep, who can be Anna Wintour one moment and Julia Child the next; or Warren Buffett, who’s been known to make his shareholders a dollar or two; or Billie Holiday, who could sing like Louis Armstrong’s trumpet and fit a lifetime of hard loving into a single phrase.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Mar 22, 2018  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Handles PCM, DSD, and MQA natively
Second iEMatch output for IEMs
USB or battery powered
Minus
No analog line input

THE VERDICT
This full-featured budget amp/DAC can get the best out of most headphones, especially in the all-important presence region.

If you’re looking for a USB amp/DAC to juice your headphones, you might assume that a couple hundred bucks would buy nothing more than a stick amp, one of those compact dongles that extends straight out from your computer’s USB port. We live in the golden age of the stick amp, and I’m sure not knocking ’em. But what if the same money can buy something with a little more real estate for circuitry and the always vital power supply, offering better than 96-kilohertz/24-bit resolution, DSD, MQA, and two headphone outputs with different gains, one for demanding ’phones and one for more efficient ones (including in-ear monitors, aka IEMs)? Of course, you must read on.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Mar 19, 2018  |  0 comments
2017 was not a banner year for TV sales, despite growth for 4K (Ultra HD) TV and even 8K TV.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Mar 19, 2018  |  0 comments
The First 8K channel will be launched by NHK, the Japanese broadcast authority, later this year. How much programming will support it remains to be seen...

Samsung may return to OLED manufacturing, say anonymous sources quoted by a Korean-language news site. But this time it would combine the brightness of Samsung’s quantum dot with the black levels of OLED...

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