Michael Trei

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Michael Trei  |  Nov 21, 2018  |  2 comments
603 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
ASW610XP Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $4,399 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Engaging, transparent sound
Powerful, tuneful bass
Clean, contemporary look
Minus
Treble can overwhelm with some music
Center speaker tonal match could be better

THE VERDICT
The latest update to the Bowers & Wilkins 600 Series brings technological improvements trickled down from the company’s 700 and 800 Series speakers. This system delivers engaging, upfront sound and good value.

Maybe it’s because our country is still young, but Americans tend to think of the British as having lots of long-standing traditions. Is that impression still valid? These days, Jaguar Cars is owned by India’s Tata Motors. Mini Cooper, Rolls Royce, and Bentley are owned by German companies. Even Marmite, that most British of toast toppings, is half-owned by the Dutch. Following that trend, it should come as no surprise to learn that a quintessentially British hi-fi company like Bowers & Wilkins is owned by a Silicon Valley, California-based startup called EVA Automation. Engineering and design still takes place at the company’s headquarters in Worthing, England, even if most of the actual production now takes place in Asia.

Michael Trei  |  Oct 24, 2018  |  15 comments

Impact Monitor Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Brisance 12 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,350 (as reviewed)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful, dynamic sound
Excellent value
Minus
No furniture-grade finish option
Large, bulky cabinets

THE VERDICT
Tekton’s Impact Monitor Theater system lives up to its name, with performance that reflects the unique priorities of its designer.

With A Phalanx of 38 drivers pointed directly at my ears, it was with some trepidation that I reached for the remote control to start listening with Tekton Design’s Impact Monitor Theater system. After all, I normally subscribe to the less-is-more approach to speaker design, where simpler usually means better. Tekton laughs at this type of thinking, however, throwing more drivers into its designs than there are plot twists in a David Lynch movie.

Michael Trei  |  Oct 10, 2018  |  1 comments
Every October since 2004, the nation's audiophiles have gathered in Denver for the annual Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. Unlike mega tech shows, RMAF caters to the dedicated home audio enthusiast. Here are some highlights from the 2018 show.
Michael Trei  |  Aug 08, 2018  |  5 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clear, punchy sound
Beefy 13 x 150W class-AB power amp
Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D decoding up to 7.2.6 or 9.2.4
Minus
No HD Radio
Flagship price to go with flagship performance

THE VERDICT
Denon’s latest flagship receiver checks off every box on the A/V receiver feature wish list, and it provides plenty of brawn to back up its brains.

Some people get weird about anything with a 13 in it. Fear of this seemingly innocuous number, otherwise known as Triskaidekaphobia, has brought us buildings with no 13th floor, and even the renaming of the 13th Space Shuttle mission. But Denon has shown us they don’t have time for silly superstitions by delivering the world’s first A/V receiver with 13 channels of onboard amplification.

Michael Trei  |  Jan 25, 2018  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Newly engineered from the ground up
Exceptional pitch stability
Includes 78 rpm speed
Minus
DJ features are irrelevant for most users
Detachable headshell may limit tonearm performance
No factory-installed cartridge option

THE VERDICT
Technics’s reborn legendary DJ turntable is now a better bet than ever for home audiophile use, but no longer quite the bargain it once was.

Way back in the May 2010 issue of Sound & Vision, I compared three sub-$1,000 turntables, including one that I felt was a bit of a rebellious choice for the audiophile listener. Over its nearly 40 years of production, the Technics SL-1200 series had morphed from one of the top models in the company’s industry-leading range of audiophile direct-drive turntables into a deck that was aimed squarely at the club and DJ market.

Michael Trei  |  Dec 27, 2017  |  0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Wide array of wired and wireless connections, including Play-Fi
Room correction with included microphone
Wireless subwoofer connection
Minus
Confusing and non-intuitive setup
Soft-sounding highs

THE VERDICT
Paradigm’s PW Soundbar ticks a lot of boxes with its long list of desirable features, but its complicated wireless setup and ergonomic difficulties make it frustrating to use.

Consolidation is one of those things that can be either a good deal or a bad deal, depending on the context. For example, with big corporations, consolidation often means less competition, which can be a bummer for the consumer. Just ask the guy who pays through the nose for 2,000 cable channels he’ll never watch, or the guy who has tried to make a mini-sized bag of peanuts last through a six-hour transcontinental flight on one of the four remaining major U.S. airlines. But when it comes to consumer electronics, consolidation can be a wonderful thing.

Michael Trei  |  Dec 14, 2017  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Transfer analog sources to high-resolution digital including DSD
Phono preamp with variable EQ settings
Built-in headphone amplifier
Minus
No input for low-output moving-coil cartridges
No software-based vinyl noise reduction

THE VERDICT
The Korg DS-DAC-10R lets you move your music from LP records into state-of-the-art high-resolution PCM or DSD files, all while retaining their essential vinyl character.

Ten years ago, who would have figured that almost every major new music release would also get issued on vinyl? Every day more and more people are learning to appreciate the appeal of vinyl records, but sadly the lack of portability means that for most of us it’s a stay-at-home listening experience. That can be frustrating in a world where we’ve become so accustomed to digesting our music on the go, so lots of new vinyl records come bundled with a lossy-compressed Digital Copy as a free download. Of course, at that point you’re no longer getting the vinyl experience at all, so really, what’s the point? But, what if you could capture some of that analog goodness in a portable hi-res audio version that you can take with you, instead of those crappy MP3 files we’ve endured for so long? That’s the idea behind the DS-DAC-10R, a handy little box developed by the pro-audio mavens at Korg and distributed by Essence.

Michael Trei  |  May 10, 2017  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Big sound from a tiny speaker
Carefully voiced with neutral tonal balance
Minus
No HDMI video passthrough
Sub’s performance limited by its small size

THE VERDICT
Despite its diminutive size, the MagniFi Mini speaks with a loud and clear voice at a bargain price.

Why is it that every year, TVs seem to get bigger while speakers seem to get smaller? Back when Stereo Review became Sound & Vision, a nice home theater had a 34-inch tube TV and a decent 5.1channel surround sound system with floorstanding tower speakers. Now, many years later, the TV has grown to 65, 70, or even 80 inches, but the speakers have shrunk to the point where they’re small enough to get lost at the bottom of the massive screen.

Michael Trei  |  Oct 05, 2016  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Full surround, including Dolby Atmos, from just four boxes
Rich, punchy sound
Minus
Limited connectivity
Pricey for a soundbar

THE VERDICT
A soundbar with Dolby Atmos may seem like an oxymoron, but Samsung has done a masterful job of pulling it off. The HW-K950 delivers a hefty slice of the performance you can get from a carefully tuned component system, but without most of the complexity or a room full of speakers.

Sometimes it seems like the people who develop new surround formats are completely out of touch with what real consumers actually want in their homes. Over the years, we have seen a seemingly endless parade of multichannel surround formats, such as Dolby Digital Surround EX, Dolby Pro Logic IIz, DTS-HD Master Audio, Audyssey DSX, and now Dolby Atmos—all guaranteed to strain your domestically acceptable loudspeaker limit. It’s no wonder that so many folks have decided to just pull out of this arms race and go instead with a simple soundbar. The good news: It appears that someone at Samsung is paying attention. The company’s latest top-of-the-range soundbar-based system tries to let you have it all, combining the compactness and simplicity of a soundbar with the tangible spatial effects that only really happen when you have discrete rear speakers and the vertical expansiveness of Dolby Atmos.

Michael Trei  |  Aug 18, 2016  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
True surround sound without the wiring hassles
Quick and easy setup
Hi-res wireless audio transmission
Minus
No Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio decoding
Remote is difficult to use
Lots of wall-wart power supplies to plug in

THE VERDICT
By eliminating the hassle of running speaker cables for a 5.1-channel system, the CineHome HD delivers a true, fuss-free surround experience that no single-point soundbar can match. While its feature set is pretty basic, that simplicity will likely be a plus for its targeted customers.

Here at Sound & Vision, we like to think of ourselves as hard-core home theater enthusiasts, so it’s difficult for us to fathom why average people don’t want to jump through hoops to set up a complete 5.1-channel surround system. Sure, you’d need to find space for an A/V receiver and a pile of speakers—plus you’d have to hook up a bunch of wires and thumb through a stack of onscreen menus to get everything properly configured and adjusted—but that’s all part of the fun, right?

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