Thomas J. Norton

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 01, 2020  |  3 comments
Outlaw Audio has been in the amplifier business for over 20 years. I reviewed their first entry, the 5-channel Model 750, in the late ‘90s for the long-departed Stereophile Guide to Home Theater. It’s still here, now serving to drive my four Atmos speakers with one channel to spare. Many Outlaw amps have passed under the bridge since then, with many (perhaps most) made by ATI in California, so I was intrigued when Outlaw sent me their latest 7-channel amp — the 7220 — to have a look and listen.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 18, 2020  |  0 comments
Recently I completed one of my all too infrequent efforts to cull the herd of old magazines more than three years old; anything earlier worth finding is almost certainly available on-line. A few key older issues were kept for various reasons, and a complete set of the long-defunct Stereophile Guide to Home Theater is still hiding somewhere in the garage. But by accident I ran across my only remaining issue of Video Theater. Never heard of it? It was a magazine begun in the late ‘80s by J. Gordon Holt. Holt is best known as the founder of Stereophile magazine, which inspired a whole raft of competitors anxious to fill a pent-up demand for information on how equipment actually sounds, not just how it measures.

But Gordon was not only an audiophile. He was passionate about video as well in an era when home video hadn’t yet moved much beyond the 21-inch, CRT color TV. Video Theater was short lived, but was well served by Gordon’s unique observations and take-no-prisoners words. But the issue I found also had some pithy editorial observations about the road home audio had travelled, in Gordon’s estimation, and how this might predict the future of video beyond when these words were written, in mid-1990. Here they are:

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 04, 2020  |  10 comments
We all have our own early experiences with moviegoing. My mother once told me that when I was two or three she took me to a movie about a dog. I apparently sobbed uncontrollably when the dog got lost and couldn’t find his way home. This probably left a lifelong scar; as the old saying goes, never follow a dog act. I’m not a cat person, perhaps because few movies have ever been made about a cat (well, there was at least one recently about a bunch of them, but let’s not go there!). There was never a Fluffy Come Home.

Once upon a time the movie on the screen was only part of a theater experience; the theater itself was often part of the show.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 29, 2020  |  9 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,800

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Unsurpassed contrast
Superior color and resolution
Wide viewing angle
Minus
Complicated menu system
No HDMI 2.1

THE VERDICT
Sony's latest OLED measures up to the best, including the company's 2019 Top Pick of the Year-winning Master Series model, and comes in at notably lower price.

We previously reviewed Sony's XBR-65A9G OLED, a member of the company's Master Series Ultra HDTV family. While that set is still available and remains a first-class option, the only advantages it appears to offer over the new XBR-65A8H OLED reviewed here are slightly more sophisticated sound features plus an ability to serve as a center channel in an outboard multichannel audio setup. The XBR-65A8H, meanwhile, is priced considerably lower than its Master Series predecessor at $2,800.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 22, 2020  |  8 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Subwoofer
Performance
Build Quality
Features
Value
PRICE $20,500 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb overall performance
Impeccable fit and finish
Relatively compact
Minus
Pricey

THE VERDICT
It may be pricey, but this PerformaBe system offers sublime performance with both music and movies.

I've reviewed many Revel surround speaker packages over time, but it's been six years since my last Revel review, a system centered on the Performa F208 tower speaker. At around 13 grand, that system could still be considered an affordable option compared with a full surround package built around the company's flagship Ultima range. Now, with its PerformaBe line, Revel has a mid-price speaker offering to help bridge the gap.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 15, 2020  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $800

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Effective local dimming
Precise HDR tracking
Low price
Minus
Poor off-center viewing
Minor banding artifacts

THE VERDICT
The Hisense 65H8G proves that even budget TVs now offer features enabling a high level of performance that was previously the domain of much pricier sets.

Hisense has joined the ranks of LCD TV makers using quantum dots, a technology that enables sets to more closely approach the wider color gamut promised by Ultra HDTV. (Quantum dots generate red and green light when energized by a blue LED, with the sum total providing the backlighting that LCD TVs require.) Along with the 65-inch 65H8G reviewed here, Hisense's H8G series also includes a 75-inch model, the largest flat-panel the company offers. For larger screen sizes, the company offers a range of ultra short throw laser projectors.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 14, 2020  |  2 comments
My last blog was limited to placement of the left and right speakers in 2-channel system, or just the left and right speakers in a home theater setup. There’s a lot more involved with a full surround sound setup....The remaining speaker channels we haven’t yet discussed are the center, the surrounds, and possibly Dolby Atmos. I’ll limit this discussion to 5.X or 5.X.4 setups, both with and without four Atmos speakers (for newbies, the 0.4 in the 5.2.4 designation describes the number of Atmos speakers, and the X is a stand-in here for the number of subwoofers, most often one or two). There’s a wide range of additional possibilities, including front height speakers, two additional surrounds (7.X.4), more than four Atmos speakers (though we don’t know of any consumer Atmos sources that offer more than four discrete Atmos channels), or only two rather than four Atmos speakers. But I suspect that 5.1.4 or 5.2.4 (five main channels, one or two subs, and four Atmos speakers) will describe most readers’ setups....
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 30, 2020  |  5 comments
I recently responded to a question from a reader on proper speaker placement, a complicated subject that can never be given enough attention. It involves not only how you or I might prefer to position the speakers, but also possible veto by the décor committee. Here are some tips on where to put speakers for the best possible sound.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 16, 2020  |  0 comments
We all suffer through choosing a film to play for friends and family on a movie night. This might invariably include Joe and Ann from down the block, the neighborhood’s premier movie fans (apart from you!) who claim to have seen just about everything. Of course, most of what they’ve seen might have been on a 40-inch set (or even an old 27-inch, low definition CRT), constantly interrupted by commercials. Or perhaps new neighbor Bob from across the street, who hasn’t seen a movie in 20 years on anything but his computer — or not at all.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 02, 2020  |  11 comments
It’s only been two months since I last opined on this topic, but things are never static in these interesting times. The subject of the survival of movie theaters, important not only to the movie industry but to the home video market as well, continues to evolve. Both industries, for better or worse, are dependent on the on the health of the film industry.

Some folks believe that the market for streamed movies will compensate for any permanent closing of theaters.

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