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Al Griffin Posted: Feb 17, 2017 9 comments
Google’s Chromecast Audio media streamer represents perhaps the least expensive way to add wireless streaming to legacy speakers and audio systems. But is it the best option for everyone?
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Al Griffin Posted: Feb 16, 2017 2 comments
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Q It looks like the high data rate (up to 48Gbps) of the forthcoming HDMI 2.1 standard will create headaches for the consumer electronics industry, especially the cable manufacturers. Here’s my question: Why does decompression of video data happen in the disc player or streaming box instead of the TV? If the situation were reversed, then there would be no need for new, 48G HDMI cables. —Dave Ings / Toronto, Canada

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Al Griffin Posted: Feb 13, 2017 0 comments
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Q I have a Denon AVR-X7200WA A/V receiver and a 9.2-channel speaker system. I recently bought an additional pair of height speakers and a Marantz five-channel amp to expand the system to 11.1 channels. How should I go about connecting the Marantz amp? —Dipin Patel / via email

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Al Griffin Posted: Feb 09, 2017 1 comments
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Q I love the idea of converting vinyl (especially my Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab LPs) to a hi-res digital audio format and Sony’s PS-HX500 USB Turntable seems like just the ticket.  However, I already own a high-end turntable and don’t want to buy a second one. Are there any devices I can connect to my turntable to make hi-res transfers of my record collection? Thanks —Rob Lowe

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Al Griffin Posted: Feb 02, 2017 3 comments
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Q Sony recently announced a firmware update that adds Dolby Vision support for my TV, the XBR-65Z9D. Here’s my question: Will my Pioneer Elite SC-LX901 receiver be able to pass signals from Dolby Vision discs played on Ultra HD Blu-ray players that support Dolby Vision? The SC-LX901 is equipped with HDMI version 2.0a connections, so I’m assuming it should have no problem. —Cesar Sanchez

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Al Griffin Posted: Jan 26, 2017 38 comments
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Q For the past few years I've been following the High-Res Audio "movement." After reading several articles in Sound & Vision, I finally decided to order an AudioQuest Dragonfly Black and rip a few of my favorite 90s rock/alternative CDs to FLAC format. I also downloaded the HDtracks sampler and purchased 96/24 versions of Pearl Jam's No Code and Muse's Drones. I couldn't wait to “hear my music again for the first time." Know what? It didn’t matter if I listened with my Apple EarPods, Bose SoundTrue headphones, or Logitech desktop speakers, I couldn't hear any differences!  What gives? Do I really have to spend $1000 on headphones to appreciate hi-res audio? Is the problem the distortion and effects in the music I typically listen to, or is High-Res Audio all hype? —Adam Head

A First off, let me say that I sympathize with your struggle to grasp the benefits of High-Res Audio (HRA). It’s not easy to hear differences. In some cases, there aren’t significant differences to be heard. Let me explain.

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Al Griffin Posted: Jan 19, 2017 5 comments
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Q I recently bought a Marantz 7702mkII preamp-processor and am wondering about the best options for streaming high-res FLAC and other lossless files from my computer. The Marantz wants me to use my Windows Media Player library when setting up a media server connection. However, it’s my understanding that WMP can’t play FLAC files without additional transcoding, and even then it can’t handle files with 24bit/192kHz resolution. Do you have any recommendations for getting the best-quality playback from my high-res audio downloads? —Trey M. Turner

Al Griffin Posted: Jan 18, 2017 10 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
High-quality upconversion of Blu-rays and DVDs
Effective detail enhancement and noise reduction
Full-featured remote control
Minus
Doesn’t support YouTube 4K video streaming
No Vudu app
No Dolby Vision disc support
Pricey next to competition

THE VERDICT
Panasonic’s first Ultra HD Blu-ray player’s excellent performance and solid build quality make it an easy choice for enthusiasts.

Looking back at format launches over the past two decades, it becomes clear that most first-gen players were clunkers, and pricey ones at that. Dig deep through the Sound & Vision archives (on the web, or in your personal print library—you have one of those, right?), and you’ll unearth reviews of the first Blu-ray player, Samsung’s BDP-1000. Priced at $1,000, this ungainly machine took about one minute to load a disc, did quirky stuff (like first converting progressive-scan signals to an interlaced format before outputting them as 1080p), and delivered pictures that looked soft in comparison with those delivered by the HD-DVD format Blu-ray was aggressively warring with at the time.

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Al Griffin Posted: Jan 12, 2017 0 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I have a question about playing 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks on a 5.1 speaker system. I understand that my receiver will mix the back rear channels into the surround channels, but will that cause the playback to lose the lossless quality DTS-HD Master Audio was designed to deliver? —Len Shift

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Al Griffin Posted: Jan 08, 2017 0 comments
The PW Soundbar, the latest addition to Paradigm’s PW (Power Wireless) portfolio, is a svelte, 9-driver, 3-channel model that uses the DTS Play-Fi platform to stream music from sources ranging from Tidal, Spotify, and TuneIn Radio to high-res music files stored on a computer or NAS drive. With Play-Fi’s latest update, it can also serve as the hub of a wireless 5.1 channel surround system.

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