Al Griffin

Al Griffin  |  Sep 12, 2019  |  0 comments
MartinLogan's demo of its new Masterpiece CI Series in-wall speakers has proven to be one of the more ear-catching events at CEDIA 2019. The 9.4.4 speaker demonstration used a pair of Statement 40XW (shown at right), five Monument 7XW, two Tribute 5XW, and four Sistine 4XC in-ceiling speakers augmented by a quartet of the company's Dynamo 1600X subwoofers. Movie clips used included a particularly face-melting segment from the Alita:Battle Angel Ultra HD Blu-ray.
Al Griffin  |  Sep 07, 2019  |  1 comments
Samsung’s big 8K announcement at IFA 2019 was, curiously, a new TV with a modest-size 55-inch screen. The latest addition serves as an entry point to the company’s Q900 series, which also consists of 65, 75, 82, and 98-inch models.
Al Griffin  |  Aug 30, 2019  |  0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Set in third century A.D. China, Shadow tells the story of the uneasy truce held by the Pei and Yang kingdoms. Years earlier, the Pei kingdom lost possession of the city of Jing following a duel between Pei army commander Zi Yu and the formidable warrior Yang Kang. As the kingdom's debauched monarch aims to maintain power by acquiescing to Yang Kang, Zi Yu plots to retake the lost city, an objective carried out with the help of a lookalike his family has been grooming since childhood. Directed by Zhang Yimou (House of Flying Daggers), a filmmaker known for his elegant visuals and bold use of color, Shadow's palette is mostly restricted to black-and-white and skin tones.
Al Griffin  |  Aug 27, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Good sound quality with movies and music
3.1.2 Atmos playback
Chromecast built-in for music streaming
Minus
Wireless surround speakers not included
Center channel lacks some clarity on dynamic scenes

THE VERDICT
LG’s 3.1.2 soundbar offers a solid, relatively affordable option for those seeking a dose of immersion minus the heavy hardware investment.

LG has been in the soundbar game for many years, churning out mainly lower-priced bars designed to mate with the company's TVs. The focus on affordable product has likely been a strategic one for LG—the average consumer reeling from the sticker-shock of an OLED TV purchase isn't likely to shell out another grand for a soundbar system, no matter how good it performs. For 2019, however, LG opted to go high-end, releasing a feature-packed trio of soundbars with commensurate price tags.

Al Griffin  |  Aug 22, 2019  |  0 comments
In May I had an opportunity to attend High End in Munich, Germany, an event considered by many to be the world’s leading hi-fi show. It was the second consecutive Munich show I had attended, and this one was even more bustling with activity than the last. While the show does provide trade-only days, it’s primarily a consumer-focused event — audiophiles from all over Europe flock in to look at and listen to the latest gear, much of it on active display in rooms that pump out nonstop music.
Al Griffin  |  Aug 20, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $129

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clean, dynamic sound
Compact form factor
Great value
Minus
Limited connection options

THE VERDICT
JBL's desktop monitors deliver crisp, distinctive sound in a compact and affordable package.

When shopping for desktop speakers, the line between consumer and pro gear can sometimes get blurred. That's because the differences between compact powered bookshelf speakers (consumer) and desktop monitors (pro) ultimately aren't that dramatic. Generally, it comes down to features: consumer gear is more likely to provide things like Bluetooth and phono inputs and a subwoofer output, while pro gear eschews such frills. Another key difference can be the sound: while consumer speakers are voiced to simply sound good, pro versions are designed for "accuracy." But does accurate necessarily equate to good? Let's listen to the JBL One Series 104 Powered Reference Monitor ($129) and find out.

Al Griffin  |  Aug 14, 2019  |  0 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q Is it possible to install a Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 or 5.1.4 configuration using only in-ceiling speakers with directional tweeters? —Felix Diezel, via email

Al Griffin  |  Aug 07, 2019  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Integrated Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $400 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great value
Tidal, Spotify, and TuneIn streaming
Digital and analog inputs accommodate multiple sources
Minus
Subwoofer output
Treble-forward sound with some music
Coarse volume steps
No USB-DAC input

THE VERDICT
OSD Audio’s compact, component-based system is a great value and offers a high-er-performance alternative to many all-in-one wireless speakers.

OSD Audio is a company that seems to make everything— everything audio-related, that is. When I stopped by the company's booth at the CEDIA trade show in 2018, CEO Dave Chai took me on a guided tour of the vast array of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, outdoor speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers, accessories, and cables on display, thoroughly impressing me with his ability to speak about each product in detail. While much of OSD Audio's catalog is aimed at custom installation pros, two new consumer-oriented categories for the company are bookshelf speakers and integrated amplifiers with wireless streaming capability.

Al Griffin  |  Jul 30, 2019  |  0 comments
Road trips are a common enough activity in the U.S., but most, if not all, drivers leave their loudspeakers behind. Not Wendell Diller. The marketing mind behind Magnepan hit the road earlier this year with the company’s 30.7 Magneplanar loudspeaker, a flagship model, in tow. The plan? To visit every one of the company’s U.S. dealers and demo the new $30,000/pair loudspeaker.
Al Griffin  |  Jul 18, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Extended color
Excellent brightness and contrast
Great value
Minus
Fan noise with High Power Consumption setting active

THE VERDICT
Epson’s latest UltraBlack model delivers impressive image quality with both standard and Ultra HD/HDR sources at an equally impressive price.

In late 2018, I reviewed Epson's 4010 PRO-UHD 3LCD Projector, a $2,000 model with a bright (2,400 lumens) picture, 4K/Ultra HD display via pixel-shifting, and a wide range of sophisticated setup features such as motorized lens shift and focus that are typically found only on much more expensive models.

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