Al Griffin

Al Griffin  |  Mar 18, 2020  |  4 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,975 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crisp, detailed sound
High-performance center speaker
Subwoofer with room correction
Minus
Subwoofer pricey compared with competition

THE VERDICT
Monitor Audio's revamped mid-range Silver system brings notable improvements with no notable increase in price.

In 2020 many of us will get to witness the summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan—on TV at least. Why do I mention that in the first line of a speaker review? Because, like the medals handed out to Olympian champs, speaker lines from Monitor Audio tend to come with names

Al Griffin  |  Mar 12, 2020  |  5 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I own a Sony UBP-X800 Ultra HD Blu-ray player and want to know if all the 4K discs I buy provide high dynamic range (HDR). I’m also wondering if all 4K discs with HDR deliver it in both the HDR10 and Dolby Vision formats. —Steven Ganno, via email

Al Griffin  |  Feb 27, 2020  |  0 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I’m using the built-in apps on my Sony XBR-55X850C TV for video streaming. The set’s optical digital audio output is connected to an older Denon AVR-4306 receiver. My problem is that I only get Dolby Digital 5.1 sound from the TV’s Netflix app; no other app (HBO Now/Go, Sony Crackle, Hulu, or Disney+) provides DD 5.1. My local AV shop suggested using another streaming device or upgrading to a high-quality optical cable. Any advice or suggestions? —Ken Ashlock, Colorado Springs, CO

Al Griffin  |  Feb 06, 2020  |  5 comments
Looking over the list of products that earned a Sound & Vision Top Pick award in 2019, one entry towered over the others: JVC’s DLA-NX9 D-ILA projector. Congratulations to JVC for a job well done in being selected as S&V’s overall Top Pick for 2019!
Al Griffin  |  Feb 05, 2020  |  14 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,649

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great sound quality
Onboard Dirac Live room correction
Well-designed control app
Minus
Overly busy remote control

THE VERDICT
NAD's streaming preamp brings vinyl playback and Dirac Live room correction to the mix for a very complete package at an affordable price.

I'm no stranger to the network audio player/preamplifier category, having evaluated two such specimens in 2019: Cary Audio's DMS-550 and Simaudio's Moon 390. These components act as a hub for switching a range of digital and analog sources, along with streaming music from online services and local networked storage. The DMS-550 and Moon 390 impressed me with their versatility and sound quality, but at $5,000-plus, both are priced outside the range of an average listener. Fortunately, other options exist such as the NAD C 658, a $1,649 network audio player/ preamplifier aimed at audiophiles on a budget. How does the C 658 hold up against the pricier models? Let's give it a listen.

Al Griffin  |  Jan 23, 2020  |  5 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I just bought Polk Audio Monitor 40 Series II speakers and want to know how to install them using bi-wiring. Do I connect two separate wires from the positive and negative outputs on the receiver and run them to the separate positive and negative input sets on the speaker? What benefits will that provide? —Kris Green, via email

Al Griffin  |  Jan 17, 2020  |  0 comments
CES over the past few years has become more about vision than sound, with statement TVs in booths lining the Las Vegas Convention Center’s Central Hall vying aggressively for the attention of show attendees. CES 2020 was no different, and in some ways was even more TV-centric due to the wide range of new products and prototypes on view from both established brands like LG, Samsung, and Sony, and relative newcomers such as Hisense, Konka, and TCL. Yes, LG once again had motorized rolling OLED TVs at the show — a product promised for 2019 that never materialized here — along with new OLED prototypes that roll down from the ceiling. But what most interested me was the sets that are likely to arrive in 2020, especially the innovative ones that will actually be affordable.
Al Griffin  |  Jan 16, 2020  |  4 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I have a new Sony UBP-X1100ES Ultra HD Blu-ray player and Denon receiver. I know I can use a coaxial digital connection between the player and receiver for playback of regular CDs. Can I use the same connection to pass high-res audio formats like SACD and DVD-Audio to the receiver, or do I need an HDMI cable for that? —John Huxhold, Manchester, MO

Al Griffin  |  Jan 15, 2020  |  4 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Extended color
Good brightness
Great value
Minus
Contrast could be better
Difficult to access HDR adjustment

THE VERDICT
BenQ's budget 4K DLP projector delivers solid overall video performance at a very affordable price.

[Editor's note: BenQ raised the price of the HT3550 to $1,699 after this review was originally written. According to the company, the price increase is due to "tariffs."]

As you might expect, low-cost projectors are much more common than premium models. Survey the market, and you'll find loads of options in the under-$3,000 range, while projectors priced above $10,000 are rare birds, indeed. Even so, affordable models are by no means basic: a look at the under-$1,500 range will turn up plenty of projectors with features such as 4K and HDR10 support—BenQ's CinePrime $1,499 HT3550, for example.

Al Griffin  |  Jan 11, 2020  |  5 comments
GoldenEar Technology’s Sandy Gross is no stranger to change, having started, and then eventually moved on from, two major speaker brands, Polk Audio and Definitive Technology. As we reported last week , GoldenEar was recently acquired by The Quest Group, owner of the AudioQuest brand of cables, Niagara power products, and DragonFly DACs. With change, of course, comes uncertainty, which is why it was reassuring to walk into the company’s CES suite and see the man himself conducting demos of GoldenEar’s latest speaker, the Bookshelf Reference X.

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