Daniel Kumin

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Daniel Kumin  |  Sep 19, 2018  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $7,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Reference-grade sonics
Outstanding digital audio performance up to 32-bit/384kHz
Gorgeous fit and finish and industrial design
Minus
Basic user interface
Comparatively limited onboard music streaming options
Ethernet connection can be finicky

THE VERDICT
The Micromega M-150 is a pricey, somewhat limited, but fine-sounding integrated amp with a super-slim form factor and surprising power.

Nominally, French firm Micromega would seem a deeply conflicted organization. Is it micro, or is it mega? We may never know. (For the record, “Micomégas” is an 18th-century, ur-science-fiction novella by that most French of Enlightenment figures, Voltaire.)

Either way, the south-of-Paris firm has an established record of filling niches in the ever-shifting digital-audiophile world, beginning with several notable high-end CD players. Today, like most such manufacturers, Micromega is redefining itself for the post-physical media age: Witness its latest M-One duo of streaming- capable, digital-input integrated amplifiers—streamplifiers, as I like to call them.

Daniel Kumin  |  Aug 29, 2018  |  4 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Class-leading DSP surround
5.1.2-channel Dolby Atmos/DTS:X decoding
Useful Scene memory feature
Wireless surround speaker (and multiroom) option via MusicCast speakers
Minus
No 9-channel (front- and rear-height) Atmos/DTS:X expansion option
Slow DLNA audio streaming respons

THE VERDICT
Yamaha’s unique DSP-surround technology sets apart what is otherwise still a strong A/V receiver in a highly competitive market niche.

I get to review a lot of A/V receivers. Familiarity breeding— well, familiarity— I confess that I tend to sort new examples into one of three classes. The flagship models cost a lot, pump out 140 or so watts from each of at least nine and often more channels, and they tend to cram in every conceivable feature. Entry-level jobs are cheap, five- or seven-channel affairs that usually top out at 65-or-so real watts per channel and incorporate more basic feature sets.

Daniel Kumin  |  Aug 16, 2018  |  1 comments

S 809 HCS Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

S 810 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,497 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Top-grade Atmos imaging and ambience reproduction
Connector-less elevation speaker hookup
Unusually good center-speaker tonal match
Minus
Minor upper-mid constriction
Minimal contribution from subwoofer

THE VERDICT
This Jamo Atmos-ready system provides impressive immersion and solid value, though bass-heads will want to investigate the company’s more capable subwoofer offerings.

Jamo, the Danish speaker firm whose name rhymes with—well, not “ham-oh,” and not “Hey Moe!,” and certainly not orange—but with, more or less, “ma-mo,” has been quietly busy upon our shores for several decades now. That quiet became a bit noisier after the firm's acquisition by Klipsch in 2005 (both now part of the VOXX corporate group founded by car-fi stalwart Audiovox).

Daniel Kumin  |  May 03, 2018  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Outstanding sound quality
Very high standard of fit, finish, and industrial design
Generally excellent ergonomics with well-conceived app
Minus
Premium pricing may scare off some buyers
Occasionally slow volume-control response via iOS app

THE VERDICT
An excellent solution, for those who can afford it, for a streaming/computer-audio system where sound quality is as important as features or user interface.

Is it an integrated amplifier with onboard wireless and network streaming, or an audio streamer with built-in amplification?

Yes. The Uniti Atom, from British iconoclast Naim Audio, is both of these, as well as a quarterback for the company’s Mu-so wireless- multiroom ecosystem (and a few other things mixed in). Like all Naim products since the brand’s inception in the mid-1970s, the Atom is distinctly different from most competing designs in both appearance and operation; the company’s proximity to the powerful vibrations of Stonehenge doubtless has something to do with this tradition. That said, the Atom is less different from its competition than many a previous design, because this sort of streaming amp is what the classic stereo integrated amp seems to have morphed into, here in the post- physical-media 21st century. But perhaps the rest of the world has simply caught up, or caught sideways, to Naim.

Daniel Kumin  |  Mar 19, 2018  |  0 comments
Has pop music become less interesting? This amateur musicologist seems to think so...
Daniel Kumin  |  Mar 08, 2018  |  5 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Solid two-channel and multichannel power
3.1.2-channel Dolby Atmos/DTS:X virtual height effects
Excellent Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction
HEOS wireless multiroom
Minus
Wired multiroom limited to one zone

THE VERDICT
A fine seven-channel amp, attractive ergonomics, full 4K/HDR-readiness, and 5.2.2 Dolby Atmos and DTS:X make for a very competitive midrange option.

Denon’s new AVR-X3400H A/V receiver scored points with me even before I got it out of its box: The four-piece packaging foam (top/bottom front and back) allows for easy removal of a heavy-ish item without battling box flaps, splintering full end-cap pieces, or leaving a trail of Styrofoam crumbs behind. (Yes, I’m packing-material obsessive.) But let me not prejudge.

Daniel Kumin  |  Feb 07, 2018  |  11 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive dynamics and clarity in both stereo and multichannel
Quick-response onscreen interface
Four-zone multiroom capability plus wireless MusicCast
Excellent, responsive streaming-audio client
Minus
Remote control is crowded and not illuminated

THE VERDICT
Fully competitive with other flagship AVRs in basic performance, the Yamaha RX-A2070’s proprietary DSP music listening modes are an added attraction that could win over even the most serious listeners.

Once, receivers used to receive (radio waves), and amplify, period. They still do, but those are almost beside-the-point functions. Receivers nowadays are more concerned with decoding, casting, wireless-connecting, virtualizing, surround-formatting, multi-room-extending, auto-analyzing, and more. In fact, I don’t know why we still call these things “receivers,” but, whatever.

Daniel Kumin  |  Jan 29, 2018  |  4 comments
It's not a simple argument, but the net-neutrality one is far from over.
Daniel Kumin  |  Jan 15, 2018  |  3 comments
How loud is loud? How soft is soft?
Daniel Kumin  |  Jan 03, 2018  |  0 comments

Sib Evo Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Cub Evo Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent sound quality
Great subwoofer/satellite integration
Plays louder, cleaner than some similarly sized systems
Atmos on board
Minus
Spring-loaded push connectors can be irritating
No prepackaged 5.1.4-channel option

THE VERDICT
A high-performing, moderately compact, one-carton speaker solution for serious home theater—with Atmos.

Focal, the French loudspeaker maker—the French loudspeaker maker (there are others, but really, name one)—is best known on these shores for the Utopia series of haute-highend ultra-towers, which, cresting at something like $185,000 for a pair, step well over what I think of as the Che Guevara line. (That’s the line across which, following the revolution, anyone owning a pair can count on a very long vacation at state expense in a re-education camp.)

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