Michael Fremer

Michael Fremer  |  May 23, 2004  |  0 comments

The war of the high-resolution audio formats has ended in an unofficial truce, with both sides declaring face-saving victories. Not everyone has won. Consumers who took sides and bought either a DVD-Audio or SACD player lost big time, because they're left unable to access all of the great software available in the other format.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 28, 2004  |  0 comments

Veteran speaker designer Carl Marchisotto has created many highly regarded 2-channel audiophile speakers over the years for his Acarian Systems brand. But the Napoleon mini home theater system is the first dedicated home theater speaker package from Acarian that I can recall, and the first I have reviewed for <I>SGHT</I>.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 22, 2004  |  Published: Feb 23, 2004  |  0 comments

Though it's a relatively small company, UK-based Arcam has long been known to place heavy emphasis on R&D. When I visited the factory a few years ago, I was shown some of the impressive development work then in progress. This effort, said by Arcam to run well over $1 million, has resulted in some impressive new products, including the FMJ AV8 preamplifier-processor and its companion FMJ P7 power amp.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 28, 2003  |  0 comments

The relatively small German company Audio Physic has had remarkable success among audiophiles worldwide with its line of mostly slim, relatively expensive, high-performance speakers. For two decades now, music lovers have responded to the brand's fast, detailed sound&mdash;a sound that places a premium on re-creating a musical event along with the music itself. Audio Physic speakers are best known for pulling a sonic disappearing act by producing holographic, 3-dimensional images and dramatic 2-channel soundstages, but communicating music's emotional content has always been paramount to founder and chief designer Joachim Gerhard. In my opinion, he's succeeded: My current reference speakers are Audio Physic Avanti IIIs; before that, I owned a pair of the original Virgos.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 21, 2003  |  0 comments

Take an informal survey of HDTV owners and you'll find few complaints about HD- or DVD-sourced picture quality. Most are thrilled by what they see. But ask about the view from standard 480i NTSC cable or satellite and the grumbling begins. Part of the problem is, once you've seen HD, regular television is bound to disappoint. Another issue is screen size&mdash;the bigger the screen, the worse non-HD images look. First-time buyers of HDTV big screens learn what owners of analog big screens have known for years: Blowing up noisy, low-resolution video just highlights and magnifies flaws not readily seen on small screens.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 19, 2003  |  0 comments

Judging by mainstream press coverage, you'd think plasma display devices were taking over the market. "Plasma" is the buzzword, even among consumers whose only sighting of a plasma screen was an airport "Arrivals and Departures" display. And that's about all that the pathetic $3000 (add $160 for delivery), 42-inch, standard-definition models being sold today to unwary, buzzword-bitten consumers are good for.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 13, 2003  |  0 comments

Like three-button suits, ribbon drivers seem to go in and out of fashion arbitrarily. But there's a pattern. First, they're all the rage for their airy, transparent, detailed sound. Then they're shunned because of inherent technical limitations or their low impedances (which present a difficult load for an amplifier to drive). Or because of the complexities involved in getting them to mate with the traditional cone drivers typically used to produce low frequencies. Or because new materials and technologies have improved the performance of cone and dome drivers, which, being easier to manufacture and use, make ribbons' theoretical advantages not worth the hassle. Then there's a breakthrough in ribbon design and the cycle repeats.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 05, 2003  |  0 comments

"What's possibly left to add to an A/V receiver?" industry observers and reviewers ask at the end of each new product cycle. But always, by the time the replacement model has been introduced, manufacturers have found plenty to tack on. Only owners of last year's "state-of-the-art" A/V receivers can say how worthwhile are these additions, refinements, and upgrades.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 15, 2003  |  0 comments

With A/V receivers now approaching the size, weight, and complexity of small apartment buildings, separating the processing and control functions from the amplification is becoming an attractive alternative for growing numbers of home-theater enthusiasts. While this approach is usually more expensive in the short run, most serious videophiles find that the long-term flexibility and enhanced performance more than offset the added cost.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 08, 2003  |  0 comments

The late electronics wizard Henry Kloss, founder of Advent and co-founder of Acoustic Research and KLH, devised the concept of the high-performance compact radio back in the 1960s, and he invented timeless products to back up that innovative idea: His classic KLH Model 8 tabletop radio is still sought after, still sounds great, and fetches $500 and up on Internet auction sites. Cambridge SoundWorks, established by Kloss in 1988 and later sold to Creative Technology Ltd., began as a direct marketer of innovative, inexpensive, overachieving radios and powered multimedia speaker systems.