When people ask "Which AV receiver should I buy?" the answer depends on what you're looking for. For some, the Pioneer VSX-1020-K's excellent out-of-the-box iPod connectivity is a must-have feature, but audiophiles couldn't care less about listening to an iPod on their home stereo system; they're better off with the Denon AVR-1911. Our list of best AV receivers is still the easiest way to see how rank different models, but here we've tried to narrow down the choices based on what kind of buyer you are.
As I said a few days ago, bona fide audio breakthroughs are rare, but there was no shortage of interesting gear at this year's CES shindig in Las Vegas.
Stereophile's Tyll Hertsens spotted Furutech's GT-40 combination USB digital-to-analog converter/phono preamp/headphone amp. The device can rip your vinyl or play computer files at up to 24-bit/96-kHz resolution with USB convenience, and includes a high-quality headphone amp. It looks great!
CNET's Natali Morris' report on Sculpted Eers' custom-molded in-ear headphones looked really interesting. Every other custom molded in-ear on the market requires the buyer to first go to an audiologist to make "ear impressions" of your ear canals, which are sent to the headphone manufacturer; you get your headphones a couple of weeks later. With these Sculpted Eers headphones, you go to a store that sells Sculpted Eers and they make your headphones on the spot. Prices start around $149, which is $250 less than any custom-molded in-ears I've tested to date. How good are they? We'll see.
Over at Audio Review, Adam LaBarge was bowled over by Zu Audio's new $40,000 flagship speaker, the Dominance. LaBarge called it "a well-tamed beast that is just waiting to explode." Zu founder Sean Casey told me about this speaker a few weeks ago, and he sounded pretty excited about it. Zu has made its name selling affordable (by high-end standards) American-designed and -built speakers. For example, the $1,000-a-pair Zu Omen is getting great word of mouth, so I'm super-curious about this mega-buck Zu. … Read more
LAS VEGAS--We're used to seeing AV receivers with integrated Blu-ray players in home-theater-in-a-box systems, but they're pretty rare as standalone products.
Samsung's newly announced HW-D7000 combines a full, component-style AV receiver with a Blu-ray player, packed with features on both counts. The receiver has standard midrange specs, such as 120 watts per channel, four HDMI inputs (each with audio return channel and 3D compatibility), and DTS-HD Master Audio/Dolby TrueHD/Dolby Pro Logic IIz sound processing.
The HW-D7000's Blu-ray features are similar to those of other high-end Blu-ray players Samsung is showing at CES 2011, although … Read more
This is, however, not an issue with what Netgear announced today, the Powerline AV 200 Nano Adapter Kit (model XAVB2101). The company called it the "smallest 200Mbps power-line AV adapter currently available worldwide."
The kit includes two identical power-line adapters that are small enough to fit in your palm. When mounted on the wall socket, it's clear that the adapter won't be in the way if you want to use another socket nearby.
These adapters … Read more
LAS VEGAS--Powerline is a network connectivity solution that turns your home's electrical wiring into data cables and hence allows for expanding the wired networking through out the house without having to run network cable all over the place.
You can conveniently add a power-line connection to any existing network by using a power-line kit, such as the Linksys PLK300, the WD Livewire, or the Netgear AV 200. All of these kits include at least two adapters, the minimum you need to create the first power-line connection, since you need an adapter at each end. After that you can buy … Read more
LAS VEGAS--Netgear did it a while ago with the Powerline AV 200 Wireless-N Extender Kit, and now Trendnet has just joined the club. The networking vendor announced today its first HomePlug AV 200Mbps power-line Wireless-N access point, the TPL-310AP.
The full name of the product is the 200Mbps Powerline AV Wireless-N Access Point, and it's essentially a HomePlug AV power-line adapter that can also work as a 300Mbps Wireless-N access point at the far end of the power-line connection.
This is a single unit and therefore will work only in homes where a power-line connection exists. The device will … Read more
Ultimate AV Magazine's Scott Wilkinson has an eye for style. He regularly posts some of the most beautiful shots of high-end audio exotica I've seen, so I decided to share a few of them here.
Leave it to the Italians to come up with a radically different approach to speaker design. Behold the Book of Music's Teti Extreme; its twisted curves look great and improve sound quality. With the standard finish each speaker carries a hefty price tag of $9,920; or if you're really willing to splurge, go for the special "liquid-rubber" paint … Read more
I thought it would be fun to contrast and compare the tubes vs. solid-state debate with the analog vs. digital standoff. I'd readily concede that solid-state/transistor components are, watt for watt, cheaper, more reliable, cooler running, smaller and lighter in weight. But if solid-state is so terrific why haven't tubes become extinct in the half century since transistors came onto the scene? Maybe, just maybe, because tubes sound better?
Ultimate AV Magazine recently conducted a poll, "Do You Prefer Tube-Based or Solid-State Audio Gear?," and the results demonstrated a nearly two-to-one preference for transistors over … Read more
This week, at Cleveland Clinic's 2010 Medical Innovation Summit, the top 10 medical breakthroughs of 2011 have been predicted, with the new brain imaging compound AV-45--which is poised to help early detection of Alzheimer's--taking the top spot.
Alzheimer's gets its name from German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer, who began lecturing in the early 1900s about the plaques and tangles he'd found in the post-mortem brain tissue of a 51-year-old patient.
To this day, diagnosing the disease while a patient is still alive is tricky, and there is still no cure. But there have been several breakthroughs … Read more
It is a good idea to buy Wi-Fi products certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance if you want to ensure the interoperability between products of different vendors.
Similarly, you want to look for HomePlug-certified products when shopping for power-line network devices.
Power-line devices are those that enable the electrical wiring of your home to transmit data signals, hence allowing for extending the network to different parts of the property without running network cables.
Most of these devices are based on the HomePlug AV standard, but products from different vendors are not guaranteed to work with one another until they are tested … Read more