Onkyo has a long history of making high-performance, budget-priced speakers. Even their home theater in a box speakers were a cut above the speakers Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, Yamaha, and so on were making, back when I was reviewing scads of HTIBs years ago. Then again, the Onkyo speakers were usually a good deal larger than the competition's, and it didn't hurt that most Onkyo speakers were made of wood instead of plastic, and had larger woofers and better-quality tweeters than most HTIB speaker systems. No wonder Onkyo HTIBs were, year after year, the best-sounding HTIBs. So when I … Read more
Even by Oppo's high standards the BDP-105 is an extraordinary Blu-ray player. Sure, it's loaded with up-to-the-second features -- 4K upscaling, 2D-to-3D conversion, and a high-quality USB 2.0 digital-to-analog converter -- but what really makes the Oppo special is the sound. Pop the cover and look inside and you'll see why. Most of the 17-pound component's chassis space is devoted to the audio circuitry. That's nice, but the audio advantages will be completely irrelevant if you connect the BDP-105 to your receiver with a HDMI cable (the digital-to-analog conversion would then be handled in … Read more
I get this question a lot, "Steve, what's the best-sounding Blu-ray player." Sometimes the questioner is more specific, "I have an Oppo BDP-83, but is the Oppo BDP- 95 better? What are you using at home?"
I have an Oppo BDP-95 ($999), which has a lot in common with the company's BDP-93 ($499) 3D universal Blu-ray, SACD, DVD-Audio player, but the BDP-95 is the potentially better sounding player. I say potentially because that player's upgraded digital-to-analog converter and audio circuitry won't make a nit of difference if you're using the player'… Read more
Lets face it: sound bars are popular mostly because they reduce home theater clutter. The other big plus is that they eliminate the need to buy an AV receiver, and the cost savings can be considerable. That's all good, but I'm still waiting to hear a sound bar an audiophile could love.
I had hopes for Klipsch's new Gallery G-42 sound bar ($699), but it doesn't have internal amplifiers, so it must be used with a receiver. That's potentially a very positive sign, because the amps built into sound bars aren't as good or as powerful as the ones in Denon, NAD, Onkyo, Pioneer, or Yamaha receivers. Like all Klipsch speakers, the G-42 sports horn-loaded tweeters (more on that later). The sound bar is part of a new Klipsch series of Gallery speakers and 5.1 channel speaker packages.
Decked out with a gorgeous glossy black finish, the G-42 has a high-end sheen, and its 6-inch-high, 42-inch-wide, and 2.4-inch-deep cabinet feels sturdy. The 12-pound speaker can be wall-mounted or set on a cabinet with the included table top stand. The rear panel houses all-metal connectors for the speaker's left, center, and right channels. … Read more
Defining exactly what qualifies audio gear as "high-end" or "audiophile" isn't easy, but I'll give it a try. Sound quality that rises above what's available from mainstream manufacturers would lead the way, followed by exceptional build quality, and a high price.
Well, by those standards it's safe to say Emotiva's ERC-2 CD player is definitely a high-end machine. The only disqualifier might be the ERC-2's price; it's just $449, which includes free shipping in the U.S.. The ERC-2 boasts individually regulated and shielded power supplies that separately feed the CD transport mechanism, the display, microprocessors, and digital and analog electronics sections. Build quality, from the thick machined-metal faceplate; beefy, all-metal remote control; the Analog Devices' digital-to-analog converters; and fully discrete analog circuitry are all more in-line with what I'd expect to see on a $1,500 CD player.
You can also use the ERC-2 as a CD "transport" with an external digital-to-analog converter; it has a "professional grade" digital output XLR connector, as well as RCA and Toslink optical digital audio connectivity. The ERC-2 has RCA and XLR (balanced) analog outputs.
Where most digital players, including many high-end models that sell for many times the ERC-2's price have one- or two-year warranties, the ERC-2 has a five-year warranty!
I listened to the ERC-2 in my high-end system with Pass Labs electronics and Magnepan 3.7 speakers. It's a high-resolution system, so it was easy to hear just how spectacular the sound of this CD player really is. … Read more
Oppo Digital's Blu-ray and DVD players have found favor with the most demanding high-end customers. I knew that Oppo has collaborated with a number of high-end audio companies (Ayre Acoustics, MSB Technology, NuForce, and others) on a number of products, but I didn't know Oppo made improvements on its own products based on feedback from those high-end companies.
The Oppo BDP-95 ($999) may have a lot in common with the company's BDP-93 ($499) 3D universal Blu-ray, SACD, DVD-Audio player, but the BDP-95 really is a very different, potentially better sounding Blu-ray player. I say potentially because the $… Read more