By John E. Johnson, Jr.
We have been flying by the seat of our pants in publishing Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity (SoHT) on line since late 1994, and we have learned a great deal. The audience on line is quite a bit different than one might see for magazines published in conventional format (printed paper) and available in all sorts of places. You appear to be a very technical audience and have responded positively to our particular approach to reviewing equipment (in other words, we guessed right as to who is reading SoHT). What we did not realize is how many of you would write to us requesting back issues. This is very expensive to do individually, which we found out the hard way. Now that we are on a Web site, however, that is no longer a problem since all back issues are archived.
The equipment is now arriving at a rapid pace, and there are some very fine components indeed. The rejection rate has dropped to 32%. We are also attempting to keep the reviews short and succinct in order to conserve disk space on the Net as well as allow readers to get the information they want with less download time.
AC-3 is now here, at last. We hope to review some of the equipment as it becomes available. Most of the high end manufacturers are jumping into the home theater arena as fast as they can, and we feel that it is good timing. Although the economy may be one reason, certainly home theater represents a market that no one can resist, even those manufacturers who are doing just fine selling to the more limited patrons of high end audio. It is nice to see superbly made components that are built explicitly for home theater, instead of having to work around the limitations of having one component for the surround sound, and another for high end listening. Although the DACs of laserdisc players tend not to be of the same quality as dedicated CD players, we hope this too will change, as many users connect their high end systems into the home theater environment. High Definition Compatible Digital (HDCD) with its high sampling rate 20 bit recording condensed into a standard 44.1 kHz 16 bit CD represents emerging improvements in digital audio. It has been claimed that HDCDs sound better than standard CDs, even when played undecoded on standard CD machines, and that standard CDs sound better on HDCD players. However, the jury has not returned with the verdict on this yet. There is so much new technology on the horizon, such as Digital Video Disc (DVD) which used to be called High Density Compact Disc (HDCD!), representing the future of not only home theater video but improved (higher sampling rate, longer word length) audio CDs as well, and High Definition Television (HDTV), some of us may be tempted to wait until it all settles down before investing. However, a lot of what we already own will be compatible (power amplifiers and speakers, for example), so the advent of so much change does not have to cause anxiety. It really won't happen overnight, so just roll with it and enjoy what is here.
Following is a list of equipment that we have rejected for review so far (without the name brands), and why we rejected them. The list represents equipment auditioned and returned to manufacturers without publishing reviews, through Volume 2, Number 3, 1995 (list may change as press date of last article is reached):
- 1. Brand "A". Not enough power to rear surround channel. Overall sound was harsh.
- 1. Brand "B". Got too hot. Audible hum. Binding post quality was poor.
- 1. Brand "C". Mid-range was thin.
2. Brand "D" (subwoofer). Cabinet resonance.
3. Brand "E". Tweeter was of poor quality. Treble sounded unnatural.
4. Brand "F". Human voices sounded boomy.
- 1. Brand "G" (Speaker cables). Muddy bass.
2. Brand "H" (Speaker cables). Treble was too bright.
John E. Johnson Jr.
© Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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