Audio

Emotiva Stealth DAC

Listening to my records one night, I received an email from Susan Johnson asking if I would be willing to review the Emotiva Stealth DC-1. Would I ever! Last year I tried the Emotiva USP-1 preamp and UPA-200 amp in my system and I have been very happy with the combination. Needless to say I was very curious to see and hear this reference piece from Emotiva.

Pinnacle T1 PBAR 2000 Powered Sound Bar

Don't you often wonder why expensive televisions are sold with speakers that sound like they're made of tissue paper and powered by a cell phone? No matter what the price of the set, it always seems that sound quality receives little of the design budget. This results in predictable audio quality – tinny, prone to distortion, and adequate only for the most basic of dialogue. The good news is that there ARE alternatives! Pinnacle Speakers offers an array of high quality powered sound bars, surround speakers, subwoofers, and in-wall/in-ceiling speakers that can bring your television's sound to life!

Anthem MRX 710 7.1 A/V Receiver

Anthem's second-generation MRX receivers now offer more HDMI inputs, dual HDMI outputs, 4K upscaling and pass-through, faster HDMI switching and come in three models with the primary difference being the amount of amplification and number of channels. The entry level receiver is the MRX 310, which offers 80 watts per channel for 5.1 channels. The MRX 510 is the middle receiver in the MRX lineup and offers 100 watts per channel for 7.1 channels. The flagship model is the MRX 710, reviewed here, which offers 120 watts per channel for 7.1 channels. As for other differences between models, the MRX 710 and MRX 510 allow the front left and right speakers to be bi-amped. The MRX 710 and MRX 510 have seven rear and one front-panel HDMI input, while the MRX 310 has seven rear HDMI inputs. All three models support software updates via USB.

REL T-9 Subwoofer

The REL T-9 subwoofer is the largest sub in REL's "Serie T" line. It is a solidly built sub with a 10" Ultra Long Throw main driver, a 10" front-firing passive radiator and a 300 watt Class A/B plate amp. In keeping with REL innovation (and tradition), theT-9 has a number of flexible hook up schemes, the most unique being by way of the included high level hook-up cable.

Kaleidescape Cinema One Media Server

I am probably in the minority now. I am still a dinosaur that watches almost all of their movies off of physical discs instead of streaming, downloads, or Pay-Per-View. I do watch plenty of streaming content, as it is convenient, but I can't bring myself to pay for an inferior quality product that I download compared to buying a disc at the store. Now after spending a month with the Kaleidescape Cinema One Media Server, I can see a future, one that is very close, where I won't buy a disc again. I see a reality where convenience and quality are not mutually exclusive. What does the Kaleidescape do that has managed to change my mind about this? A lot.

Toshiba BDX6400 Blu-ray Player

I've reviewed a lot of Blu-ray players now and don't often get surprised. So when I took the Toshiba BDX6400 out of its shipping box I was a bit taken aback. I knew it was coming, but I expected a standard size black box. Instead I found a tiny little player that's even smaller than a Nintendo Wii. The tiny size made me instantly attracted to the BDX6400. Blu-ray players can only output HD content over HDMI now, so there really is no reason every player is a large box. A smaller unit like the Toshiba BDX6400 still has every connection you likely need, but is easier to store away. So just how much does this little player manage to pack inside?

NAD D 3020 Hybrid Digital Stereo Amplifier

When I left home for college in 1984, I brought my stereo system along. It consisted of a Kenwood receiver, Technics turntable, and a pair of Fisher 3-way speakers. After discovering a few high-end stereo shops in Boston, and having my turntable set up properly; I started shopping for a better amp. My meager funding ruled out separates but the proprietor of a small hi-fi shop pointed me to that now-familiar brown box. I returned to my dorm room clutching a brand-new NAD 3020, for which I believe I paid around $220. My reward was the cleanest sound I'd ever heard, bar none. I used that amp all through college and probably for another 10 years after. Today, NAD has recreated this amazing product for the digital age. Where we once relied on vinyl and ferrous tape, now it's all about bits and bytes. The timeless philosophy of clean high-quality sound, versatile operation, and a low price has now given birth to the all-new D 3020 Hybrid Digital Amplifier.

THIEL CS2.7 Floor-Standing Speakers

Sometime around 2007, Thiel introduced what was then (and still is) an astounding speaker in the CS3.7 which for the most part was significant because Thiel was engineering their own driver designs, versus buying OEM. The 3-way design was pure Thiel, soft and rounded yet muscular in design, Jim Thiel showcased the corrugated midrange and tweeter "coincidentally" mounted configuration. The CS2.7 is the result of that success in a more affordable package.

Bryston 28BSST2 Monoblock Power Amplifier

Lately I had been sampling the Bryston Mini T Bookshelf speakers with my reference amp, a modest Marantz Integrated, and though they matched well I wondered how they would fare with some serious Bryston power behind them. So when Bryston offered up some 28BSST2 's for review I had one stipulation: let me try them with the Mini T's.

Sonus Faber Venere 3.0 Home Theater Speaker System

This Sonus faber home theater speaker system is based on the new Venere 3.0 floor standing speakers, the flagship of the Venere line. The Veneres are designed in Italy and include drivers designed from the ground up specifically for this speaker line. The drivers are made exclusively for Sonus faber by some of the best suppliers on the planet. The Veneres even have the famous Sonus faber lyre-shaped cabinets.

Pioneer SC-79 9.1 A/V Receiver

The SC-79 marks the fourth revision of the Pioneer SC-line that I have reviewed. From the beginning I've been impressed with the amount of features they fit inside and the performance they offer. The SC-79 announcement is as excited for a new receiver as I have been. Far from a marginal upgrade, Pioneer went all-out and packed in new features galore. The biggest is a pair of ESS SABRE32 9016 DACs. A single-step below the 9018 used in top-flight two channel audio products, the 9016 is the highest end DAC in a receiver today.

Onkyo NR929 9.2 A/V Receiver

While the TX-NR5010 remains the company's flagship model, the TX-NR929 is Onkyo's most fully-featured receiver released in 2013, carrying the THX Select2 Plus variety. Having both owned and reviewed Onkyo receivers, I was greatly looking forward to putting this model through the paces.

Sony STR-DN1040 7.1 A/V Receiver

When I turn on the Sony STR-DN1040 and am greeted by a colorful, interactive full screen graphical interface, I am surprised. It is even in high definition! Someone has actually been listening to complaints from users and decided to do something about it. They are trying to make the home theater less complex than the PC of the 1980's. Is the Sony STR-DN1040 just a pretty face or does it have the brains and brawn to go along with its beauty?