Sound & Vision

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    Sound & Vision






    Sound & Vision https://todaysreader.com/wp-content/plugins/WPRobot5/full-text-rss/makefulltextfeed.php?format=rss&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.soundandvision.com%2Frss.xml


    Spiral https://www.soundandvision.com/content/spiral
    121277 at https://www.soundandvision.com
    <p>
    <span class=”ratingstitle”>Picture</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r45″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Sound</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r45″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Extras</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r40″></span></span><br></p>

    An attempt to revive the popular <i>Saw</i> franchise, <i>Spiral</i> (full title “<i>Spiral: From the Book of Saw</i>,” whatever that means) continues the legacy of creative torture-horror under the direction of Darren Lynn Bousman who long ago helmed <i>Saws II-IV</i>. The sadistic madman-with-an-axe-to-grind known as Jigsaw is long dead and now a new serial killer is on the loose, an apparent copycat except this time the murderer is specifically targeting dirty cops with his elaborate, painful deathtraps. Once again, the victims must make the brutal choice to do something horrible to themselves to escape or die in gruesome fashion.
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    <img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/1021spiral.box.jpg” width=”600″ height=”749″ alt=”1021spiral.box”>
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    The dialogue is inexcusably unoriginal, and, performed with an apparent misbelief by the actors that if they shout their lines they will somehow be elevated, sags under the weight of its clichés and clunky exposition. In the plus column, the tortures being proffered are twisted, graphic, and all but guaranteed to make audiences cringe. Isn’t that what we want from a <i>Saw</i> sequel?
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    <img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/1021spiral.2.jpg” width=”600″ height=”400″ alt=”1021spiral.2″>
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    A great many scenes are set at nighttime to conjure the requisite eeriness, and the level of shadow detail in these is outstanding. The movie was captured digitally and is presented here in crisp, native 4K resolution with HDR10 high dynamic range. Bright highlights abound throughout, and not merely on the business end of the detectives’ flashlights as they probe various crime scenes. HDR imparts real pop from beginning to end, although I did note some banding artifacts in streetlights. Colors are remarkably varied and rich and are a joy to behold.
    </p><p>
    The Dolby Atmos soundtrack imbues the more bustling scenes with lively activity and adds an unsettling sense of inescapability when a victim is immobilized and confronting his/her fate. Suspense is often heightened by composer and ex-Nine Inch Nails member Charlie Clouser’s score. There are jump scares, naturally, with ample bass kick. And when star Chris Rock goes off on one of his tirades, his voice resonates in 360-degree space.
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    <img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/1021spiral.3.jpg” width=”600″ height=”400″ alt=”1021spiral.3″>
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    Twin audio commentaries feature the director, co-writer, and composer on one track, and producers on the other. A surprisingly excellent hour-long “making of” feature is accompanied by a look at the latest installment’s ingenious traps and a study of the advertising for the entire series. A regular HD Blu-ray version of the movie is supplied along with a digital copy.
    </p><p>
    Ultra HD Blu-ray<br>Studio: Lionsgate, 2021 <br>Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1<br>HDR Format: HDR10<br>Audio Format: Dolby Atmos with TrueHD 7.1 core <br>Length: 93 Mins. <br>Director: Darren Lynn Bousman<br>Starring: Chris Rock, Max Minghella, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisol Nichols, Dan Petronijevic, Richard Zeppieri
    </p> Fri, 29 Oct 2021 16:38:14 +0000 Jon Iverson
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    https://www.soundandvision.com/content/spiral


    Can HDR Make Some Movies Look Too Dark? https://www.soundandvision.com/content/can-hdr-make-some-movies-look-too-dark
    121276 at https://www.soundandvision.com
    <div><img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/102721_ask_sv_1of2_oct-nov2021.png” class=”ff-og-image-inserted”></div><i><b>Got a tech question for Sound &amp; Vision? Email us at <a href=”mailto:AskSandV@gmail.com” target=”_blank”>AskSandV@gmail.com</a></b></i><p>
    <b>Q</b> I tried to watch <i>Cruella</i> on Disney+ and was shocked by the poor video quality presented by my Roku streaming device. I have noticed other dark looking movies in the past, but this example was just terrible. I was able to make <i>Cruella</i> watchable by changing the color mode and lamp settings on my Epson HC 4010 projector, but still wonder exactly what happened. Have you noticed that some movies look notably darker than others? If so, does it have anything to do with high dynamic range (HDR)? —<i>Gary Eickmeier, via email</i>

    </p><p>
    <b>A</b> What does it have to do with HDR? Everything, most likely, though Disney+ isn’t necessarily at fault in this case, and neither is your Roku device. <i>Cruella</i> on Disney+ is in Dolby Vision, a dynamic HDR format where the image is optimized on a frame-by-frame basis for best presentation. All projectors, including your Epson, however, only support HDR10, a static HDR format where the display is provided with both the peak brightness of the video content and its maximum average frame light level and then adjusts the “tone-mapping” to adapt for that. (All movies mastered in Dolby Vision also include an HDR10 layer for compatibility with non-Dolby Vision displays.)
    </p><p>
    For movies with relatively low HDR brightness (and <i>Cruella</i>, presumably, is one such title), the consequent tone-mapping can result in an image that looks overly dark, especially in dim scenes. But viewed on a Dolby Vision-capable display — a category that only includes flat-panel OLED and LCD TVs at this point — the same image might appear noticeably brighter. Some projectors such as JVC’s higher-end models improve on the HDR10 situation by providing frame-by-frame adaptive tone mapping. In this case, the dynamic range for each scene or frame is optimized on-the-fly regardless of the brightness level of the specific content.
    </p><p>
    Your <a href=”https://www.soundandvision.com/content/epson-home-cinema-4010-4k-pro-uhd-lcd-projector-review” target=”new”>Epson Home Cinema 4010</a> projector is an older model that does support HDR10, though it doesn’t provide any additional settings to optimize HDR image quality. But one feature, a 16-step HDR10 adjustment Epson introduced in later models such as the <a href=”https://www.soundandvision.com/content/epson-home-cinema-5050ub-pro-uhd-3lcd-projector-review-0″ target=”new”>HC 5050UB</a> and <a href=”https://www.soundandvision.com/content/epson-home-cinema-3800-4k-lcd-projector-review” target=”new”>HC 3800</a>, does help quite a bit to improve the look of overly dark or bright 4K/HDR movies. This feature, which can be accessed by hitting a dedicated button on the remote control, displays an onscreen slider that allows you to easily tweak the projector’s tone mapping balance while simultaneously viewing the effect of your adjustments on the image in the background. The result might not pack the same visual punch as a Dolby Vision movie on a flat-panel TV, but it should appear noticeably less dark.
    </p>
    <p>
    <b>Click <a href=”https://www.soundandvision.com/category/ask-sv” target=”new”>here</a> for more expert advice on all things audio and video.</b>
    </p> Fri, 29 Oct 2021 12:18:39 +0000 Bob Ankosko
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    https://www.soundandvision.com/content/can-hdr-make-some-movies-look-too-dark


    Best Gear of Fall 2021 https://www.soundandvision.com/content/best-gear-fall-2021
    121273 at https://www.soundandvision.com
    Gear Aplenty could well be the theme of autumn 2021, which has produced a scary good lineup of Top Pick-worthy products as we approach the witching hour. From one of the best TVs you can buy to soundbar options for three budgets to a brilliant reimagining of a ’60s classic, we’ve got you covered.

    <p><br><img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/921viz.promo_.jpg” width=”600″ border=”0″>
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    <b>Vizio V21d-J8 Soundbar: $116</b>

    </p><div class=”ratingsbox”>

    <!– –> <img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/topvalue.cur.png” width=”200″ height=”50″ border=”0″><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Performance</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r35″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Features</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r30″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Ergonomics</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r35″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Value</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r50″></span></span><br></div>

    I know what you’re thinking… What kind of upgrade can you possibly expect from a soundbar that costs a hundred bucks? Actually, you can expect a sizable bump in sound quality compared with the abysmal speaker systems built into most of today’s TVs, where audio is an afterthought.
    <p>
    Though Vizio is mostly known for its TVs, the company has built a reputation in recent years for producing low-priced soundbars that sound shockingly good. You can add the V21d-J8 to the list. The soundbar is a simple 2.1-channel design that mates a pair of forward-facing full-range speakers with a couple of small woofers in a svelte, fabric-wrapped cabinet just over 2 inches tall and three feet wide. The system boasts DTS Virtual: X surround-sound processing and supports the convenience of Bluetooth streaming in addition to offering analog and (optical) digital inputs, including an ARC-enabled HDMI port.
    </p><p>
    Leslie Shapiro wasted no time getting right to the point in her review: “For the price, it can’t be beat.” And this from a professional recording engineer who was impressed with the J8’s ability to muster “strikingly clear sound” with nice upper-bass impact on music and movies, including the low-budget sci-fi outing <i>Breach</i>, starring the ever-lovable Bruce Willis. For music, she played Lovd Ones x Benjah’s “Warrior Poet,” featuring her friend Sailor Jane on vocals. “Jane’s sultry vocals were warm and natural, again with excellent high-end detail.” If you’re looking for a simple, low-cost soundbar, maybe for a bedroom or other secondary space, Vizio’s J8 just might be the best soundbar $100 can buy. (<i>Editor’s note: Between the time the review was conducted and when it was posted on September 1, Vizio increased the price from $100 to $116.</i>)

    </p><p>
    <b>AT A GLANCE</b>
    <br><b>Plus</b>
    <br>Great value <br>Impressive dialogue clarity <br>Voice Assistant input
    <br><b>Minus</b>
    <br>Lacks bass impact <br>Complicated LED display <br>Narrow soundstage
    </p><p>
    <a href=”https://www.soundandvision.com/content/vizio-v21d-j8-soundbar-review” target=”new”><b>Full Review Here</b></a> (posted 9/1/21)
    </p><p><br><img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/921samsung.promo_.jpg” width=”600″ border=”0″>
    </p><p>
    <b>Samsung QN65QN90A NEO QLED LCD Ultra HDTV: $2,600</b>

    </p><div class=”ratingsbox”>

    <!– –> <img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/toppick.cur.png” width=”200″ height=”50″ border=”0″><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Performance</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r45″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Features</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r45″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Ergonomics</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r30″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Value</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r45″></span></span><br></div>

    Samsung’s flagship “Neo QLED” QN90A TV series cost more than equivalent LCD models in the company’s 2020 lineup but offer a serious bump in performance that elevates the LCD category to new heights. Upgrades include a marked improvement in one of LCD’s longstanding bugaboos — off-center viewing — and a full-array local dimming backlight that uses Mini-LEDs to substantially expand the number of dimming zones to upwards of 800.
    <p>
    The TV’s central processor also draws on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance images frame-by-frame in all picture modes, except for the purist Filmmaker Mode. And while the QN90A doesn’t decode Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) content, it supports the HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG formats and applies an effective dynamic tone mapping algorithm to the HDR10’s static metadata to improve picture performance beyond what you would get with straight-up HDR10 processing.
    </p><p>
    All these upgrades translate into a picture Tom Norton called “impressive” at its worst and “spectacular” at its best. While absolute blacks aren’t as quite as deep as what you’d see on a topnotch OLED set, Norton hailed HDR punch and contrast as “unequalled in my experience” and consistent across a number of Ultra HD discs, including the torture test otherwise known as <i>Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2</i>. “From the deep, dark nighttime scenes of Hogwarts’ spires surrounded by Dementors, to Voldemort and his minions perched on a rise as they prepare to attack, each shot revealed solid blacks and excellent shadow detail.” The QN90A also excelled at rendering the exquisite detail, brilliant colors, and natural skin tones that help define the historical dramedy <i>Victoria and Abdul</i> on Blu-ray. As Norton put it, the banquet scene was “complete eye-candy.” No doubt, this is one of the best LCD TVs you can buy today. (<i>Editor’s note: Good news! As of this writing, the QN90A price has been reduced to $2,100 for a limited time on samsung.com.</i>)

    </p><p>
    <b>AT A GLANCE</b>
    <br><b>Plus</b>
    <br>Standard-setting HDR performance <br>Wide viewing angle for LCD <br>Deep blacks and strong shadow detail
    <br><b>Minus</b>
    <br>Lacks Dolby Vision <br>Occasional blooming artifacts
    </p><p>
    <a href=”https://www.soundandvision.com/content/samsung-qn65qn90a-neo-qled-lcd-ultra-hdtv-review” target=”new”><b>Full Review Here</b></a> (posted 9/8/21)
    </p><p><br><img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/921klip.promo_.jpg” width=”600″ border=”0″>
    </p><p>
    <b>Klipsch Cinema 1200 Soundbar System: $1,899</b>

    </p><div class=”ratingsbox”>

    <!– –> <img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/toppick.cur.png” width=”200″ height=”50″ border=”0″><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Performance</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r40″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Features</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r50″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Ergonomics</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r45″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Value</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r50″></span></span><br></div>

    Klipsch to the rescue for anyone who wants to get in on a little 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos action without the complexity of a receiver-based theater setup with seven or more speakers. The Cinema 1200 is a 5.1.4 system featuring wood construction and comprising a 54-inch-wide Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbar with discrete left/center/right driver complements and an up-firing driver at either end, a pair of Atmos-enabled wireless surround speakers, and a wireless subwoofer rated down to 22 Hz that mates a 12-inch driver with 500 watts of system power in a beefy 16 x 20 x 16-inch (W x H x D) cabinet. This system rocks in more ways than one.
    <p>
    The soundbar supports Bluetooth streaming and includes a generous helping of connections: Analog and (optical) digital inputs plus four HDMI ports, one of which supports eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel) and allows pass-through of video signals up to 8K in resolution. Setup is dead simple: Run a cable between your TV’s HDMI ARC (or eARC) connection, which lets you use your TV remote to adjust volume, and sit back while the wireless subwoofer and surround speakers automatically connect with the soundbar. The system provides six sound modes mdash; Movie, Music, Game, Party, Standard, and Direct (for passing discrete stereo or multichannel audio through unprocessed).
    </p><p>
    Reviewer Rob Sabin described the system’s music chops as very good to excellent but was really taken with its ability to reproduce movie soundtracks. “Movies proved to be the Cinema 1200’s real sweet spot, and Atmos soundtracks in Movie mode were a total treat due to excellent ceiling placement of the four virtual height channels (confirmed with Atmos test tones) and the backbone provided by the subwoofer on action flicks.” As one of the least expensive high-end soundbar systems available, the Klipsch Cinema 1200 over-delivers on value and sound quality. (<i>Editor’s note: Between the time the review was conducted and when it was posted on September 22, Klipsch increased the system price from $1,699 to $1,899.</i>)

    </p><p>
    <b>AT A GLANCE</b>
    <br><b>Plus</b>
    <br>All-in-one 5.1.4 Atmos system <br>Stupendous dynamics <br>Great sound quality with music and movies <br>Class-leading 12-inch subwoofer
    <br><b>Minus</b>
    <br>Ineffective surround processing of stereo music <br>No mic on remote or bar for Alexa and Google Assistant <br>No DTS decoding
    </p><p>
    <a href=”https://www.soundandvision.com/content/klipsch-cinema-1200-soundbar-system-review” target=”new”><b>Full Review Here</b></a> (posted 9/22/21)
    </p><p><br><img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/1021adnover.promo_.jpg” width=”400″ border=”0″>
    </p><p>
    <b>Andover Audio Spin System Integrated Audio System: $1,146</b> (as tested)

    </p><div class=”ratingsbox”>

    <!– –> <img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/toppick.cur.png” width=”200″ height=”50″ border=”0″><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Performance</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r40″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Features</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r20″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Ergonomics</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r40″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Value</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r45″></span></span><br></div>

    Massachussetts-based Andover Audio has expanded its clever turntable speaker concept with a complete, vinyl-based stereo system that conserves space and is super easy to set up and use. The modular Spin System mates the <a href=”https://www.soundandvision.com/content/andover-spinbase-turntable-speaker-system-review” target=”new”>SpinBase</a> all-in-one stereo speaker with a SpinDeck turntable, and SpinSub powered subwoofer in a SpinStand audio rack with a spare shelf and room for several dozen records. There’s even a hanger for your headphones. The turntable is setup at the factory and fitted with an excellent Ortofon cartridge so you won’t have to worry about fine tweaking.
    <p>
    Setup involves assembling the SpinStand rack, installing a belt in the turntable (which has a built-in phono preamp), running RCA cables from the table to the SpinBase, connecting the subwoofer, and making a few quick adjustments to set the sub’s level and crossover point. The turntable sits on top of the SpinBase speaker, which doubles as a vibration-resistant platform. We know it sounds crazy, but it works thanks to a remarkable technology called IsoGroove Feedback Elimination. Andover also puts the technology to work in the SpinSub to prevent the transfer of bass energy into the stand.
    </p><p>
    Unlike an old-school hi-fi rig with a stereo receiver at its core, all you have to do to get the party started here is drop a record on the platter, cue it up, and adjust the big volume knob on the SpinBase speaker. There is no remote control — the RCA inputs are always on, waiting for your next musical excursion — and the system supports Bluetooth streaming. Reviewer and vinyl expert Michael Trei gave the Spin System a four-star rating for performance and praised it for its open, natural sound and rich bass. For those who prefer a fully automatic turntable, Andover now offers the SpinDeck MAX, which costs $250 more than the manually operated SpinDeck.

    </p><p>
    <b>AT A GLANCE</b>
    <br><b>Plus</b>
    <br>Exceptionally simple to set up and use <br>Great sound
    <br><b>Minus</b>
    <br>No remote control
    </p><p>
    <a href=”https://www.soundandvision.com/content/andover-audio-spin-system-integrated-audio-system-review” target=”new”><b>Full Review Here</b></a> (posted 10/6/21)
    </p><p><br><img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/1021thx.promo_.jpg” width=”400″ border=”0″>
    </p><p>
    <b>THX Onyx DAC/Headphone Amplifier: $199</b>

    </p><div class=”ratingsbox”>

    <!– –><img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/toppick.cur.png” width=”200″ height=”50″ border=”0″><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Performance</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r45″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Features</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r50″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Ergonomics</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r45″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Value</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r45″></span></span><br></div>

    THX is famous for its longstanding <a href=”https://www.soundandvision.com/content/peter-vasay-how-thx-staying-true-its-mission” target=”new”>audio and video certification programs</a> but never got into the business of developing and selling THX-branded products. In April, the company founded by George Lucas introduced an unlikely first product: THX Onyx, a digital-to-analog converter (DAC)/headphone amplifier designed to supercharge your headphone listening experience
    <p>
    Housed in a slim metal case, the device is compatible with most headphones and built to handle high-resolution DSD and PCM files (the latter up to 32-bit/384kHz) via an onboard ESS ES9281PRO chip. The Onyx also boasts an MQA renderer to “unfold” streamed or downloaded <a href=”https://www.soundandvision.com/content/what-mqa” target=”new”>MQA</a>-encoded music but its crown jewel is the patented 180-milliwatt Achromatic Audio Amplifier, that uses feed-back/forward error correction to keep noise and distortion to a minimum.
    </p><p>
    Reviewer Al Griffin put Onyx to the test, listening to a variety of hi-res music on Tidal over Sennheiser headphones and JVC earbuds. He was captivated by the “impressive drive, detail, and clear separation of instruments and vocals” he heard on Wilco’s “Kamera” and the Crosby, Stills &amp; Nash classic “Guinnevere,” which came across “precisely layered with acoustic and electric guitars maintaining a distinct presence in the mix.” Ultimately, the THX Onyx’s strength is in its ability to deliver a “layered spatial presentation — something that bodes well for the portable gaming and movie-viewing THX touts for its DAC.” (<i>Editor’s note: For a limited time, THX is offering a subscription to Qobuz Studio Premier free for three months.</i>)

    </p><p>
    <b>AT A GLANCE</b>
    <br><b>Plus</b>
    <br>Clean, clear, powerful sound <br>Extensive format support <br>Compatible with a wide range of headphones
    <br><b>Minus</b>
    <br>Requires extra-cost adapter for iOS devices
    </p><p>
    <a href=”https://www.soundandvision.com/content/thx-onyx-dac-headphone-amplifier-review” target=”new”><b>Full Review Here</b></a> (posted 10/13/21)
    </p> Thu, 28 Oct 2021 13:47:25 +0000 Bob Ankosko
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    https://www.soundandvision.com/content/best-gear-fall-2021


    Cambridge Audio Evo 150 Streaming Integrated Amplifier Review https://www.soundandvision.com/content/cambridge-audio-evo-150-streaming-integrated-amplifier-review
    121270 at https://www.soundandvision.com
    <div class=”ratingsbox”>

    <!– –> <img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/toppick.cur.png” width=”200″ height=”50″ border=”0″><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Performance</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r45″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Features</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r45″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Ergonomics</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r50″></span></span><br><span class=”ratingstitle”>Value</span><span class=”ratingsstar”><span class=”red r50″></span></span><br></div><b>PRICE</b> $3,000
    <p>
    <b>AT A GLANCE</b>
    <br><b>Plus</b>
    <br>Excellent sound quality<br>Impressive power in a small package<br>Extensive feature set
    <br><b>Minus</b>
    <br>So-so headphone preamp <br>Lacks room correction <br>Non-backlit remote
    </p><p>
    <b>THE VERDICT</b>
    <br>Cambridge Audio’s feature-packed wireless network streamer/integrated amplifier offers substantial power and generally excellent performance at a reasonable price.
    </p>
    <p>
    Now headquartered in London, English audio product manufacturer Cambridge Audio was founded in 1968 in the university city of the same name. The company’s initial product was the walnut-trimmed 20 watts-per-channel (Wpc) P40 integrated amplifier. (Notably, the P40 was the first consumer audio amp to contain a toroidal transformer, a now de rigueur feature in high-end audio.)
    </p><p>
    In the fifty-plus years since the P40’s introduction, Cambridge Audio has developed numerous advanced technologies, many of them proprietary ones. These include Crossover Displacement (XD) amplification, which is said to combine the performance of class-A operation with the efficiency of class-B; Adaptive Time Filtering (ATF), which upsamples most digital signals to 24-bit/384kHz resolution; and Balanced Mode Radiator speaker drivers, which use a single flat-panel transducer, thus eliminating the need for a dedicated tweeter.
    </p><p>
    Cambridge’s Audio’s latest offering is the Evo 150 “All in One Player” (for our purposes, we’ll call it a streaming integrated amplifier), which contains an on-board amplifier, wired/wireless music streamer, headphone amp, and phono stage. Sporting walnut side chassis panels, the 150 derives its aesthetic inspiration from, you guessed it, the original P40 integrated amp. Though at the risk of getting ahead of things, the 150 comes with a second set of side panels. Black with modern, sculpted undulations, these panels are made of an innovative material made of recycled paper called Richlite and can be installed via magnets to give the 150 a more high-tech look.
    </p><p>
    <img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/1021camb.bac1.jpg” width=”600″ height=”233″ alt=”1021camb.bac1″>
    </p><p>
    <b>Features</b>
    <br>The Evo 150 is a small but powerful one-box audio solution for a family room, bedroom, or living room. It’s big brother to Cambridge Audio’s Evo 75 network music player ($2,250) and a cousin to the Evo S bookshelf speakers ($750 per pair) and the forthcoming Evo CD transport. The company states that these products will work together seamlessly as an integrated audio solution.
    </p><p>
    “Evo” in Evo 150 is short for Evolution, while the “150” derives from the unit’s internal NCore class-D amplifier, which is rated at 150Wpc. Many of the 150’s competitors contain amps rated at between 40-100 Wpc, so 150 watts is a significant advantage. Digital conversion within the Evo 150 is handled by an ESS Sabre ES9018K2M DAC chipset, which processes PCM signals up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD signals up to 11.2Mhz (DSD 256).
    </p><p>
    The Evo 150’s chassis is constructed of black anodized aluminum. On the front panel is an oversized (6.8-inch), color LCD display that shows album cover art and other media playback data. To the display’s right is a column of rectangular control buttons, each accompanied by an illuminated icon identifying its function: play/ pause, track skip, speaker or headphone output, and standby/ power on. A large dual-concentric (i.e., dual function) dial with smaller and larger knobs to adjust volume and input selection, respectively, is also provided, along with a 3.5mm headphone output.
    </p><p>
    <img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/1021camb.bac2.jpg” width=”600″ height=”315″ alt=”1021camb.bac2″>
    </p><p>
    Rear panel digital inputs include HDMI-ARC, optical and coaxial digital jacks, and an asynchronous USB type-B port for a direct computer hookup. (When using a Windows PC that doesn’t have Cambridge Audio’s USB drivers installed, the USB type-B port processes signals up to 24-bit/192kHz PCM. Installing the drivers, which is not required for Mac computers, ups the resolution support to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD 256.) Both stereo balanced XLR and RCA analog inputs are provided, along with a moving magnet phono input. Lastly, there’s a proprietary connector for the company’s upcoming EVO CD transport.
    </p><p>
    Outputs on the Evo 150 include analog stereo RCA jacks for an external amplifier or powered speakers, a subwoofer output, and zone A and B speaker terminals. There’s also an Ethernet port for a wired network connection; a USB type-A port for local storage; a switch to select from three electrical grounding levels; a trigger input and output; and an RS-232C port to integrate the 150 with an advanced home control system.
    </p><p>
    <img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/1021camb.life1.jpg” width=”600″ height=”354″ alt=”1021camb.life1″>
    </p><p>
    The Evo 150 is equipped with Cambridge Audio’s Stream-Magic platform, which lets you stream Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz, and internet radio using the company’s StreamMagic app for setup and control. Wireless streaming functionality consists of Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in, and two-way aptX HD Bluetooth. The 150 is also Roon Ready and fully “unfolds” MQA files used to stream high-res audio over Tidal, for instance. Although both the front panel control dial and StreamMagic app can be used to change inputs, the app is required for functions like turning off or dimming the display, accessing tone controls, and enabling Bluetooth and AirPlay 2. And while the 150’s most music services can be controlled via the front panel buttons, the app makes them easier to explore.
    </p><p>
    An attractive and well- designed black remote control also comes with the Evo 150. Buttons on its aluminum face repeat those on amp’s front panel, and it can also be used to control the company’s forthcoming Evo CD transport.

    </p> Wed, 27 Oct 2021 18:33:34 +0000 Jon Iverson
    en
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    https://www.soundandvision.com/content/cambridge-audio-evo-150-streaming-integrated-amplifier-review


    Dune, at Last https://www.soundandvision.com/content/dune-last
    121269 at https://www.soundandvision.com
    <div><img src=”https://www.soundandvision.com/images/DUNE%20%281%29.jpg” class=”ff-og-image-inserted”></div>There have been several past attempts to adapt Frank Herbert’s iconic science fiction novel to film or television. In the mid-1970s, cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky scripted an ambitious version that would have run 14 hours!! The enormous planning effort for this version never made it onto film, due not only to this running length but also to the enormous anticipated costs. (At the time it was never considered for television—this was long before episodic event TV.) But Jodorowsky’s work was so ambitious that it inspired a well-received 2013 documentary on the project, <i>Jodorowsky’s Dune</i>, currently available both via streaming and on Blu-ray. Nevertheless, the novel itself, and Jodorowsky’s aborted version, are said to have inspired other space operas, such as <i>Star Wars</i>, with elements from <i>Dune</i> but clearly different story lines.
    <p>
    But what exactly is the story of <i>Dune</i>? It’s thousands of years in the future and mankind has conquered the cosmos, occupying hundreds or thousands of worlds. We’ve learned to fold space, enabling travel of unimaginable distances in the time it takes us to fly from New York to LA today. But to do so it requires the rare drug Melange, or as it is more commonly called, “Spice.” It’s the Spice that, among its other “benefits,” enables such travel. The result is a vast galactic empire, with an emperor at its head and feuding Houses that husband one or more individual planets. But the Spice is available only on the planet Arrakis, with the House in power there able to accrue vast wealth.
    </p><p>
    But Arrakis has little to offer apart from the Spice; it’s a desert wasteland populated by the native Fremen and otherwise sparse local fauna, the latter dominated by the immense and dangerous sandworms. Arrakis had been run for generations by the predatory House Harkonnen, but the emperor recently displaced them (for nefarious reasons of his own) with the more benevolent house Atreides. Paul, the young son and heir of Duke Leto Atreides, becomes the main character as the plot thickens.
    </p><p>
    The book is 700 pages long, so there’s a little more to the story than any summary can provide. There’s also more than can be squeezed into a 2-hour movie. Director David Lynch learned that the hard way in his 1984 version, reviled by audiences and critics alike (though it does have its fans and was recently released on 4K UltraHD Blu-ray).
    </p><p>
    A 2001 miniseries, made for the Sci-Fi channel before it became SYFY (sigh!), was the last attempt before now to dramatize the story. It was followed up in 2003 by the miniseries <i>Children of Dune</i>, an extension of the saga adapted from two subsequent novels written by Herbert to continue the story. There were even more <i>Dune</i> books later, written either by Herbert or his son.
    </p><p>
    Both Sci-Fi miniseries were limited by their budgets and early CGI special effects, but were nevertheless rewardingly epic versions of the story. Both are available via streaming or disc. I highly recommend both of them, particularly <i>Children of Dune</i>, the best filmed version of a <i>Dune</i> saga to date, present company included.
    </p><p>
    After over a year’s delay due to Covid, the highly anticipated new film of <i>Dune</i>, directed by Denis Villeneuve (<i>Blade Runner 2049</i>, <i>Arrival</i>) was released in the U.S. this past Friday both in theaters and on-demand. I saw it today (Monday) in my local Dolby Cinema theater, my first visit to that theater (or any theater) in roughly two years. Early on in our Covid madness I feared this theater wouldn’t survive. But so far it has.
    </p><p>
    The crowd at my weekday afternoon visit was small. An on-line look at the crowds over the weekend weren’t much larger. But the total box office worldwide, to date (the film opened a week or two earlier in other markets before it hit U.S. theaters) was apparently good—over 200 million (as far as I can tell, this is for theaters only, with the streaming take not included).
    </p><p>
    That will be important to the future of this film, because what we have here is only Part 1. That’s the main weakness of Part 1; it’s not a standalone story. The film just ends abruptly, leaving you wondering where the rest of it is. I knew that going in, but wonder how much of the audience didn’t.
    </p><p>
    But as long as it lasts, Part 1 is spectacularly well produced. Villeneuve certainly knows how to grab viewers’ eyeballs. The art design here is stark and far less colorful than in that Sci-Fi mini-series, particularly the palace in Arrakis. This grimness certainly fits the mood of the story and the monochromatic environment of Arrakis, but brief scenes in other worlds (particularly in the Atreides home planet of Caladan, with its lush vegetation and clear rivers and oceans) don’t offer any real counterpoint.
    </p><p>
    This is where I confess that I’ve never navigated the book, so I’m not the best judge as to how well this film (or others) follows the source material. As presented here It may prove a bit confusing to the viewer unfamiliar with the story, particularly as more clearly presented in the Sci-Fi mini-series. There are details in the latter glossed over here, simply because the mini-series had time to flesh them out. The span between the arrival of the Atreides on Arrakis and an important battle scene seemed more rushed in my mind than it actually was in film-time because it lacked several useful character building moments. For example, in the mini-series, when the Atreides first arrive in Arrakis’ capital city, Lady Jessica (Paul’s mother) immediately makes a small but telling change in the distribution of water in Arrakis city, a commodity more valuable than gold in the planet’s harsh and parched climate.
    </p><p>
    I was disappointed in the visual presentation in my Dolby Cinema theater. With rare exceptions the film was quite dark throughout, which was not the case in the trailers of the film I’ve seen at home on YouTube. Nevertheless, I encourage you to watch the film on the biggest screen possible. It will likely look brighter and crisper on your home theater, but absent the challenge of a 30-foot wide (or wider) theater screen, it won’t be as dramatic and immersive at home.
    </p><p>
    That goes even more so for the audio, which was rocking the theater. A good deal of this was thanks to Hans Zimmer’s exceptional score making frequent use of pounding drums. It’s not in any way a melodic score such as John Williams might have composed, but fits the film perfectly and adds immensely to the film’s impact. The sound effects themselves were also stunning. When you watch the film at home your subwoofers will demand a raise.
    </p><p>
    Despite a few action scenes, <i>Dune</i> is a deliberately paced film, not a Marvel-like festival of mayhem beats thrown in every few minutes to keep the audience pumped up. That might be its main weakness for today’s audiences. But despite the film’s often deliberate pacing of individual scenes, Villeneuve’s <i>Dune</i> kept me so involved it hardly seemed that 2.5 hours had passed as I left the theater.
    </p><p>
    But, you ask, did I like it? Yes, very much. It’s no <i>Lord of the Rings Trilogy</i> or <i>Laurence of Arabia</i> on my list of the greatest epic films of all time, but I’ll definitely add it to my 4K collection when it arrives on disc and I look forward to seeing Part 2.
    </p>
    Tue, 26 Oct 2021 17:42:57 +0000 Thomas J. Norton
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    https://www.soundandvision.com/content/dune-last



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