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Recent Home Theater Editorials

AV Rant #241: Put a Glove On

AV Rant #241: Put a Glove On

If you read our $600 receiver comparison article, you'll want to hear this podcast. Tom talks all about it. Plus Liz breaks down Spotify for you and promises to host the next Soup to Nuts. This week, we hear the final in the David Janszen interview about Electrostatic speakers (Tom confronts him about the cost of his own speakers and about future offerings). Liz and Tom weigh in on Google+, Netflix pricing, and future reviews. Listener questions are answered and Tom talks about his adventure in projector lamp replacement.

If you read our $600 receiver comparison article, you'll want to hear this podcast. Tom talks all about it. Plus Liz breaks down Spotify for you and promises to host the next Soup to Nuts.

— July 22, 2011 01:00 in Editorials

Netflix Imposes 28% Rate Hike on Existing and New Customers

Netflix Imposes 28% Rate Hike on Existing and New Customers

While Netflix would like to hide rate increases under the garb of "better reflect[ing] the costs of each" and giving its customers "a choice", what it really amounts to is the company passing along its increased costs of operations to consumers. Normally, that would be fine, but with consumers living under a recession that simply won't go away, and having the mindset that cutting costs is "the thing to do" right now, it's hard to get excited about what amounts to a 28% rate increase for those using both DVD-by-mail and streaming services. We break down the math on our unlimited 2-at-a-time plan and the results are not exactly heartwarming.

While Netflix would like to hide rate increases under the garb of "better reflect[ing] the costs of each" and giving its customers "a choice", what it amounts to is the company passing along costs.

— July 14, 2011 07:00 in Editorials

AV Rant #240: Cat Bacon

AV Rant #240: Cat Bacon

Despite the random name, there are quite a few important issues discussed on this podcast. This week Tom and Liz talk about the new Vizio CinemaWide displays. Is this a good idea? Do you want to control your apps while watching TV? Of course, they have to follow up on the MoviePass debacle. Facebook and Netflix can't connect (correctly at least). PlayLater - a service that will never, ever make it out of beta. This week's Soup to Nuts is part 3 (of four) of an interview with David Janszen. This week he really gets into the guts of the speakers.

Despite the random name, there are quite a few important issues discussed on this podcast. This week Tom and Liz talk about the new Vizio CinemaWide displays, MoviePass, PlayLater, and Netflix.

— July 08, 2011 06:10 in Editorials

AV Rant #239: Primed

AV Rant #239: Primed

This AV Rant podcast contains part two in a series of interviews with one of the foremost designers in the field of electrostatic speakers. David Janszen is the son of Arthur A. Janszen, the inventor of the first practical electrostatic high fidelity loudspeaker. If you wanted to know about electrostatic speakers, you'll want to tune in for these interviews. This week Liz and Tom take on the new $50 unlimited movie deal. "Just" $50 a month and all the in-theater movies you want. Tom has a point about Piracy and DRM, Liz has a point about violence in videogames, and they both love getting email from listeners suggesting topics. Tom's article on the Double Blind Test has two points - participants and "proving" the null hypothesis.

This AV Rant podcast contains part two in a series of interviews with one of the foremost designers in the field of electrostatic speakers, David Janszen. Also, Tom and Liz talk about the latest in HT

— June 30, 2011 22:23 in Editorials

Are Active (HDMI) Cables the Future?

Are Active (HDMI) Cables the Future?

With a recent tear-down by ArsTechnica on the new Thunderbolt cable Apple is selling for $50, we're starting to wonder if active cabling is the future of all A/V electronics. With a desire by content providers to keep everything digital and protected in the realm of high definition television, and A/V manufacturers scrambling to provide features that will generate more 'oohs' and 'awes', it's a wonder if we aren't digging a hole. A great big hole. We've espoused What's Wrong with HDMI before, but we're now wondering if we've just hit a wall. If, from here on out, even shorter runs of HDMI are going to more or less have the requirements of being active in order to support the bandwidth needed for future technology and throughput.

We've espoused What's Wrong with HDMI before, but we're now wondering if we've just hit a wall. If, from here on out, even shorter runs of HDMI are going to more or less have to be active.

— June 30, 2011 06:43 in Editorials

Video Gaming Celebrates a Supreme Court Victory

Video Gaming Celebrates a Supreme Court Victory

A California regulation that would ban the sale or rental of violent video games to minors met final defeat at the Supreme Court on Monday. The highest court in the land ruled that any level of government that would restrict the sale of violent video games to children would be in violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. The law was first struck down by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Sacramento, and the decision to keep it that way was upheld by the Supreme Court in a resounding 7-2 vote.

A California regulation that would ban the sale or rental of violent video games to minors met final defeat at the Supreme Court on Monday.

— June 29, 2011 05:00 in Editorials

AV Rant #238: The Boot

AV Rant #238: The Boot

This AV Rant podcast begins a series of interviews with one of the foremost designers in the field of electrostatic speakers. David Janszen is the son of Arthur A. Janszen, the inventor of the first practical electrostatic high fidelity loudspeaker. If you wanted to know about electrostatic speakers, you'll want to tune in to the next four podcasts. Of course, Liz and Tom start the show off with the usual talk of industry news and home theater.

This AV Rant podcast begins a series of interviews with one of the foremost designers in the field of electrostatic speakers. David Janszen is the son of Arthur A. Janszen, the inventor electrostats.

— June 24, 2011 07:00 in Editorials

Overview of Audio Testing Methodologies

Overview of Audio Testing Methodologies

How Many Blind People Does it Take to Know that Your Speakers are the Best? Double-blind, single-blind, ABX: all of these terms and more are bandied about on forums and elsewhere when discussing someone's subjective experience with a piece of audio equipment. This editorial is meant as a primer for the testing methodologies used to validly measure someone's subjective experiences. This is not a definitive guide, nor is it meant to be. It is also not going to be a technical paper; I will use as many examples with as few numbers as possible. I want this to be accessible to all.

This article discusses various audio testing methodologies (ie. SBT, DBT, ABX, etc) and associated biases that may exist in each of them.

— June 24, 2011 03:00 in Editorials

AV Rant #237: Static

AV Rant #237: Static

If you haven't tuned in to AV Rant in a while, Liz Vinci is the new cohost (Dina finally had enough of Tom). There has also been an interesting "Soup to Nuts" series going on where Tom talks about setting up your home theater from the beginning. How far back? Buying your home with a home theater in mind. This week is light on topics and Tom's side of the audio is staticy. Sorry about that.

If you haven't tuned in to AV Rant in a while, Liz Vinci is the new cohost (Dina finally had enough of Tom). There has also been an interesting "Soup to Nuts" series going on.

— June 16, 2011 21:50 in Editorials

Nintendo Wii U, Technology and Bushido

Nintendo Wii U, Technology and Bushido

Nintendo announced Wii U last week and failed to impress investors with behind-the-curve technology. But what the investors don’t know is that Nintendo is demonstrating the true code of the samurai in the game console war and that’s why it might once again rise to the rank of Shogun. Dig into the details of Nintendo Wii U, announced at last week's Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) the company’s latest strike against rivals in console gaming, Microsoft and Sony. And we’ll take a closer look into the zen-like business strategy of Nintendo.

Nintendo announced Wii U last week and failed to impress investors with behind-the-curve technology. But what the investors don’t know is that Nintendo is demonstrating the true code of the samurai.

— June 13, 2011 02:10 in Editorials

Smoke and Mirrors and Upgraditus

Smoke and Mirrors and Upgraditus

Upgraditus. In the AV community, it is a real phenomenon. What is it? Well, simply defined, it is the feeling that something in your AV system needs to be changed or added. Unfortunately, manufacturers know all about upgraditus. They're counting on it. But just because a speaker manufacturer is changing the model number and the shape of the speaker, doesn't mean they are making a better one. When upgraditus strikes, and it will, make an informed decision. Take your time. Don't be blinded by the hype, and most importantly... DON'T PANIC!

Upgraditus. What is it? Well, simply defined, it is the feeling that something in your AV system needs to be changed or added. Unfortunately, manufacturers know all about it. Don't be fooled by them.

— June 07, 2011 00:50 in Editorials

Video: Michael Bay and James Cameron Talk 3D

Video: Michael Bay and James Cameron Talk 3D

When Michael Bay and James Cameron sit down together to talk about 3D as it pertains to filmmaking, it's something any film aficionado should take notice of. James Cameron is a filmmaker that feels "all films can benefit from 3D in some way" - a phrase we would not agree with at all, but still, the man that brought Avatar to life deserves our attention. With respect to Michael Bay, the discussion centered around the new 3D Transformers movie, which set up 3D with a nice foreground, midground, background layout - a technique of filmmaking that works extremely well with 3D. They even rigged 3D helmet rigs on top of men using parachutes who followed "winged men" who dove down through the cities.

When Michael Bay and James Cameron sit down together to talk about 3D as it pertains to filmmaking, it's something any film aficionado should take notice of and enjoy.

— May 30, 2011 05:25 in Editorials

Bose: Why Audiophiles Should Stop the Hate

Bose: Why Audiophiles Should Stop the Hate

Let’s give it up for Amar Bose – founder of Bose Corporation, easily the most controversial company in hi-fi. Serious audiophiles might smirk at the mention of the name Bose in the same breath as high-end audio. But it’s an association built on a clever combination of honest technical research, patents and successful marketing. Amar Bose made headlines recently when he donated a majority stake in his company to his alma mater, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A closer look at the company many love to hate reveals a good corporate citizen at its helm that has influenced acoustic science in several positive ways.

Bose has been the punch-line of jokes about over-priced speakers with paper cones, patented so-called revolutionary technology

— May 17, 2011 05:35 in Editorials

Survive the PlayStation Network Hack!

Survive the PlayStation Network Hack!

Nothing gets in the way of shooting zombies online with cross-continent friends in Black Ops like a total PSN outage due to hackers. The possibility of your credit card number being in the hands of the aforementioned hackers doesn’t sit too well either. In this article we’ll run down the events that lead to the recent PlayStation storm, the risks and what you should do if you’re a PlayStation Network user that has provided Sony sensitive personal information. The same rules apply if you've ever used a credit card online because as we've seen these days - nobody is immune.

By now you've heard that the Sony PlayStation Network has been down all week. Sony finally identified that PSN was the target of an "external intrusion" and some of your personal data was compromised.

— April 28, 2011 01:15 in Editorials