THE SENSIBLE SOUND (April/May) - The little Print Magazine That Could plugs away on its efforts in "helping audiophiles & music lovers to spend less & get more." This is their 28th year of doing just that, and as you can see by the cover of the Recommended Recordings Issue, the pricing of components reviewed is not something you have to search for the fine print to be shocked by. Reviewed items in addition to the Usher speakers are Arcam's DIVA CD players, Lowther 2.5 MK II horn speakers, and Soliloquy 6.0i speakers. There is more space given this issue to the disc reviews due to all the writers checking in with some of the recordings which caught their fancy during the past year. They are not required to be new releases, and in fact some are mentioned which are out of print (but with eBay, GEM and others online today that's not as hopeless a bit of information as it was years ago). The Soundscapes column talks about the fascinating Musee de la Musique in Paris and grouches about nobody including a useful mono switch in their outboard phono preamps (Agreed!).
SOUND & VISION (May) - The featured story is "Is Sony's 70" Qualia the Best TV Ever?" and it is of course backed up with a glamorous shot of the set displaying a bikinied model on the screen. The incursion of the iPod into high end audio (sort of like $1 color xeroxes into fine photography, isn't it?) is illustrated by a cover story on "Top 10 iPod Upgrades." Four HDTVs are reviewed in a spotlight on plasma displays, and there is a review of Yamaha's One-Speaker Surround Solution. This issue of the top-circulation AV print publication also carries a special shopping guide listing 100 so-called budget HDTVs. Editor Bob Ankosko's article on how easy it is to lose sight of sound quality in the age of the iPod is valued reading, but most of the articles here don't seem to pay much attention to it.
SOUND & VISION (April) - Three of the Blue Men Group peer out of the front cover, but inside they remove their masks and gloves to make an impassioned plea for Music in Surround! Who knew these blue guys shared AUDIOPHILE AUDITION's vision! They in fact decry musicians who can't be bothered to give music in surround a try. This issue has more of what was hot at CES 2005, including "Pimped-Out iPods, Monstrous Plasmas, Wireless Music and Palm-size Video." The first photo printer built into a HDTV set comes from Epson and is reviewed. There are also video projector specials on both new LCD units and under-$1500 front projectors: Panasonic, Epson, Sony and Hitachi in the first grouping and InFocus, HP and NEC in the second. Other reviews: Paradigm Cinema 110 Compact Theater speaker system, Sony DVP-NS975V SACD/DVD Player, GoVideo VR2940 DVD/VHS Recorder.
THE ABSO!UTE SOUND (April/May) - Gilmore's Model 2 speakers are the main component on the cover and called a "radical reinvention." New Electronics from BAT and Conrad-Johnson are reviewed, and "Hidden Treasures" lists some of the best-sounding LPs. Other cover hardware mentioned: Thorens TD2010A turntable, Speakers from Calix, Wharfedale and Verity Audio, 20 pages of great upcoming audio gear in a report on the Las Vegas CES. Jonathan Valin assembled the great-sounding classical LPs that are not on HP's Superdisc List, and it's only Part One of a series. His opinion is that there isn't any digital format which stores as much musical information as a vinyl record. A few of the LPs listed have a single asterisk at the start of their listing. This means the disc is actually still available (and it means all the rest aren't - so there!) Still onto vinyl, there is a TAS Roundtable discussion between Valin, Garth Leerer, Wayne Garcia and Josh Bizar on The Resurgence of Vinyl. [See our vinyl reviews this issue if you haven't as yet.]
HDTV ETC. (June/July) - The overly-busy cover promotes primarily an HDTV Buyer's Guide (seems to be a buyer's guide in almost every issue of the slick magazine lately) and "over 5000 HD products inside!" The ones identified on the cover are: SIM2 front projector, Ultravision direct view display, Panasonic HD receiver, LG LCD display, Hitachi rear projection set, and Samsung HD receiver. Feature articles are "Movies, Piracy and You," "HDTV Programming," and a HDTV Glossary.
HDTV ETC. (April/May) - "Format War?" is the biggest type on the cover; the issue also features a new buyer's guide with over 300 LCD and Plasma Displays detailed. There are features on the Current State of HDTV Technology, Highlights of CES 2005, and an HDTV programming guide. Under test & review are: Boston Acoustic speakers and sub, Sharp's AQUOS 32-inch LCD, Sharp's LCD Projector, Polk's Flat Panel speaker ensemble, and Hitachi's 42-inch plasma in their Director's Series. Editor Clint Walker's piece on High Definition Living assails the consumer electronics industry for failing to make hi-def understandable and accessible to the general public.
DVD ETC. (May/June) - The busy front cover covers the latest on hi-def DVDs from CES 2005, has special features on the special effects of car crashes, on Anime, a feature on the director of the anime Ghost In The Shell, and the Test Center evaluates the NEC ND-3500A DVD recorder & Nero 6 Ulta Edition software; SimAudio Orbiter Universal disc player ("an audiophile's delight," at $7100), RBH MC Series Mark II 6.1 speaker system, Yamaha MusicCAST digital audio system, and Monster PowerCenter HTS 5100. There is a DVD Recorder Buyer's Guide, and a survey of the top ten DVDs having to do with Food.
DVD ETC. (March/April) - Hot New Theater Products for Any Budget is the major cover story. The Test Center evaluates the Yamaha 7.1 channel AV receiver, MBL 7.1 Surround Cinema speakers, V Inc. Vizio 42-inch HD Plasma display, Thiel Viewpoint speakers, sub and passive crossover, DVDOs iScan video scaling engine, and outdoor speakers from JBL, Infinity and Polk. Other cover reviews are JVCs 26-inch LCD display, Energys act6 sub/satellite system, Onkyos THX Universal disc player and BENQs 23-inch LCD widescreen PC monitor. There is a look at Adobes Encore software for production of 5.1 DVDs.
WIDESCREEN REVIEW (May) - Seems to be leaning toward the Blu-ray format in the HD DVD battle, since these two cover stories are side by side: "Blue-ray Attracts Support;" "The Need for One HD Format." (Have to agree with WSR.) Other cover stories: Analog TV Cutoff for 2006?, Reviews of Sony Qualia 006 SXRD 70-inch RP HDTV; Myrad MXD7000 & MXA7150 Pream/Processor/Power Amp; Over 40 DVD Reviews. Sword-wielding Elektra graces the cover. Inside articles: Sharp XV-Z2000 DLP Projector; Eggleston Works Fontaine II tower speaker system, The future of 3D movies, DVDs under $3.
WIDESCREEN REVIEW (April) - A feature story on the Broadcast Flag questions FCC decisions allowing unprecedented control by Hollywood forces over the final viewing or time-shifting of broadcast programming. The product reviews for the month include Yamaha's DPX-1200 Digital Cinema Projector, Arcam's AVR300 Surround Sound Home Theatre Receiver, Belkin's PF30, PF60 Power Conditioner, Console & HT cabling, and the various AV systems using in the publication's hardware and software reviews are listed. Awards given by the American Society of Cinematographers are featured, and a story on the CEA's support for a hard cut-off date for analog TV-casting.
THE INNER EAR REPORT (Vol. 16 #3) - The front cover illustrates the Wiener Lautsprecher Manufaktur Gran Viola & Duo 18 Sub (I kid you not and no typos there either). Other products listed on the cover: StudioLab Protege speakers, Wilson Benesch A.C.T. speakers, Neat Acoustics speakers; Benchmark DAC, Meridian G07 CD Player, Chord 2600 Integrated Amp, ExctPower Regulator, Straight Wire speaker cables, Pioneer Elite DVD player, Hitachi video projector, NAD HT amp & tuner/processor, Sharp AQUOS LCD monitor & system with DVD player, AirPort Express, and Six Synergistic Systems - by which TIER means groupings of different components they have reviewed and then hooked together at various price levels and found worked well together. Categories are Budget System, Budget High End System, Uncomplicated High End, and The Complex System.
THE PERFECT VISION (March/April) - A scene from Spiderman 2 is on the screen of a 7-inch-deep RPTV from InFocus, called An On-Wall HDTV Breakthrough. Other big stories are a Mega-DVD Player Survey, HD On DVD Is Coming!, World's Best AV Receiver? (Lexicon RV-8 Review), Best-Looking DVDs of the Year and more than 25 DVDs reviewed. Five HDTVs are reviewed: LG's DU-42LZ30 42-inch LCD Integrated HDTV, Hitachi's 42HDX61 UltraVision 42-inch HD Plasma Display, SMI2 HT300 E DLP Front Projector, Samsung SP-H700 DLP Projector (+ InFocus). The Ayre DX-7 DVD Player, Mordaunt-Short Genie 5.1 speaker system and Stewart Filmscreen GrayHawk RS Screen are also reviewed. Sony's Mike Fidler and Toshiba's Joie Sally are interviewed about the two possible HD DVD formats. The Insider News discusses the huge number of 1920x1080 res HDTV sets to be introduced later this year.
HI-FI NEWS (May) - Classé's curvy amp with a touch-screen display is on the cover and it's called Curves. Cover-promoted reviews are of a new generation plasma display from Pioneer - the PDP-505, Krell's HTS7.1 AV processor, Denon's high-end DVD-A1XV universal player, and the SME 3009 tonearm. Also the Turntable 2 Xperience from Pro-Ject and Tim de Paravicini's 899 Ear integrated amp using tubes. Other reviews on the inside: Bosendorfer's VC7 speakers, Musical Fidelity kW Phono Preamp, Wilborne Labs 300B DRD valve amp kit, Dynaudio's Special 25 speaker, Marantz/ SA-11S1 stereo-only SACD player, Ruark Talisman III speaker, Avalong Acoustics Eidolon Diamond speaker. In an interview electronic whiz Jean Michel Jarre speaks out for 96K/24-bit as the future of recorded music.
HI-FI NEWS (April) - The first review of B&W's new 800D flagship speaker - which has a diamond tweeter dome - is in the issue and on the cover. The issue boasts 16 more pages than usual, and in the Home Entertainment section covers the Naim DVD5 disc player, Denon A1XV monster AV Receiver and DPL Mercury HD video projector. There's a report from CES 2005 of course, and Barry Fox discusses the advantages of the HD video format war. Other reviews: Elac 207.2 speakers, Etymotic ER-4P earphones, Exposure 2010s, Hot Tubes JD1, IsoTek Titan, Meridian 808i, Nottingham Analogue, Theta Compli universal player and Wilson Benesch Curve speakers. Windows software dubbed DVD2one Remaster allows re-authoring CDs as sonically-enhanced DVD+Audio thru upsampling and resolution tweaking.
BOUND For SOUND (Issue #164) - The audio news section discusses a Chinese amp which can be purchased direct for about $900 but looks very similar to an amp imported by a U.S. high end company which sells it for $7000. BfS also weighs in on the critical side re: DualDisc. Martin DeWulf even says, "How much longer until we put DualDisc up there on the shelf with the rest of Sony's impressive list of failed formats?" Well, DualDisc wasn't entirely thought up by Sony, and Martin considers SACD to be part of that "impressive list!" Part II of Components of Merit appears this issue and it covers Speakers & Accessories. Among their Most Meritorious: Merlin, VMPS & Gallo. The Silverline Sonatina III speaker is reviewed, and Resolution Audio responds to a BfS review of their Opus 21 CD player.
AUDIO XPRESS (May) - The cover of The Audio Technology Authority is neater this time, with only three items displayed - Triangular Boxes for Eight Drivers, How Caps Behave, and Improving DVD Sound. The last article describes simple circuit mods to improve the sound of any DVD player. Most of this issue is devoted to vacuum tubes and bringing back the publisher's Glass Audio magazine. The reason is the growing resurgence of interest in tubes, which seems to be tied into the growing interest in vinyl and analog reproduction in general. There has been an increase in new companies with tube products and services. Some of the articles include: A 6336A-based All-Triode Amp, Reducing Filamentary Triode Amp Distortion, MU: The Last Tube Factory in America (didn't know there was one!), The Many Faces of Distortion (by French audio writer Jean Hiraga).
AUDIO XPRESS (April) - On the cover: Groove Mechanic 2.5c Software Cleans LPs/Tapes, Is This the Ideal Tube Amp? (It's an SE "E-Linear" approach to feedback), Hybrid Headphone Amp, Quick & Cheap DMM Fix, Line Array Subs Deliver BIG Horn Sound, Pooge Improves Video. Inside: A Simple Audio System, Pt. 3; Rescuing Fluke's Top Digital Meter Cheaply.
MULTI MEDIA MANUFACTURER (May/June) - David J. Weinberg writes the most critical and courageous review of a Consumer Electronics Show I have ever enjoyed. To quote, "Never in the course of human events has the nature of consumer electronics been so computer-centric, never before has our freedom to control use of purchased software been so threatened." He describes the craziness of CES in general, then visits some of the 2500 exhibits and names names when he observes expensive plasma displays way too blue-green, or sound from trés-dear speakers way too shrill and harsh. Another qoute on equipment reviewing: "I recognize the need for a publication to make money to stay in business, but I also believe there is an implied obligation for AV magazines to try to assist and guide their readers, to help them make more informed decisions as they approach purchasing new electronic toys." In other articles Barry Fox writes on The Bitter Blu-Ray Battle, Nelson Pass on Practical MOSFET Testing for Audio, and ON Semiconductor is featured in "New Chips on the Block."
SURROUND PROFESSIONAL (April) - The front cover features "Surround Broadcast: Audio for the HD Revolution," with a photo of a singer and various multichannel mic systems, Dolby E codec units and a SoundField mike controller. Inside are examples of broadcast surround sound in action from the Grammys to Turner Studios, and a surround miking tutorial and product info. A bit disconcerting is the date "APRIL 2004" on the front cover; I once turned out a monthly publication I edited with the previous month still emblazoned on the front in big letters, but a whole year off?? Two Genelec execs contribute an article on refining the standard of the Genelec 8000 Series powered monitor speakers. Well, at least they are up front about the manufacturers of the component reviewing it. Some of the ads and references in the articles on surround sound for TV reveal that the long--running Soundfield multichannel mike now has some serious competition for the many situations where it is not possible to mount five or more separate mikes at different locations.
THE BAS SPEAKER (Vol. 26 No. 3) - The latest unadorned issue of the newsletter of the Boston Audio Society is chock full of interesting stuff you won't find in any of the other audio publications. Four past meetings are reported and discussed: one on the RPG Diffusor Systems, one on Earthworks speakers - who have some interesting observations on bandwidth and mics as well as on speakers, one on venue acoustics with David Griesinger and Leo Beranek, and one with a detailed story of the development and design of the new BeoLab 5 speaker system. The VC-9 Controversy is about whether SMPTE will approve MicroSoft's Windows Media Video codec for possible professional video useage. Titles of some of the Open Forum items: Mo' Better Surrounder Surrounder, Novel Simulcasts, Hi-Rez Overcomes - Doesn't Solve, Web Radio Free for All, Double-Resolution DLP, Greedy Studios Make DVDs Not So Special, Gasketed Klipschorns Unleashed, Time for a New Surround-Sound Standard.