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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Harman Kardon AVR 635 Receiver

The Harmon Kardon AVR 635 delivers cutting-edge performance at a greatly reduced price. With a list price of $1,299 it's now available on Amazon for around $800.

Versatility at its best! The AVR 645 not only switches two HDMI 1.1 sources, it is able to decode Dolby Digital, DTS and PCM audio streams from the HDMI inputs. Add USB audio, iPod connectivity and XM-Ready capability to our EzSet/EQ system and high-current amplifier, and the AVR 645 performs with ease.

Equally impressive on the video side is format conversion so that all analog video inputs may be viewed via component outputs, and A/V Sync Delay, which reconnects the timing of sound and images. There is no better combination of sound and image anywhere.

Audioholics: "Harman Kardon has delivered in a big way with a small price tag. Someone who is familiar with higher end specs and performance will not be let down by it's features; but more importantly, the person looking for a great centerpiece for his first home theater has found a powerful, un-intimidating, user friendly and killer sounding receiver that can get him started and allow him to grow in the future."

Monday, June 26, 2006

What's With All This Dolby Stuff?

Surround sound. If you love audio, it's a no-brainer. If not, it can be very complicated. Or is it? Expert audiophile, Mark Fleischmann provides a "few pointedly asked questions and relatively simple answers" meant to help "blow away a few clouds of gloom and perplexity."

According to Wikipedia the term Dolby has many meanings. It refers to the surround sound technology invented by Ray Dolby in 1965.

It could also refer to Thomas Dolby, an accomplished musician (no relation). Thomas Dolby (born Thomas Morgan Robertson, on 14 October 1958, in London England) is a British musician, best known for his 1982 synth pop hit "She Blinded Me With Science". He is also a successful session musician, music producer, inventor and entrepreneur, whose company Beatnik, Inc. created the polyphonic ringtone software used in over 100 million mobile telephones.

You can also get a great book by Charles S. Swartz that talks all about Dolby surround sound and engineering.

Check out the Dolby site here.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sherwood R-965 Newcastle Series Receiver

The Sherwood R-965 has been getting rave reviews all over the place. A quick spin at J&R revealed some great sound and only the essential features.

"In an industry infected with the deadly featuritis virus, Sherwood has made judicious choices, updating a good chassis with features that make a difference. The new and improved R-965 delivers reliably strong sound matched by superb looks. Its easy setup should help this receiver play with a broad audience, including both surround neophytes and more critical high-end users."

Source: Home Theater Magazine

This product is available on Amazon.

Samsung's New Blu-Ray DVD Player

Get ready to start upgrading your DVD collection. The next generation of DVD players featuring Blu-Ray are hitting the market. One model in particular that's getting a lot of attention is the Samsung BD-1000. According to Samsung, "Today's high-definition televisions (HDTV) are capable of displaying a far greater amount of movie realism than a DVD can deliver. That's why Blu-ray DiscTM technology was developed."

Obviously Samsung thinks pretty highly of their own product, but what are other people saying about the BD-1000?
Audioholics: "Samsung's unique technology - one pickup with two lenses - allows it to also play standard DVDs and CDs in addition to Blu-ray discs while allowing for more cost-effective production."

Gizmodo: "Samsung has produced a very interesting product. The BD-P1000 is a large, healthy device with a 20 second BRD load-time and a crisp, clean picture. On a full 1080p set, the picture is as crisp as fresh-baked pizza and the audio is surround-sound-alicious."

Once you get a new Blu-Ray DVD player, the next step is to invest in some Blu-Ray DVDs. Here's a short list of some the first Blu-Ray DVDs to be released:
This Samsung Blu-Ray DVD player is available on Amazon.

read more | digg story | treblemaker

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

7 CD-Digital Audio Tweaks for the Newbie Audiophile

Find out if it's possible to enhance your digital audio playback through seven cheap tweaks. Can you transform your current CD player into an audiophile tank with some affordable accessories?

Lots of cool little ideas in this article from Geek With Family including filters, enhancers, and vibration control feet.

Apple to sell Movies in iTunes

According to an article in Daily Variety, Apple is currently in talks with several Hollywood studios about adding movies to the iTunes Store. However, the talks have stalled. Apparently, the final detail they can't resolve is the price point. Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, wants a flat price of $9.99 per movie. The flat rate model has made Apple's music store a simple and pleasant experience for users. However, studio executives rather see a range of prices from $2, for discount titles, to $20 or more for new releases.

When could we see movies offered in the iTunes Store? Daily Variety cites several "unnamed sources" who predict that Apple might begin offering movie downloads by the end of 2006. Who knows, maybe by Christmas morning you could legally download a new release and play it for the family.

iPod Video + iTunes Movie Store + TV + iPod Video dock = Blockbuster bankruptcy

How's my math?

digg story | methodshop

Monday, June 19, 2006

Sony DAV-FX100W Wireless Home Theater Dream System

Power, Versatility and Great Video
Sony believes that you should be overwhelmed by DVD performance; not DVD equipment. They deliver DVD excitement in a slim, sleek, stylish package, the perfect way to bring the full performance of DVD, including studio-quality digital pictures and six-speaker surround sound, into your home. The DAV-FX100W DVD Dream System consists of slot-loading 5-disc DVD changer/receiver, front and back floor standing speakers, a center channel speaker and a powered subwoofer. You get a total of 1000 watts of system power. Not only can this system play DVDs and CDs, including your CD-R/RW discs, it can also play the latest Super Audio Compact Discs, for the ultimate in stereo and multi-channel sound quality. And, when you want to hook up to satellite television, there's a digital input waiting for you so you can enjoy the benefits of digital audio with your digital satellite programming.

Home Theater... With Wireless
What is the ultimate reference for movie theater sound? It's the Hollywood dubbing stage, where directors go to evaluate and approve their sound tracks. Now, that sound has been brought home, courtesy of Sony's Digital Cinema Sound system. These digitally recreated acoustic environments are based on the actual measurements Sony made at acclaimed Hollywood dubbing stages. By reproducing the precise reverberation qualities of these venues, the DAV-FX100W DVD Dream System makes your movies sound exactly the way they were meant to be heard. The wireless rear speakers with DAIT technology allow you to place the audio where it sounds best: you are in control!

Music To Your Ears
Super Audio Compact Disc is the realization of an audiophile's dream: all the precision of digital reproduction, combined with the warmth and ambiance of analog sound. The secret is Direct Stream Digital encoding. Its one-bit 2.8224 MHz (64fs) sampling is the highest quality sound source available today. DSD one-bit encoding strips away entire classes of distortion that have always characterized the conventional PCM digital sound format used for traditional CDs. It's nothing less than a quantum leap forward in music resolution. The DAV-FX100W reproduces not only stereo SACDs, but also multi-channel SACDs. You can hear the full glory of full-resolution SACD sound in as many as 5.1 channels.

Digital Decoding
Sony has included Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, dts, dts ES and Dolby Pro Logic II decoding in this system so you have surround sound covered. Dolby Digital and DTS decoding will surround you with 5.1 separate channels of digital sound for sound quality that analog systems can't match. You are enveloped with completely separate channels for Left, Center, Right, Left Surround, Right Surround and the special ".1" channel just for bass. Suddenly, movies have the same excitement and impact as in the theater. Bass is stronger and closer to the director's original intent. Dolby Digital EX adds an extra channel (a matrixed surround back channel) to the 5.1 discrete channels of Dolby Digital. dts ES improves 360-degree localization and spatial expression. The DAV-FX100W also incorporates Dolby Pro Logic II decoding. Dolby Pro Logic II expands upon 2 to 4 channel sound formats, transforming them into pseudo six channel surround sound. So, you'll be ready to hear the best from hundreds of VHS Hi-Fi movie releases, plus a wide range of digital satellite programs, TV sports, drama and movie broadcasts. Even your stereo music will take on a whole new sound thanks to Dolby Pro Logic II processing!

A Bit More Detail
The DAV-FX100W DVD Dream System gives you great movie and music playback with every disc. This high-tech home theater system features sophisticated audio and video capabilities that will enhance your home entertainment: fantastic near-High-Definition DVD images, plus wireless rear speaker technology for powerful surround sound and easy setup. The DAV-FX100W can upconvert standard DVD signals, upgrading them to dynamic near-HD resolution. It sends these pure, all-digital signals to any TV with a High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) input. HDMI is a high-quality connection known for delivering superior picture quality. You'll notice the added detail and clarity in all your DVDs. Plus, you enjoy rich, enveloping surround sound without running speaker cable all the way to the back of your room. Using a small transmitter, the DAV-FX100W sends uncompressed digital audio signals through the air to a small rear amplifier. You simply connect this amplifier to the right and left rear speakers to get beautiful, dynamic sound with easier hookup and less clutter. This system is a movie lovers Dream System... literally.


This product is available on Amazon.

Kentucky Fried iPod Shuffle

Is your iPod broken? Think you can fix it yourself? This story we found on might change your mind.

Someone named Chris T tried to open his broken iPod Shuffle. He's just a project manger with no real engineering experience, but he wanted to give it a try. He grabbed a metal knife and started to pry open the iPod. Apparently he hit a small capacitor or the battery with his knife because "the iPod basically exploded in his face and caught fire." Moments later the room was full of black smoke, sparks and girlish screams. The end result was something that can only be described as a Kentucky Fried Shuffle.

Francis, a friend of Chris T who blogged about this story, feels there are 2 morals or lessons to be learned from this experience:
  1. Apple made the iPod Shuffle in a way for it not to be opened... there is a reason for this!
  2. Project Managers should never think of themselves as "Hardware Engineers"
If you have a problematic iPod, here are some trouble shooting tips you can try. But always consider sending a broken iPod to a professional before grabbing a knife.

digg story | methodshop

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Pioneer Receiver Supports XM Radio and WMA-Pro Audio

Hard to believe a receiver this cheap supports both XM Radio and WMA Pro (the decoder is built into the receiver). It gets a solid score of an 8/10.

This product is avaialble on Amazon. Essentially, if you're looking for the perfect receiver upgrade and/or jumping-off point for your home entertainment system, this receiver offers anything and everything you will ever need to act as the hub for your system. With today's high-tech systems requiring a capable centerpiece to route everything through, this component is up to the task...and then some.

Note: As pointed out by one of our great's too bad this doesn't support both XM and Sirius.

read more | digg story

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Onkyo Debuts Audiophile Music System

"Onkyo has broken the mold and introduced a two-channel CD player and amplifier dedicated to the audiphile community."

"The Onkyo A-9555 amplifier features Onkyo's 4th generation VL Digital Amplifier Technology and delivers continuous 100 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 200 watts into 4 ohms."

"The DX-7555 CD player features a precision, adjustable click circuit with a tolerance of just +/- 1.5 ppm (most tolerance settings are 50ppm) which the company says produces a remarkably low jitter and high-fidelity performance."

Growing up, the centerpiece of my Dad's stereo system was a Marantz receiver with a similar look to these Onkyo componants - minus the digital readouts of course. At the time (the late 70s) is was state-of-the-art and his accompanying Marantz turntable spinning the black circle made for some great listening experiences. The look and feel of these bring back some really great memories.

There are plenty of Onkyo products avaialable on Amazon.

read more | digg story

Friday, June 09, 2006

Explaining Surround Sound

I don't blame you if you are confused by all of the audio/video acronyms that go along with surround sound. The moron who thought that real people would intuitively be able to figure out all the surround sound options currently on the market should be working in another field.

For more information on surround sound check out Tomlinson Holman's book, which has been called "A valuable reference for anyone involved in surround sound production in any form and home theater dealers and installers as well."

read more | digg story

Thursday, June 08, 2006

OSX Installer Songs

Have you ever reinstalled your Macintosh operating system just to hear the music? Hopefully not, but if you've ever found yourself grooving to the soundtrack while installing OS X and wanted to know what you were listening to... then you are in luck.

Someone posted an iMix in the iTunes Music Store called Mac OS X Installer Music. It contains all the songs Apple has used since Cheetah.

You can use this link to open the iMix in iTunes or just sample individual songs from the list below.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

U2 iPod is Reincarnated on 666

Does this black and red iPod look familiar? It should. It's the second coming of the U2 iPod.

The original iPod U2 Special Edition was announced on October 24, 2004 and was the first black iPod Apple ever produced. Apple discontinued it about a year later on October 12, 2005 and rabid U2 fans have been without a Rattle & Hum to satisfy their portable music needs ever since.

Operating under some Mysterious Ways, on 06.06.06, (the day of the devil???) Apple announced a reincarnation of iPod U2 Special Edition. The encore version is actually $20 cheaper than the original but has a bigger hard drive, color screen and is video ready.

Like the original U2 iPod, the new version comes with the autographs of each band member engraved on the back (black metal this time, not aluminum) and a coupon for U2 content from the iTunes Store. The exclusive content offering includes 30-minutes of music videos and band interviews.

Let's compare the original iPod U2 Special Edition with the new reincarnated version.

- original: $349
- encore: $329

Color of metal backing
- original
- encore: black

iTunes Music Store Coupon
- original: $50 off the price of a digital U2 box set called The Complete U2
- encore: free 30-minutes of music videos and band interviews

Here are some technical details for the new iPod U2 Special Edition:
  • Holds up to 7,500 songs and album art
  • Holds up to 25,000 photos
  • Holds up to 75 hours of video
  • Accessory-compatible Dock connector
  • 2.5-inch (diagonal) color LCD with LED backlight
  • Comes with earbud headphones and USB cable
  • Autographs of all U2 members on the back
  • Bright 2.5-inch display with LED backlight
  • Up to 14 hours of battery life; up to 3 hours of slideshows with music; up to 2 hours of video playback
  • Works with Mac OS X or Windows 2000/XP
  • More info...

If you are a U2 fan who still hasn't found what you are looking for in a mp3 player, perhaps you should consider getting this newest member in the iPod family.

The iPod U2 Special Edition is available from and

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sony Announces Blu-Ray Receiver

SONY announced the STR-DG1000 receiver...the first A/V receiver designed to optimize Blu-Ray discs and other HD content.

What is Blu-Ray you ask? A Blu-ray Disc (BD) is a next-generation optical disc format meant for high-density storage of high-definition video and data. The Blu-ray standard was jointly developed by a group of consumer electronics and PC companies called the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA). It is currently competing with the HD DVD format for wide adoption as the prefered next generation optical standard.

The name Blu-ray is derived from the blue-violet laser it uses to read and write to the disc. A Blu-ray Disc will be able to store substantially more data than a DVD, because of the shorter wavelength (405 nm) of the blue-violet laser (DVDs use a 650-nm-wavelength red laser and CDs an infrared 780 nm laser), which allows more information to be stored digitally in the same amount of space. In comparison to HD DVD, which also uses a blue laser, Blu-ray has more information capacity per layer (25 gigabytes instead of 15) but may initially be more expensive to produce.

Source: Wikipedia

This product is available on Amazon.

read more | digg story

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Crutchfield's Speaker-Placement Tutorial

There's no doubt that people are looking for convenience when it
comes to home audio systems. Home theater systems are economical and perform well...unless of course you have $40K to drop on a custom system and a room to justify it.

From the experts at Crutchfield comes a great tutorial of sorts to help people set-up their home audio systems.

For those of you looking to go beyond this simple tutorial check out this book . And if you need some speaker stands check out what's available through Amazon.

read more | digg story

Thursday, June 01, 2006

AHP712i Noise-Canceling Headphones

Tired of being stuck next to a crying baby every time you fly? You can't exactly make the baby disappear, but you can at least silence them. PC Mag's audio expert, Mike Kobrin, found a great pair of Altec Lansing headphones that could save you hours of screaming airline baby misery. He rated the AHP712i headphones 4 stars out of 5.

"If you travel a lot on noisy planes and trains, the new Altec Lansing AHP712i noise-canceling headphones should be on your short list of must-have items. They're large, but comfortable for extended periods because they cover your entire ears rather than pinning them against your head. The AHP712i provide very good noise cancellation with only a tiny bit of background hiss, and the sound quality is certainly musical, if not audiophile-accurate."

Now if only the AHP712i had a dirty diaper smell canceling feature too.

The AHP712i is available from


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