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Robert Silva

Home Theater


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All About Crackle TV

Saturday April 19, 2014
Crackle TV is a free service, owned by Sony, that lets you stream full-length uncut movies and TV shows from the internet. The catch is that the movies and TV shows are interrupted by commercials. For all the details on Crackle's free movies and TV shows and whether you want to quit your Netflix and Hulu Plus subscriptions read the report: All About Crackle TV.

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Yamaha YHT-799U Home Theater-in-Box System - Product of the Week

Friday April 18, 2014

If you are looking for a home theater audio system that provides more than a sound bar, but is not going to empty your wallet, check out the Yamaha YHT-799U.

This system combines Yamaha's RX-V475 5.1 channel home theater receiver, with a 10-inch 100-watt Subwoofer, and five space-saving bookshelf speakers.

On the video side, the system features both 3D and 4K resolution pass-through (no upscaling).

Additional features include the incorporation of Apple AirPlay, Pandora Internet Radio, and DLNA (which provides access to compatible devices connected on a home network).

Also, one of the HDMI inputs is MHL-compatible allowing direct physical connection for compatible smartphones and tablets.

The system can also be upgraded to provide both Wifi and Bluetooth functionality with the addition of Yamaha's YWA-10 and YBA-11 USB plug-in adapters.

For control, you can use the included remote, or Yamaha's free smartphone AV controller app (iOS version - Android version). If you are looking for audio system that provides more that what you can get from a sound bar, check out the Yamaha YHT-799U. Image Provided by Yamaha Corporation.

For additional suggestions, check out my list of Home Theater-in-a-Box Systems.

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Onkyo Reveals "Emotion Delivered" THX-Certified TX-NR737 and TX-NR838 Home Theater Receivers

Thursday April 17, 2014

Onkyo has just announced two new upper mid-range "Emotion Delivered" home theater receivers for 2014, the TX-NR737 and TX-NR838. To start with, both receivers are THX-Select 2 Plus Certified, and come equipped with a host of features and connectivity, starting with a built-in 7.2 channel configuration. The TX-NR737 is rated at 110 wpc, and the TX-NR838 is rated to deliver 130 wpc (measured with 8 ohms loads, from 20Hz to 20kHz, 0.08% THD with 2 channels driven).

In addition, just as just with their recently announced TR-NR636 home theater receiver, this new batch incorporates HDMI 2.0 (which enables the passing of 60fps 4K input signals), as well as HDCP 2.2 (which provides added copy-protection for not only current streaming content from both internet and content accessed through the receiver's MHL/HDMI port, but also for 4K streaming, broadcasts, or movie releases - when such sources become available).

Also, on all of Onkyo's 2014 receivers released so far, they have replaced the Audyssey MultEQ speaker setup system it has been using for several years, with a new home-grown "AccuEQ" system.

Both receivers feature 3D-pass through, Audio Return Channel, InstaPrevue HDMI switching, an easy-to-use Onscreen Menu, and Dolby TrueHD/DTS-Master Audio decoding.

For connectivity, the TX-NR737 and 838 provide seven HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs.

Media player and networking functions are provided on both receivers, including iPod/iPhone and Airplay compatibility (via optional DS-A5 docking station), DLNA certification, and internet access to a host of online content from services, such as Aupeo!, Pandora, Spotify, and more. On either receiver, network and internet connection access can be done via standard ethernet or WiFi, and also incorporate built-in wireless Bluetooth capability, making it easy to stream audio content from compatible portable devices.

For video support, both receivers are 3D compatible and incorporate analog-to-HDMI video conversion, as well as 1080p and 4K upscaling for all video input sources using Marvel QDEO video processing.

However, there are some things neither receiver includes. There are no S-Video, 5.1/7.1 channel analog audio, or phono input options, which is becoming more of a trend in newer home theater receivers. On the other hand, 5.2/7.2 channel preamp outputs are provided on the TX-NR838.

The Onkyo TX-NR737 and 838 are both expected to be available in May, and a priced at $899 and $1,199 respectively.

There is a lot more to both of these receivers than I touched on in this short blog, such as their multi-zone capability, so for more details, Read the Official Onkyo Announcement, as well as the TX-NR737 and TX-NR838 Product Pages. Image of Onkyo TX-NR737 provided by Onkyo USA.

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Anthony Gallo Acoustics A'Diva SE 5.1 Speaker System - Review and Photos

Thursday April 17, 2014

OK, I will come right out and say it, I like large speakers. There is something about a nice big floorstanding speaker that commands your attention when listening to music or watching movies. However, that being said, it is obvious that the trend over the past several years is toward compact bookshelf, or even smaller, speakers. The problem is that a lot of those small speakers are not only small in stature, but small in sound.

On the other hand, there has been a lot of progress in both speaker design and construction materials that allow for some good sounding smaller speakers. However, although good sound is OK, for home theater, great sound is better, and Anthony Gallo Acoustics delivers just that with their compact and stylish A'Diva SE 5.1 Speaker System.

For all the details, read my review and check out my photo profile. Photo Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

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Home Theater Term of the Week: Continuous Power (RMS)

Wednesday April 16, 2014
Continuous Power refers to the ability of a receiver or amplifier to output its full power continuously. In other words, just because your receiver/amplifier may be listed as being able to output 100WPC, doesn't mean it can do so for any significant length of time...Read more

For additional terms and definitions, check out my Home Theater Glossary

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Earth Day Reminder: How To Recycle Your Old Home Theater Electronics

Tuesday April 15, 2014
Earth Day 2014 is on this coming Tuesday, April 22nd (However, many Earth Day Activities will be held on Sunday, April 20th - which is also Easter Sunday this year). If you recently got a new LCD or Plasma TV or new home theater audio gear and, as a result, relegated that old TV and stereo system to the collection of discarded items in your garage, you should consider recycling your old home electronics gadgets.

There are a growing number of electronics recycling programs being implemented by communities, retailers, and manufacturers. On the other hand, there are other ways to make use of old or discarded audio and video products that may be piling up in your garage. Check out some useful tips on how you can recycle old audio and video equipment.

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Proper Speaker Placement: Home Theater Video Tip Series

Monday April 14, 2014
In order to get the best listening experience, it is not only important to have a home theater receiver and a good set of loudspeakers, but where you place those speakers in your room can make a big difference in how the sound reaches your ears. You can have great speakers, but if they aren't placed correctly, you might not be getting the most from your listening experience. For some great tips on how and where to place your speakers (and subwoofer), check out the following videos in our Home Theater Quick Tip Video Series:

Proper Speaker Placement for a 5.1 Channel Home Theater System

Proper Speaker Placement for a 6.1 Channel Home Theater System

Proper Speaker Placement for a 7.1 Channel Home Theater System

For additional information and perspective, also read my articles:
How Do I Position My Loudspeakers and Subwoofer?
5.1 vs 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receivers
What the .1 Means in Surround Sound.

Watch, Read, and Enjoy!

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What Types of Connections Do Blu-ray Disc Players Have? - Question of the Week

Sunday April 13, 2014
You are interested in buying a Blu-ray Disc player, but before you buy one, you want to know if it will connect to your TV and/or home theater receiver. For the answer, check out this week's FAQ: What Types of Connections Do Blu-ray Disc Players Have? Also, be sure to check out my complete Blu-ray FAQs as well as my current suggestions for Best Blu-ray Disc Players.

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Panasonic Announces Availability of AS530U Life+Screen LED/LCD TVs for 2014

Saturday April 12, 2014

Although Panasonic has dumped Plasma, they are definitely not retreating from the TV market as they are expanding their LED/LCD TV offerings for 2014, the latest being their AS530U Life+Screen line.

The AS530U Life+Screen series sets offer up a host of features, including:

1080p native display resolution

120Hz refresh rate with additional 240Hz blacklight scanning support.

Built-in WiFi for convenient network and internet connectivity (wired ethernet also provided is desired).

Internet Apps for access to a host of streaming content services. Also, full web browsing is supported.

My Home Screen Interface for customization of the TV's onscreen menu system by each member of the household.

Remote Sharing for sharing video memos, messages, and other information remotely on compatible smartphones and tablets.

Voice Guidance that allows the TV to verbalize text content that appears on your screen.

Swipe and Share that allows viewers to send content from a compatible portable device wirelessly to the TV, or vice versa.

Also, for connection of physical source devices, the AS530U series provides 2 HDMI inputs and one shared composite/component AV input, and two USB inputs (for access to audio, still image, and video content stored on flash drives). A digital optical output is also provided for connection to an external audio system (highly suggested for the best home theater viewing experience).

Panasonic's 2014 AS530U models come in four screen sizes, with suggested retail prices as follows (click on models numbers for additional features and specification info):

TC-39AS530U (39-inches) - $549.99 (Buy Direct)

TC-50AS530U (50-inches) - $899.99 (Buy Direct)

TC-55AS530U (55-inches) - $1,099.99 (Buy Direct)

TC-60AS530U (60-inches) - $1,399.99 (Buy Direct)

NOTE: The Panasonic A530U Series Sets are not 4K or 3D compatible. Image provided by Panasonic

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Paradigm Soundscape Sound Bar - Product of the Week

Friday April 11, 2014

If you are in the market for a Sound Bar and are looking something that delivers quality, as well as convenience, then check out the newly available Paradigm Soundscape.

At its core, the Paradigm Soundscape is a sound bar with seven independently amplified speaker drivers, grouped into three channels, additionally supported by port mounted on each end (bass reflex design).

The Soundscape is approximately 42-inches wide, which visually matches well with TV screen sizes from 37 to 50 inches (or larger), and houses four 4-inch midrange/woofer drivers (one for the left, two for the center, and one for the right), and three 1-inch tweeters (left, center, right). The power output of the Soundscape is rated at 25 watts-per-channel x 7 (RMS).

The Soundscape provides onboard Dolby Digital and DTS decoding, enhanced further by Paradigm's virtual surround sound processing.

For connectivity, the Soundscape includes two digital optical , one one digital coaxial, and one set of analog RCA-type audio inputs.

You can also access audio content wirelessly from Bluetooth-enabled devices.

For control, the Soundscape comes with an easy-to-use remote, or, if your TV or Cable/Satellite Satellite remote has learning capability, you can use that option as well.

It is important to note that although the Soundscape does not come with an external subwoofer, it reproduces low frequencies down to about 30Hz. However, it does come with both a wired subwoofer pre-out and wireless receiver for connection of an optional powered subwoofer, if desired.

If you are looking for a sound bar solution to complement your TV viewing experience, check out the Paradigm Soundscape ($1,499.99) as a possible choice. Granted it is more expensive than most sound bars, but it delivers better sound than those bargain-priced models - definitely worth a listen.

For more details, including more on speaker construction, amplifier design, and the virtual surround sound processing system, refer the Official Paradigm Soundscape Product Page. The Soundscape is available through Authorized Paradigm Dealers. Photo of the Paradigm Soundscape On Display at CES 2014 Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com.

For more suggestions, check out my current list of Sound Bars and Digital Sound Projectors.

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