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).
Also, one of the HDMI inputs is MHL-compatible allowing direct physical connection for compatible smartphones and tablets.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 additional terms and definitions, check out my Home Theater Glossary
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.
Watch, Read, and Enjoy!
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:
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):
NOTE: The Panasonic A530U Series Sets are not 4K or 3D compatible. Image provided by Panasonic
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).
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.