It’s been a while since we had a general news roundup, so here we go!
Subwoofers - Velodyne
I’ve recently completed an in-depth course of calibration training with Velodyne, mainly covering their DD+ range of subwoofers. While these have been on the market for some time, they still offer the pinnacle of performance and room EQ technology of any subwoofers on the market today, and trust me I’ve heard and sold them all. What makes them unique is a couple of things. Firstly, the RTA (Real Time Room Analyser) giving you an invaluable tool to find the best position for your woofer/s in any room. The unique way the set-up test tone sweeps through the entire system, not just the subwoofer means you can not only analyse the subwoofers performance, but also the crossover accuracy of the main and surround speakers as well as well as their integration. This also lets you set up multiple subwwoofers perfectly, as the test tone sweeps these at the same time taking them into account during each step of the calibration. For those tricky rooms including the stacking of multiple subwoofers to gain bass height or extra delivery in a sweet spot, the Velodyne also includes a manual 8 band Parametric EQ which works at the same time as the RTA, giving you instant feedback for a manual tune up. Notwithstanding the performance of the subwoofers (which nothing can touch) these features alone take the guesswork out of bass, and particularly the set-up of multiple units. We have permanent dual DD10+ subwoofers set up in our small demo room if you wanted to experience – perfect bass, if ever there were such a thing?
Room EQ – Trinnov Optimiser 2.0
I recently had the pleasure of testing a Trinnov ST-2 Hi-Fi at home on my hi-fi system. The main components of my hi-fi at home are; Audio Research SP9 Tube Pre-amplifier, Arcam Alpha 10P Power Amplifier and Harbeth Monitor 30.1 speakers. I’ve been happy with the sound of my hi-fi, and the inclusion of the Trinnov into the system was partly to compliment my ongoing research into room EQ and its effects on various systems (good and bad). What it gave me more than anything was a visual insight in the form of graphs into the acoustic problems within this room and area, and how best to tackle them. It flat out improved my sound in this room, that is without question, significantly so. This shouldn’t be a surprise as it is the same technology in use in their cinema processor the infamous, Altitude. Most impressive was its ability to still let the system breathe and not remove its natural sound which is very accurate and warm anyway, probably more important to listeners in hi-fi systems than in a cinematic scenario.
Projectors – Optoma & Sony
Optoma have released some 4K UHD capable DLP projectors, the UHD-60 is available now for £2498, its larger sibling the UHD-65 will be available later in the year and will sport a better contrast ratio. While not a native 4K chip, our experiences with “faux 4K” on projectors have overall been positive, most outperforming the native 4K Sony’s these days on both specification and performance so we look forward to seeing it in action. Speaking of Sony, they will launch a replacement for the VPL-VW320es next month. After a couple of years of small upgrades, we are hoping for something significant. Time will tell.
TV – LOEWE & Panasonic OLED
Anyone who knows me knows I’ve had more flat screen TV’s than I care to mention, something like 13 in 12 years. With the advent of OLED technology and the price of these screens tumbling it was finally time to move to the more innovative technology of OLED at home. Traditional LED TV’s have been developed now to the point that they are actually very good, the recent Panasonic 902 being a notable highlight. Unfortunately, the technology was never designed to hold a moving image, let alone be a TV set. The re-purposing of this technology (mostly it seems based on low energy consumption and cheap build costs) has some legacy effects in terms of being able to light the LED TV panel evenly, and marks in the image known as DSE (Dirty Screen Effect) on motion with a consistent colored background (skiing and football being the worst culprits) plagued LED sets and seemed to be part of the manufacturing process. In recent years efforts have been made to use dimmable zones to control the light on LED sets which in most manufacturers screens have produced more consistent, blacker images, but when you are already starting from poor, these improvements put in context seems less impressive. Dimmable zones produced another problem of haloing, where light and dark scenes are adjacent on the screen the screen lights the whole “zone” creating a light halo, again not great. Plasma screens were the answer for some considerable period, providing great consistency, but as the resolutions got higher so did the energy consumption and at the dawn of the age of 4K, plasma was extinct. OLED was somewhat a whisper of a promise for many years, Sony produced the very first OLED screen which you could go into a shop and buy, but only LG committed to it and bet that it would be the display technology of the future. Years of high panel failure rates off the production line along with a major accident killing staff on the OLED production line failed to dampen their commitment to the point now where LG are the only producer of OLED panel technology for TV sets in the world. Reliability has soared and prices have come down, effectively leaving us with a massive leap in picture quality from both LED and Plasma, truly the display technology of the next age. Some discussion still rages about the perceived limit of the brightness of OLED compared to LED sets, which in the most part is true. In my view, it depends on the purposing of the monitor and in the real world, side by side there is no doubt in my mind that OLED is a considerable leap forward in consistency and quality. While we can sell all the current OLED sets including LG and Sony, we have LOEWE and Panasonic sets on display in our showroom and are happy to answer any questions.
Speakers – Piega
Our Piega Classic speakers have been running in the demonstration area for a few weeks now and are really starting to shine. For AV use I have always loved what is possible from ribbon tweeters and the Piega sports one of the best on the market. If you are in the market for a larger speaker I would seriously consider them. They have garnered some great reviews over the past few months and make some very impressive higher end offerings for Hi-Fi enthusiasts and cinema buffs alike. We can offer demonstrations of these models by appointment should anyone be interested.