Sometimes Old Is New Again In The Home Theater Arena

At any one time, there are usually at least six to eight test reports going on between various tech reviewers. Of those, there may be two or three products that could be called the latest and greatest, while the rest of them just don’t make the cut and end up being placed in the bread-and-butter category. As I scanned through the recent review history, I couldn’t help but notice how conventional the mix appears to be. But, as I looked deeper, I saw just how well that mix represents the trends in technology that have defined the audio and video space, circa 2013.

Opalum on-wall speakersWe’ll start with Opalum on-wall speakers, which are of Scandinavian design. These speakers are unlike any others we’ve tested. Modernistic features aside, such as the multiple small drivers set up as a point source, the Opalum speakers are self-powered with built-in digital amplifiers driven by one thin wire that combines the digital audio source signal and the required 24-volt power for the amps. Essentially, you get the advantages of powered speakers, like optimized crossover and amp design, without needing to run live power through the signal wire, which is the main drawback. If you would like to see how the Opalums fared, you’ll have to read Darryl Wilkinson’s full review, but regardless, you can’t help but admire the innovation.

In regard to televisions, Samsung’s F8500, the company’s greatest plasma television to date, is setting new standards for the plasma world in terms of light output. For people who don’t have any other option but to watch TV in a bright room, that could be the deciding factor in avoiding an LCD in favor of a plasma’s superior image quality. In cutting-edge 4K, Tom Norton did a review of Sony’s first UltraHD TV model in a common size of 65 diagonal inches for $7,000, as opposed to the 84-inch model for $25,000. But at that point you really have to ask yourself: Does a resolution four times better than full HD actually mean anything with TVs of conventional size? You’ll have to check out Tom’s review to really find out.

Then, of course, we have the B&W Panorama 2 soundbar system, which boasts what we believe to be some of the best sound quality we’ve ever heard from this emerging category, then add to that the SVS Ultra bookshelf speakers, which don’t seem to offer anything on their surface except competent engineering coupled with solid build quality. Even so, Mark Fleischmann reports that the Ultra’s exceptional value is definitely a product of the recent trend of high-tech manufacturing in China and cost-effective, online sales on our own soil. These two elements are beginning to alter the face of audio retail sales in the States and are allowing consumers access to great sounding audio products of considerable quality.

It certainly goes on. The latest budget receiver by Pioneer and Samsung’s $150 Blu-ray player both keep up the trend of network-connected products, both offering new ways to stream content from your media library or the Internet.

All of this is just how I say that, if you’ve been curious about what’s new in the stale world of audio and video, the answers is that yes, most of it is new, even the stuff that really isn’t new.

Featured images:
  •  License: Image author owned
  •  License: Image author owned

By MindBOX Productions

About The Author: Fred Meek has over 20 years of video production experience and owns MindBOX Productions