At Reference Home Theater we don’t do year end awards. We’d rather focus on the things we loved over the past year without being forced into categories. This year we saw TVs that were great, but no projectors that made us say wow. We also used gear that we didn’t review but still was something we would recommend. So the products that stood out to us this year. Continue Reading →
Author Archive | Chris Heinonen
On April 2nd in New York, Samsung held a press event to celebrate the release of their SUHD TVs. While these have actually been shipping for a bit now, some of the other models were not officially announced yet and the prices were unknown. Far more interesting to me, and many of the reviewers on-hand, was a special event Samsung held before this. We got an in-depth class on what changes are present in HDR and wide gamut content, and how our calibration and testing procedures might need to change. Continue Reading →
Wednesday night I got to see Russell Westbrook take an inbounds pass in overtime, dash down the lane, and score with 0.8 seconds left to give the OKC Thunder a win at Washington. When I put the kids to sleep I sit there and read Twitter while I wait for them to finally fall asleep. This Wednesday was my first with SlingTV, and with live ESPN I got to watch the game happen live on my iPhone while they dozed off to sleep.
At Reference Home Theater we don’t do end-of-year awards. We think they’re frankly silly and often useless. There isn’t often a single “Best” product for a category, but instead a best solution for a problem. We also don’t pretend that we tried every single TV on the market this year, or every single speaker, so why give out an award we aren’t sure of? It also leads to awards being given out in categories where only a couple of products were reviewed that year. Also just because a product came out last year doesn’t mean the new product is better, so why award it just for being new?
However, we have done enough hands-on time to be able to recommend products from this year that we would buy. Almost all of these have been reviewed by us, for Reference Home Theater or other publications we write for, but sometimes we also rely on experts that we know and trust. If we don’t cover a category, it is because we don’t know it well enough to be able to recommend anything there, but we are certain another site like The Wirecutter can.
There was a good deal to see and hear from Yamaha at CEDIA 2014. While their receivers didn’t see an update, their RX-A3040 and CX-A5000 are upgradable to Dolby Atmos and they did demo that. What they did have to show off were new sound bars and new integrated amplifiers.
Pioneer offered up one of the best home theater demos that I heard at CEDIA 2014, and was one of the few booths to have some actual surprises in store for me.
Now that CEDIA 2014 has come and gone I can look back and see what I saw, what I didn’t see, and what I think it means going forward.
Paradigm introduced a new line of speakers at CEDIA 2014, the Prestige. The Prestige line has three floor standing models, a bookshelf model, two center channels and a surround. The floor-standing models retail for $3,000, $4,000, and $5,000 a pair in the three main finishes. There is a custom midnight cherry finish that is extra for each speaker. All of these feature a tweeter with a new lens guide over the tweeter that both protects it and is said to help with output and dispersion.
For most of the high-end speaker manufacturers, they are content to let people use in-ceiling speakers for Dolby Atmos. If you assume most people doing Dolby Atmos will have a dedicated theater, then this does make some sense. However, there are people with dedicated theaters that do not want to install in-ceiling speakers. Even more, many people think that the reflective speakers offer better dispersion and a more immersive experience than the in-ceiling ones. The only high-end speaker company that has reflective Atmos speakers available at CEDIA is KEF.
Since their introduction, the JL Audio Fathom subwoofers have set the bar for sealed subwoofer performance. Coming in a relatively compact box, the Fathom line produces bass that can fill any room. Now JL Audio is updating them for the first time with the JL Audio Fathom V2. Still available in 10″, 12″, and 13″ sizes the V2 models contain a pair of important updates.