Archive for category Review
In the world of affordable soundbars, three major trends appear to be happening right now: the ditching of separate subwoofers, the addition of voice control and the move to Dolby Atmos delivered via eARC. Of those three trends, Yamaha is adhering to just one with its new YAS-209 soundbar.
Like its predecessor, the YAS-207 (which continues alongside the YAS-209 for the time being), Yamaha’s new soundbar comes with a large, wireless subwoofer and eschews Dolby Atmos and eARC in favour of DTS Virtual:X and standard ARC. The headline change is the addition of Amazon Alexa, which is built directly into the bar (rather than the remote control), thanks to two far-field microphones.
Of course, what matters most is the performance, and the Yamaha YAS-209 largely upholds the fine reputation that Yamaha has made for itself with soundbars.”
Overall, however, the picture remains consistently contrasty and engaging. A binge of Stranger Things (Netflix) kept much of the darker mood intact.
When an HDR source is received, the HD29H’s default image preset kicks in. In truth, with movies, this can make pictures a little dim. Thankfully, there’s the option to switch HDR support off.
With non-HDR content you get a far wider selection of display modes, including ISF support for calibrated Day and Night settings. There are also colour management, colour temperature and gamma adjustments (and more) for fine-tuning,”
“The W2700 has vents cut into both sides of its enclosure for cooling. The downside of this approach is that there’s greater potential for both light spillage and more fan noise. While there was some light-spillage from the unit, it certainly wasn’t objectionable.
All of the projector’s inputs are at the back of the projector and consist of two HDMI (HDCP 2.2) inputs, two USB A inputs (one of which is reserved for firmware updates), one USB Mini (for firmware updates), one audio out (3.5mm Mini Jack), one RS232 input and a single 12V trigger. The W2700 also has front and top-mounted IR receivers.”
To give the SR6014 an all channels on deck workout, I streamed the final scene from episode two of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan from Amazon Prime Video where the police get ambushed while raiding a Paris apartment. The Dolby Atmos mix here has automatic gunfire breaking out in every direction, with sound bouncing off the walls and ceiling of the small interior spaces in the apartment. As real as it sounded, I thankfully didn’t feel the need to duck and dodge any bullets. The explosion at the end of the scene underscored the Marantz’s ability to convey dynamic slam, even if much of the sound’s weight was delivered by my separate powered subwoofer. ”
The new UHD Blu-ray of Waterworld impresses with a full-bodied DTS:X remix. The attack on the atoll illustrates the kind of bold and cinematic soundscapes the Focal can produce. As the Smokers encircle the atoll, their machine-gun fire has a thrillingly percussive kick, and bullets rip through the metallic structure. Jet skis roar convincingly overhead and explosions are delivered with gusto.
There’s plenty of bass running through the entire film, in part because of James Newton Howard’s drum-dominated score. This is given a solid foundation by the Astral 16, while the built-in amplification showcases reserves of power, easily driving all the channels at once. Subtle effects generate the feeling of being isolated and at sea – water laps and wind rustles through sails – and once again the EQ brings these effects to the fore. Meanwhile, the all-channel soundscapes of the film’s underwater sequences are presented with water-logged realism.
“Perhaps the biggest surprise is just how good Ambeo is at ‘upscaling’ two-channel content. It genuinely blurs the lines between a natively immersive codec and post-processing. I’m not suggesting you magically get discrete surround sound, or whizz-bang effects emanating from your ears. But the soundstage becomes wider, nuanced and realistic.
Sky One Kung-Fu show Warrior, which is broadcast in stereo, hits harder through this Sennheiser ‘bar. Any disappointment about the lack of 5.1 transmission fades away. And when you do have a multichannel TV mix, perhaps live sport, the ambience that’s created is smooth and naturalistic. You’re not listening to channels panning left or right, you’re simply engulfed by sound.
The BenQ’s Cinema preset required little adjustment to achieve accurate results when calibrating for standard dynamic range (SDR) sources. Measured Delta Es (dE) for all color points were below 3—a level considered imperceptible—and saturation tracking was excellent. I ultimately decided to target a 2.2 gamma instead of a BT.1886 (2.4) gamma due to the projector’s limited contrast—while BT.1886 perceptually adjusts the gamma curve based on the measured black level, in this case it left the image looking washed out in the darker grayscale range.