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It’s not just the premium styling which sets this UST model apart from rivals. It also boasts some advanced functionality, including geometric correction, something that appears to have trickled down from Optoma’s professional AV projection lineup. This allows you to warp an image if you have something other than a flat surface to project onto. I suspect many will find the feature useful – not everyone has the luxury of a perfectly flat wall to double as a screen. For non-cinephile viewing, perhaps at a kid’s birthday party, it can actually make the most difficult of rooms bigscreen friendly.
Another welcome user innovation is automatic dimming. A sensor placed near the light path automatically dims down the projector’s light output, to protect the peepers of the inquisitive. This will be welcome in households where small children might be tempted to take a closer look.”
I started out my viewing evaluation of the HT3550 watching regular HD programs like the animated Bojack Horseman streamed from Netflix, along with various nature docs on YouTube. With the room lighting dimmed, these programs had a clean and relatively punchy look, showing good detail and robust color. Switching over to dark room viewing and more challenging fare on Blu-ray, I next watched the 2019 horror film Midsommar. The actors’ skin tones had a very natural look and there was a wide range of green hues visible in the rural landscape where the action takes place. In a scene where the community members select a May Queen, the bundles of flowers that comprise her costume came across as notably vibrant and varied. I did note slight “pumping” from the projector’s dynamic iris on this movie when that feature set to High, though the same effect disappeared when switched to Low.”
The 3D effect is convincing, delivering a great sense of depth and space while limiting crosstalk ghosting noise to only the most extreme image content (such as bright text on a dark background). The picture retains sufficient brightness and detail levels are high (although 3D playback is, as expected, restricted to Full HD). Motion avoids that juddery or sickly look sometimes associated with 3D, and I wasn’t aware of any flickering effect from the glasses (so long as you’re viewing in a dark room). Finally, the experience wasn’t the least bit fatiguing. If only 3D had always looked this good. ”
This is a remarkably full-featured subwoofer that performs very well in small- to medium-sized rooms. A pair of Defiance V10s can be had for the price of a slightly larger subwoofer, but will provide a more even output at different listening positions than a single subwoofer.
The Defiance series has a variety of options to fit the needs of different scenarios. The V12 model is very similar to the V10 reviewed, here but with a larger, 12-inch woofer. The V8 model, yep, you guessed it, has an eight-inch woofer but also lacks many of the features found in the rest of the Defiance line, including app control, Anthem Room Control, and the ability to add wireless signal transmission. If you decide your budget can stretch a bit, the Defiance “X” series offers more power and refinement with a similar feature set.”
For most of my listening, I disconnected the Gray Sound subwoofer so that I could focus on the sound of the Stealth Acoustics LRX-83s on their own. I have been playing with Sonos for whole-home audio for the first time (I know, kinda late to the game) as I wanted to do something a little different in the new house. The source that I have been most compelled by is Amazon’s new HD Music, which offers a wealth of audiophile-quality streaming for $15 a month. I haven’t gotten that deep into Sonos and all of its streaming music options just yet otherwise, but Amazon HD provides a lot of diverse tunes at seemingly good resolution.”
Initial powerup runs the user through a series of questions regarding the set’s intended use (do not choose Store Demo), location, channel search (if you have an antenna), and network connection. The M658 instantly found my Wi-Fi access point and proceeded to download a firmware update which took just a few minutes. I was then presented with the SmartCast interface where one can spend countless hours surfing through vast oceans of content. I stuck to the basics though with Netflix and Amazon. A press of the Input button on the remote lets you change to any active HDMI port.
Calibration was a simple affair though it took a bit more work to tweak the SDR mode than it did on the PX65-G1. Out-of-box color is excellent though and, in my opinion, calibration isn’t strictly required. When I switched to HDR mode, I found there was no need for adjustment whatsoever. Its grayscale, luminance curve, and color tracking are all spot-on. For most users, the M658-G1 is a plug-and-play display.
“All you need to do is plug the Astral 16 into your router, get the processor’s network address from the front display, type that into your browser and you’re good to go. The resulting screen gives you a choice of Remote or Setup, with the latter password protected. The Remote option provides all the controls you need to operate the processor and amplifier on a day-to-day basis. Conversely, the Setup option allows you to drill down into the menus, configuring and fine tuning the Focal.
The reason the Setup option is password protected becomes obvious as soon as you access it. The Astral 16 offers the kind of configuration flexibility only found on very high-end processors, and once fully set-up by a professional installer they will doubtless want to avoid any unwanted fiddling by their customer. However, if you’re a gifted amateur and want to set the Focal up yourself, you’ll have a field day playing with all the features and options.”