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Tech & Gaming
Best Buys – Audio & AV

Best Buys – Audio & AV Issue 1 2017

Best Buys Audio & AV is loaded to the gills with authoritative reviews on all types of hi-fi and home theatre products, from wireless speakers to valve amplifiers, AV projectors and streaming computer audio – it’s a must-read for those looking to assemble or upgrade their home entertainment systems. By publishing easy-to-read, well researched reviews, Best Buys Audio & AV provides at-a-glance summaries together with detailed reviews by Australia’s most experienced hi-fi and AV teams from Sound+Image and Australian Hi-Fi magazines.

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2 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
know your level

Here we are, entering a new year with a fresh issue of our twice-yearly Best Buys Audio & AV, packed as always with reviews of hi-fi and AV gear at every level. The most affordable product this issue is Yamaha’s WX-010 (right), a $249 speaker that is part of the company’s MusicCast multiroom system. The other end of the scale is represented by the Bowers & Wilkins 802 D3 speakers (bottom), rather nice at $35,900 for the pair. The rest fall between, depending on their purpose and level. Now, when our reviewers write about these products, they are, of course, taking the relative pricing into account. It would be pretty bizarre otherwise, with us constantly having to say ‘Hey, this little Ruark R1 radio really doesn’t sound remotely as good as…

8 min.
benq w11000

And then there were two! Two brands of home theatre projector now available to Australia, that is, which are capable of delivering Ultra High Definition video. BenQ has released its first Ultra HD projector, the W11000. EQUIPMENT Being BenQ, the W11000 uses DLP technology from Texas Instruments, with one Digital Micromirror Device. We shall return to a very surprising aspect of the DMD used in the projector shortly. First, though, the other stuff. This is a physically large, imposing projector, weighing very nearly 15kg and measuring over half a metre long. The inputs are minimal — the only analogue inputs are via a D-SUB15 VGA-style socket. There are a couple of triggers, RS-232C, a USB Mini-B socket (for firmware updates), an IR input and an Ethernet socket, again for control. A 240W lamp pushes…

6 min.
epson eh-tw9300w

Most readers will be aware that televisions have gone Ultra High Definition in a big way. UHD, often known as ‘4K’, offers four times the resolution of 1080p, raising things to 3840 × 2160 pixels. The projection market hasn’t followed quite so quickly, because although their projected pictures may be huge, the panels inside the projectors which create those images are actually quite small — just a couple of centimetres in the case of this Epson, which uses three LCD panels to deliver its final colour image. With such small panels inside, quadrupling the pixel count is no mean feat. But solutions are being found that go a long way to delivering many of UHD’s advantages. And this EH-TW9300W, the second highest home theatre projector that Epson presently offers, certainly delivers…

7 min.
panasonic viera th-65dx900u

With LCD TVs there’s a tension at the top end. Shall it look great as a piece of furniture, or shall it produce the best possible picture? It’s difficult, perhaps impossible, to do both with LCD technology. So we’re delighted that with its top-of-the-range DX900 TV, Panasonic has firmly gone for best possible picture. EQUIPMENT That’s not say that it’s ugly. Not at all. But it’s not a glass-thin design; this TV is 64mm (i.e. two-anda-half inches) thick over most of its area, with the rear finished in an unremarkable black plastic. The good reason for this is the LED backlighting — real back lights, not edge lights. We’ll return to that shortly. This TV is, of course, an Ultra High Definition model, delivering 3840 pixels across by 2160 up and down. The…

6 min.
sony vpl-vw520es/550es

While we are seeing clever ways to achieve Ultra High Definition projection by the superpositioning of multiple images of lesser resolution, there is one company for whose projection no such complexities are required — Sony. There is no real comparison between this native 4K projector and those that claim or achieve UHD through pixel shifting. And this is true 4K, by which we mean that the horizontal resolution is 4096 pixels, actually rather more than Ultra High Definition’s 3840 pixels. If you’re using the projector in some kind of professional capacity connected to a computer, you’ll probably want the full pixel count. For home cinema, you should stick with the 3840 pixels across. Those pixels are native to the SXRD (‘Silicon X-tal Reflective Display’) panels within, with three 0.74-inch SXRD…

9 min.
dali katch

We worry a little when we’re sent pricey Bluetooth speakers for review, our experience being that part of the high pricing is often hot air — it’s $700 so it must be great, eh? Not always, no. On the other hand we also find that units from real hi-fi companies are less prone to such underperformance, and of course DALI (Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries) qualifies big-time on that count, after 30 years of hi-fi speaker design. This is the company that recently won Sound+Image’s award for Best Loudspeakers up to $10,000 with its thrilling Epicon 6. Can it deliver similar performance value at such a smaller size and price? EQUIPMENT Well my, it’s certainly impressive when you lift it from the packaging. The Katch is wide at 27cm, but slim, less than…