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Tech & Gaming
Best Buys – Audio & AV

Best Buys – Audio & AV Issue 2 - 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.
sidelining the soundbars

Our twice-yearly review-fest ofBest Buys Audio & AVoften brings the latest audio and AV trends into focus, and one repeated theme in this issue brings me great happiness. Indeed it is a trend that aims to reverse another trend — the rise of the soundbar to become master of so many lounge rooms for all things audio. Now I’m not saying there aren’t any good soundbars in the world, because we’ve reviewed some of the very best of the breed, from names such as Bowers & Wilkins, Definitive Technology and Focal, and given them fairly high praise. You’ll note that those three are all established loudspeaker companies which produce high-quality conventional speakers, and one suspects they entered the soundbar market simply because soundbars were selling like crazy, and were being bought…

7 min.
benq x12000

Here’s a projector that’s loaded with little miracles that add up to something genuinely big — Ultra High Definition bigscreen projection. With the X12000, BenQ continues its push into the higher end of the projector world, here adding a long-life LED light source to the clever ‘XPR’ (‘eXpanded Pixel Resolution’) that debuted in the company’s W11000 recently, and which allows a doubling of the projector’s native resolution for that glorious Ultra High Definition result. How does it do this? Let’s find out. EQUIPMENT Firstly, those LEDs. Where the BenQ W11000 (a $7999 model) runs a more traditional lamp, this X12000 uses the Philips ColorSpark HLD LED. LED is for Light Emitting Diode, HLD for ‘High Lumen Density’, the method by which the current weakness in green LED inensity is corrected, here by…

7 min.
epson eh-tw9300w

We can kick off by declaring this projector to be the 2017 winner of the Sound+Image Award for Projectors Over $2000... and withSound+Imagebeing our sister magazine, you might guess that we’re going to be heaping some praise on this projector. At $4999 it is a brilliant performer, with very little in the way of quirks, and several major bonuses onboard, most notably wireless signal transmission One thing the EH-TW9300W doesn’t do is Ultra High Definition, often called (not entirely correctly) ‘4K’. Although it doesn’t completely ignore it either. Obviously TVs have gone UHD in a big way, raising screen resolution four-fold, from 1920×1080 to 3840×2160 pixels. The projection market hasn’t followed quite so quickly — the panels inside projectors which create images are actually quite small, just a couple of centimetres…

6 min.
sony vpl-vw550es

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. And this is not only true UHD, but also 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 panels each having the full native eightmillion pixel count, no jiggery stuff required. Sony was…

3 min.
sony vpl-vz1000es

In the previous review we’ve seen Sony’s 4K VW550ES projector delivering its thrilling native 4K images, but the company has just delivered something rather different — the new ultra-short-throw projector, the VPL-VZ1000ES, which fires 4K up from the floor, and does it with, mmm, lasers. The VPL-VZ1000ES is still native 4K, so still ready for all the latest releases on UHD Blu-ray or 4K streaming, if you have the bandwidth, from the likes of Netflix, Amazon and YouTube. But instead of hogging room or ceiling space, its positioning offers huge advantages — able to be as little as six inches away from the wall yet deliver a 100-inch image (around 120 inches is its maximum). The VZ1000ES is around 40% smaller than the previous-gen Sony VPL-GTZ1, although as the team admitted…

5 min.
surface tension

When I was chatting to the Editor of this magazine concerning the subject and scope that this article should take, I told him a story that was relayed to me by a customer who was having a projection system installed into a multi-purpose room within his house. After the installer had mounted the projector and pointed it at the wall, he turned it on to demonstrate to the customer and told the client that the image “looked fantastic”, and “don’t waste your money on a screen, it won’t make much difference and you’ll barely notice any improvement over the wall”. Given that the customer had already ordered a screen from the salesperson as part of the project that was going to be installed a day or two later, frantic phone calls…