Sound + Image

Sound + Image March - April 2020

SOUND + IMAGE magazine offers a comprehensive package focused on lifestyle home electronic entertainment. It provides easy-to-read information about audio and video equipment and how ordinary consumers can assemble extraordinary systems that look and sound fantastic.

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8 Numeri

in questo numero

9 min
crossing the streams

Streaming has taken over our viewing so rapidly and totally that it’s easy to forget that Netflix launched here only five years ago. Prior to that, tech-savvy Australians resorted to VPNing US Netflix into their Australian homes (and many still do), until the official launch brought the promise of legal local relief, especially for Aussies who had been forking out more than $100 a month to Foxtel in order to enjoy all that television had to offer. But now the streams are multiplying. Let’s say you want everything on offer today — all the major Australian services at the best available picture quality: Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube Premium, 10 All Access and Hayu, along with newcomers Disney+ and Apple TV+. You’d be up for $93 every month, and that’s…

1 min
free stuff pt1: plex: now with its own movie content

After years of widespread use as a home server system adept at serving video, audio and photo files around a home (and potentially beyond) from centralised home storage, Plex has clearly seen the streaming on the wall and has begun to offer its own selection of TV and movies, alongside web shows and podcast content. Pleasingly it’s all free; less pleasingly, it’s rather ad-heavy, not too bad if you’re watching continuously, but if you’re the kind of viewer who pauses and returns regularly, the ads come on every time you sit back down to restart. For existing Plex users the content is a bonus, while those attracted by the content (we couldn’t resist rewatching Zulu) will discover the versatility that the Plex app and server can deliver, even without moving…

8 min
lg oled65c9pta

Ah, OLED. When this front-emissive display technology arrived, it made everyone go ‘wow’ — televisions like this had never been seen before. Not only were they super-slim, but their picture quality was to die for, especially in the blacks, because when an OLED pixel is off, it’s absolutely off—black is black. LCD TVs with LED backlighting simply couldn’t compete with that. OLED vs LED But time moves on, and as we’ve seen over the last couple of years in particular, LED-LCD has been tweaking its technologies to deliver many of OLED’s merits, together with potentially higher illumination levels. Meanwhile OLED has not progressed in the same way. According to accepted wisdom, OLED panels hit their performance limits in 2017 and, from a hardware perspective, the 2019-released OLEDs are similar to models from…

4 min
faking it

When Mission: Impossible – Fallout was released on Blu-ray, Tom Cruise sent out a surprising tweet to his fans. It was a plea from himself and director Chris McQuarrie to turn off your TV’s motion smoothing before watching their (or any) films. So what’s their problem, and should you follow the Cruiser’s advice? What is motion smoothing? Motion smoothing is designed to reduce judder and blur from video sources. It generally works by introducing artificial frames of video between the actual frames provided by the source. The frame rate for almost all films is 24 frames per second, slow enough that, with fast motion, an object or person can jump from one point on the screen to another a significant number of pixels away. Any TV is capable of displaying far more than…

1 min
musical fidelity m8xi integrated amplifier

This is an important release from Musical Fidelity, as it’s the company’s first clean-sheet product build since they were purchased by Audio Tuning last year, even though Simon Quarry (the genius behind so many Musical Fidelity gems) has been retained as Technical Director and Designer. The M8xi is a monster of an amplifier. Rated at 550 watts/channel it is designed to competently drive any loudspeaker in existence. The construction consists of a pre-amp with two mono-block power amps sharing the same chassis. Each component has its own power transformer and heat sinks. Most companies rate distortion measured at 1kHz; Musical Fidelity state a distortion rate of 0.004% at all frequencies from 20Hz to 20kHz. Its maximum peak output is 105 amps, and while that may not mean much to many people,…

6 min
face shakers

Skullcandy Crusher ANC wireless noise-cancelling headphones Three technologies headline these wireless noise-cancellers from Utah-born Skullcandy. Firstly there’s noise cancellation to provide a quieter background for your music in noisy environments. Secondly, there’s ‘personal sound’, where an associated app gives you a three-minute hearing test and adjusts the sound accordingly. And lastly there’s ‘adjustable sensory bass’, with a slider on the left earshell to vary an ear-trembling physical vibration which seeks to accentuate the bass response of the Crushers. Only one of these — the noise-cancelling — is missing from Skullcandy’s other wireless Crusher overear headphones, and yet the price is near doubled, from the non-ANC $279.95 up to a premium $599.95. Noise-cancellation alone wouldn’t justify that jump, but the specs show that there are more changes here. The quoted distortion level drops to…