Sound + Image June - July 2017

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.

Future Publishing Ltd
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8 Issues

in this issue

3 min
the hi–fi headlines

We have seen a number of new releases in recent times. Firstly Oppo have released their UDP-205 4K Blu-ray player. As expected this is an exceptional player, both for vision and audio. Priced at $2,199 the performance of this unit eclipses players costing multiples of this price. We believe that Oppo’s own press release sums up the features of this player beautifully – “The OPPO UDP-205 (offers) playback of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, regular Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, SACD, CD and many other formats; High Dynamic Range (HDR10) and firmware upgradable to Dolby Vision; dual HDMI outputs (HDMI 2.0 for UHD and HDMI 1.4 for audio), and an HDMI 2.0 input port for external streaming devices or set-top boxes. “The UDP-205 provides reference-level sound quality through the analog outputs, improves the…

4 min
when ‘good enough’ isn’t good enough

Among all the wonders of streaming smart amplifiers and LED projectors and OLED TVs this issue, there was one small but intriguing demonstration of the subtle but insidious effect that low bit-rate signal transmission can have on music. Many of us have come to live with Bluetooth in one situation or another. All four of the smart amplifiers here include it so you can easily throw tunes wirelessly from your phone or tablet straight into your hi-fi. Little Bluetooth speakers are ubiquitous, and of course Bluetooth headphones are taking over the market last year was the first time their value exceeded that of wired headphones in some places; the trend is clear. We know that Bluetooth is not CD quality. It never has been, and even now that Bluetooth 5 is rolling…

1 min
latest aventage range gets ‘euro’-tuning

Yamaha’s 2017 Aventage AV receiver range will be trickling into Australian specialist stores through June and July, representing the eighth generation of the company’s flagship audiovisual receivers, though it seems that this time they will sensibly be labelled the ’70’ series, to indicate their model numbering. The power ratings and feature sets rise through the range from the entry-level RX-A770 at $1499 to the flagship RX-A3070 model at $2999. In addition to the expansive list of features present on all previous Aventage models, the new range all include DAB+ digital radio and Tidal/Deezer streaming support on the audio side, and for UHD video they support (via a future firmware update) High Dynamic Range for not only HDR10 but also the superior Dolby Vision HDR and the broadcast version, Hybrid Log Gamma…

1 min
pioneer unveils new n-90 & n-70 high-res streamers

If you’re planning to add separate smarts to your system rather than considering one of the smart amplifiers reviewed this issue (see p67), Pioneer has a pair of new network audio players, the N-70AE ($2499) and N-50AE ($1699). Both feature playback via USB from computer, up to 32-bit/384 kHz for PCM and DSD up to 5.6MHz, as well as supporting high-res files on plugged-in USB drives and sticks, or from music shares on your home network. But there’s more, with Chromecast and Spotify Connect built in, allowing music from supported smartphone apps to be streamed to the player with album covers displayed on its 3.5-inch LCD. Music via Chromecast, Tidal and Deezer can all be accessed and controlled using the supplied physical remote, or using the Pioneer Remote App. The N-70AE…

3 min
panasonic oled arrives – is this the ultimate tv?

There will be two Panasonic OLED Series for Australia — the EZ1000 (above), described at the Sydney launch by Panasonic Australia’s Senior Product Manager for Imaging Doug Campbell as “the flagship ‘Master OLED’, the absolute best”, but also the EZ950 Series, “a great balance of picture quality and design”. The 65-inch EZ1000 launches in July at $8899, with a 77-inch giant to follow in November, price not yet determined. The EZ950 OLEDs will be in 65 and 55-inch models at $4999 and $7199 respectively, both available in July. The 2017 campaign will run under the banner of ‘Extraordinary perfected’. Campbell noted Panasonic’s imaging heritage in explaining why the company will be able to make the best of OLED technology (the panels, as with all large-screen OLEDs we’re aware of, are sourced from LG.Display,…

2 min
why tv prices may go up

TVs just keep getting cheaper, right? Maybe not for much longer. The chart on the right shows a breakdown of 55-inch TV prices (in US$) plotted against the costs of the panels used in those TVs. The top grey line is the average price for a premium brand, and the blue line is the average price for a secondary brand. And the red line is the price of the panel. (All these are for 1080p, since the chart goes back to 2014, when UHD was a rare thing and, at first crazy expensive.) The shrinking gap indicates how profitability is in crisis, with retail prices dropping far more rapidly than the underlying panel prices, which have actually risen recently, back to earlier levels following a dip in 2017. Three years ago…