HOME THEATER SOUND AND IMAGE SUGGESTIONS
January already! It’s time for Superbowl parties (or big-screen movies for non-football fans). The jungle of home entertainment equipment on the market can be daunting, but here is a system we at Watt Integration wholeheartedly recommend.
GREAT SEATS FOR THE GAME
Fifty-yard-line seats are hard to get and expensive, but a big, beautiful flat (or curved!) screen makes watching the game, and everything else, affordably exciting. SAMSUNG ULTRA HIGH DEF 4K UN65HU8550 is a favorite with us, with its excellent picture, deep black levels and accurate color. Its attractive minimalist styling gives a nearly all-picture look to the image, emphasizing the spectacular live pictures from games and concerts. The available connections make it friendly to almost any source. CNET Magazine reviews the UNHU8550-4K succinctly: “If you must have a 4K TV now, the SAMSUNG UNHU8550 is the best choice…offers our favorite combination of picture quality and features in a 4K TV this year, making it a good value despite the high price.” We agree.
If a dynamite 65″ flat screen is enticing, for larger rooms or even more involving video experiences we like the SAMSUNG UN78HU9000.
It has all of the features a top tier TV should have: 4K upscaling, quad core plus processor, and plenty of HDMI 2.0 inputs for all of your 4K enabled devices. The curved screen helps with viewing angles and creating a more immersive experience. The Ultra Clear panel reduces glare and adds “pop” to the image, while the local dimming feature helps with fine-tuning contrast problems from ambient light . Ultra Clear reduces reflections without the soft, shallow picture common to many anti-glare and anti-reflection screens. As it’s Samsung’s top of the line, it features the best picture quality technology Samsung has to offer, with its Smart Hub giving plenty of apps and ways to access streaming of high-quality digital content from many sources. The design is as sleek and attractive as that of the UNHU8550. Translation: a bright immersive picture, which isn’t room-sensitive, in an attractive screen versatile enough to handle any source or function we can throw at it.
When we look at high-tech we wonder what will come out next month, and should WE have waited? TV tech is especially vulnerable to Model of the Week Syndrome but Samsung’s Evolution Kit helps reduce that concern.. In this and other Samsung Smart TVs the kit upgrades internal hardware to bring the TV up to speed with the latest software and performance upgrades.
The heart and soul of the system is the electronic brain and muscle to make everything happen: the receiver. Long ago PIONEER put their best products in their separate ELITE line. The ELITE SC-81 and SC-82 audio-video receivers can handle almost any speaker, have plenty of useful functions, are good-looking and easy to use.
Both are 7.2-channel Surround Sound A/V receivers, which feature Class D3 amplification, Energy Star 3.0 certification, 4K 60P Ultra HD compatibility, and the recently announced HDMI 2.0 specification for the highest video signal transfer available. In addition both include Roku Ready certification, multi-channel high resolution playback, expanded multi-zone and multi-source management and functionality, and Pioneer’s proprietary iControlAV5 App.
Now, what does that mean in English? Class D3 amplifiers produce lots of simultaneous power and are also extremely energy efficient, meriting their Energy Star 3.0 certification.. Energy Star certified equipment pieces are up to 60% more efficient than conventional models, which makes for monetary savings for users and helps to preserve the environment. The high power delivers great sound performance and ultra-low distortion, so the Elite SC-81 and Elite SC-82 delivers the true sound potential of newer high-resolution sources such as BluRay and HD cable or satellite.
ESS SABRE Premier Audio DAC – Both Elite models are built with the highly rated ESS Sabre Digital-to-Analog Converter (which translates the ones and zeros of digital signal into analog) The ESS Sabre produces outstanding sound quality with a warmer, more natural audio reproduction than standard digital sound devices.
Both receivers expand your listening experience by offering access to todays most popular integration features.
- Advanced MCACC with Subwoofer EQ – The MCACC built into these models helps create the optimum acoustic environment for movies and music. The SC-81 and SC-82 Elite receivers use a microphone (included) and a subwoofer EQ (new for 2014) to compensate for differences in speaker sizes, output levels, and distances from the user’s listening positions automatically. English? They adapt to sound great in your room, not just the lab.
- 4K2K Ultra HD 60P Video Up-Scaling – The new SC receiver models supports the next generation 4K2K Ultra High Definition resolution standard to help provide the highest quality video image available, with the ability to pass through 4K video signals of up to 60 frames per second to any HDMI 2.0-equipped 4K display. It can also upscale lower resolution signals before delivery to make them viewable on compatible 4K Ultra HD displays. This means you’ll be set for the latest in video quality as well as viewing lower quality and older material.
- HDMI 2.0 – Pioneer was the first AV manufacturer to incorporate HDMI (High Definition Music Interface) 2.0 into its AV receivers, offering a significant increase in signal bandwidth, now up to 18Gbps. The increased bandwidth provides support for new features such as 4K60p 4:4:4 color support. The 4:4:4 color support offers viewers the highest quality color reproduction available in content today, with no color loss when images are displayed on compatible 4K televisions screens. This ability to pass through a very high bandwidth signal without downgrading the image means more vibrant color and compatibility with newer screens.
- Roku Ready Certified – Both models are Roku Ready certified, with access to more than 1,000 entertainment channels of streaming movies, music, TV shows, news, sports and more. Utilizing the receiver’s built-in MHL Connection located at the rear of the Elite SC receivers, installers can plug in a Roku Streaming Stick and providing simple client enjoyment.
- Music Enthusiast – Offering a diversified listening experience, the receivers have access to today’s most popular Internet radio music services including Spotify, PANDORA and vTuner.
- iControlAV5 Application – Pioneer developed iControlAV5, a new app enabling wireless control over various portable digital devices. The app incorporates multiple controls from basic volume adjustments and input selection to advanced features, including full control of the Roku Streaming Stick. . The app is available free from www.AppStore.com or the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The app is also available in Google Play (www.GooglePlay.com) for Android devices.
- AVNavigator Built-In – This is a two-way interactive owner’s manual that removes the complications of setting up a receiver. . Simply connect the receiver to a home network and launch the web browser.. A touch on the surround button on the front of the receiver takes the user directly to the portion of the manual that explains the standard surround feature). How’s that for user-friendly? WATT INTEGRATION will help you choose and install the right model you, and PIONEER ELITE will help you in day-to-day use of your new system.
Now for sound. MARTIN-LOGAN has produced amazing sound since 1980 with the habit-forming sound of electrostatic speakers, and they have another winner in the EFX models. This slim, on-wall EFX™ hybrid electrostatic loudspeaker dramatically reduces cabinet size, but retains ML’s standards for efficiency, dynamics and precision.
Although electrostats have been around for many years, they tend to be large, power-hungry and not too designer-friendly. The EFX changes all that.
Their extruded aluminum frame means they can be smaller than traditional designs while keeping the typical electrostat clarity.
If you won’t settle for anything but electrostats next to your new flatscreen TV, the EFX is the perfect solution at just 6.5-inches deep. Wall-mounting the EFX with the included swivel brackets frees up floorspace and gives you more placement options than older floor-standing designs.
The center speaker’s job is reproducing the sound of anything appearing on the screen, including dialog, which makes it very important indeed. MARTIN-LOGAN’s MOTIF X is the world’s most versatile electrostatic on-wall speaker, with advanced electrostatic and Folded Motion technologies carefully balanced to maximize performance and installation flexibility.
Was that a T-Rex or just backfield in motion? The effects (FX or surround) speakers are critical in adding the “I’m right there!” wow factor to a surround system. The best way to make that happen is with matching front and surround speakers from the same manufacturer. MARTIN-LOGAN’s EMIC in-ceiling speakers take care of the magic without being obtrusive and have a number of placement options to fit your room. The EMIC features ultra-low-profile, paintable micro-perforated grilles with no visible bezel for a near-invisible integration into any ceiling, and the EMIC shares the same technology as the EFX and MOTIF X, so your system is powerful, accurate and seamless all around.
Bass. More bass. How much is enough, and how much just noise? SUNFIRE SUBWOOFERS have long been an industry standard. The HRS series produce excellent bass in a cabinet smaller than many bookshelf-type main speakers. All HRS subs feature an internal 1000-watt amplifier to give not only impact but accuracy for the best foundation to your system. The blend of power and accuracy make a SUNFIRE subwoofer an excellent match for the Martin-Logans.
For all but die-hard button-pushers the remote control can be a hindrance rather than a help. Industry leader URC makes a user-friendly remote in their URC MX-890. Everything for you a the MX-890 is equipped to handle virtually any application. It easily controls every audio and video product you own – lighting, too. One touch puts you in complete command of everything.
The MX-890’s brilliant 2-inch color, high-resolution screen can be personalized to suit the particular products you wish to control, and WATT INTEGRATION can set it up with custom graphics to suit your individual uses and taste. You can label every button with fun icons, and configure your system so that a single button press powers up the entertainment room, sets lighting levels, or any combination of events you can dream up.
The MX-890 doesn’t need Annie-Oakley-style aiming of the remote. With the MRF-350 Base Station, the MX-890 remote can operate equipment through walls, cabinet doors or from outside. There’s no need to purchase batteries. The URC MX-890 sits in an attractive tabletop charging cradle, and is always ready for action the moment you pick it up. We think it’s a great way to stop playing with the buttons and get on with the show.