Audio News for August 19, 2014

New Benchmark Amp – Benchmark, known for their fine DAC1 and DAC2, has moved into the amplifier area with their AHB2 amp. It is 100 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 170 into 4 ohms, and can be bridged to produce 340W mono into 8 ohms. Its dynamic range approaches 130dB and THD & noise is said to be -108dB relative to full output. It uses a switching power supply and 0.01%-tolerance resistors at critical circuit points. Benchmark has been warning audiophiles that most so-called 24-bit systems actually deliver 16-bit performance due to the resolution bottleneck imposed by amplifiers. So they came up with a high-efficiency, feed-forward amp with enough maximum voltage swing to equal the dynamic range of hi-res sources. It is expected to be about $2500.

2nd Annual Twice VIP Awards – Selections have been made for the second annual presentation of the product awards from Twice magazine, their VIP or Very Important Product awards. Those which might be of interest to audiophiles/videophiles are:

Headphones $99 and less: Audio-Technica ATH-CKX5iS
Headphones over $300: Klipsch Group X11i
Projection screens: Elite Screens CineGrey5D
AV receivers at $699 or less: Onkyo USA TX-NR636
AV receivers at more than $699: AudioControl Concert AVR-8 Receiver
Soundbars at $499 or less: Samsung HW-H600 SoundStand
Soundbars at more than $499: Sony Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer
In-Room Speakers: Definitive Technology Mythos ST-L SuperTower
Digital Media Players: Sony 4K Ultra HD Media Player FMP-X10
Flat-panel TVs: Samsung UN55HU8550 & Sony XBR-65X900A UHD TV
HT Video Projector: Sony 4K HT ES Projector
Wireless Multiroom Audio Systems: Samsung Shape (M7 and M5)

Met Deadline Could Have Darkened 2000 Theaters – The Met’s GM Peter Gelb had threatened a lockout if a new agreement was not reached by the deadline of two days ago, but agreements with two of their largest unions, Local 802 and AGMA, have now been reached. There are a total of 11 unions involved. A federal mediator has been examining the Met’s books. It would have been extremely sad if the 2000 movie theaters worldwide, who carry the Met’s live HD screenings, had to discontinue.  Last year ten operas were transmitted in 66 countries, and the first HD broadcast of this season will be Oct. 11. A lockout would also have affected the Met’s 2400 employees, and hotel and restaurants in the area.

Continuing Revival of Music Suppressed by the Nazi – Conductor James Conlon’s Recovered Voices series at the LA Opera has produced stagings of rare works by Zemlinsky, Victor Ullmann, and Franz Schreker—all of them now on DVD or CD. Conlon had a free symposium last weekend titled “Music, Censorship and Meaning in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union: Echoes and Consequences.” He gave a talk on “The Oblique Censor: Contemporary Challenges in Programming Lesser-Known Works.”

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