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Audio News for January 2, 2015

Claude Frank, Master Mozartean Pianist, Dies – The much-admired pianist died at age 89 at his home in Manhattan. He had taught at Yale U. for nearly four decades, and Time said his 1971 recordings of the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas were among the year’s ten best. His escape from Europe in 1940 and ’41 was slow and treacherous. His deepest musical associates were the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and Marlboro Music. Although he played works as progressive as Roger Sessions, the four composers he loved most were Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert.

New Technology for Wireless Home Audio From Summit – Summit Semiconductor will demonstrate at CES this month a wireless multichannel home theater system capable of simultaneously streaming stereo to different zones within the home. It uses extended distance transmit and receive modules supporting Wireless Speaker and Audio Association’s updated compliane and interoperability test specs. A consultant said that the 76% of global growth in wireless speakers forecast for this year makes it one of the bright spots in the CE industry.

New Budget-minded Video Projector – The BenQ HT1085ST (SRP: $1199.99) has a good short-throw lens that can project a 105-inch image from only five feet away, holds up against ambient lighting, and the quality is high. The adjustments are predictably laid out on top, it has a good remote control, and the 1.2:1 zoom lens has a single buitton that locks it into place at fixed heights. The menu has been heavily simplified, though it can be alternated to a more traditional layout. It even has a single mono 10W speaker built-in. I/O choices include two HDMI, analog composite, component video, and VGA. Also input/output 3.5mm audio jacks, two USB, a 12V trigger, and a RS232 port. Stereoscopic 3D is standard with performance absent of crosstalk, artifacts, and is pretty much identical to other projectors in this price range. You might need to look into 144Hz-compatible 3D glasses, because manufacturers tend never to include even a pair of glasses to start the deal.

2014-15 Home Entertainment Summary –  UHD TVs became less expensive and sources of UHD contact energed, the first OLED TV under $4000 debuted, plasmas were officially retired and LED/LCD TVs took a step foward in picture quality, Sonos’ multi-room wireless speaker system was taken on by several manufactuers, and Dolby Atmos – with vertical surround sound – made its way into the home. 2015 will be the year of more. Netflix, Amazon, M-Go and DirecTV added UHD titles, and Comcast has launched its Xfinity UHD app. There will be many players for the new UHD Blu-ray discs, and every TV maker will be using quantum dots, which promise a color gamut approaching OLED TVs. OLEDs will offer the best-looking picture available. After over a decade of development, wireless home theater systems will finally begin to arrive and there will be continued growth in headphones.

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