Posts Tagged ‘Sony’

They Were Once Pioneers

December 7, 2009

Anyone with a basic knowledge of TVs and video displays knows that Pioneer Elite TVs, and even their standard Pioneer line, (all Kuro) were by far and away the very best in performance from any company, in any format or technology.

The king is dead...

I may sound biased, but this was an opinion shared by every legitimate critic and reviewer in this industry; every magazine and online resource touted it’s superiority. Yes, this unsurpassed quality came with a steep price tag, but well worth it, as nothing came close.  But these economic times are indeed tough; Pioneer will cease production of these wonderful TV’s to focus on their audio line. My analogy to that is if Mercedes decided one day to stop making cars to focus on front end loaders. Regular Pioneer audio is value-centric, and the Elite line of receivers and Blu Ray players is very good. But it was truly their video that shined. The Sony XBR series strives for that perfection, and is half the price; so at least we will still be able to offer what is now considered the best in video.  But for those with unlimited budgets, there is much to be said for the Elites.

Pioneer had decided to take the very high end approach with their Elite line by introducing a $7,000.00 receiver, unfortunately ill-timed for this economy. And many critics believe at that price point you would be better off with separate components (a pre-amplifier processor paired with a dedicated amplifier), for less money. In our market, this high end receiver just wasn’t feasible; and I suspect, from the numbers sold, few markets were able to support this approach.Now, Pioneer has released to the public their decision to eliminate the Premier line, which is their version of Elite for cars. While a letter from Pioneer has assured their dealers that for now, Elite is here to stay, there is growing concern.  I do hope for the best. But unlike Yamaha, which has pianos, motorcycles and musical instruments to keep them going, or Sony, with cameras, TVs, computers and accessories, Pioneer is an audio company. Period. So their survival will be an uphill battle, to say the least. No one really expected Kenwood to leave the home audio market, but they did.

This will be the first time in 15 years I will not be renewing my dealer agreement with Pioneer, because at the end of the day, we must serve our client’s best interests.  For now, we will take a wait and see approach (ever the optimist, I am). And although Sony ES (Sony’s version of Elite)is our go to line for audio, I will miss Pioneer’s presence in our showroom. For their innovation, their support of the high end home theater enthusiast, and performance, I raise my glass.



The Cinemaphile

November 21, 2009

This week, I had the privilege to view three great, classic movies, two in HD. The display for this event was the new Mitsubishi HC6800 3LCD 1080p projector. The movies were all  exceptional; first up, Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster and Robert Ryan in “The Professionals”.

I started here, because of an article on Lee Marvin in Cinema Retro A wonderful magazine, both in print and online. I had it recorded on my Dish Network DVR  from HDNet Movies. The movie, about a group of mercenaries hired by a wealthy cattle baron (Ralph Bellamy) to rescue his wife (Claudia Cardinale) from Mexican revolutionaries, is just plain fun. From 1966, it holds up very well, mostly to the strong cast.

Next up, and another Robert Ryan, Burt Lancaster starrer, Micheal Winner’s “Lawman”. With a little more age on both these characters (released in ’71), I found it to be a more somber, and quite possibly a better movie. Now this is the first movie to show off too much of the Mitsubishi’s s crystal clear HD performance. Every time Lee J. Cobb’s character was on the screen, I couldn’t get past his very hairy ears!

Finally, from Comcast and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Beau Bridges in “The Landlord”. I loved this movie. Released in 1970 and directed by Hal Ashby, “The Landlord” captures the ugly side of bigotry while showing there is hope if we can get past our differences. This was the non-HD offering (SD) and it truly demonstrated the Silicone Optics HQV video processor’s strength in the HC6800. Beautifully up-scaling the SD picture, it certainly wasn’t HD, but it was a noticeable improvement.

Now along with these great movies, I watched football, TV (the X-Files, Millennium and La Femme Nikita on DVD) and live broadcast, both from Comcast and Dish Network. For just south of $2500.00, the Mitsubishi HC6800 is a very good value. But it’s strength lies in watching video (non-film) and sports; film was, well, not very film like. After properly calibrated, it was still  bright and very sharp, but lacked the color purity I strive for. If you are a hardcore movie buff like myself, I strongly recommend spending an extra $500.00 for the Sony VPL-HW15. Maybe it’s from owning studios, but Sony gets film reproduction in all their displays; in spades. But, for the money I still can recommend the HC6800.  And I wholeheartedly recommend all three movies.

Home Theater Heaven

November 7, 2009

I founded  Audio Visionaries in 1995 based on a cliché; Champagne tastes on a beer budget. Since then, we have had the privilege of installing thousands of home theaters, whole house audio systems and home automation. And every system represents value. Yeah, that’s what everyone says, and hopefully that’s what everyone strives for. But for me, it’s a passion. Heard the phrase “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”? That’s me; I go to work each day with Martin Scorcese, Cary Grant, Jennifer Garner, Matt Damon, well you get the idea. And music, it is so cool to sit down and just listen; a glass of wine, and Damien Rice, or total obscurity like Moby Grape; and rediscovering Big Star? Thirteen is so new millennial, but it’s from the seventies.

To say that I’m blessed would be an understatement; watching your favorite movie on a 102″ diagonal screen with phenomenal audiophile clarity is nothing short of awesome. And to do it everyday, I assure you, it never gets old. I hope through this blog to share my love of movies and music, hints on how to get the very most from your system, or how with our help you can get a theater of your own. In 15 years (and a dozen years before) I have sought out the very best in home theater equipment, acoustics, and design; but, and this is key, the greatest performance while still being affordable; sure everyone has their opinions, and we’re bound to spark discussion on what really is performance.

Currently, I feel the best projectors for the money come from a company known for their outstanding video, Sony. From a sub-$3k  1080p LCoS projector to what our industry critics and reviewers  hail as the finest projector for less than $20k, The VPL  VW85Sony vpl vw85 at less than $8k! Recently I watched the Blu Ray Hi-Def version of Steve McQueen’s “Bullitt” and it was incredible.

So kick back, pour a glass and enjoy…..