Monthly Archives: June 2011


“Show me your cans”.  Well, that’s just what you may hear if you go with these new headphones a.k.a. cans, from V-MODA. V-MODA has just announced the availability of the V-80 headphone, part of the V-MODA for True Blood line developed in partnership with HBO.

The V-80 offers customization options for True Blood fans. Owners can choose from a range of designs. The two V-MODA metal ear shields, on either side of the ear cushions, can easily be switched out to exhibit a variety of options featuring popular images and icons from the show. Users can even choose their blood type to laser etch their name into immortality. Active fans, fear not, the V-80 is built to pass the MIL-STD-810G military standard guidelines.

 The V-80 headphone is the progeny of a select group of legendary producers, DJs and artists who, over the course of thousands of nights around the world and countless hours in studio, added their audio and design expertise to carefully craft the sound and create a headphone for those with heightened and sophisticated senses. The final product is crafted from steel, aircraft-grade aluminum, Kevlar, microfiber suede, 24k Gold, unique textiles and an exoskeleton hard case, all essential elements to its DNA.

At the heart of the V-80 is its patent-pending 40mm Dual-Diaphragm High-Fidelity Drivers that deliver multi-driver sound with the efficiency of a single driver. The headphones have been designed with the objective of producing vibrant bass, a vivid organic mid-range and vivacious clarity on portable devices. The headphone also offers long-play comfort, the result of relentless research and hundreds of variations to find the precise shape and materials.

 V-80 features:

• Detachable Kevlar®-reinforced cables with 24k gold-plated plug

• One 3.5mm fabric cable with a one-button remote control and microphone compatible with all iPhone, Android, Blackberry, tablets and all 3.5mm port smartphones

• One 3.5mm audio fabric cable for universal audio device compatibility

• Distinctive exoskeleton carrying case with an exclusive blood vial zipper, ensuring headphones are protected in style

• Two-year V-MODA premier warranty

• Immortal Life Replacement Program – 50 percent off lifetime discount to replace consumer-damaged headphones

MSRP is $230 U.S.

More details to be found at:


Krell Industries has just announced initial shipments of their new Evolution 2250e and the Evolution 3250e power amplifiers.  The new amplifiers incorporate technology from their award winning larger siblings, sharing the same advanced high speed output devices, massive power supplies, and unique Krell Current Mode circuitry.  The Evolution 2250e and 3250e amplifiers are value leaders in the Evolution line.

Sophisticated and expensive surface mount circuitry is featured throughout, shortening circuit path lengths, vanishing parasitic capacitance and improving bandwidth.  The Evolution 2250e is ideal for use in stereo music systems and can be coupled with the Evolution 3250e – three channel amplifier, for a five channel surround sound application.

The Evolution 2250e has power supply with a 2,500 VA power transformer and 136,000 µF of capacitance.  Power output is rated at 250 W per channel into 8 ohms and 500 W per channel into 4 ohms.  The Evolution 3250e design uses the same power transformer but with additional capacitance, 163,200 µF total, insuring full performance for all three channels. An additional transformer for control and protection circuitry also provides power for a new energy efficient standby mode.  Similar to turning off a 150W light that is always on in your house; standby power draw is only 2W. This 99% reduction in electrical usage also reduces heat output substantially.  The high-current and high-voltage analog supplies have additional noise filtration circuitry to reduce high-frequency switching noise.

Housed in elegant silver or black brushed anodized aluminum, the Evolution 2250e and Evolution 3250e are the smallest amplifiers in the Evolution e Series. Featuring a 7” high profile, the new amplifiers provide an option for applications requiring smaller amplifiers without sacrificing sonic performance.  The stylish aluminum faceplate features the blue power ring and low draw standby mode shared by all Evolution e Series amplifiers.

MSRP for the Evolution 2250e is $8,000 U.S. and the Evolution 3250e is $10,000 U.S.

More information can be found at:


Monster has just recently introduced a new in-ear headphone model that is the result of an alliance with 8-time Grammy Award winners Earth, Wind & Fire.  The Gratitude in-ear headphone combines Monster technological know-how with the style of the legendary Earth, Wind & Fire.  The in-ear headphones have been specifically engineered and to faithfully reproduce the true harmonics of live music and the musical instrument sonic details, towards producing a more natural and vibrant soundscape.

The Gratitude earphones are specifically tuned to produce the signature tones and harmonics of brass, the staccato punch of the percussion, the cleanest possible bass and the most natural vocals.  The product celebrates the 40th anniversary of Earth, Wind & Fire.

Monster Gratitude In-Ear headphones, featuring a signature rose gold finish, were designed and personally tuned by members of Earth, Wind & Fire in conjuction with the Monster design team.  They incorporate specially engineered noise isolation architecture and design that that allows the earpiece to rest more comfortably and deeper within the wearer’s ear canal, enabling a perfect fit, superior isolation and ultimate performance. A specially created carrying case is included with each pair of Gratitude headphones.

Monster Gratitude headphones are being made available with the Monster ControlTalk headphone cable, which can be used with iPhone and iPod for music playback control as well as to take hands-free calls with iPhone and many smartphones. The integrated microphone and answer button allows users to access their music and answer phone calls with ease.

The new Gratitude in-ear headphone is scheduled to debut in September 2011, with pricing yet to be announced.

Look for more details at:


Marantz has just introduced two new audio/video receiver (AVR) models: the SR6006 and the SR5006. Both new AVRs include a full palette of leading-edge features, with claimed improvements in performance. The SR6006 has a rated power output of 7 X 110 watts / channel and the SR5006 outputs 7 X 100 watts / channel.

The new Marantz receivers incorporate HDMI 1.4a (3D/Audio Return Channel) repeating capability. Both provide upscaling of HDMI input signals to 1080p. The SR6006 includes seven HDMI v1.4a inputs (and dual outputs) with 3D (all mandated formats), as well as DLNA v1.5 (Digital Living Network Alliance), while the SR5006 features six HDMI inputs. Both have front-panel USB inputs, which are compatible with i-devices and support MP3, WMA and WAV files, with playback control via remote, while showing music track information on the unit’s newly designed Graphical User Interface.

The SR6006 allows for streaming of Pandora, Rhapsody, Napster and Flickr as well as audio and photos directly from PCs. Users have access to Internet radio stations and a variety of content providers such as the Rhapsody and Napster music services.

The SR6006, which provides users with a three-zone audio networking solution and the SR5006, which offer two-zone audio networking, both feature advanced processing and sonic enhancement technologies. Both support audio bit-streams up to 320kbps, and feature the latest Dolby Pro Logic llz, Dolby True HD, and dts HD decoding. Additionally, both models accept LPCM 7.1 signals from a Blu-Ray player and have DC Triggers and RS232C.

The Marantz SR6006 and SR5006 are Bluetooth capable home theater receivers, designed to utilize their innovative M-XPort (Marantz eXpansion Port) to provide access to the optional Marantz RX101 Bluetooth receiver (MSRP: $99 U.S.). Powered by the receiver itself, the RX101 receives audio signals from Bluetooth-enabled devices (PDAs, PCs as entertainment devices, etc.) and sends them directly to the connected receiver. Users may listen to streaming audio from their Bluetooth-enabled cell phones, MP3 players, computers or other devices, including the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Aesthetics of the new models are in concert with the latest Marantz products and incorporate trademark design elements such as the Marantz star and porthole display.

Pricing is as follows:

SR6006 MSRP: $1,199.99 U.S.

SR5006 MSRP: $799.99 U.S.

Additional information is available at


HMV is a company name that is well known in Canada and caries with it a sense of heritage. Just today news has been released that a British company, specializing in corporate restructures, namely, Hilco UK has just purchased all Canada’s 121 HMV stores.

Hilco UK announced that it has bought the Canadian arm of the company for the equivalent of $3.2 million, from Britain-based HMV Group PLC. Hilco, is expected to invest up to $25 million to fund the restructure of the HMV stores in Canada.

In recent years, HMV has been struggling to compete with other retailers, facing key challenges in the areas of online sales and illegal downloading. For their fiscal year that ended on April 24, 2010, HMV Canada posted sales of about $350.8 million, but an operating profit of about $3.6 million.

Further press releases are expected to be release in the coming weeks on the future plans of the company with the expectation that a new business model will see a transition from hard copy music over to digital music and film sales.


Monster, has just debuted their new ClarityHD Model One High Definition Multi-Media Speaker Monitor.  The Model One features a built-in high-powered digital amplifier and iPod dock in a relatively small bookshelf speaker design.

The ClarityHD Model One is being launched worldwide at CES and will begin shipping in January 2012.  It will be available in four designer colors, including gloss yellow, gloss black, pearl white, and gloss red, to complement any décor.

This new ClarityHD speaker system is named the Model One as Monster believes the product is the “first of its kind to combine audiophile-grade performance with total user simplicity and all the connectivity features demanded by today’s consumer.”

The Monster ClarityHD Model One has been engineered and voiced to maximize the audio quality of today’s digital music, with a clear focus on articulation, intelligibility, accuracy, dynamics, inner detail and realistic soundstaging. Performance is achieved by the utilization of 6.5-inch bass drivers with 4-layer voice coils and proprietary soft-dome tweeters.

Inputs include: an iPod dock, a mini-jack input for smart phones, MP3 players and computers; a balanced 1/4–inch TRS input for home studio and DJ applications; RCA inputs for any audio or video device; and a StreamCast Port for future wireless technologies.

The ClarityHD Model One Speaker joins the new family of high-performance Monster products under the company’s growing sub-brand “ClarityHD.” The ClarityHD product lineup also includes: the black or silver ClarityHD Precision Micro Bluetooth Speaker MSRP: $119.95 U.S. and; the Clarity HD In-Ear Headphones MSRP: $199.95 U.S.

The new Monster ClarityHD Model One Speaker Monitor will be available at a MSRP of $749.95 U.S. / pair.

Look for more information at:


It is said that when a species evolves, it does so to compete in the environment in which it lives for the purpose of survival. The weaker species becomes extinct and through natural selection, the stronger and smarter species remain in successive generations. While this applies to the biological world, it can be equally applied to electronics. Over the past several years, televisions have seen increased competition from their much smaller, faster, and smarter computer cousins when vying for consumers’ entertainment time. It seems, despite their smaller screens, computer-based technologies are winning the time of the younger generations. The television, as a stand-alone electronic entertainment device, could face extinction.

Not to be put on the endangered species list, TVs are undergoing their own sort of evolution in order to survive in this new age of social networking and application-based entertainment. In an effort to become stronger, smarter, and more complex, Samsung has introduced the Smart TV to its 2011 line-up. Not only do consumers have excellent image quality capability in the 6, 7, and 8-series Samsung displays, but they have access to the TV’s Smart Hub which allows for advanced movie, photo, and music entertainment all through the television. Internet surfing is a breeze through a built-in web browser and a TV App Store is available for applications optimised for television usage. With the addition of social networking, the TV becomes a much more interactive experience for those who demand it. Welcome to the new digital television community.

The topic of this review is the Samsung UN55D8000 LED (LCD) Smart TV ($3,499). There are no surprises in the appearance department: this TV is slim and sexy in design and the picture frame has virtually no borders. The image is displayed right out to the edges with only a razor-thin surround to keep the set together. The back panel has 4 HDMI inputs, 3 USB, 1 D-sub PC in, 1 terrestrial/cable RF in, 1 Ethernet, and several mini jacks for composite, component, and audio ins and outs. I’m not a fan of mini-jacks but they are necessary to keep the TV below its 3 cm depth. For the best picture quality from a variety of standard and high definition signals and sources, it is best to use the HDMI input on the TV and feed other signals though an external video switcher/processor such as an A/V receiver/preamp or a dedicated external video processor. If table mounting, Samsung includes a shiny silver base that is very reflective in the dark. Between the base and the TV is the manufacturer’s name that is illuminated. As cool as this may seem at first, it is possible to adjust the brightness of the illumination and turn it off altogether.

The big push this year is the addition of Samsung’s Smart TV Smart Hub, which effectively turns the television into a computer device. With its Ethernet or wireless connection, the goal is to move people’s web and computer-based entertainment out of the office or bedroom and into the living room where it can be enjoyed on a larger screen. Having the capability of surfing the Internet, use of applications such as Facebook and Twitter, being able to watch Video on Demand, as well as being able to access a large amount of apps from the App Store, are all benefits of the Smart TV. Downloaded movies and pictures can be viewed from a USB memory drive, USB HDD and other compatible DLNA devices through Samsung’s Allshare technology. With this TV’s evolution to a computer-based machine, the remote control effectively becomes a keyboard. Thus, the remote control has changed this year; it’s thicker, a bit shorter, heavier, and double sided. On the one side is a standard remote layout – channel keypad, menu, etc. On the reverse is a fully functional wireless QWERTY keyboard and display. As a result, this side is slanted for comfort when typing while using the Smart TV interactive features (thicker at the top and thinner at the bottom). When using the remote for standard TV viewing, its unbalanced design is awkward to hold. If using a universal remote or an iPad to control a variety of devices in the system, this won’t be an issue and thus the remote would only be used for the Smart TV functions.

Fear not – those uninterested in Smart TV do not need to use it. It’s not a mandatory viewing access point at this time and the TV can be used in a traditional way for cable, satellite, and Blu-ray viewing. For the common TV viewer, the UN55D8000 has several image quality presets all of which can be customized on a per input basis. With the Dynamic picture mode as the exception, all other modes can be calibrated with the use of advanced picture quality settings in the television’s sub-menus. The graphical design of the menu has advanced this year giving on-screen explanations of what each image adjustment does to the picture so there is no need to refer to the manual when customizing the picture.

Being an LED-LCD television, it has a slightly slow response time resulting in a bit of blur with moving images – it’s the nature of the technology. Samsung has a few image adjustments that allow this to be reduced although with some side effects which some people may or may not notice. The LED Motion Plus feature will somewhat reduce light output (the picture will appear a bit dimmer) and the Auto Motion Plus feature (with 4 selectable options), when activated, gives some select frame-rate based material a sped-up home video look. When watching television, some commercials and programs were affected and some were not, suggesting that the feature is selectively applied depending on the incoming frame rates. When a preset is applied, the feature occasionally skips a few frames looking like a “jump” in the video. My preference, despite the bit of motion blur native to LED-LCD televisions, was to leave these features off.

A common drawback with LCD televisions is the higher black level compared to that of plasma. Samsung succeeded in reducing this problem by controlling the light output at various points on the television with the Smart LED function. With the feature set to OFF, the panel suffered from grayish blacks and cloudy patches of white in dark scenes. With Smart LED turned ON (my preferred setting), black levels deepened without a significant loss of detail. The only side effect was that black levels varied across the screen depending on how bright various parts on the image were. It’s completely possible for black to be ultra dark on the left side of the screen but grayish on the right side. Because of this zoning, I noticed several thin lines sectioning in both the horizontal and vertical directions. Some may see it, some may not.

The UN55D8000 has true 3D capability with compatible Blu-ray and satellite devices. It can also convert 2D content to 3D content if so desired. The television comes with one pair of glasses with others sold separately.

Out-of-the-box, the TV came in the “Standard” picture preset, factory adjusted to adhere to California state law, requiring televisions to be power-consumption friendly. As a result, the image was dim to reduce power consumption, tinted blue to give the impression of a much “whiter” white, and had low gamma to brighten up the midrange of the TV. When viewing the montage of images on the Spears and Munsil High Definition Benchmark Blu-ray before testing, I could tell that the TV had plenty of room to impress.

Before making any picture adjustments, I spent a good deal of time viewing the television using the various picture presets. After spending a couple of mornings watching Morning Live on over-the-air CHCH (HD) in the “Standard” preset, I wasn’t overly impressed with the image quality. For bars, stores and airports that compete with sunlight or bright lighting, the “Dynamic” preset could be a good choice but you certainly don’t want to use this mode at home. The “Movie” mode produced the best preset picture, although I highly recommend some form of picture adjustment even in this mode.

For the purpose of this review, a basic calibration using the Spears and Munsil High Definition Benchmark Blu-ray put the TV in the ballpark of a better image. To read my comments about picture quality after performing a full calibration of this TV, please visit the “LCD Flat Panel Displays” forum at My preference was to turn on the Smart LED feature and there was plenty of light output when the backlight was set correctly. The image was much brighter, three dimensional and sharper. The first Blu-ray that I watched was True Blood: Season 3. I started watching this series in the second season and was immediately hooked. The UN55D8000 did not disappoint while watching a marathon of these episodes. In a world where vampires and humans co-exist and interact, it’s no surprise that many of these episodes take place at night. These scenes are great tests to evaluate localized LED black level control. With Smart LED turned on, the Samsung dropped its black level when needed without any noticeable loss of detail. I verified this while watching the same scene with the feature turned off. For example, when Eric and Lafayette were driving at night after a botched deal of selling True Blood, certain shots had the characters’ faces illuminated by the panel while the surroundings outside the car were black as night. With the Smart LED feature turned off, the surroundings appeared dark gray instead of a deep black. The result of turning on Smart LED was a much greater contrast ratio within a scene – a great difficulty for LED-based displays. Since the contrast ratio was much better on the part of the screen where the Smart LED is operating, the visual depth of the program was increased significantly and the white patches of cloudiness common to LCD were eliminated. A deep black level is what all TVs should be aiming for and the Samsung is no slouch with its attempt. Vampires now literally appear out of the dark!

I watched a few other Blu-ray titles such as Wild Wild West and Maverick. After making a quick colour adjustment with the disc in the “Movie” picture mode, the television was able to show subtle differences between colours of these films, whereas it was not as pronounced in the “Standard” picture mode. True Blood has a very vibrant colour palette at times forcing the viewer to focus on certain items in the video frame (pale faces and deep red blood). Wild Wild West and Maverick, both “western” comedy films have an intended older appearance with a slightly muted colour palette and a sepia tone. The cast of brown is dominant in the image whether in a town, in bars, or when Mel Gibson is hung from a tree, with his hands tied behind him and having the fate of his life resting in his four legged horse friend. The sky is mildly blue bringing attention to Maverick’s distraught state of mind. Will Smith’s comedy Wild Wild West has a similar colour tone although because of its modern and western day mix, it tends to be a bit more diverse in its range of colours. The Samsung was able to show the bold makeup colouring in the hilarious Kevin Kline scene when he’s dressed up in drag at the saloon and the drunk, disgustingly sweaty men try a little too hard. The scene makes Yukon’s Diamond Tooth Gerties a palace! Skin tones appeared to have appropriate saturation compared to last year’s Samsung LED models, which were a bit pale in comparison.

The noticeable improvement with this year’s panel is that it can finally show a fully saturated red. In previous years, the Samsung panels displayed red less saturated than the HDTV red point making some skin tones pale. This year’s Samsung LED can display all colours at proper saturation, hue and intensity (after a full calibration anyway).

I spent a little less time with 3D viewing as I’m somewhat sensitive to its effects; the health warnings posted on the TV before 3D viewing are for the small part of the population (like me) that can feel a bit dizzy or nauseated when watching motion through active glasses. Active glasses are different from the passive 3D glasses found in movie theatres because they must sync to the television to create the 3D effect. As a result, when looking through the glasses the image is tinted and needs to be calibrated separately from the 2D picture mode, a task which can be accomplished with a proper calibration.

I first put in one of my favourite 3D titles, Under the Sea, and was absolutely impressed at how native 3D content can make such an impact for entertainment. With the beautiful corals exhibiting tremendous detail and the fish swimming right up to my face, the UN55D8000 made me feel like I was the diver capturing these great IMAX images in this very large and unknown underwater world. In contrast, IMAX Hubble is a 3D title that makes the viewer feel very small in this massive universe we live in. With the Hubble telescope’s high resolution images mixed with computer interpretations, there are several scenes where the viewer travels through space to galaxies we’ve never dreamed of travelling to. What’s amazing is the trip out to the edge of the known universe where galaxies are old and distorted in shape. The UN55D8000 showed unparalleled 3D clarity with this space travel with equal definition edge-to-edge on the panel. Overall, I found that image crosstalk (which appears as faint double lines around objects and characters) was much lower than I remember from last year’s Samsungs.

Testing the 2D to 3D conversion capability, I was impressed how the Samsung was able to turn Maverick, a 2D Blu-ray image, into a picture with increased depth when using the glasses. During the scene when Bret Maverick reveals his poker skills to the players, I was surprised to see the additional depth between Mel Gibson and Jody Foster as they exchanged glances and wits. Much like the effects of human vision, the background of the bar was out of focus yet our focus on the characters was razor sharp and stood in front of the surroundings. The illusion became less of a gimmick when I realized there was a greater sense of realism to the image.

To see the full resolution of 2D video and to get the immersive experience of 3D, I recommend a viewing distance of 6 to 9 feet for this TV. Further distances are certainly possible, but like any TV, the smallest details of 1080p will become less noticeable.

The Samsung UN55D8000 has welcomed improvements in picture quality over the previous year. The TV’s wider dynamic range with the Smart LED function turned on, bright white capability, and accurate HDTV colour makes it a strong contender in the LED television category. With the addition of the suite of Smart TV features, the QWERTY remote control, and the many apps available for the most social-minded, there’s a good chance that natural selection will make the Samsung a preferred option for consumers.

Mike Osadciw is a THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator with The Highest Fidelity – (905) 730-5996


Audyssey is an audio technology company that is most well know for its room correction audio software, found on many home audio-video receivers, as well as some automotive sound systems. However, just recently Audyssey released their new Lower East Side Media Speakers. The speakers are a follow-up to Audyssey’s Audio Dock.

The Lower East Side Media Speakers use Audyssey’s new Smart Speaker digital audio technology with the objective of providing more accurate sound for your computer and media center. Audyssey Smart Speaker technology attempts to increase the performance of small speakers in the areas of bass reproduction, low volume level clarity and accuracy. The Lower East Side Media Speakers are designed with a passive bass radiator and Audyssey proprietary technology. The bass is not boosted but rather enhanced to provide deeper sounds.

The Lower East Side Media Speakers are a first of its kind to provide both a 3.5 mm line and digital optical audio inputs, allowing for the use with computers, Apple TV, Blu-ray players, iPhone models or MP3 players.

The name of these speakers is inspired by New York’s Lower East Side, which has a number of music venues such as CBGB, ABC No Rio and Arlene’s Grocery.

The Audyssey Lower East Media Speakers will begin shipping this Fall 2011 with a MSRP of $199.99 U.S.

Look for more information at:


Premier Mounts, a manufacturer of A/V mounts, carts & stands, and accessories, has released a number of new products this June. One of these new products is their new “lowPRO” ultra-slim swingout flat-panel mount. With the ever thinning flat panels comes the desire for slimmer mounts. After all, why should a mount be thicker than a TV?

The “lowPRO” mounting wall plate provides three options for the swing arm placement, allowing the mount to swing out from the left, right or center, based on the installation requirements. The swingout arm can extend 30” from the wall and provides 15° of downward tilt to adjust for viewing angle. The slim and lightweight aluminum mount retracts smoothly and easily to very thin 1.46” from the wall. To keep power and cables protected when pulling or pushing the display, the mount comes complete with cable management channels built into the arm. The open base plate allows access to power outlets. The mounting brackets as well as the mounting back plate are removable. This design provides users separate wall and flat-panel installation options. Another feature that adds to the mounts’ versatility is the post-installation levelling system, which enables both fine-tuned vertical adjustment and screen rotation.

For more information on this product and a number of other recent releases, visit


Vivitek Corporation, a manufacturer of visual presentation products, has just announced that their new Qumi (pronounced Q-me) pocket LED projector is now shipping. This projector is small, versatile and affordable. For the video enthusiast, it’s a viable alternative for small / medium sized rooms where a permanent projector setup is not possible.

Weighing in at only 1.4 pounds, the Qumi is the first pocket projector to be 3D-ready via Texas Instruments’ DLP Link technology. The Qumi is a small and sleek design with touch sensitive button controls.

Key Features/Specifications:

• 720p/native WXGA (1280×800) resolution

• Up to 300 lumens of brightness and a 2500:1 contrast ratio

• 3D-Ready (via DLP Link) and a DLP chipset from Texas Instruments

• 1.4 pounds; Dimensions: 6.3”(w) x 1.2”(h) x 3.9”(d)

• 30,000+ estimated LED hours of operation

• Connectivity options include: Mini-HDMI, Universal I/O (24-pin connector for VGA/component input), AV mini-jack audio-out; USB and MicroSD slots for content and memory expansion

• Built-in 1W speaker

• Offered in a black or white finish

The Qumi can be found online and at retailers at a MSRP of $499.00 U.S.

Look for more details at: