News / Media

Test Report: Sony STR-DA4600ES A/V Receiver

By Daniel Kumin November 2010



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http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/sony/2010/11/test-report-sony-str-da4600es-av-receiver





A generation ago, Sony ruled the consumer electronics world, establishing new market segments with every innovation and instantly owning whatever existing ones it chose to enter. Today, although it’s still a consumer electronics force to be reckoned with, Sony has to step into the cage and compete like everybody else. Fortunately for the storied brand, it continues to do so with designs like the new STR-DA4600ES A/V receiver.

The DA4600ES is as fully featured and innovative an A/V receiver as you’ll fi nd in the just-shy-of-flagship category — where most of the luxury-class receiver dollars actually get spent. Its list of goodies, both techno-useful and pure farkle, would fill a page by itself, and the receiver’s English-language manual runs to some 169 pages. Despite these riches, the newest Sony is a comparatively svelte unit, considerably smaller than the cruiser-class behemoths of a few years back. This appears to be a general industry trend, and it’s one that I heartily applaud.

SETUP
After the usual plugging in of cables and speaker wires, I fired up the Sony’s auto-calibration routine using the supplied mini-mike. (The DA4600ES incorporates Dolby PLIIz, with the option of “height” channels; I connected a small two-way speaker pair mounted near the ceiling and astride my projection screen.)

The automatic routine proved impressively quick (less than 30 seconds) and yielded generally correct levels and accurate distances. However, my dipole surround speakers were balanced a bit high (this is normal, since the dipole null “fools” single-point mikes slightly), and the subwoofer a lot high — nearly 10 dB. After correcting these things manually, I set about comparing the Sony’s three auto-cal EQ algorithms, dubbed Flat, Engineer, and Front Reference. (Engineer is said to duplicate the response of Sony’s “listening room standard.”) These sounded just about as their names suggested: Flat a bit brighter and “narrower” than uncorrected, Front Reference along the same lines but rather less so, and Engineer euphonically fuller and rounder, which should make it the favorite of most casual listeners who get this far. That said, I did all of my evaluative listening with the auto-cal results defeated following a carefully performed manual level/distance setup. (The Sony DA4600ES provides no visual display or data dump that lets you check out the EQ results.)

PERFORMANCE
I expect any 100-watts-plus A/V receiver these days to provide generous real-world power, and the Sony met this expectation without apparent effort. Close 2-channel, full-range listening revealed clean, dynamic sound at quite high levels. For example, when heard on my moderately low-sensitivity long-term speakers, a solo Brahms set by the incomparable pianist Richard Goode (on an Elektra/Nonesuch CD) sounded meaty and round, yet squeaky-clean, even at page-turner volume — that is, what you’d hear sitting on the bench next to the player. Even the two-fisted Rhapsody No. 4, in E-fl at (Op. 119), sounded clear, marvelously articulated, and convincingly Steinway.

I’m a fan of Dolby PLIIz’s height channels (and also those of Audyssey’s DSX). Playing the same recording via PLIIz produced a quite believable feeling of listening live in the great man’s own studio. The height contribution was decidedly subtle and almost perfectly inaudible as height per se, but the totality of the effect was impressively natural, especially on well-crafted acoustic classical and jazz recordings. (Solo piano reveals synthetic-sounding surround as well as any music.) Point is, on the Goode recording and also on the multichannel SACDs I listened to, the Sony impressed me with its solid, clean, dynamic amplifi cation services.

I also auditioned Loud, the guitar documentary featuring Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White. The Sony, reproducing the transparent and involving DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, did its part to help make the film sonically compelling and a certain amount of fun.

The DA4600ES’s video processing includes upconversion of incoming analog composite- and component- video signals for 1080p output over HDMI. (Signals arriving via HDMI are a strictly a what-comesin- goes-out affair.) This worked well, though I occasionally saw some slight moiré artifacts on moving diagonal lines. Additionally, the Sony’s conversion of analog signals for HDMI output seemed to reduce picture detail very slightly.

Unusually, the Sony can also (and simultaneously) upscale a component-video source to 720p or 1080i format for its Zone 2 component-video output. Even more unusually, this output is routed through both a conventional component-video connection and an RJ-45 (Ethernet-type) jack ready to connect to Sony’s CAV-CVB1 HD-component balun — about $75 from online vendors. (A search of Sony’s own main Web site for information regarding this product turned up nothing. Big companies: Gotta love ’em.) Of course, the DA4600ES also has a plain ol’ composite-video output for Zone 2 video.

The DA4600ES is the first Sony I’ve used with full networking capabilities. Sony certifies the DA4600ES as DLNA-compatible in Windows environments, via Windows Media Player’s media-sharing functions or compatible servers. Since my media world is Macbased, I cannot comment on this, but I can say that the receiver worked reasonably well with Twonky Media, a DLNA-compatible Mac OSX/ Linux server. (There’s also a Windows version.) However, the Sony is not compatible with Apple lossless, FLAC, or video formats other than MPEG-2 and WMV. Also, iTunes — at least, iTunes on a Mac — seemed to confuse it: I needed to restart both my computer and the receiver before the DA4600ES’s Server page would recognize content. On the plus side, the Sony’s onscreen serveraccess menus scroll much faster than many I’ve used, making file selection quicker. Still, as with so many other network-capable receivers, there’s no search or indexing feature, and scrolling through long alphabetic lists, even those divided up by artists or albums, can be quite tiresome….



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<strong><a href="http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/sony/2010/11/test-report-sony-str-da4600es-av-receiver" target="_blank">http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/sony/2010/11/test-report-sony-str-da4600es-av-receiver</a></strong></p>

Posted by chantal Mon, 15 Nov 2010 18:06:00 GMT

Yamaha Debuts BD-A1000 Universal 3D Blu-ray Player

As part of the company’s Aventage line, the new player does 3D, Netflix, YouTube, and much more.



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http://www.electronichouse.com/article/yamaha_debuts_bd-a1000_universal_3d_blu-ray_player/





November 01, 2010 by Rachel Cericola

Welcome to the party, Yamaha. Today, the company announced its first universal Blu-ray player, the BD-A1000.

What makes this player “universal?” Typically, this means that the unit will have some love for both SACD and DVD-A. The announcement sort of left that part out, but the Australian Yamaha site is confirming support for both formats.

Aside from that, the BD-A1000 can do Blu-ray 3D and 2D playback, as well as stream up additional content from Netflix, Blockbuster and YouTube. If we’re not mistaken, this is actually Yamaha’s first player to handle 3D playback—at least the first one available.

Other features include dual USB ports (front and back), as well as RC-232C integration control, an on-screen display GUI, and detachable power cable. It also offers HD Audio decoding, 1080p/24Hz-compatible HDMI and 7.1 multi-channel analog output with four 2-channel DACs…



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<strong><a href="http://www.electronichouse.com/article/yamaha_debuts_bd-a1000_universal_3d_blu-ray_player/" target="_blank">http://www.electronichouse.com/article/yamaha_debuts_bd-a1000_universal_3d_blu-ray_player/</a></strong></p>

Posted by chantal Fri, 12 Nov 2010 17:44:00 GMT

Netgear Partners with Roku on $90 Set-top Box

The latest streaming machine will provide access to thousands of movies, TV shows, music, sports, and photos.



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http://www.electronichouse.com/article/netgear_partners_with_roku_on_90_set-top_box/P7/





October 28, 2010 by Rachel Cericola

Streaming set-top boxes could be a hot gift item this year. Roku wants to remind you how affordable they are, and they are getting the word out with help from Netgear

Netgear just announced plans for its own box, the $90 Netgear Roku Player. The compact box looks exactly like everything in Roku’s line, with the exception of the brand name emblazoned across the front.

The Netgear Roku Player promises a 1080p image (depending on the content), via built-in Wireless-N and Ethernet. The box also has HDMI, composite video and stereo output options for connecting to any TV.

Netgear’s box boasts access to over 100,000 movies, TV shows, live sporting events, music, and more, all through Roku content providers, such as Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, Vimeo, Pandora, MP3tunes, SmugMug, and Flickr. Sports fans can also tap into MLB.TV and UFC channels. Netgear says that more options will be coming soon…

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<strong><a href="http://www.electronichouse.com/article/netgear_partners_with_roku_on_90_set-top_box/P7/" target="_blank">http://www.electronichouse.com/article/netgear_partners_with_roku_on_90_set-top_box/P7/</a></strong></p>

Posted by chantal Thu, 11 Nov 2010 17:12:00 GMT

New Crestron 4" Widescreen Touch Panel: Designer Looks and Single Wire Installation

October 28, 2010 By Mark Elson



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http://www.hemagazine.com/node/22014





Crestron recently announced the arrival of their new TPMC-4SMD - a 4” widescreen, designer touch panel that installs with a single wire via PoE (Power over Ethernet), delivering control, video, intercom, and power over a single high-speed Ethernet connection, no electrical outlets or control wire needed. “The TPMC-4SMD is designed to simultaneously run multiple formats and media players, including Flash®, HTML5 and H.264 video,” explained Vincent Bruno, Crestron Director of Marketing. “Richer graphics and amazing interactive animations really enhance the user experience.” Additional features include streaming video, 2-way IP intercom, white LED backlit buttons and a built-in proximity sensor that will wake the 4SMD automatically, without having to touch the screen…

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<strong><a href="http://www.hemagazine.com/node/22014" target="_blank">http://www.hemagazine.com/node/22014</a></strong></p>

Posted by chantal Wed, 10 Nov 2010 17:10:00 GMT

What You Need To Know About Google TV, Netflix, HULU and Other Services Before You Buy

November 1, 2010 by HDGuru



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http://hdguru.com/connected-tvs-explained-what-you-need-to-know-about-google-tv-netflix-hulu-and-other-services-before-you-buy/2674/





The latest trend in HDTVs, other than 3D, is for Internet connectivity. This started as mundane weather and news items, little more than snippets of the web. Now, with the release of Google TV, full Internet surfing from your TV is possible. In between are numerous content providers, all with different content and quality, and all looking for your entertainment dollar.

The first thing you’ll need, of course, is an Internet connection. For High Definition (HD) content, most providers require at least a 2.5 megabits per second (mbps) connection. For some, like VUDU, their top tier 1080p HD stream requires 4.5 mbps. If your connection isn’t this fast, you may be relegated to only watching Standard Definition (SD) streams, or an overall lower quality feed. Connecting wired or wirelessly from your router doesn’t generally matter, as most Wi-Fi signals can handle even HD streams. If you have difficulties with a service, and you know it’s not your connection, switching to wired from wireless is worth a try.

Video and audio content comes in two basic flavors: subscription and pay per view. Providers are somewhat cagey about how many shows/films they provide, and how many are in HD. For example, VUDU claims the highest number of HD movies with “over 3,000,” while CinemaNow claims over 14,000 total movies, but with no indication of how many are in HD.

Here’s the breakdown of the different services offered. To learn the more about the TV makers that supply each service (Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, Vizio, Sharp, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Philips and LG) check out the graph above, just click on it to enlarge. Please note, not all of the models within a manufacturers line may provide all the listed services. Consult the manufacturer’s website or dealer to confirm the TV you are considering offers the service(s) you desire before purchase.

Netflix

The near universal adoption of Netflix’s streaming service in TVs (and also Blu-ray players) is a testament to the quality of the content you can get. Not picture quality, mind you, which is predominantly standard definition and only occasionally 720p HD. The content quality, in terms of finding something worth watching, is excellent. Most people will be able to find something to watch any time they chose to. Not everything is available for streaming, and most of the streaming content is usually a year or so old or older. Catching up on TV shows from a few years ago, though, or modern documentaries, and thousands of movies, all make this service well worth the small monthly cost….

Click here to view the full article

<strong><a href="http://hdguru.com/connected-tvs-explained-what-you-need-to-know-about-google-tv-netflix-hulu-and-other-services-before-you-buy/2674/" target="_blank">http://hdguru.com/connected-tvs-explained-what-you-need-to-know-about-google-tv-netflix-hulu-and-other-services-before-you-buy/2674/</a></strong></p>

Posted by chantal Tue, 09 Nov 2010 17:12:00 GMT

Logitech wireless solar keyboard K750, No batteries required

Logitech has taken the next step in wireless peripherals, introducing a solar keyboard. The Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 has an ultra-slim 1/3-inch profile and a full slate of laptop-style chiclet keys.

The ambient light solar panels installed on the top of either side should mean you’ll never need to plug it in to recharge. The company says the low-power integrated circuits can theoretically run for three months even if you leave it in a dark desk drawer.

It uses the same 2.4GHz Nano Unifying receiver as several other Logitech wireless products, meaning you will only need a single USB port.

Posted by chantal Mon, 08 Nov 2010 17:19:00 GMT

The (Inter)Faces of Energy Management

Fun, friendly designs depict energy use for instantaneous viewing on TVs, iPads, touchscreens and more.



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http://www.electronichouse.com/article/the_interfaces_of_energy_management/



October 21, 2010 | by Lisa Montgomery

You’ve been turning off the lights as you leave a room. You’ve waited to start the dishwasher utility rates are low. You’ve even conceded to wearing a sweater so you feel comfortable with the thermostats set back to 67 degrees. So you’ve taken the first steps toward living a greener, more energy-efficient lifestyle, but are these small changes making that big of a difference?

In the past, you had no choice but to wait for your monthly utility bills to see if your efforts were paying off. Or, you could invest in an energy monitoring systems that spewed information on a smallish tabletop display or to a site that required logging in for a look.

Today, energy management has a much friendlier face. Energy monitoring devices and systems can be integrated with home control systems so that data can be viewed on the same touchscreen, remote control, iPad, iPhone or other device that’s used to operate audio/video equipment, lights, surveillance cameras, motorized gates, irrigation systems, and other electronic gear. The information can be sent directly, without any modification, to the various home control displays; or a custom electronics professional (CE pro) can tweak the layout, graphics and labeling to suit your specific needs and to match the style of your home control system’s on-screen interface…

Below are some pictures of the various energy monitoring interfaces:

Savant



URC The Energy Detective



Agilewaves - Crestron



Control4



Elan



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<strong><a href="http://www.electronichouse.com/article/the_interfaces_of_energy_management/" target="_blank">http://www.electronichouse.com/article/the_interfaces_of_energy_management/</a></strong></p>

Posted by chantal Fri, 05 Nov 2010 17:13:00 GMT

The Coolest Home Upgrades

By Cindy Perman, CNBC.com Oct 29, 2010



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http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/the-coolest-home-upgrades.html



Fewer people are buying new homes these days, opting instead to do home renovations - you know, just to spice things up a little.Maybe you turn your bathroom into a high-tech spa or get some smart appliances in the kitchen. Maybe you do some green upgrades or maybe you do something purely for luxury.So, what’s the new rain showerhead, the new infinity pool?



We talked to contractors, designers and developers all over the country and here are the 9 Coolest Home Upgrades.



1) Hidden, Wall-mounted TV





It’s go big or go home with televisions these days - but when you bring one of these drive-in movie-sized screens home, it can often wreck the design of the room. When a guest walks in, they won’t say, “Wow, what a nice house,” but rather, “Wow, what a big TV you have!”Well now, you can have it all - a big screen and big style. Designers are increasingly choosing to hide gigantic televisions in the wall and cover them with a mirror or artwork so when they’re not in use, you don’t even know they’re there!



When it’s above the fireplace, it can be a framed mirror or piece of art. In the photo, this Samsung 37-inch LCD is mounted in the closet behind the mirror, hidden by a removable panel in the closet.You probably want a pro to do this - TVs require proper ventilation.



2) Water Feature With Fire



Fountains aren’t new and fire pits aren’t new but put them together - maybe even add some LED lighting - and shazam! Welcome to the future. A water feature with fire shooting out of the middle can instantly remind you of that Hawaiian vacation (maybe pump some hula music into the outdoor speakers) or just ensure that you not only keep up with the Joneses but knock their socks off when they come over for a barbeque. They can be rectangular trough-like structures with broken glass in the middle where the fire shoots out, or circular like this one in the picture. They can be freestanding, attached to a pool or create a big ridge of fire in a stoned wall. Have a seat because you can control it all by remote control! OK, who wants toasted marshmallows?

3) Home Golf Simulator



Golfers have been practicing their swing at home for years but not quite like this - a floor-to-ceiling golf simulator with a massive screen to let you “play” on some of the coolest courses in the world from Hawaii to England. A golf simulator like the one from Trugolf is the ultimate addition to your game room next to the pool table and pinball machine. Not only do you really feel like you’re on the course but it helps you with your game, with sonic ball-tracking sensors and a program that gives you valuable feedback on your swing. They run from $20,000 to $60,000 or more. She winds up the swing, good form and… Four!

4) Glass Rooms on the Patio



Outdoor patios with full kitchens are getting even huger these days, with some nearing 10,000 square feet, said Stephann Cotton, owner of the real-estate sales and marketing firm Cotton & Co. They’ve got the Rolls Royce of grills, outdoor wine fridges, fireplaces, sweeping views – you name it. But guess what else they’ve got? Bugs. Cotton said his high-end clients with penthouses in Boca Raton, Fla., are increasingly asking for these glass structures, out at the end of the patio where the best views are. They’re turning them into everything from outdoor dining areas and zen gardens to man caves and music studios. A four-sided glass structure means there aren’t just northern views or southern views, Cotton says, there are north, south, east and west views!

5) Exotic Landscape Lighting



So you’ve got spotlights and those little solar path lights but this is taking your backyard to the next level and doing exotic landscape lighting. Maybe it’s uplighting on the palm trees, Cotton explained, or in the waterfall that spills over into the pool. The cool thing is, Cotton said, you can even use solar lights - so it won’t cost you an arm and a leg in electricity! Take a solar light, put it in a spotlight and turn it upside down shooting up into your landscaping or water feature like a fountain or koi pond. “Landscape lighting in the water is fairly easy to do,” Cotton said. “You get that constant reflection - It’s very romantic mood light. It produces a romantic and flickering light - just like a fire does.”

6) Outdoor Shower



No, we’re not talking about the kind you put next to the pool so the kids can wash off the sand, dirt or chlorine. These are luxurious showers, usually off of the master bath, made of high-end stone and other natural materials, with lush foliage that create your own personal Eden. You’ll already find this type of outdoor shower in resorts in Bali, Fiji and the Caribbean, but now, homeowners are bringing the resort home. “It’s a very sexy thing,” said Walid Wahab, president of Wahab Construction in south Florida. “It’s your private shower – you can get completely naked and take a shower outside in your private garden.” Wahab said the construction is getting very creative - things like a shower head coming out of a tree.

7) Master Control for Energy Consumption



You know you can control your entire house now from a laptop, iPhone or iPad. Everything from the lights and thermostat to the stereo - and even the pool. Here’s taking it to the next level - a master control for energy consumption. “This is very, very new - people are just experimenting with it,” said Ron Rimawi, who co-owns Digital Interiors in Atlanta. “It helps make you more aware and more conscious of your energy usage, so you don’t waste energy.” Basically, they’re small digital panels that connect with the utilities and track various appliances and systems in your home. They can tell you everything from your usage to the temperature and how much it’s all costing you! “We have long held the belief that the promise of the Smart Grid can only be realized if the consumer is front-and-center in the design of demand-response systems,” said Control4, which makes the master control for energy consumption…

Click here to view the full article

<strong><a href="http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/the-coolest-home-upgrades.html" target="_blank">http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/the-coolest-home-upgrades.html</a></strong></p>

Posted by chantal Thu, 04 Nov 2010 16:10:00 GMT

Russound Collage System

Powerline Media and Intercom System

Collage Powerline Media and Intercom system distributes networked accessed music and intercom communication over a home’s residential electrical system. The flexible, expandable system provides access to two-way transmission of audio, video, data, and internet media with metadata feedback without the need of running new zone-to-zone wiring.

The Collage system uses Powerline Carrier technology to establish an IP data network over a residential electrical system. This decentralized design allows system components to be installed almost anywhere in a home where electrical wiring is run. The basic system architecture is comprised of a Collage Media Manager and Amplified Keypad.

Why Collage?

Digital music has become a part of our everyday lives. Mp3 players, smart phones, and online music services have made enjoying your favorite song, album, or artist an instant experience. Unfortunately traditional home audio systems haven’t evolved quite as quickly, until now.

The Collage Powerline Media and Intercom system has been designed specifically to improve the digital music experience in your home. No longer do you need to dock your portable player, or fumble with laptops, or listen to music through less then optimal speakers.

The beauty of Collage is the system architecture. System components communicate over your home’s existing electrical wiring, which means that every home is already pre-wired for a multiroom audio and intercom system. Amplified keypads are easily installed near existing electrical outlets or switches. In-wall, in-ceiling, or bookshelf speakers can be selected to suit each room, and the Media Manager provides a connection to your home’s computer network and the Internet.

Posted by chantal Wed, 03 Nov 2010 16:12:00 GMT

Sony to Release FIFA World Cup Blu-ray 3D

Sony has announced plans to release “The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Film in 3D” on Blu-ray 3D. The Blu-ray 3D will hit retail shelves starting November 16, 2010.

Here is the studio’s synopsis: “Experience the journey of the most-watched sporting event in the world as it was meant to be seen: in dynamic and vibrant 3D on Blu-ray. Relive the action and intensity of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa as though you were actually in the stadium witnessing all the drama and athletic skill. The greatest players in the world—supported by the most passionate fans—met up on the biggest stage in sports and made history as the 2010 FIFA World Cup enthralled South Africa and the world. The 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa on Blu-ray 3D - there’s no event quite like it!”

Posted by chantal Tue, 02 Nov 2010 18:08:00 GMT