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Greatest Gear of December 2021


High Picks for the vacation month of December embrace a complicated wi-fi speaker system, 12-terabyte film server, and spectacular 8K video projector at costs starting from $2,000 to $25,000. However don’t despair, we’re additionally highlighting a trio of audio merchandise that may be had for significantly much less, together with an excellent Bluetooth speaker system that sells for $250 and a flexible hi-res streamer you may choose up for $600.

We hope the vacation season finds you having fun with a brand new dwelling leisure toy or two and, if not, there’s nonetheless time to kick off the New Yr with a coveted piece of A/V gear. From the workers of Sound & Imaginative and prescient: Right here’s to a cheerful, affluent, and Covid-free 2022.

Bluesound Node Streaming DAC: $599

Efficiency
Options
Ergonomics
Worth

Whether or not you’re trying to convey a beloved classic audio system into the twenty first century or increase the decision potential of your streaming setup to 24-bit/192kHz and make it accessible anyplace in the home, Bluesound’s compact Node is simple to function and gives connection flexibility with the promise of delivering first-rate sound high quality at an inexpensive worth.

The streamer is predicated on the corporate’s glorious BluOS platform, which allows the simultaneous distribution of 24-bit audio to as much as 64 units along with supporting AirPlay 2, Bluetooth aptX HD, and voice management through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The BluOS Controller app is simple to arrange and use and well-equipped, offering prepared entry to Tidal, Qobuz, Amazon Music, Spotify, and plenty of different streaming companies. It’s additionally Roon Prepared and presents a beneficiant choice of analog and digital inputs — together with HDMI eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel) — plus a devoted subwoofer output and headphone jack.

Reviewer Al Griffin was struck by the Node’s connection flexibility and talent to ship sound that’s “impressively broad and enveloping.” The stereo mixture of “King Ghost” from the brand new Steven Wilson album The Future Bites streamed in 24/96 FLAC over Qobuz was a standout. “I used to be impressed by how spacious the stereo observe sounded…I heard clear delineation between the varied vocal strains, together with Wilson’s near-spoken-word supply, a hovering falsetto through the refrain, and sampled dialogue. Synthesizers additionally had a wealthy, pulsing high quality, and the dense, tall, IMAX-like sonic presentation I heard [listening to the Dolby Atmos mix] in my theater was retained.” Doesn’t get a lot better than that.

AT A GLANCE

Plus

Highly effective, simple to make use of management app
A number of enter and output connections
Roon Prepared and AirPlay 2-compatible
Reasonably priced worth

Minus

{Hardware} distant not included

Full Evaluation Right here (posted 12/8/21)

JVC DLA-NZ9 8K D-ILA Projector: $25,000

Efficiency
Options
Ergonomics
Worth

Are you prepared to leap into the 8K recreation and do it the proper means — that’s, projecting pristine photographs on a large display screen to imitate, even exceed the joys of watching a Hollywood blockbuster in a topnotch movie show? If that’s the case, the DLA-NZ9 projector will provide help to get you there however the worth of admission is steep at 25 grand. The excellent news: You’ll personal the most effective dwelling theater projectors in its worth class and one of many first with HDMI 2.1 inputs to help bandwidths as much as 48Gbps, enabling 4K video at 120 frames per second (fps) and 8K at 60fps. The NZ9 can be the primary projector to help HDR10+ excessive dynamic vary (HDR) along with JVC’s glorious adaptive tone mapping algorithm, which mechanically adjusts gentle ranges based mostly on incoming metadata.

A follow-up to the DLA-NX9 that netted a Sound & Imaginative and prescient High Decide in 2019, the NZ9 is a powerful specimen. It runs quieter and boasts greater gentle output than its predecessor and options the following era of JVC’s BLU-Escent laser gentle engine and pixel shifting 8K e-Shift know-how, 8K e-ShiftX, which addresses particular person pixels with no scaling to realize perceived 8K decision. Video guru Kris Deering applauded the NZ9 for delivering considerable enhancements in picture definition, distinction, and depth over its predecessor earlier than concluding: “I am unable to consider a projector that gives higher general image high quality at anyplace close to its $25K worth level.”

AT A GLANCE

Plus

Trade main HDR efficiency
Distinction improved over earlier flagship fashions
True 8K video enter and show

Minus

Mild loss in broad coloration gamut mode
Laser dimming wants some refinement

Full Evaluation Right here (posted 12/1/21)

Sonos Beam Gen 2 Soundbar: $449

Efficiency
Options
Ergonomics
Worth

With the Beam Gen 2 soundbar, Sonos added Dolby Atmos encompass processing to increase the sense of immersion over the unique Beam, recipient of a Sound & Imaginative and prescient a High Decide in 2018. Atmos builds upon the confirmed beamforming know-how Sonos employs, which makes use of superior sign processing to create an enveloping audio expertise from an array of drivers — on this case, 5 lively drivers and three passive radiators — and no further audio system.

Like its an identical trying predecessor, the next-gen soundbar is remarkably full-featured and a cinch to arrange. There’s just one enter — an eARC-compatible HDMI port — however Sonos gives an optical-digital-to-HDMI adapter to be used together with your TV’s optical output. The system helps voice management by Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and is supplied with Sonos’ confirmed Trueplay automated tuning system, which significantly improves sound high quality by compensating for room acoustics. The Sonos app works with a wide range of well-liked music streaming companies out of the field and can be utilized to regulate the soundbar, although quantity and different key features will be adjusted utilizing the TV’s distant.

Although reviewer Mark Henninger was disillusioned with the Beam Gen 2’s lack of ability to create a sensible sense of top with Atmos processing engaged, the bar did a “remarkably first rate job delivering bass” and performed clear with a “fullness one usually would not count on from a standalone soundbar” — particularly one costing lower than $500.

AT A GLANCE

Plus

Compact, with distinctive construct and sound high quality
Constructed-in Google Assistant and Alexa voice management
Expandable with Sonos audio system and subwoofer

Minus

Modest bass output
Single HDMI enter
No show for quantity stage or sound mode

Full Evaluation Right here (posted 12/15/21)



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