Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Season Hubley, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau. Directed by John Carpenter. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 2.0 (French). Two discs. 99 minutes. 1981. MGM Home Entertainment 1005690. R. $29.98.
The history of high-end audio and video is littered with companies who made fine products but failed. Kloss Audio/Video, California Audio Labs, and Dunlavy Audio are but a few of the illustrious firms that did not survive. Genesis almost joined these ranks. Founded in 1991 by Arnie Nudell, Paul McGowan, and Mark Shifter, Genesis quickly made its mark with outstanding speakers and digital electronics. Yet in December 2001, Genesis closed its doors.
Every time I go to a party and people find out I write about home theater, they ask me about flat-screen plasma TVs. No one asks me about DLP projectors. Perhaps folks don't realize that, for the same money they'd spend on a 40-inch plasma display, they could have a DLP projector capable of producing a 90-inch picture. If they compared the ease of installing a 10-pound projector on their ceiling with the drudgery of attaching a 150-pound plasma set to their wall, I think more folks would be excited by projectors.
One of the many reasons for home theaters' vexing complexity stems from the 5-inch discs that contain the vast majority of program material. Few players are made to handle the new, mutually incompatible formats of DVD-Audio and SACD along with DVD-Video and conventional CD. You can't expect an unsophisticated user to know what discs will and won't work in a particular player. The solution is simple: Short of a PB&J sandwich, a home-theater disc player should be able to handle anything loaded into its tray. A universal player is a necessary and fundamental building block of an ergonomically friendly home theater.
In the world of fine art, the name Dal conjures up images of flaccid clocks created by a mustachioed wild man. But in high-end audio, DALI is an acronym for Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries. Since 1983, DALI has been producing speakers for the home entertainment market. With a staff of just over 60, DALI doesn't rate as an industrial behemoth, but it does display the kind of creative independence that leads to big things. DALI does all their R&D work in-house, and instead of being built on a standard production line, their speakers are assembled by two-person teams. Although DALI is better known in Europe than in the US, their new line of Euphonia home-theater speakers should change that.
The most common form of video pro-cessor, the deinterlacer-scaler, serves two primary functions. First, it acts as a video switcher, so you need to run only one cable to your display. More important, a video processor converts standard-definition 480i (NTSC) sources either to 480p or a higher resolution, depending on the needs of the video display.
Paul Brady, Liam Genockey, Steve Fletcher, Jennifer Maidman, Mary Black, Paddy Glackin, Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Liam O'Flynn. Directed by Julian Vignoles. Aspect ratio: 2.35 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 2.0 (English). 108 minutes. 2003. Koch Entertainment/Compass Records 743599. NR. $24.98.
From the early 1950s through the mid-'60s, almost every doctor, lawyer, and chief audio enthusiast had McIntosh products in their home-entertainment systems. Together with Marantz, McIntosh ruled the American high-end audio market.
I Reviewed the Meridian 568 surround processor in the December 2000 SGHT, and since then I've used it almost continuously in one of my two systems. So I was expectantly curious when I discovered that Meridian was sending out their new 568.2 processor ($6995) to replace it, along with the new, companion 598 DVD-Audio player. (Actually, they sent me the 568.2MM, which includes the multichannel input module and lists for $7745.)