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January 16: Smaller pixels, bigger screens
SamsungCES
     We're a long way from the smal hotel rooms, or even the display tables we associate with audio at CES. Video is where money is to be made (or lost, as in many cases), and so the corporate displays are the size of a small town. It's much the same with Sony, HiSense, and the others.
     To be sure, Samsung and LG were showing more than just TV sets, though frankly there wasn't much else that caught our attention. Do you want a washing machine that is Internet-connected, and sends a notice to your refrigerator when the load is done?
     The other major TV-makers (LG, Sony, Panasonic) are using OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diodes) for their displays. Samsung uses QLED, which sounds like OLED but isn't. QLEDs are quantum dots, the usual sort of LED used in economy TV sets, but smaller. With the 2019 version, the quantum dots have become even smaller, but Samsung showed an even bigger TV, with a diagonal measurement of 219 inches, or 556 cm. Samsung calls it The Wall, for obvious reasons. But measure your doors and windows before you order one.
     Samsung doesn't want exclusivity on the QLED name. It is encouraging other makers, such as HiSense and TCL to adopt both the technology and the name.

January 11: 4K TV not enough?
     Trouble is, all current TV sets but the cheapest ones offer 4K resolution, with four times as many pixels as HD sets. It seems obvious that prices have fallen to commodity level, and no one is making much money on them. Consumers have to be convinced to upgrade. The answer? Welcome to 8K television.
Sony8K
     Does this make any sense? There actually is 4K material available, but what about 8K? All the major manufacturers showed 8K sets at CES. Except Sony, which showed no consumer products at all at its press conference, concentrating instead on its pro cameras and the technology used to make the new Spiderman animated movies. But if you then went to Sony's giant booth at the LVCC, you got to see its 8K OLED set. And on its Web site, it lays out the case for tossing your old set.
     The image above is from
Sony's own page, and purports to show how much better 8K can be that plain old 4K. Of course, you can's show that on the Web (and you don't have an 8K computer monitor anyway, do you?), and so the difference is shown by making the "4K" side look lousy. Sony claims this set has "up to" 20 times the contrast of previous TV sets. It even has a setting for aligning your TV for Netflix, drawing on Netflix's database of what the image should look like.
     Yes, we know, Netflix has no 8K material, and its "4K" movies are compressed to conserve bandwidth.
     The new sets have four front-facing speakers, by the way, but you probably won't care. We don't.


Issue No. 100 of UHF Magazine is coming soon.
Want issue No. 99 right now?
Maggie has it, for tablet or computer.

January 10: High-end at CES?Nagra
     Well, it's not completely absent. And that's despite the fact that the CES guide no longer has a "high-performance audio" section. What few actual hi-fi companies are present are listed under "home entertainment," and that covers a lot of territory, from semiconductors to gaming headphones.
     But if you were to wander to the 29th floor of the Venetian tower, once the home of hi-fi, you might find some interesting rooms. Nagra is here, though it isn't even listed in the guide, showing its new HD DAC X. It's a converter, obviously, intended to accompany the other "HD" components, the amp and the preamp.
     If you take in the rest of the 29th floor, it won't take you long.
     Lenbrook is here, with its PSB speakers and NAD electronics. You can hear Rogue tube amplifiers, driving Eggleston spealers. VTL is here, exhibiting along with Nordost. Technics, the reincarnated audio brand of Panasonic, is over in room 29-111. Other brands? ATI amplifiers, Dali speakers, and products from Increcable, Kanto and Golden Ear. Don't bother going to the 30th floor.
     It might be worth your while to take the not-very-busy elevator to the 35th floor, to visit B&W, Dohmann and LAMM. After that? The Cirque du Soleil has some shows we can recommend.
     Remember the days when T.H,E,Show had an alternative expo at the same time at CES, and CES was so angry it had the T.H.E. shuttle drivers arrested for trespassing? Come home, T.H.E., the coast is clear.

January 7: New Technics turntable
     We managed to get a few details about the new Technics SL-1200 turntable, the Mk7 version. That was despite the numerous outages on the live press feed from the Mandalay Bay press centre. This will have turned out to be the glitchiest CES since two years ago, when the power went off. But we digress.
SL1200
     At one time, the whole Technics brand was history, but as two-channel hi-fi has put surround sound in the shade, and news of vinyl's return reached the shores of Japan, the brand was resurrected, and so were the turntables. The SL-1200 was always a deejay turntable more than an audiophile product, and that's obviously the focus. The table is made of aluminum and fibreglass, to reduce transmission of vibrations when it must share stage space with high-powered bass bins. The platter can turn backwards, handy for your Beatles records, dicey for most cartridges, and both the power cord and the audio leads can be changed.
     Oh, and the LED strobe light can be changed from red to blue. Did we mention it was a deejay table?

January 7: Rolling up your TV
RollupTV
     It's been known for some time that LG was getting ready to launch an OLED television set that could be rolled up into its console. At CES, LG showed it in action. And it does look impressive, as it rolls up, or rolls down, while it is running. Indeed, you can roll it down partly, leaving a strip of icons still visible. Of course, the console is rather large, and has a much larger footprint than the ever-slimmer flat TV screens.
     But LG had one of those as well, an 88-inch (223 cm) 8K set. Yes, 8K, in case you didn't think 4K was enough, and in case you have access to software we don't know about.
     The newest LG sets are doubling down on image processing, in a way that looks either exciting or worrisome, depending on your point of view. Some Hollywood insiders are going to court to force TV manufacturers to remove some "enhancements" that, in their view, affect their creative vision.


Issue No. 100 of UHF Magazine is coming soon.
Want issue No. 99 right now?
Maggie has it, for tablet or computer.

January 3: Off to Las Vegasmandalay
     Well, sort of. The high-performance audio section
of CES is now pretty much dead, with almost no one going for that reason. However, the video exhibits are gigantic, and we'll be covering the press conferences, starting Monday.
     You may recognize the gold-colored hotel casino at right, if only because that's where the sniper positioned himself in October 2017 to kill people attending a country music festival below. But the Mandalay Bay is also where CES registration booths are, and the press conferences will take place on Monday. We'll have details, but also photos. And, as you know, our coverage has always gone well beyond the texts of the press presentations.
     Vegas was once an economy destination, with cheap hotels and all-you-can-eat buffets for under $5. That was then, this is now, and the period of CES is extra expensive. The top hotels charge a lot, but if you want a block of rooms, they'll also insist that a minimum amount be spent per person on restaurants, shows, and of course gaming tables. That's one more reason that many audio companies, not all of them rich, have passed on CES.

December 29: New UHF covercover100
     We've already mentioned the major review coming in issue 100 of UHF Magazine, and of course you'd expect it to be on the cover, Which is now done. It is, of course, the Gershman Acoustics Posh speaker. Expensive? Sure. Great sounding? We wouldn't waste your time if it weren't.
     As for the fireworks, well...we did mention this will be our hundredth issue.
      We did think about doing a retrospective of the content in our previous issues, but we've done that on other anniversaries. We thought that, instead, we would cover the birth of modern high fidelity, which was born just after WWII, presenting the technologies of higher fidelity, the products, and some of the pioneers who made it happen.
     But we'll also look back fondly on some of the products we're reviewed. Most are no longer available, and in many cases their manufacturers are long gone too. But there's a lively used market in high-end audio, and you may want to look back on some great products of yesteryear.
     There will be a section on a related question: audiophile-quality recordings. As the quality of mainstream recordings got worse and worse (we're looking at you, K-Tel), some producers discovered recordings could sound better.
     As you know, UHF Magazine is now electronic and interactive. That means that, when we mention a recording, you'll be able to hear it with just one click.
     We're working on the final articles, and you'll be seeing it soon.

November 30: Testing a really, really expensive speakerPosh
     It's the Gershman Posh. The full review, now completed, will appear in issue No. 100 (yes!) of UHF Magazine. It's the most expensive product we have ever reviewed.
     It's also one of the best.
     You may already have had a chance to hear them. We heard them at the two Canadian shows, TAVES (in 2017) and the Montreal Audio Fest. Bad rooms (as often happens in hotels and convention centres), but great sound.
     You might expect great sound from speakers with a six-digit price, but you can't take that for granted. At the same shows there was a company presenting systems costing half a million dollars, and sounding mediocre. No...worse than mediocre.
     Of course, there will be other reviews too, as there always are. We expect two amplifiers, and a couple of cables as well.
     And becaue this is our hundredth issue, we have some ambitious articles waiting. We'll look at the high-end hi-fi revolution of the postwar period, and consider some of its pioneers. We'll look back at some of the products that are still iconic today. Some of them we have reviewed, some we have not. Some have modern versions.
     We'll look critically at the improvements that have been made since the early years. They're radical in some cases, but not in all. Of course, we'll look at the multiple revolutions in delivering music: the LP, the stereo disc, tape (good and bad), the Compact Disc, the iTunes store, the streaming services. And the return of the LP.
     We'll look at home cinema, from the 21-inch screen to the Trinitron, to HD, to 4K, to the video projector, to VHS, to the DVD, to Blu-ray and beyond.
     Dare we look at the future as well? We'll try.
     We'll look back at what could be the last days of the 007 franchise...or not. And at the music that made its best (and worst) films such successes.
     We'll have our usual record reviews, but this time with some book reviews as well. We have two novels about audio, and especially vinyl. One of them is a hardboiled mystery that Dashiell Hammett might have been proud of, and which might have been made into films starring Humphrey Bogard or Orson Welles. And we have a book that can teach you everything you may want to know about the electronics that make high fidelity possible...in case you want to second-guess the people who made your system.
     Expect all that and more in UHF No. 100, coming soon.
     As you know, UHF is now an electronic interactive magazine, offering you not less than the print issues, but more. Try one and see.


Want issue No. 99 of UHF Magazine right now?
Maggie has it, for tablet or computer.


October 24: A Toronto success story
     It will be up to the organizers to pronounce on the success of the first Toronto Audio Fest, the non-profit show replacing TAVES. But on the evidence, it was a hit. A number of exhibitors told us that, and visitors told us that as well.
audiofest
     If you were at the 2017 edition of TAVES, you'll know that it was...we can say catastrophic. It was held in a terrible convention centre near the airport, without so much as a cup of coffee available. Most of the audio exhibits were squeezed into temporary shacks. Not a good experience.
SarahTremblaymichelplante2
     Enter Sarah Tremblay and Michel Prin, organizers of the highly successful non-profit Montreal Audio Fest. It was to be held one week after TAVES. The result: TAVES caved, and its few exhibitors moved over to the Audio Fest.
     We'll share a few of our photos in the next few days, and of course there will be a report of some depth in UHF Magazine No. 100, coming soon.


Want issue No. 99 of UHF Magazine right now?
Maggie has it, for tablet or computer.

October 12: All aboard for the Toronto Audio Fest
westin
     As you know TAVES, the long-running (well, since 2011) Toronto hi-fi show is history. Last year's edition, held in a terrible venue in Etobicoke, was pretty much disastrous. Sarah Tremblay and Michel Plante, who runs the non-profit Montreal Audio Fest made a move to knock off TAVES by scheduling their own show a week after TAVES. The TAVES organizers counterattacked...to no avail. There is now
only one show. And it opens next Friday.
     It's still way out of town, close to the airport, but at least the venue, the Westin Toronto Airport, is a real hotel with real rooms, not a cheesy convention centre with temporary shacks for listening rooms. The result is that there will be far more exhibitors than TAVES has drawn for a while.
     How many? Look for yourself.
The show program is already available for download. You can also register for free admission. Your badge will be waiting for you.
     The Westin is very close to the airport, just across the street from the vast airport parking area. That means it's a long way from Toronto, and it also means that parking is not free.
     We'll be there to cover the show, needless to say, with pictures and our usual takes on the audio world.


Want issue No. 99 of UHF Magazine right now?
Maggie has it, for tablet or computer.


August 28: Toronto war over
tavesnews

     It was going to be the ultimate showndown. Two organizations were announcing
high-end audio shows a week apart. Obviously, only one of them could walk away, but which?
     It turned out to be the Toronto Audio Fest, organized by the same people who run the Montreal show. TAVES (the Toronto Audio-visual Entertainment Show), has been running since 2011, but last year's edition was...well, we heard the word "disaster" bandied about. What's more, the 2018 TAVES would once again take place in a convention centre near the sirport, with high-end audio housed in temporary shacks. Our guess is that, with a direct competitor, TAVES couldn't draw enough exhibitors.
     But the better team doesn't always win. A few years back, the FFM, the long-running Montreal film festival, had lost its government financing, and was facing competition from the same people who organize the hugely successful Montreal Jazz Festival. But that new show lasted only a year, and the FFM soldiers on. It's probably in its final year, but we've said that before.
     This will have been a costly battle for TAVES. It will almost certainly not get back its (probably large) deposit on the convention centre, and it will have incurred organizational costs it will have to eat.
     The Toronto Audio Fest will run October 19 to 21 at the Westin Toronto Airport Hotel. Yes, it's way out in Mississauga, but Toronto hotels are now awesomely expensive.


Not bi-wiring?
Still using the gold-colored jumpers that came with your speakers?
We have great jumpers made from single-crystal copper..

July 28: UHF No. 99 is outcover99
     The issue was completed Friday morning, and we began sending out the download links later that day.
     There were some glitches in the process. A few subscribers initially got e-mail messages with a faulty link (99/uhf98.pdf instead of 99/uhf99.pdf). We sent out a correction. Even so, as with every issue, we got a number of e-mail that bounced back. The usual reason: readers who changed e-mail addresses but didn't let us know.
     If you know you have a subscription but you didn't get our e-mail, let us know, and we'll update our file.
     If you don't have a subscription but you want to buy the issue right now, just click here.
     With the issue put to bed, we're taking a few days of R&R, and then we begin work on issue No. 100. We'll have the features you expect from us, but we'll take a nostalgic look at the modern hi-fi industry since its real beginning after the War. We'll look back at some key products and the people who created them.


Not bi-wiring?
Still using the gold-colored jumpers that came with your speakers?
We have great jumpers made from single-crystal copper..


July 20:
How big a TV?
peripheric
     It depends. As you can see from this diagram, normal human vision takes in a large angle, but that doesn’t mean your TV screen has to occupy your entire range of vision. Indeed, as we explain in an article in issue No. 99 of UHF Magazine, you don’t want it to occupy anything close to your full peripheral range.
     That’s the final article in the new issue, and it’s now done. We need to place some of your house ads and do such housekeeping as the table of contents, and the issue will be launched.
     If your subscription is still in force, you’ll be getting an e-mail with the download link, and your user name and password. Stand by.

BY THE WAY: On this weekend’s Flash Sale, on line from Friday 3 pm, a terrific deal on power cords. Really good power cords.

July 8: Sound all aroundSiriusBE6
     We’re not talking about film-style surround sound, but about speakers that can project sound over a 360-degree angle, for a seamless stereo image. There are only a few of them, and not all of them perform convincingly. You may recall one speaker that did, from Duevel. Pascal Ravach of Mutine showed them some years back at the Montreal show.
Mutine is still around, though Pascal described himself as semi-retired. He has been building a house in the Laurentians, north of Montreal, and when it is done (in late Fall, right, Pascal?), it will feature a new state-of-the-art auditorium, alongside the current one, for invited clients. He says it will be worth the drive.
The new Duevel speaker is the Sirius BE, based on the Sirius Pascal showed all those years ago. One notable change is the use of beryllium for the midrange driver. The two transparent acrylic devices are not drivers but horns, which will spread the sound over the whole room.
Pascal is still distributing the excellent electronics from Audiomat as well, and he promises new models to be launched along with the Duevel speakers.

BY THE WAY: There is one major article and a a few details to be completed in UHF No. 99, and then it will be launched. It is, as you know, an interactive electronic magazine, and this one will be more interactive than ever. We can hardly wait.


Get a brand new Focus Audio integrated tube amplifier,
built in Canada, at a huge discount,
from UHF's Audiophile Boutique.

June 15: UHF 99 FAQfaq
Q When will UHF No. 99 be sent out?

A In the next few days. In the meantime, can you make sure we still have your correct e-mail address (if it hasn’t changed, we do)? With each issue, we get some notification e-mails bouncing back. Note that your e-mail must be directly accessible: no captchas or other hoops to jump through.

Q Will UHF No. 99 be available on newsstands?

A No. Most newsstands have disappeared, and so there will never be new print issues.

Q What if I prefer reading print?

A Most issues up to No. 97 are still available in print form, and if you don't have them, you'll find lots to read. You can search the list on our back issue page. But mailing rates have risen so much ($10 to $20 and still rising) that we no longer offer print issues outside Canada.

Q If I buy an electronic issue, can I print it out?

A Sure, but you probably won't want to waste $15 of paper and toner to wind up with a pale copy of the magazine. And miss out on the interactive links besides.

Q Are back issues available in electronic form?

A All issues from No. 68 onward can be ordered in electronic form. Earlier issues included such elements as photographs, pasteups and films, and could not be transferred to electronic form. All electronic issues cost $4 (Canadian), plus applicable sales tax in Canada only.

Q is there any difference between Maggie's electronic issues and the new interactive issues?

A No, they're all from Maggie, but issues from No. 98 forward have interactive links, to music or to in-depth information. Because we no longer have to print the magazine, we can take advantage of newer technologies to enrich the reading experience.

Q Can I read the electronic issue even if I'm not online?

A Yes, just download it to your computer or tablet. However, the interactive features require a Web connection.

Q Will you be doing anything special for issue No. 100?

A Yes. We will have a number of articles looking back at the history if modern high fidelity, with roots in the 1940's and 50's. More on that in a little while, but we think it will be a collectors' issue.


 


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