It’s what we call ‘busy season’ for audio and AV — all the new TVs are out (reviews this issue), and this season’s AV receivers are just arriving en masse (see p13; reviews next issue). We’re already gearing up for the Australian Audio & AV Show in October (the full Show Guide will come free with our next issue), as well as the Sound+Image Awards, which will be announced during the Show and presented in their own special magazine in two issues’ time. Just as this copy of Sound+Image reaches your hands there will be the Integrate show in Sydney, now incorporating CEDIA Expo, at which we’ll help present the annual CEDIA awards for best integrated homes and home theatres (news of the winners next issue), and immediately after that we’ll be popping over to Berlin in September to report on the latest global announcements at IFA (while resisting the terrible temptations of the local weissbier). The feet of the Sound+Image team will barely touch the ground this side of Christmas.
Each of these areas has new delights. Televisions this year are not only smarter and larger than ever before, their picture quality and in particular their processing has seen significant improvements, and of course we are seeing the arrival of relatively affordable 4K (aka UltraHD) televisions, the first of which we review in these pages, to judge whether the quadrupled resolution is worth the viewing (see also Derek Powell’s 4K report card on p88). Particularly useful in Stephen Dawson’s reviews this issue are his suggestions for optimising each TV — we hardly ever find a TV which gives its best with the default settings, and a bit of colour, sharpness and brightness tweaking can make all the difference. The same is often true of AV receivers — strange defaults for stereo music or automatically-on dynamic compression software which may be handy for keeping things neighbour-friendly in the evening but which most certainly buggers about with your sound quality (without telling you!). Stephen is marvellously diligent in informing our readers how to deactivate or tweak all this, returning your receiver to its full potential. The bulk of receiver reviews we will include next issue, although we’ve rushed to include Yamaha’s statement Aventage A5000 pre-power combination — see p58 — which pushes into new territory for the company.
This year’s Australian Audio & AV Show in Melbourne (October 18-20) promises not only the magnificent high-end systems which have made the event unmissable in its first two years, but we are told to expect a host of new attractions — seminars and special events alongside the chance to relax and audition everything from headphones to digital streamers to the thrill of the high-end.
As for our awards, it’s too early to tell you very much, as our Sound+Image storeroom and listening rooms are still loaded with the latest products for us to audition before the final process of ditching the duffers and weighing up the relative merits of the final contenders. Everything we audition is eligible, including the fine products we have reviewed this issue, from our collection of giant tellies to PVRs to receivers to Bluetooth headphones, all ready to upgrade the joy imparted by your favourite music and movies. Because that is our greatest wish for all our readers. Stay tuned for an extravagantly busy six months...
Jez Ford, Editor