There are many things that have happened in the digital visuals over the last years, regardless if you are looking at the new games consoles, PCs, or home theatre LCDs, plasma screens or digital projection in general. However, there is the emotionally affective field of audio, where equally interesting opportunities and developments are waiting. In many games there is already some use of surround audio, and in game types like “first person sneakers” (the style of Thief) it is even meaningfully applied to gameplay purposes. But great audio does not only consist of spatial differentiation of soundscape, it also involves high quality resolution and timbre of sound. And to reach that, you need the full sound processing chain, concluding to speakers, to fulfil certain high fidelity requirements.
There has been couple of developments going on in my home lately, as I have studied the opportunities of sound in action. Firstly, I decided to experiment by installing a decent pair of loudspeakers in my bedroom, since I enjoy listening to music while reading in bed. After making some quick compares, I ordered a black-and-dark-cherry pair of Epos M5 speakers, as I really liked their sound when testing it with a Stockfish Records Super Audio CD album (Closer to Music, a sampler worth checking out). The really interesting part is the amplifier, which is a Sonic Impact’s Portable T-Amp model TA2024, which I ordered from a net store, based on some rave reviews. It is really a toy by appearance, very small, light-weight plastic box with only one control knob; but since it has got some people so exited by its sound quality, and it is so cheap, I am waiting to get those M5s connected and make some testing.
Another process was started as my old Philips DVP-720SA broke down (a fault in the optical out, I suppose), and since there was no similarly featured model in Gigantti’s collection any more, I got my money back finally, and now am without a DVD/SACD player and free to invest. After various investigations, there are currently two major candidates left: the first is a Samsung DVD HD950, [see the manual, a 3MB download] which is competitively priced and according to some discussion forums has nice picture (via HDMI connection) and sound. But it appears weak in usability features, and cannot compete with more expensive players in image & sound quality either. The other candidate is Sony DVP-NS92, which is almost double in price, and is so new that I find no reviews, but Sony players get generally higher claims in overall quality, as could be expected, if one thinks what it the common perception of Sony and Samsung as manufacturers of quality home electronics. But I have not made my decision yet; the availability is also a factor. I have several new movies and the entire Peter Gabriel catalog in SACD waiting for the new player.