Home Theater & Speaker Week in Review 6/8/18
Apple TV 4K Adds Dolby Atmos Support
All across the land you could you hear proclamations of "Finally!" as Apple announced during the WWDC that the Apple TV 4K will at long last add support for Dolby Atmos this fall. It's a key development as previously, Dolby Atmos had been one of the biggest edges that the Amazon Fire TV 4K held over the Apple TV. Now that the Apple TV has both Dolby Atmos and Dolby's HDR format, Dolby Vision, it's the only streaming device to offer support for the full suite of Dolby formats. So unless you need access to Amazon exclusive content immediately, which Apple keeps saying will be added at some point, the Apple TV 4K does seem like the way to go, especially if you are an iTunes user. Additionally, according to The Verge, Apple announced that they would be partnering with cable company Charter Spectrum later this year to stream live channels and on-demand content to Charter Spectrum subscribers. Apple TV will also enable “zero sign-on.” When you are connected to Charter Spectrum broadband, the Apple TV will automatically detect and log in to all of your cable connected apps without requiring a password.
LG Launches New CineBeam HU80KA 4K UHD Projector
Over at Digital Trends, they have details on the new, somewhat cannister shaped, LG CineBeam HU80KA 4K projector. The projector allows for extremely flexible placement options in addition to the traditional ceiling mounting, it can also be wall mounted or even just placed right on the floor. As for the picture, it's capable of projecting a whopping 150" image and runs at 2500 lumens making it their brightest projector to date. In terms of the 4K specs, it supports HDR10 but not Dolby Vision. It's fully portable, with one catch, it must be plugged in as it does not have a battery. It also comes with LG's Smart TV platform which includes Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and most of the other streaming usual suspects. You can also use a "screen share" feature to mirror content from compatible smartphones and tablets. In addition to two HDMI inputs, you can even play media off of USB drives, which is a nice option. And the price at $3000 isn't too bad since it will eliminate the need for a display and of course has the capability for much larger images.
McIntosh and NAD Announce High End Players
And for those of you clinging to your physical media for dear life, like me, good news arrived in the form of a couple high quality disc players. First up is the NAD C 538, which NAD touts as being designed to extract the best sound from your CDs. Included is a Wolfson 24 bit/192 kHz DAC to ensure linearity when creating PCM data from the analog waveform, along with premium audio op amps which buffer the signal output without adding noise or distortion. Signal paths in the circuit boards are as short as possible to allow for the lowest amount of loss and interference. At $299 it's a great value for any listener that is serious about a quality CD experience. Honestly these days there really aren't many high end players available that are dedicated to the CD format, so it's reassuring to see NAD keeping the flame alive for those that still use the format. Unfortunately SACD is not supported.
Across the pond at McIntosh, they've announced the MCD600 two channel CD/SACD player. This bad boy packs an 8-channel, 32-bit PCM/DSD DAC, that's right 4 DAC channels per side since the output is only stereo which we're guessing results in some truly spectacular accuracy and sound quality. Additionally, all PCM signals are upsampled to an extremely high res 32-bit/384kHz. On top of playing both CDs and SACDs, you can also access files off USB drives and it will decode just about any format you can think of: AAC, AIFF, ALAC, DSD (up to DSD128), FLAC, MP3, WAV (up to 24-bit/192kHz) and WMA, you name it. The only complaint is that it is merely two channel, 5.1 output seems like it really should have been included, but for those surround SACDs, two channel output will have to suffice. It offers both fixed and variable balanced and unbalanced outputs; the variable outputs combined with volume control allow it to serve as a pre-amp and be connected directly to a power amp. It features the usual McIntosh world class styling, including LED lit front panel and glass top with specs and block diagram. Of course it's McIntosh, so if you have to ask the price, well you know the rest. But the good news is this unit will only set you back £7995. Once again, if you are wondering what that is in USD, you might want to scroll up and take another look at the NAD.