Sunday, 24 January 2016

JBL Arena 5.1

JBL Arena 5.1

I'm sure most of you will know that JBL is one very famous company. Its speakers can be found in commercial cinemas across the globe and domestically it makes the mind-boggling Synthesis line that can be heaped up until you're spending cost-no-object type money and have world-class audio to go with it.

And as well as histories (JBL dates back to the 1940s) speaker companies also have personalities. British hi-fi brands tend to espouse a smooth, almost polite output. German hi-fi leans toward a cold antiseptic sting with crisp high frequencies. American audio can seem brash. And JBL is the latter – on the automotive side, the company is unassailable for making potent drivers for car nerds at ridiculously low prices. It makes high-end in-car gear, too, of course.

Involve Audio Surround Master: Anyone for quadraphonics?

Involve Audio Surround Master

We take multichannel audio for granted, but not even AV old-timers who can remember the original Dolby Surround decoders were the first kids on the block. Furthermore, multichannel music predated the closing credits of a film soundtrack – never mind hi-res formats like DVD-A, SACD and Blu-ray audio. For domestic surround sound's beginnings, you need to go back to the early 1970s and the crazy world of quadraphonics.

To achieve the best real-time playback from most quad albums you needed, until recently, to acquire the sophisticated decoders of the era. Needless to say, specimens that still work are expensive and rare. The SM465 Surround Master from Australian firm Involve Audio aims to rectify that problem.

Hisense LTDN50K321UWT

Hisense LTDN50K321UWT

On the evidence of this great-value 4K TV from Chinese marque Hisense.

While the prices of 4K TVs have plummeted since the first models came out in 2013, nothing quite prepares you for the LTDN50K321UWT from Chinese brand Hisense. And I'm not just talking about that tongue-twisting model number – this is a 50in 4K TV that can be yours for around £500, despite appearing on paper to have all the features needed to keep up with more expensive offerings from better known brands.

While Hisense is new to the UK, it’s been around since 1969 in its native China. In fact, it claims nearly a fifth of the Chinese TV market and, even more strikingly, by the end of 2014 it had grabbed 6 per cent of the global TV pie. It followed this with sponsorship of the Infiniti Red Bull Formula One racing team. It seems that Hisense is here to stay.


LG 65EF950V

No matter how glamorous curved screens look, and no matter how hard Samsung tries to argue that curved TV screens improve the viewing experience, they’re still roundly (see what I did there?) avoided by many buyers. This has led to frustration among AV die-hards desperate to upgrade to OLED screen tech but unable to find an OLED screen that wasn’t curved.

Thankfully LG has cottoned on to this and released a range of flat OLED models: the EF950V series. And we’re looking at the 4K, £4,000, 65in 65EF950V model.