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Steve’s comments

Hi Fi industry and miscellaneous comments

Sign up for our email newsletter and get the stuff I’d be sued for on an open webpage. Don’t subscribe if you get easily offended, have no sense of humour or are a wowser - If you really do enjoy our irreverent humour however, please feel free to offer your opinion on Google+ by clicking on the Logo above. We also have a Specials e-mail which we send out about twice a month. To be on the list for those, you need to click HERE and put subscribe in the subject line. December 1st - Stereo Amplifiers are becoming more popular (as are Turntables) since the advent of SoundBars for TV which aren’t really suitable for music listening (perhaps with the exception of the Definitive Technology W-Studio range). I see Yamaha have done a dump on their slow moving AS1100/2100/3000 range in certain colours but even at the dump prices they represent only good but not outstanding value. We’ve looked and listened to the alternatives and have decided the Anthem i225 beats the pants off the 1100 and 2100 Yamaha’s so we’ve put those on sale at $1499 with free shipping (normally $2499) as the Stereo Amp du jour (or month depending on how the stocks hold out) - here’s a taste of the reviews - http://www.digitaltrends.com/amplifier-reviews/anthem-integrated-225-review/ Sure, the price in the US is $1500 but that equates to over $2200 Australian with GST so we figure $1499 is a great price. November 24th - been on holidays so slack on the blogging front (again). having spent some time on the “Rock the Boat” cruise featuring such ‘60’s icons as The Searchers, The Troggs, The Pacemakers (they were crap however) I’m now coming down from a musical high. Paradigm have announced the end of their Signature series speakers so we’ve bought up all that’s left. Check Steve’s Specials for remaining stocks. There’s a store not too far from us who are using such aggressive sales techniques that we’re getting all their disgruntled potential customers. Fun times! October 27th - Yes, I know I’ve been slack in blogging but my son is getting married this week so I’ve had a few things on my mind (small though it may be). I’m updating to let you know we did a deal on some of Yamaha’s top  of the line speakers as they’re discontinuing the Dark brown Wood Veneer and continuing only with the Gloss Black. Most speakers are less than half price so go to Steve’s Clearance page and check them out. October 5th - Ah, the joys of retail. One of these days I’ll get a break from people who don’t read manuals (although I must admit to using one myself as a last resort). Some of the calls I’ve been getting lately leads me to believe there are people out there who couldn’t take a piss without someone telling them what to do. Sad but true! The new range of Definitive Technology Speakers with built in subwoofers are just amazing - we’ve been playing around with them for the last week or so and whereas the Martin Logan Motion series are still my personal favourites, the DT’s are actually better value in some model ranges, we have them all in store for demo (the 9000 series Def Techs that is) so it could be worth a visit. September 22nd - Just back from the F1 race in Singapore. Lots of fun although the F1 cars are way quieter than back in the days of the exhaust diffusers so perhaps not as exciting. Here’s a photo of me re-acquainting myself with the Singapore Sling So, to help me pay for the excesses during my sojourn, I’ve had to do some dirty deals, consequently if you’re in the market for Yamaha’s new RX-V2081 A/V receiver or YSP-2700 SoundBar then give me a call on 02 9651 4922 and I may just drop my pants (metaphorically speaking) as I have overstocks on those at the moment. 7th September - Sorry if I’ve been a bit lax on the blogging front but I’m still recovering from the op. All good now however so I can start abusing people again without pain (to me that is). Talking of pain, our thoughts go out to Mel Chillari, founder of Apollo HiFi, who had a really nasty accident, broke nine ribs and has bleeding on the brain. he’s currently in the ICU at RPA. Get well soon Mel, we miss you. Definitive Technology have released a new range of speakers with built in subwoofers. The last range was good but our initial testing of the new 9000 series indicates a significant improvement. More on that range later. August 24th - Yamaha have now released their flagship RX-A3060 A/V Receiver and one now resides in Chez Neil. Not sure if there’s a great improvement on my older RX-V3079 (AKA RX-A3050 - almost) but there seems to be an improvement in picture quality from native 4K sources so maybe a tweak in HDR management. Who knows (who cares) but any improvement is welcome. Sonically, it still leads the pack when teamed with my Martin Logan’s (various receivers react differently with certain brands of speakers) so I’m a happy camper. August 15th - Back in store after having my gallbladder ripped from my very being - kind of like giving birth to an Alien (as in the movie) - I have the photo’s to prove it! I feel great now although I’m off the piss (technical term) which means I’m more focused and nastier than usual (yes, that’s actually possible). One thing my forced lay off did was give me plenty of time to peruse the latest HiFi equipment reviews as I’m always looking for new ways to improve my sound here at home. As speakers are around 70% of the overall sound, that’s where I usually concentrate my efforts. After finding this review from Absolute sound however, I decided to keep what I currently have. http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/martinlogan-motion-60xt/ Considering we’re selling them at less than the US price (when currency conversion and GST is factored) the 60XT’s are a no- brainer. My fingers are now about to seize up after such a long lay off so I’ll now go and contemplate my scars. August 1st - Off to the Doctors for a little surgery (no, I’m not getting Docked) so have put some hot specials in place to entice purchasing whilst I’m away. Check they specials out under Steve’s Clearance. July 26th - One way to eliminate the opposition is by stealth and there is no one stealthier than Mel Chillari (patriarch of the Chillari Clan - owners of Apollo Hi-Fi) You may have heard of my recent hospitalisation due to gallstones blocking my Bile Ducts, well it turns out that Mel was probably responsible as he loaded me up with Salami, Cheese and red wine when I visited him at his Port Stephens retreat just prior to the attack. Cunning indeed! I also have a cunning plan however and intend to invite him over to our Port Stephens retreat (a mere 100 metres from his) and fill him up with so much Grange that he won’t know what hit him - Expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? We’ll see. July 25th - During the week when things are quiet, we don’t mind demonstrating or talking to customers who have no intention of buying (we may just sow the seeds for a future purchase) but when they come in on a busy Saturday, they are oblivious to the problems they create in respect to inconveniencing other (actual) customers. Last week was a doozy (technical term) - one guy spent over an hour hogging the main sound lounge on the pretext that he wanted to audition some speakers with the view to a possible purchase. It was only after an hour that he admitted he had already purchased a pair of speakers elsewhere and just wanted to be sure he had done the right thing. It’s amazing how some people can walk even with a pair of floorstanding speakers having been rectally inserted. Even better than that was the guy who wanted to see the new JVC 7000 projector (we consider it to be the best projector under $12,000 currently available)  - he’s seen the Sony 4K projector elsewhere and wanted to compare (as if! You can’t see a picture in a different room with a different screen and source then make an objective comparison). I can tell you now that the JVC in 90% of all situations is the better projector at $6K less - the aforesaid gentleman (who it turns out had no intention of purchasing ANY projector) not only said he couldn’t see any difference between the Sony and the JVC but when he compared our JVC to the $1999 Optoma HD26 in the next room, said he couldn’t see any difference between that one either. As we bid him adieu and offered him a free eye test at the local Optometrist, I once again wondered why I bother. Maybe because most customers are interesting and I still get a kick out of explaining and demonstrating the latest gear. I guess I’m getting too old for self centred time wasters. July 16th - Big gap in blogging eh! That’s what happens when your bile ducts get blocked and they haul you off in to hospital for all sorts of nasty poking/prodding/slicing and dicing. I’m on the mend now (thank you for asking) but still feel like crap so if I normally come across as curmudgeonly, I’m now that to a factor of 10. So, what happened whilst I was away? Bugger all really which is why we need to get some money in. To that end, whilst Mike is away over the next two weeks, just call me directly for prices and I may (or may not) have something up my sleeve. June 14th - Just returned after a quick weeks holiday in Fiji, brilliant place for a rest as long as spotty WiFi doesn’t bother you. After listening to (excellent) live bands every night, it’s always good to get home and see just how well my resident music system can get to reproducing that “live” feel. Almost spot on thanks to my ML60XT’s and Dynamo 700 subwoofer. Still one of the best combinations for music (and Home Theatre) reproduction that I’ve encountered at virtually any (reasonable) price. Back to work and I still can’t figure out why people ask me for suggestions on systems when their mind is already made up! A gentleman asked for my suggestion on a full Home Theatre package, gave me his room size and we went back and forth with idea’s until I had a good handle on exactly what he needed. I sent the quote and he came back with “My friend, who knows all about this stuff, suggested the following (proceeded to list a bunch of totally mismatched gear)  and what do you think about it? I told him I didn’t think much about it at all and never heard back. That’s around 2 hours of my life I’ll never recover. And you wonder why I feel like giving it all away! June 2nd - This is getting way beyond my technical capabilities. When I changed the HDMI cables to 2.0 and used shorter lengths (1.5 metres instead of 3 metres) I was able to access certain picture parameters that were “grayed” out previously. I can now achieve a far better picture when playing native 4K movies (upscaling standard DVD and Blu-Rays gives no benefit at all). The technical experts at KORDZ tried to explain it all to me but I’d need to sober up for far longer to take it all in. I think I’ll go play with the cats (Claw V1.0 and V2.0) May 31st - More fooling around with the 4K stuff last night. To get the best out of the HDR enabled units you need HDMI cables which handle 18Gbs (usually designated HDMI 2.0 or 2.0a although not always). Our friends at EZYHD will ship cables to anywhere in Australia and all their HDMI cables are 2.0. I’ve just ordered some and will give you the results after more testing. May 30th - Just connected my new Sony 75” UHD (with HDR) 4K TV up to all my sources (specifically my Samsung 8500 4K Player)  and discovered a couple of things - Unless you have everything set up perfectly, such as using HDMI 2.0 or preferably 2.0a cables, the picture isn’t much better than standard Blu-Ray. Unless the TV has HDR (High Dynamic Range) there’s bugger all difference anyway. A shit movie is a shit movie no matter what the resolution. Standard resolution programming (576p) is almost unwatchable - you need the HD channels or streaming  Apple TV/Roku/Smart TV app etc. to get any benefit from your new 4K TV. Most frustrating is the variation between the picture quality of various sources. After almost a week of fooling around with colour temperatures, Black Levels, sharpness and a zillion other adjustments, I still can’t get as good a picture as my Samsung 75” 1080p TV (although I have had that unit for 10 months and have had more time for fine tuning) for the majority of programming and would prefer that TV set overall. As we don’t sell TV’s, I have no ax to grind with any model so I’ll keep you informed on my progress. May 18th - Holy Crap batman, I’ve just had an Epiphany! All great subwoofers are not the same (Duh!). In the past I’ve stuck to my Martin Logan Dynamo 700 (RRP $1399) as nothing under $2000 came close - in my acoustic environment anyway. I’ve shied away from bigger subs as my weak, frail body has problems with moving and placing larger subwoofers. As we has a surplus of the Martin Logan BalanceForce 210 subwoofers however, I thought I’d try one with my set up at home. Well. after wrestling the 43kg, 48cm cubed box into our lounge-room, I tuned it in with the aid of the PBK kit and all of a sudden, my system was transformed, not only for the movies (talk about the earth moving for me) but also for music. I suppose I should have expected something pretty awesome given the $6000 price point (currently on sale at $2999) but I wasn’t prepared for such a massive improvement. May 17th - Fun times again as we enter this years EOFY sale. Some items you’ll have to call for price (such as Yamaha’s Aventage range), others are listed on the site. Best deals are on the Martin Logan speakers as we found some with damaged cartons (yes, really) so although the product is perfect, the shipping cartons are crap but at up to 50% off RRP, stop complaining! We now have the Samsung 4K Blu-Ray Players in stock (UBD-K8500/XY) available at $549. Talking of system set up and placement (which I wasn’t but now will), the lovely Noelene bought a new entertainment cabinet for Chez Neil which meant a slight repositioning of my beloved Martin Logan speaker system. to re-tune the set up I re- discovered an old recording which I used to use many years ago as my reference - I lost the original (around 1987 from memory) but found it for download. It’s called Fresh Aire III by Mannheim Steamroller (go on, Google it). The first track (Toccata) is what we used to call ”New Age” music although most of us from that era (it was recorded in 1977) are now “Old Age”. It offers a dynamic and sound stage which enables me to set up my levels and toe-in just perfectly. You should buy that one track just for a hoot! May 12th - Samsung have now released their 4K Blu-Ray Player with a RRP of $599. Absolute bargain as it also streams any Netflix 4K content. They also have two HDMI outputs, one for audio and video for connection to A/V Receivers with HDCP 2.2 and a second HDMI output for audio only so you can bypass the video and plug the primary HDMI output directly into the TV with the other HDMI going straight to the A/V Receiver. Very few movies available as yet but Roadshow will be releasing more next Wednesday. We’ll have stocks early next week. I’ve seen ads for the players at butchered prices already (even though most stores doing stupid prices have no stock). We’ll try to match pricing if possible but can’t always match the Internet cowboys as they have absolutely no technical support, throw you the box and then treat you with the contempt THEY deserve if you need help (just read their return policies). If you were wondering how we keep The Claw (V2.0) so clean, wonder no longer. The fur is a bastard to get out of the filter however. May 6th - The guys at Convoy (a wholesale distribution company in Australia) must be shitting themselves (Technical Term) with B&W Speakers now sold to American company, EVA Automation. There are no plans to change distributors at this stage but knowing the American business model, that could change in the blink of an eye. Having lost (or divested, depending on who you talk to) over 50% of their range in the last 12 months, Convoy will be clinging to their flagship brand like shit to a blanket. Who said this industry isn’t interesting! May 1st - Watched the new Star Wars Movie last night. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know there’s a multitudinous amount of bass that will give any subwoofer a run for it’s money. Again, the Martin Logan Dynamo 700 was able to rumble the whole room (7 X 18 metre open plan) without a hint of distortion, and believe me, I was playing LOUD! I still haven’t found a subwoofer to come even close in the performance / price stakes (RRP $1399). The Claw (V2.0) just LOVES bass and was thoroughly engrossed in the movie. April 26th - What is wrong with people these days. Over the last week I’ve had requests for pricing on products that are so volatile that even a couple of hours can change the price so I ask those e-mailers to call me in store and I’d be happy to discuss pricing - these are on products that we just can’t be beaten on - Bugger me if I never hear back. So, I’m either being jerked around (love it), people have already purchased and are trying to see if they’ve been ripped off (probably) or they’re just plain ignorant (you never know). All in all, I consider e-mails to be similar to conversations, not answering is just like talking to someone then clamming up. Bloody rude! Must drink more Bourbon and relax. April 14th - Networking is going to be the death of me, with just about everything now connected via Wi-Fi or Ethernet for control or streaming, we’re getting more calls than I’d like to count about problems with devices communicating with Routers or Apps. I have yet to encounter a device that is actually faulty, 80% of all problems are fixed by turning off all devices (including the computer/router) and rebooting. The remainder of problems are due to people not having a static IP or having the app talking via a different Wi-Fi connection (I’m guilty of this sometimes as I have four different Wi-Fi connections from the two routers I run). There are so many configurations and types of connectivity that we can’t possibly help in every case. When having problems, read the equipment manual first (that seems logical but over 50% of customers with problems, when surveyed, say they haven’t actually read the manual) then try the total re-boot and, if that doesn’t work, call us as a last resort. In the words of Uncle Paul - AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!! April 6th - I’ve been told to broaden my horizons (no, not that way, Noelene would kill me) in terms of audio reproduction. To that end I’ve taken home some Tannoy speakers to play with, the XT 8F’s to be precise. After listening to them for a couple of days, I still think, for my ears, the Martin Logan 60XT’s which have resided in Chez Neil for the last six months, are my preferred sound, looking at their respective priced however, if money was in the equation then the Tannoys just may get the nod (RRP $3999 for the Tannoys, $5499 for the ML 60XT’s). Due to consistent and painful bullying from Uncle Paul, I’ve posted a review on the Tannoys in our Review section. Happy now Paul! March 18th - Just took home the new Definitive Technology Micro W-Studio for our bedroom TV. It’s the smallest form soundbar we’ve encountered and sounds amazing! Not cheap at $1599 but worth every cent! The Claw (V2.0) update Unfortunately, she’s discovered Sammy the Samsung Robot Cleaner and has fallen in love with him. No one can now approach Sammy without dire consequences. Must get new toy for cat! March 15th - Ah, the old “switch and bait” trick isn’t just for retailers. It seems everyone is now in on the act (pun intended)  as I notice that the headline act for “Rock The Boat 6” (a cruise for old ‘60’s music tragics) - Peter Noone of Hermans Hermits  - has now pulled out. Considering he was the reason I booked to go, I’m really pissed off (my first garage band did covers of  both “The Shadows” and “Hermans Hermits” back in 1966). He has been replaced by Chubby bloody Checker who is 74 (he’ll  be 75 by the time the boat sails) who was basically a one hit wonder (Let’s Twist Again) and I really disliked that song. Looks  like I’ll be doing my own version called “Lets get pissed again” during his performance. Bugger! March 9th - Sometimes I feel like I’m in a Monty Python program. Remember the “abuse” sketch? “Will that be the 5 minute abuse session or the 15 minute session sir?” Apart from the customers having a go at me (as per this months news letter) I had a guy call me today complaining that his Yamaha A/V Receiver had failed once when hooked up to his LG TV. It was repaired under warranty but wouldn’t work when plugged back into his TV using HDMI, the receiver was re-tested and deemed OK so the fault was obviously the TV or HDMI cable. As a last resort, the customer hooked up the Receiver to the TV via the TV’s VGA port using a VGA to HDMI adapter. He said he was having problems and seemed extremely disappointed that I couldn’t suggest a fix for the receiver (except it’s highly unlikely there’s anything wrong with the receiver)! No shit Sherlock - when using the VGA input from an HDMI video source, there’s going to be no end of problems, not the least with HDCP and handshake. The VGA input is there to use as an interface to a computer. Some days it pays to stay in bed. I’m not expecting the consumer to know all this technical stuff but I would expect them to try and understand when explained to them (maybe my communication skills are severely lacking). The Claw Update. This is The Claw (V2.0) deciding that SHE will have control of Roku, Foxtel and all associated equipment. To even think about taking a remote from within range of her titanium tipped shredding claws would be tantamount to self-destruction. February 16th - OK, I’ve spent more hours than I care to think of trying out various combinations of speakers and subwoofers at home trying to find The Holy Grail of audio. The receiver is not that critical so I keep using my trusty Yamaha Aventage RX- A3050, the only improvement of any significance I could make over that is to run the Yamaha pre/power or the amazing Onkyo Pre/Power combination - neither which would fit in my cabinet. As the speakers (and room acoustics) are responsible for around 75% of the overall sound, that’s what I’m concentrating on. After much deliberation, I’ve decided to stick with the Martin Logan 60XT’s as my mains, the matching 50XT Centre and the Motion FX Surrounds. It sounds so good that, after hearing of the 15 - 20% price increase from the wholesaler as from March 1st (blame the lousy A$) I bought all their current stocks of this set up so that (should you believe my assessment) I can offer that same system to you at, not only the pre-price rise offering but a substantial discount. Retail on the 60XT’s, 50XT and FX is $8697, I have a couple of systems I can do at $5490. You’d need to have a chat about an appropriate subwoofer and receiver however as that would change depending on room size, furnishings placement etc. February 2nd - Sometimes you just hit on the ideal holiday. In my case, I came across a cruise leaving Brisbane in November which has most of my (living) 60’s music hero’s on board performing over a seven night cruise. I have no idea where it’s going but who cares. http://rocktheboatcruise.com.au/2016/about-us obviously the average age for cruisers is going to be somewhere between 50 and death but, hey, if you’re going to go (as in “go”) then this is the cruise to do it on - preferably after seeing all the acts. I grew up playing the songs most of these guys were famous for and from watching a recent DVD of them playing a PBS gig hosted by Peter Noone (Hermans Hermits) most of them are still top notch entertainers. Excuse me while I drool with anticipation. The Claw (V2.0) is morphing into Yoda the Cat - Frightening! January 22nd - Been a bit slack on the Blog front lately due to some dental issues. I had to get a bone graft in my mouth to facilitate an implant, I didn’t realise they used cow bone until I found myself walking across the road from the store and started to munch grass in the fields. I now worry about eating my favourite food, steak, just in case we’re related. Bargain time - this time our “cancelled order” listing is genuine. One store which ordered a number of complete Tannoy surround systems reneged on the deal with the importer due to lack of funds (why the bastards ordered the goods in the first place without ensuring funds were available is beyond me) so, as we had the funds and the importers already had the goods, a little mutual back-scratching enabled a deal to be done! Check out our Deal of the Month on the Packages Page. We only have a couple of these systems but they fight way above their price point (trust me - I’m a salesman). January 11th - I was getting worried for a while as no other dealers were complaining to the importers about my pricing. Fortunately, we’ve had two whining dealers in the last few days so alls good again. The Claw Jnr is now 500gms and has taken to shredding the lounge. Here’s The Claw (original version) trying to ignore The Claw (V2.0). At least it doesn’t come across as total disdain. December 30th - The Christmas rush finally hit (after Christmas mind you) and the place has gone nuts. Sorry if we’re out of  stock of a few things but most of the importers (in their wisdom) have decided to close over the busiest period of the year.  Makes sense to me! The new addition to the Neil family has now arrived and is settling in. Officially named “Gwen” (after Gwen Stefanie) I now  think of her as Claw Junior. She may only weigh 400gms but 350 of those are sharpened claws. Don’t be fooled, she’s already  shredded several pieces of furniture and taken chunks of skin off random visitors (aww, how cute - ZAP! Blood everywhere)
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December 1st - Stereo Amplifiers are becoming more popular (as are Turntables) since the advent of SoundBars for TV which aren’t really suitable for music listening (perhaps with the exception of the Definitive Technology W-Studio range). I see Yamaha have done a dump on their slow moving AS1100/2100/3000 range in certain colours but even at the dump prices they represent only good but not outstanding value. We’ve looked and listened to the alternatives and have decided the Anthem i225 beats the pants off the 1100 and 2100 Yamaha’s so we’ve put those on sale at $1499 with free shipping (normally $2999) as the Stereo Amp du jour (or month depending on how the stocks hold out) - here’s a taste of the reviews - http://www.digitaltrends.com/amplifier- reviews/anthem-integrated-225-review/ Sure, the price in the US is $1500 but that equates to over $2200 Australian with GST so we figure $11499 is a great price. October 5th - Ah, the joys of retail. One of these days I’ll get a break from people who don’t read manuals (although I must admit to using one myself as a last resort). Some of the calls I’ve been getting lately leads me to believe there are people out there who couldn’t take a piss without someone telling them what to do. Sad but true! The new range of Definitive Technology Speakers with built in subwoofers are just amazing - we’ve been playing around with them for the last week or so and whereas the Martin Logan Motion series are still my personal favourites, the DT’s are actually better value in some model ranges, we have them all in store for demo (the 9000 series Def Techs that is) so it could be worth a visit. September 22nd - Just back from the F1 race in Singapore. Lots of fun although the F1 cars are way quieter than back in the days of the exhaust diffusers so perhaps not as exciting. Here’s a photo of me re-acquainting myself with the Singapore Sling So, to help me pay for the excesses during my sojourn, I’ve had to do some dirty deals, consequently if you’re in the market for Yamaha’s new RX-V2081 A/V receiver or YSP-2700 SoundBar then give me a call on 02 9651 4922 and I may just drop my pants (metaphorically speaking) as I have overstocks on those at the moment. 7th September - Sorry if I’ve been a bit lax on the blogging front but I’m still recovering from the op. All good now however so I can start abusing people again without pain (to me that is). Talking of pain, our thoughts go out to Mel Chillari, founder of Apollo HiFi, who had a really nasty accident, broke nine ribs and has bleeding on the brain. he’s currently in the ICU at RPA. Get well soon Mel, we miss you. Definitive Technology have released a new range of speakers with built in subwoofers. The last range was good but our initial testing of the new 9000 series indicates a significant improvement. More on that range later. August 24th - Yamaha have now released their flagship RX-A3060 A/V Receiver and one now resides in Chez Neil. Not sure if there’s a great improvement on my older RX-V3079 (AKA RX- A3050 - almost) but there seems to be an improvement in picture quality from native 4K sources so maybe a tweak in HDR management. Who knows (who cares) but any improvement is welcome. Sonically, it still leads the pack when teamed with my Martin Logan’s (various receivers react differently with certain brands of speakers) so I’m a happy camper. August 15th - Back in store after having my gallbladder ripped from my very being - kind of like giving birth to an Alien (as in the movie) - I have the photo’s to prove it! I feel great now although I’m off the piss (technical term) which means I’m more focused and nastier than usual (yes, that’s actually possible). One thing my forced lay off did was give me plenty of time to peruse the latest HiFi equipment reviews as I’m always looking for new ways to improve my sound here at home. As speakers are around 70% of the overall sound, that’s where I usually concentrate my efforts. After finding this review from Absolute sound however, I decided to keep what I currently have. http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/marti nlogan-motion-60xt/ Considering we’re selling them at less than the US price (when currency conversion and GST is factored) the 60XT’s are a no-brainer. My fingers are now about to seize up after such a long lay off so I’ll now go and contemplate my scars. August 1st - Off to the Doctors for a little surgery (no, I’m not getting Docked) so have put some hot specials in place to entice purchasing whilst I’m away. Check they specials out under Steve’s Clearance. July 26th - One way to eliminate the opposition is by stealth and there is no one stealthier than Mel Chillari (patriarch of the Chillari Clan - owners of Apollo Hi-Fi) You may have heard of my recent hospitalisation due to gallstones blocking my Bile Ducts, well it turns out that Mel was probably responsible as he loaded me up with Salami, Cheese and red wine when I visited him at his Port Stephens retreat just prior to the attack. Cunning indeed! I also have a cunning plan however and intend to invite him over to our Port Stephens retreat (a mere 100 metres from his) and fill him up with so much Grange that he won’t know what hit him - Expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? We’ll see. July 25th - During the week when things are quiet, we don’t mind demonstrating or talking to customers who have no intention of buying (we may just sow the seeds for a future purchase) but when they come in on a busy Saturday, they are oblivious to the problems they create in respect to inconveniencing other (actual) customers. Last week was a doozy (technical term) - one guy spent over an hour hogging the main sound lounge on the pretext that he wanted to audition some speakers with the view to a possible purchase. It was only after an hour that he admitted he had already purchased a pair of speakers elsewhere and just wanted to be sure he had done the right thing. It’s amazing how some people can walk even with a pair of floorstanding speakers having been rectally inserted. Even better than that was the guy who wanted to see the new JVC 7000 projector (we consider it to be the best projector under $12,000 currently available)  - he’s seen the Sony 4K projector elsewhere and wanted to compare (as if! You can’t see a picture in a different room with a different screen and source then make an objective comparison). I can tell you now that the JVC in 90% of all situations is the better projector at $6K less - the aforesaid gentleman (who it turns out had no intention of purchasing ANY projector) not only said he couldn’t see any difference between the Sony and the JVC but when he compared our JVC to the $1999 Optoma HD26 in the next room, said he couldn’t see any difference between that one either. As we bid him adieu and offered him a free eye test at the local Optometrist, I once again wondered why I bother. Maybe because most customers are interesting and I still get a kick out of explaining and demonstrating the latest gear. I guess I’m getting too old for self centred time wasters. July 16th - Long time between Blogs, that’s what happens when your bile ducts get blocked and they haul you off to hospital to get poked/prodded/sliced and diced. Sad really, The good thing (for you) is that things went a little quiet whilst I was on my back so next week I’ll do a stocktake and try to move some goodies. Just call me direct on 02 9651 4922 if there’s something you want at a good price and I’ll see what I can do. June 14th - Just returned from FiJi after a weeks break. Absolutely brilliant place to holiday as long as you don’t mind spotty Wi-Fi. After listening to live bands (and bloody good ones at that) each night at the Sheraton it was a revelation to come home and listen to how close my ML 60XT’s with the Dynamo 700 sub comes to reproducing that “live” feel. I just discovered a semi documentary on Hulu Plus (via my Roku) based on the life of Cilla Black and her performances through the system come out as raw as “The Cavern” would have been. Highly recommended if you can acess it, it’s just called “Cilla” June 2nd - This is getting way beyond my technical capabilities. When I changed the HDMI cables to 2.0 and used shorter lengths (1.5 metres instead of 3 metres) I was able to access certain picture parameters that were “grayed” out previously. I can now achieve a far better picture when playing native 4K movies (upscaling standard DVD and Blu-Rays gives no benefit at all). The technical experts at KORDZ tried to explain it all to me but I’d need to sober up for far longer to take it all in. I think I’ll go play with the cats (Claw V1.0 and V2.0) May 31st - More fooling around with the 4K stuff last night. To get the best out of the HDR enabled units you need HDMI cables which handle 18Gbs (usually designated HDMI 2.0 or 2.0a although not always). Our friends at EZYHD will ship cables to anywhere in Australia and all their HDMI cables are 2.0. I’ve just ordered some and will give you the results after more testing. May 30th - Just connected my new Sony 75” UHD (with HDR) 4K TV up to all my sources (specifically my Samsung 8500 4K Player)  and discovered a couple of things - Unless you have everything set up perfectly, such as using HDMI 2.0 or preferably 2.0a cables, the picture isn’t much better than standard Blu-Ray. Unless the TV has HDR (High Dynamic Range) there’s bugger all difference anyway. A shit movie is a shit movie no matter what the resolution. Standard resolution programming (576p) is almost unwatchable - you need the HD channels or streaming  Apple TV/Roku/Smart TV app etc. to get any benefit from your new 4K TV. Most frustrating is the variation between the picture quality of various sources. After almost a week of fooling around with colour temperatures, Black Levels, sharpness and a zillion other adjustments, I still can’t get as good a picture as my Samsung 75” 1080p TV (although I have had that unit for 10 months and have had more time for fine tuning) for the majority of programming and would prefer that TV set overall. As we don’t sell TV’s, I have no ax to grind with any model so I’ll keep you informed on my progress. May 18th - Holy Crap batman, I’ve just had an Epiphany! All great subwoofers are not the same (Duh!). In the past I’ve stuck to my Martin Logan Dynamo 700 (RRP $1399) as nothing under $2000 came close - in my acoustic environment anyway. I’ve shied away from bigger subs as my weak, frail body has problems with moving and placing larger subwoofers. As we has a surplus of the Martin Logan BalanceForce 210 subwoofers however, I thought I’d try one with my set up at home. Well. after wrestling the 43kg, 48cm cubed box into our lounge-room, I tuned it in with the aid of the PBK kit and all of a sudden, my system was transformed, not only for the movies (talk about the earth moving for me) but also for music. I suppose I should have expected something pretty awesome given the $6000 price point (currently on sale at $2999) but I wasn’t prepared for such a massive improvement. May 17th - Fun times again as we enter this years EOFY sale. Some items you’ll have to call for price (such as Yamaha’s Aventage range), others are listed on the site. Best deals are on the Martin Logan speakers as we found some with damaged cartons (yes, really) so although the product is perfect, the shipping cartons are crap but at up to 50% off RRP, stop complaining! We now have the Samsung 4K Blu-Ray Players in stock (UBD-K8500/XY) available at $549. Talking of system set up and placement (which I wasn’t but now will), the lovely Noelene bought a new entertainment cabinet for Chez Neil which meant a slight repositioning of my beloved Martin Logan speaker system. to re-tune the set up I re-discovered an old recording which I used to use many years ago as my reference - I lost the original (around 1987 from memory) but found it for download. It’s called Fresh Aire III by Mannheim Steamroller (go on, Google it). The first track (Toccata) is what we used to call ”New Age” music although most of us from that era (it was recorded in 1977) are now “Old Age”. It offers a dynamic and sound stage which enables me to set up my levels and toe-in just perfectly. You should buy that one track just for a hoot! May 12th - Samsung have now released their 4K Blu-Ray Player with a RRP of $599. Absolute bargain as it also streams any Netflix 4K content. They also have two HDMI outputs, one for audio and video for connection to A/V Receivers with HDCP 2.2 and a second HDMI output for audio only so you can bypass the video and plug the primary HDMI output directly into the TV with the other HDMI going straight to the A/V Receiver. Very few movies available as yet but Roadshow will be releasing more next Wednesday. We’ll have stocks early next week. I’ve seen ads for the players at butchered prices already (even though most stores doing stupid prices have no stock). We’ll try to match pricing if possible but can’t always match the Internet cowboys as they have absolutely no technical support, throw you the box and then treat you with the contempt THEY deserve if you need help (just read their return policies). If you were wondering how we keep The Claw (V2.0) so clean, wonder no longer. The fur is a bastard to get out of the filter however.

Steve’s

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December 1st - Stereo Amplifiers are becoming more popular (as are Turntables) since the advent of SoundBars for TV which aren’t really suitable for music listening (perhaps with the exception of the Definitive Technology W-Studio range). I see Yamaha have done a dump on their slow moving AS1100/2100/3000 range in certain colours but even at the dump prices they represent only good but not outstanding value. We’ve looked and listened to the alternatives and have decided the Anthem i225 beats the pants off the 1100 and 2100 Yamaha’s so we’ve put those on sale at $1499 with free shipping (normally $2999) as the Stereo Amp du jour (or month depending on how the stocks hold out) - here’s a taste of the reviews - http://www.digitaltrends.com/amplifier- reviews/anthem-integrated-225-review/ Sure, the price in the US is $1500 but that equates to over $2200 Australian with GST so we figure $11499 is a great price. October 5th - Ah, the joys of retail. One of these days I’ll get a break from people who don’t read manuals (although I must admit to using one myself as a last resort). Some of the calls I’ve been getting lately leads me to believe there are people out there who couldn’t take a piss without someone telling them what to do. Sad but true! The new range of Definitive Technology Speakers with built in subwoofers are just amazing - we’ve been playing around with them for the last week or so and whereas the Martin Logan Motion series are still my personal favourites, the DT’s are actually better value in some model ranges, we have them all in store for demo (the 9000 series Def Techs that is) so it could be worth a visit. September 22nd - Just back from the F1 race in Singapore. Lots of fun although the F1 cars are way quieter than back in the days of the exhaust diffusers so perhaps not as exciting. Here’s a photo of me re-acquainting myself with the Singapore Sling So, to help me pay for the excesses during my sojourn, I’ve had to do some dirty deals, consequently if you’re in the market for Yamaha’s new RX-V2081 A/V receiver or YSP-2700 SoundBar then give me a call on 02 9651 4922 and I may just drop my pants (metaphorically speaking) as I have overstocks on those at the moment. 7th September - Sorry if I’ve been a bit lax on the blogging front but I’m still recovering from the op. All good now however so I can start abusing people again without pain (to me that is). Talking of pain, our thoughts go out to Mel Chillari, founder of Apollo HiFi, who had a really nasty accident, broke nine ribs and has bleeding on the brain. he’s currently in the ICU at RPA. Get well soon Mel, we miss you. Definitive Technology have released a new range of speakers with built in subwoofers. The last range was good but our initial testing of the new 9000 series indicates a significant improvement. More on that range later. August 24th - Yamaha have now released their flagship RX-A3060 A/V Receiver and one now resides in Chez Neil. Not sure if there’s a great improvement on my older RX-V3079 (AKA RX- A3050 - almost) but there seems to be an improvement in picture quality from native 4K sources so maybe a tweak in HDR management. Who knows (who cares) but any improvement is welcome. Sonically, it still leads the pack when teamed with my Martin Logan’s (various receivers react differently with certain brands of speakers) so I’m a happy camper. August 15th - Back in store after having my gallbladder ripped from my very being - kind of like giving birth to an Alien (as in the movie) - I have the photo’s to prove it! I feel great now although I’m off the piss (technical term) which means I’m more focused and nastier than usual (yes, that’s actually possible). One thing my forced lay off did was give me plenty of time to peruse the latest HiFi equipment reviews as I’m always looking for new ways to improve my sound here at home. As speakers are around 70% of the overall sound, that’s where I usually concentrate my efforts. After finding this review from Absolute sound however, I decided to keep what I currently have. http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/marti nlogan-motion-60xt/ Considering we’re selling them at less than the US price (when currency conversion and GST is factored) the 60XT’s are a no-brainer. My fingers are now about to seize up after such a long lay off so I’ll now go and contemplate my scars. August 1st - Off to the Doctors for a little surgery (no, I’m not getting Docked) so have put some hot specials in place to entice purchasing whilst I’m away. Check they specials out under Steve’s Clearance. July 26th - One way to eliminate the opposition is by stealth and there is no one stealthier than Mel Chillari (patriarch of the Chillari Clan - owners of Apollo Hi-Fi) You may have heard of my recent hospitalisation due to gallstones blocking my Bile Ducts, well it turns out that Mel was probably responsible as he loaded me up with Salami, Cheese and red wine when I visited him at his Port Stephens retreat just prior to the attack. Cunning indeed! I also have a cunning plan however and intend to invite him over to our Port Stephens retreat (a mere 100 metres from his) and fill him up with so much Grange that he won’t know what hit him - Expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? We’ll see. July 25th - During the week when things are quiet, we don’t mind demonstrating or talking to customers who have no intention of buying (we may just sow the seeds for a future purchase) but when they come in on a busy Saturday, they are oblivious to the problems they create in respect to inconveniencing other (actual) customers. Last week was a doozy (technical term) - one guy spent over an hour hogging the main sound lounge on the pretext that he wanted to audition some speakers with the view to a possible purchase. It was only after an hour that he admitted he had already purchased a pair of speakers elsewhere and just wanted to be sure he had done the right thing. It’s amazing how some people can walk even with a pair of floorstanding speakers having been rectally inserted. Even better than that was the guy who wanted to see the new JVC 7000 projector (we consider it to be the best projector under $12,000 currently available)  - he’s seen the Sony 4K projector elsewhere and wanted to compare (as if! You can’t see a picture in a different room with a different screen and source then make an objective comparison). I can tell you now that the JVC in 90% of all situations is the better projector at $6K less - the aforesaid gentleman (who it turns out had no intention of purchasing ANY projector) not only said he couldn’t see any difference between the Sony and the JVC but when he compared our JVC to the $1999 Optoma HD26 in the next room, said he couldn’t see any difference between that one either. As we bid him adieu and offered him a free eye test at the local Optometrist, I once again wondered why I bother. Maybe because most customers are interesting and I still get a kick out of explaining and demonstrating the latest gear. I guess I’m getting too old for self centred time wasters. July 16th - Long time between Blogs, that’s what happens when your bile ducts get blocked and they haul you off to hospital to get poked/prodded/sliced and diced. Sad really, The good thing (for you) is that things went a little quiet whilst I was on my back so next week I’ll do a stocktake and try to move some goodies. Just call me direct on 02 9651 4922 if there’s something you want at a good price and I’ll see what I can do. June 14th - Just returned from FiJi after a weeks break. Absolutely brilliant place to holiday as long as you don’t mind spotty Wi-Fi. After listening to live bands (and bloody good ones at that) each night at the Sheraton it was a revelation to come home and listen to how close my ML 60XT’s with the Dynamo 700 sub comes to reproducing that “live” feel. I just discovered a semi documentary on Hulu Plus (via my Roku) based on the life of Cilla Black and her performances through the system come out as raw as “The Cavern” would have been. Highly recommended if you can acess it, it’s just called “Cilla” June 2nd - This is getting way beyond my technical capabilities. When I changed the HDMI cables to 2.0 and used shorter lengths (1.5 metres instead of 3 metres) I was able to access certain picture parameters that were “grayed” out previously. I can now achieve a far better picture when playing native 4K movies (upscaling standard DVD and Blu-Rays gives no benefit at all). The technical experts at KORDZ tried to explain it all to me but I’d need to sober up for far longer to take it all in. I think I’ll go play with the cats (Claw V1.0 and V2.0) May 31st - More fooling around with the 4K stuff last night. To get the best out of the HDR enabled units you need HDMI cables which handle 18Gbs (usually designated HDMI 2.0 or 2.0a although not always). Our friends at EZYHD will ship cables to anywhere in Australia and all their HDMI cables are 2.0. I’ve just ordered some and will give you the results after more testing. May 30th - Just connected my new Sony 75” UHD (with HDR) 4K TV up to all my sources (specifically my Samsung 8500 4K Player)  and discovered a couple of things - Unless you have everything set up perfectly, such as using HDMI 2.0 or preferably 2.0a cables, the picture isn’t much better than standard Blu-Ray. Unless the TV has HDR (High Dynamic Range) there’s bugger all difference anyway. A shit movie is a shit movie no matter what the resolution. Standard resolution programming (576p) is almost unwatchable - you need the HD channels or streaming  Apple TV/Roku/Smart TV app etc. to get any benefit from your new 4K TV. Most frustrating is the variation between the picture quality of various sources. After almost a week of fooling around with colour temperatures, Black Levels, sharpness and a zillion other adjustments, I still can’t get as good a picture as my Samsung 75” 1080p TV (although I have had that unit for 10 months and have had more time for fine tuning) for the majority of programming and would prefer that TV set overall. As we don’t sell TV’s, I have no ax to grind with any model so I’ll keep you informed on my progress. May 18th - Holy Crap batman, I’ve just had an Epiphany! All great subwoofers are not the same (Duh!). In the past I’ve stuck to my Martin Logan Dynamo 700 (RRP $1399) as nothing under $2000 came close - in my acoustic environment anyway. I’ve shied away from bigger subs as my weak, frail body has problems with moving and placing larger subwoofers. As we has a surplus of the Martin Logan BalanceForce 210 subwoofers however, I thought I’d try one with my set up at home. Well. after wrestling the 43kg, 48cm cubed box into our lounge-room, I tuned it in with the aid of the PBK kit and all of a sudden, my system was transformed, not only for the movies (talk about the earth moving for me) but also for music. I suppose I should have expected something pretty awesome given the $6000 price point (currently on sale at $2999) but I wasn’t prepared for such a massive improvement. May 17th - Fun times again as we enter this years EOFY sale. Some items you’ll have to call for price (such as Yamaha’s Aventage range), others are listed on the site. Best deals are on the Martin Logan speakers as we found some with damaged cartons (yes, really) so although the product is perfect, the shipping cartons are crap but at up to 50% off RRP, stop complaining! We now have the Samsung 4K Blu-Ray Players in stock (UBD-K8500/XY) available at $549. Talking of system set up and placement (which I wasn’t but now will), the lovely Noelene bought a new entertainment cabinet for Chez Neil which meant a slight repositioning of my beloved Martin Logan speaker system. to re-tune the set up I re-discovered an old recording which I used to use many years ago as my reference - I lost the original (around 1987 from memory) but found it for download. It’s called Fresh Aire III by Mannheim Steamroller (go on, Google it). The first track (Toccata) is what we used to call ”New Age” music although most of us from that era (it was recorded in 1977) are now “Old Age”. It offers a dynamic and sound stage which enables me to set up my levels and toe-in just perfectly. You should buy that one track just for a hoot! May 12th - Samsung have now released their 4K Blu-Ray Player with a RRP of $599. Absolute bargain as it also streams any Netflix 4K content. They also have two HDMI outputs, one for audio and video for connection to A/V Receivers with HDCP 2.2 and a second HDMI output for audio only so you can bypass the video and plug the primary HDMI output directly into the TV with the other HDMI going straight to the A/V Receiver. Very few movies available as yet but Roadshow will be releasing more next Wednesday. We’ll have stocks early next week. I’ve seen ads for the players at butchered prices already (even though most stores doing stupid prices have no stock). We’ll try to match pricing if possible but can’t always match the Internet cowboys as they have absolutely no technical support, throw you the box and then treat you with the contempt THEY deserve if you need help (just read their return policies). If you were wondering how we keep The Claw (V2.0) so clean, wonder no longer. The fur is a bastard to get out of the filter however.