Q: We have a Marantz plasma TV that is at least 10 years old. The remote no longer works reliably, and we can’t buy another one because Marantz no longer makes TVs. We are very happy with the picture and want to keep the TV, but what should we do if it’s no longer supported by the manufacturer?
A: Though Marantz may no longer make replacement remotes, most universal remote controls will have codes to work with your television. A basic remote for off/on and volume can be purchased for under $10. If you want to work multiple components, I suggest looking into the Logitech Harmony (logitech.com) line of remotes. You can get a programmable Logitech Harmony 650 for around $40. It is compatible with over 225,000 devices from more than 5,000 brands.
A clear standout
I tested and reviewed a lot of great products last year, but LP Gear’s the Vessel A3SE phono cartridge (lpgear.com) impressed me the most. It was a very easy choice as my favorite product of 2017, especially with the growing resurgence of vinyl.
The cartridges are manufactured by a high-end Japanese company exclusively for LP Gear. Reviewing the Vessel A3SE was one of the most surprising experiences I have had in 15 years of writing this column. At only $99, the price-to-performance equation is unmatched, and it allows those with modest budgets to get a taste of what high-end vinyl reproduction sounds like. It’s the perfect choice for upgrading the starter cartridges included with entry-level turntables, or to bring new life to a vintage turntable.
The natural musical sound, excellent retrieval of fine detail, pleasing warmth and impressive dynamics all come together in a way that gives a lot of more expensive cartridges a run for their money. I am not alone in my enthusiasm. Besides the great comments I have received from readers who purchased it on my recommendation, I have seen posts on audio message boards from happy owners praising its performance.
An additional benefit is the ease with which you can upgrade this $99 cartridge to world-class levels. Typically, when you buy an entry-level cartridge, it can’t be upgraded to the very top model within the model line. But that is not the case with Vessel cartridges. The $99 A3SE can be upgraded in seconds to the top $649 R3SM and $679 B3SS models just by switching the stylus. What this means to music lovers and people new to vinyl is that you can start with an A3SE on your starter turntable, and if you eventually decide to upgrade the turntable, you can take your cartridge with you.
It should be noted that the more costly Vessel cartridges are standouts, too. The R3SM recently won in an 11-cartridge shootout on my vinyl website at soundadvicevinyl.com, coming out on top when compared with 10 other cartridges priced under $1,000.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.