BOOKSHELF SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Adrienne Maxwell Posted: Feb 01, 2004 0 comments
The TSS-750 speaker system adds a new chapter to the entry-level guidebook.

Ah, the life of an audio reviewer is a glamorous one indeed. Lugging around speakers and subwoofers. Continually connecting systems, checking levels, tweaking placement, checking levels again, yada yada yada. Spending hours sitting in a room listening to movie and music tracks that you've watched and listened to so many times, your brain is suffering from burn-in. Yep, with all of this glamour, it might come as a surprise for you to learn that even we audio reviewers fall into the dreaded rut now and then.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Nov 10, 2003 Published: Nov 01, 2003 0 comments
Feeling blah? I've got the cure.

My friend Gene is a professional musician. Back in the early '80s, he used Klipsch Heresys as PA speakers in clubs. One hot August afternoon, I dropped by his Greenwich Village apartment. Just for fun, he set up the Heresys at home. Hot damn, I was absolutely floored! The first LP (remember, this was in the pre-digital era) he played was the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street. Oh man, I thought I knew that record inside out, but not like that—the Klipschs sounded like a mini version of a concert system. We listened at extremely high levels, easily 100-plus decibels. Gene's neighbors must have thought Mick and the boys were gigging in his apartment.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 01, 2003 0 comments
Speaker System Small sats, a big sub, and visions of hops and sausages.

My sociological spiel about the French in my JMlab Digital Home Cinema System review (April 2003) inadvertently hit newsstands around the start of the war with Iraq, so I'll limit my wantonly idiotic cultural commentary on the Germans to food and drink references. Have you ever tried their smoked beer? I'm not joking. It's called Rauchbier, and it's delicious. I should note that, although my byline is German, my ethnic makeup is German, English, Scots, and Irish, and they all make good beer. My oft-misspelled name literally translates as "meat man" (no jokes, please), and my great-grandfather was the last in a long line of sausage-makers. After he emigrated from Germany, he continued to practice his craft in New Jersey. According to my father, his sausages were so rich that you had to wash them down with a quart of milk.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Jun 27, 2003 Published: Jun 28, 2003 0 comments
Four speaker systems. One verdict. Five hungry editors.

Two Californians, a Canadian, and an Israeli walk into a bar. No, wait. It was an apothecary. Two Californians, a Canadian, and an Israeli walk into an apothecary. They say, "Ow." No. They order a drink. No. They make speakers. Yes. That's it, they make speakers, and we've gathered their sub/sat systems together here: the PSB Alpha B from the great white north, the Morel Spiro from the other side of the planet, and NHT and M&K systems from what many people consider to be a different planet. They range in price from just under $1,400 to just over $1,900. To make things interesting in this land of reality TV shows, we will ceremoniously eat the loser of this Face Off. Next on Fox: When Hungry Editors Attack. Intrigued? So am I, and I already know how it ends.

Michael Trei Posted: Mar 05, 2003 Published: Mar 06, 2003 0 comments
Yah mo b there.

Having lived in Denmark for a couple of years as a kid, I guess I've learned a little about the Danish mindset. Many Danes display a self-effacing modesty, to the extent that Carlsberg will only say that theirs is "probably the best beer in the world." Yet, in their typically understated way, this little country (with a population about equal to that of Missouri) has made deeper inroads into the lives of Americans than most people think. Just don't blame them the next time you step on one of your kid's Lego blocks.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Dec 19, 2002 Published: Dec 20, 2002 0 comments
Just how does the StudioCinema 350 speaker system find that mystical balance between high performance and low price?

I used to wonder why I felt such an affinity for so many of Definitive Technology's speakers. What is it, I asked, that gives these slender, sock-smothered sirens their perennial appeal? Is it magnetism? (Well, surely, they use magnets, but that couldn't be it.) Is it the sexy allure of not being able to yank off a speaker's grille cloth to reveal what's hidden underneath? (Instead, you have to gently coax the soft sock covering down, slowly undressing the speaker. It's an act best done in the privacy of your own home after the children have gone to bed.) Maybe it's some secret, arcane knowledge inherited from the Knights Templar (promising riches, wealth, and speakers with popularity beyond reason)—or possibly it's from an earlier era, gleaned from chiseled hieroglyphics on the ancient stone walls of the pyramids at Giza (regaling in an afterlife filled with music and movies).

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Nov 04, 2002 Published: Nov 05, 2002 0 comments
Listening outside the pod.

Mirage's VP of engineering, Ian Paisley, went bipolar way back in 1987. Hold on a sec, let me restate that: Paisley designed the first commercially successful bipolar loudspeaker, the Mirage M-1, in 1987. That speaker garnered raves in all of the audiophile mags and put Mirage on the map. Ah, but do bipolar/wide-dispersion speakers always produce great sound? It all depends. People have criticized some omnidirectional speakers for their overly diffuse, vaguely defined imaging. While I've never owned a set of Mirages, I've been a fan of this sort of speaker since I bought a pair of "direct/reflecting" Bose 501 speakers in '76. Hey, I was still wet behind my not-yet-golden ears, and Bose's dispersion concept caught my fancy. My Bose affair was a quickie, and I eventually settled down for a long-term relationship with a pair of Quad ESL-63 (dipole) electrostatic speakers.

Chris Lewis Posted: Feb 02, 2002 Published: Feb 03, 2002 0 comments
It sounds much bigger than it looks.

The question is an old but still fundamental one: Can you make small speakers perform like big speakers? This isn't necessarily the question that creators of small speakers ask themselves during creation, nor will it probably enter the mind of the small-speaker consumer at the time of purchase. Still, I'll wager that it's the first question your ears will ask when you place them in the middle of your new compact home theater system. Let's face it: All other factors being equal, it's easier for large speakers to do certain things, and many of these things are especially critical in your home theater.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Dec 29, 2001 Published: Dec 30, 2001 0 comments
Bass beyond belief.

There are some things you just don't expect to find together—say, peanut butter and foie gras or Anne Rice's vampire Lestat in a Garlique commercial. Other combinations may be more desirable and more elusive: a multiterm politician with integrity, for example, or computer products that not only work as advertised but do so consistently (wow, what a concept!). Rarer still is that mythical, mystical creation, immortalized in song and story and lusted after by speaker designers since the invention of the voice coil: the bookshelf speaker with bass.

HT Staff Posted: Nov 07, 2001 Published: Nov 08, 2001 0 comments
Got money? HT editors tell you the best value for your $$$.

As editors of Home Theater, everyone asks us questions about the consumer electronics business. This is fine—it's our duty to help those who may not have the time to spend all day playing around with really cool gear. Some questions are easy, like "How do I hook this up?" or "What does anamorphic mean?" Unfortunately, the one question we get all the time is not as simple to answer: What gear should I buy?

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 07, 2001 Published: Nov 08, 2001 0 comments
The B&W DM303 speaker system proves that bookshelf speakers are far from obsolete.

Badly named and generally underrated, bookshelf loudspeakers are possibly the most misunderstood of all speakers. First of all, they don't sound their best when placed on shelves; stands are usually recommended. Second, even though they haven't got the bottom-octave authority of powered towers, their smaller enclosures cause fewer acoustic problems, making them a perfect vehicle for vocals and the midrange frequencies in which most music resides. They lend themselves to wall-mounting almost as well as the smallest satellites, with the added benefit of genuine midbass response. The best bookshelf models—B&W's DM302, JBL's N24, NHT's SuperOne, Paradigm's Titan, KEF's Coda 7, Polk's RT-105, and PSB's Alpha Mini—deliver versatile stereo and surround sound for music or movies at an affordable price. So, it's good news that B&W has a new—um—bookshelf offering, the DM303.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jul 31, 2001 Published: Aug 01, 2001 0 comments
Put away that charcoal. Here's a different kind of grille for your patio.

My, how times have changed. Back when vinyl records were king and a 25-inch-diagonal TV screen was considered big, here's how you had a good time in the backyard: a keg of beer, burgers on a charcoal grill, and your roommate's big, ugly speakers (carted out from the living room) blasting Rush (Geddy Lee, et al) until the conservative neighbors call the cops. A decade or so goes by, and the fun gets more sophisticated: a cooler of imported beer (maybe a margarita machine), steaks on a gas grill, and a big, ugly boombox belting out Rush (Limbaugh) until the liberal neighbors call the cops. Today, it's likely to be takeout from a local BBQ joint, a mini-fridge full of hard lemonade, and steam from the hot tub mingling with big-band music from outdoor speakers hidden somewhere in the (twice-monthly manicured) foliage.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jul 31, 2001 Published: Aug 01, 2001 0 comments
M&K's K-5 proves that a small speaker doesn't have to deliver a small performance.

Miller & Kreisel Sound has a habit of being there at the very start of things. The company's timeline stretches all the way back to 1973, when Steely Dan's Walter Becker wandered into Mr. Kreisel's shop and asked him to design a subwoofer and monitoring system for his Pretzel Logic mixing sessions. The rest, as they say, is sub-history. OK, you probably already knew that M&K is synonymous with badass subwoofers, so here's another cool bit of trivia. In 1976, long before the words "home" and "theater" were ever used together in a sentence, M&K introduced their first subwoofer/satellite system. Their pioneering spirit in the pro-sound world is legendary; so, naturally, Dolby Labs depended on an M&K MX-5000 system during their developmental work on Dolby Digital in the early '90s. M&K's list of achievements could easily fill this entire review, so I'll stop myself right now and move on to the subject at hand: their brand-new and most affordable satellite speaker, the K-5 ($149). This little guy, measuring a scant 7.375 by 4.875 by 5.875 inches, can serve with distinction as a front, center, or surround speaker.

Chris Lewis Posted: Jan 18, 2001 Published: Jan 19, 2001 0 comments
Our not-too-expensive Center-Channel Face Off centers on Phase Technology, NHT, and Acoustic Research.

Slowly but surely (and sadly, in many ways), we've become an overly centric society. Think about it for a minute: Companies (and entire industries, for that matter) are more centralized now than they've been since the days of the robber barons. And our government—let's not kid ourselves, friends: This ain't exactly Cold War Soviet Union, but it's not the sprawling, decentralized (and power-limited) federal structure that the Founding Fathers envisioned, either. Apparently, states' rights went out of fashion with the stagecoach and the stovepipe hat. Even from a cultural standpoint, our focus seems to have shifted dramatically toward the glorification of the individual over the good of the whole. But centralization certainly has its good points, as well (sure, it's an odd segue, but hopefully I got your attention). One need look no further than one's home theater system—that bountiful refuge from the madness of unchecked bureaucracies, hostile corporate takeovers, and me-me-me self-indulgence—to realize that a little centralization can go a long way in enhancing your movie-watching experience.

HT Staff Posted: Jul 18, 2000 Published: Jul 19, 2000 0 comments
A speaker that Tony Montana would definitely love.

Power is considered to be very important in our society. Tony Montana's immortal words in Scarface said it all: "First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the woman." Of course, Tony was talking about a different kind of power than what you or I would be interested in (drug-kingpin power is very different from a nine-to-fiver's kind of power), but possessing even a minute amount of power can electrify one's self-esteem. Granted, Tony's zeal for power led to his coked-out paranoia and ultimate demise, but other types of power can, in fact, be quite healthy.

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