HOME THEATER SYSTEM REVIEWS

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Chris Lewis Posted: Mar 18, 2005 0 comments
The Canadians and the Brits are at it again.

If you know your history, then you already know that the Canadians and the English can do some good things when they get together. While we were taking care of our business down at Utah and Omaha, the Canadians and the Brits were giving the Germans a pretty good working-over of their own up the beach at Normandy. They even teamed up rather effectively against us during the American Revolution and War of 1812, managing to hang on to Canada despite our various efforts to take it and, in the process, preserving one of England's last real toeholds in the New World.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 20, 2012 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,499 At A Glance: Automatic speaker discovery and channel assignment • Uncompressed 24-bit wireless digital audio • No AVR needed

Not long ago, FedEx deposited a 7.1channel HTIB from Aperion Audio outside my door. It’s not really fair to call it a home theater in a box because the system actually comes in seven boxes and sells for $3,499. But since it includes source switching and amplification, it technically qualifies as an HTIB, albeit a rather unusual one. Aperion Audio prefers the term preconfigured home theater system. Normally, setting up this sort of home theater package would entail speaker wires crisscrossing the floor accompanied by the requisite grumbling, stripping of wires, and fumbling with speaker terminals. In this case, though, the Aperion speakers—a pair of towers, a center channel, a subwoofer, and two pair of satellite speakers—come out of their boxes, get placed in their appropriate spots in the room, have each one’s power cord plugged into the nearest AC outlet…and that’s it.

Roger Maycock Posted: Nov 22, 2005 0 comments
Sophisticated sound and connectivity in a surprisingly compact form factor.

For years, I've had a distinct interest in bookshelf audio systems. Perhaps it's my fascination with the miniaturization of electronic gadgets in general, but these systems' compactness has always intrigued me. Unfortunately, my interest generally waned the moment I began listening. Until recently, the phrase, "Good things come in small packages," usually didn't hold much water in terms of audio playback quality. Well, times have changed. Enter Arcam's new Solo music system and the companion Alto loudspeakers.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 27, 2009 0 comments
Price: $2,200 At A Glance: 5.1-channel decoding in a single soundbar • Decoding for Dolby Digital and DTS, not lossless • Strong bass even when subwoofer output is not used

5.1 Channels in One

Why shouldn’t respectability and innovation be on speaking terms? In loudspeakers, that’s not as easy as it sounds. Much of the recent audio innovation in home theater has come in products that are designed to complement flat-panel TVs. These products are morphing before our eyes—into soundbars, on-walls, and ever-smaller satellites. They are also moving beyond the standard five-speakers-and-sub configuration in their deployment of surround’s 5.1-channel array. This makes for a striking contrast when you look at the high-end speakers that grace audiophile short lists. These include a staid group of medium-density fiber-board boxes whose fundamentals, in many cases, haven’t changed in decades. Traditional speakers can sound great, but that’s not often enough to make people buy them.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 22, 2005 0 comments
Who says two slim boxes can't fill a home theater?

CES 2005. Tired. Wet from the Las Vegas snowstorm. Hungover from the technology discussion the night before. Stuck in a hotel suite for a demo: yet another home theater audio system with no surround-channel speakers? Can't be any good. Wait, there's only one speaker and a subwoofer? Must be a joke. And it's $599? An overpriced joke, I snarl internally.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 05, 2003 Published: Mar 06, 2003 0 comments
A home-theater-in-a-box means different things to different people. For some, it's the total DVD experience for dummies (or the slothful), in terms of both purchasing simplicity and ease of use. For others, it's a real bargain, compared with the cost of individual components plus the many necessary odds and ends. For Cambridge SoundWorks, it's about the speakers.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 10, 2007 Published: Aug 10, 2007 0 comments
CD and radio in a box—iPod out back.

More than half a century of audio evolution has produced this modest box. Its grandparents are the high-end radios of the 1950s. Its parents are of the CD generation, a 1980s format increasingly viewed as archaic by the latest generation of listeners. And it accommodates the iPod, although it keeps the latest audio revolution literally at arm's length, in a separate docking device that plugs into the back of the system. The retrofit brings an already successful product family closer to being up to date.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 24, 2006 0 comments
One speaker, a subwoofer, a source component . . . and you.

Virtual surround is nothing new: Some people don't have the space, the know-how, or perhaps the ideal room layout for a pair of surround speakers for true 5.1-channel audio. Wireless surrounds are an option for some. But even those need a place to live, and they still require power cables. All manner of technologies have addressed the virtual-surround challenge, but not until I tried the two-piece Binaura Sound Environment B102A (in our November 2005 issue) did I believe that such simplified gear could produce truly respectable audio. Cambridge SoundWorks of Newton, Massachusetts, is the first third-party manufacturer to license Binaura's patented technology for their own products. They have integrated it into a complete home theater system—three boxes instead of two—with the addition of a progressive-scan DVD player/receiver. Said receiver provides Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Pro Logic II, and DTS decoding, and this signal then goes to the subwoofer, where all of the amplification and Binaura processing take place.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 15, 2012 1 comments
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $600 At A Glance: Denon entry-level AVR • Boston Acoustics sat/sub set • Acceptable performance

Eliminating nonessentials sounds easier than it is. A year ago, I went through my clothes and filled six shopping bags with shirts and pants I knew I’d never wear again. Just a month ago, I repeated the exercise and darn if I didn’t fill another bag. If I’d exerted myself, I could have filled two. So I felt a certain respect as I cracked open the Denon DHT-1513BA carton and moved its contents to my rack and speaker stands—because I knew this system’s designers had made some tough decisions. They’re more hardheaded than a guy who decides to let his HD DVD promotional T-shirt survive another year.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 03, 2007 0 comments
An HTIB you can grow to love.

Denon has a long and venerable history in the audio/video industry, including much of the pioneering work in the field of digital audio. Fitting of that tradition, Denon was, for many years, a brand reserved solely for the audiophile (later followed by the videophile) who frequented the high-end shops. This was a no-nonsense era for Denon, and its designers and engineers eschewed flashy features and other niceties, such as easy-to-use menus.

Kevin Hunt Posted: Mar 06, 2002 Published: Mar 07, 2002 0 comments
With the DHT-700DV, Denon takes one small step into the HTIB arena.

Denon threw away convention in the 1990s when they partnered their electronics with Mission loudspeakers to produce a series of two-channel mini-systems. Other than maybe David Crosby and Melissa Etheridge, was there a more-stunning collaboration in the decade?

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 21, 2006 0 comments
2.1 speakers, an iPod, and thou.

As soon as I added a subwoofer to my stereo desktop system, the illicit charms of 2.1-channel audio began to woo me like the moon pulling on the tide. So, I was primed and ready when Denon's S-301 HTIB system arrived with its two speakers, sub, and controller.

Michael Fremer Posted: May 18, 2012 13 comments
Do you dream in surround sound? Since you’re reading this magazine, the answer is probably yes. Psychiatrists say dreaming is good for you. Thumb through any issue of Home Theater and you’re more likely than not to encounter components, systems, and lavish, dedicated rooms equipped with the latest 4K projectors and high-powered, surround-sound systems that most of us can only dream about.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 09, 2006 1 comments
Trendy yet rebellious.

The audio industry seems about to leap off a cliff. Permit me to suggest that this may be a rash decision. True, component audio sales have diminished, but that's no excuse for the industry to abandon its principles and give up on sound quality. What consumers are rebelling against is not good sound but bad design. They've had enough of big, dumb, room-hogging speakers. "It doesn't suit the room, but it sounds good" doesn't cut it anymore. "It looks as good as it sounds" is the winning combination.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: May 09, 2002 Published: May 10, 2002 0 comments
Can home theater really be simplified into one box?

A home theater in a box? Can it really be that simple? Do you really get everything you need in one package? HTIBs are huge sellers. Some complete systems sell for less than $500, and others cost more than $2,500. We gathered three that fall somewhere in the middle: the JBL Cinema ProPack600, the Sony DAV-C900, and the Unity, codeveloped by Kenwood and Boston Acoustics. All three retail for $1,200, but you should be able to find them for a bit less. Promising free ice cream, I gathered the usual suspects to participate in the Face Off: audio editor Chris Lewis, executive editor Adrienne Maxwell, copy editor Claire Lloyd, and the ubiquitous Ron Williams, our technical consultant. Much was voiced about the ruse of free ice cream, which was a lie.

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