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BOOKSHELF SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: May 12, 2008 0 comments
Sonic sorcery.

Jim Thiel must be a magician. At least that’s what I thought when I first heard his newest speaker, the SCS4. I was listening to an a cappella band, and the guys were all there—not just the voices, but I felt like the Persuasions were in the room with me. The sound was so utterly natural; it was as if the speakers weren’t doing anything.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Nov 22, 2005 0 comments
There's beauty in these boxes.

When you live with something or somebody long enough (no matter how good the body—or how great the personality), it's all too easy to become complacent about how well off you are. That thought came to mind the other night when I was watching, of all things, The Blues Brothers. I had forgotten how great the music is in that movie. But then I noticed that part of what had made me rediscover my appreciation for the movie was the truly nice Triad Silver speaker system I had been living with for a little while but had stopped noticing.

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.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 27, 2008 0 comments
The best way to spice up a dull, dark, soundless day.

Here’s how Edgar Allen Poe opens his short story “The Fall of the House of Usher”: “During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.” Although trade shows are hardly soundless, and I don’t navigate them on horseback, Poe evokes a bit of the feeling I get slogging through them. But the Usher exhibit didn’t seem all that melancholy when I stumbled on it at the 2007 Home Entertainment Show. In fact, hearing a pair of the Be-718s in action made me want to review them.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 15, 2009 0 comments
Price: $350 At A Glance: First soundbar to use SRS TruVolume audio processing • Operates on stereo signals • Wireless sub works with no setup hassles

High and Wide

Vizio is:
(a) a flat-panel video brand
(b) an audio brand
(c) a serotonin reuptake inhibitor
(d) a line of rimless eyeglasses
(e) a typographical error

If you guessed (a), you were wrong. The correct answer is (a)+(b).

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.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 21, 2010 0 comments
Price: $599 At A Glance: Beautifully styled satellite/subwoofer set • Keyhole mount for on-wall placement • Well-rounded sound

From England to China

Wharfedale is an Anglo-Chinese speaker brand and one of the most storied names in the high-end audio industry. The brand began in 1932 in Yorkshire, in the north of England, and it went through a few changes of ownership before it became part of the International Audio Group (IAG) in 1996. IAG is owned by two Taiwanese brothers, Bernard and Michael Chang, who made their fortune with karaoke equipment. For a decade and a half, they restored the luster to Wharfedale and its sister brand Quad.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 19, 2012 0 comments

DX-1 HCP Speaker
Performance
Build Quality
Value
 
DX-1 subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $799 At A Glance: Sweet but detailed mids • High-gloss finish • Great sats, OK sub

One of your best friends calls up to announce that she is about to wed someone rich and powerful. He owns a shipyard that manufactures exceptionally luxurious yachts. You’re happy for her, but you worry, too. Would living with such a strong personality, a guy with all that money and all that power, be good for her? Would it make her stronger or weaker? A few years later you run into her, and after a few hours of conversation, you conclude that she’s in great shape internally as well as externally. There’s a serenity beneath the tan. Her husband is affectionate and faithful, a child is on the way, and she’s never been happier.

John Higgins Posted: Oct 15, 2005 Published: Oct 30, 2005 0 comments
Bouncing off the walls.

In a time when housing prices are rising at an exponential rate, making affordable square footage scarce, one of the major challenges to having a home theater system is space. The home-theater-in-a-box phenomenon has attacked this problem by packaging smaller, matched speakers together with a receiver, but there's still the issue of finding space for proper speaker placement and the messy wiring that follows. Yamaha offers the YSP-1 Digital Sound Projector to alleviate this problem.

Kim Wilson Posted: Dec 03, 2007 0 comments
Is the age of the traditional loudspeaker almost over? Never before has there been so many alternatives to the typical monolith speaker, from in-walls that disappear into the décor to ultra-tiny speaker enclosures that sit on a shelf. A general aversion to complex and highly visible multichannel audio systems has left a good many consumers with only half the home theater experience. According to a September 2006 article from the Consumer Electronics Association, called "Home Theater Opportunities," 76% of all flat panel TV users are not using a separate audio system. As the article points out there are a good deal of opportunities for audio equipment manufacturers to develop alternate methods for delivering quality audio for high-definition TVs.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 17, 2005 0 comments
A definite cut above the ordinary.

There are many different approaches to home theater, which is one of the reasons why this magazine is as burly as it is, month after month. The stereo speakers built into many modern televisions are nirvana for some, while carefully matched loudspeakers, preamplifiers, processors, and amps are the only solution that others would ever consider. Somewhere between those two polar extremes are the ubiquitous home-theater-in-a-box systems and novel products like the ZVOX 315 Sound Console. The idea here is simple, and noble, offering your TV a painless upgrade to the inadequate audio it was born with.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 30, 2009 0 comments
Price: $500 At A Glance: Fits under flat panels that weigh 90 pounds or less • Five 2-inch drivers, one 5.25-inch woofer • Balanced sound with minimal surround

What’s in That Black Box?

What if you opened up your home-theater-in-a-box system only to find—another box? Would you suspect you had suddenly plunged into an unpublished chapter of Through the Looking Glass, a strange alternate universe where boxes contain boxes? Would you be afraid that inside the second box, there might be a third box? And inside the third, a fourth? Was dropping acid and going to the Museum of Modern Art in 1978 really such a good idea?

Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 30, 2010 0 comments
toppick.jpgPrice: $600 At A Glance: Dual powered subs go low • Single-box analog domain “virtual surround” • Ultra-clear vocal presentation

A Base With Good Bass

Despite the predictable claims that manufacturers make—and the breathless, indefensible hyperbolic shrieks made by computer geeks posing as audio reviewers—no one-box-solution soundbar can really replace a discrete 5.1-channel surround sound system. ZVOX founder and former Cambridge SoundWorks marketing executive Tom Hannaher knows that, and the ZVOX Website says it. Bravo.

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