DESKTOP SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 05, 2006 1 comments
Hearing the world in black and white.

I'm equally happy with my iPod nano and my IBM Windows PC. So, please don't mistake me for one of those sycophants who never has a bad word to say about Steve Jobs or a good one to say about Bill Gates. The little iPod nano has earned my admiration simply by being a good companion. When I'm not plugged into it, I hardly notice it. When I am, it's easy to get along with and rather entertaining.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 20, 2014 3 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $249/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Inviting, carefully tailored sonics
USB computer input
Easy setup
Minus
Controls in back
Unprotected drivers

THE VERDICT
Our audio editor’s favorite budget desktop (and TV) speakers have gotten more convenient thanks to the addition of a PC-friendly USB input, making them an even better value.

We may love good sound, but we can’t completely banish bad sound from our lives. We can’t listen to vinyl and high-rez audio all the time. We’ve all got some lousy MP3 files in our music libraries, love streaming services, and endure blaring SUV ads on TV. What’s the best way to make this substandard content palatable? Audioengine has offered compelling answers for years with its powered speakers, the chunky Audioengine 5 and smaller Audioengine 2. Now they’re available in variations that can accept USB input from a computer, including the Audioengine 2+ reviewed here.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 04, 2006 Published: Nov 04, 2006 0 comments
Start your engines.

The increasing iPod-centricity of the audio industry has not prevented one brave manufacturer from releasing a product without the omnipresent iPod dock. Why would Audioengine do such a thing? Their Website explains: "There are so many iPod-dock products on the market right now, so we made a decision early on to spend our development budget and time on audio quality and other features (like USB charging). We feel that Apple docks are the best, so why waste resources trying to redesign a nearly perfect dock? We were also able to keep Audioengine pricing much lower without integrating a 30-pin dock system."

Rob Sabin Posted: Oct 02, 2011 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $600 At A Glance: Excellent tonality • Good imaging • Cumbersome WiFi setup

I've never been a big fan of paying for brand names for their own sake. Build quality? Yes. Performance? Absolutely. Aesthetics? Sure. Ease of use? Certainly. Each of those has value, and it often makes sense to pay more, even a lot more, for any one of them. But sometimes, in the course of shopping for whatever, you encounter an entry from a well-respected or even elite brand that at first glance seems so outlandishly priced you have stop and wonder: what am I really paying for here?

Suffice to say that was me when Bowers & Wilkins first suggested I take a little ride with the Zeppelin Air, the company's $600 iPod dock...

Scott Wilkinson Posted: Feb 09, 2010 0 comments
When I profiled the B&W Zeppelin and Zeppelin Mini iPod sound systems in my Ultimate Gear blog, I got several requests for a real review. So I contacted B&W, which sent me both units to play with, and I'm happy to report that they both live up to the company's considerable reputation—once you get the settings right.
Al Griffin Posted: Apr 03, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Spacious bipolar sound
Ample bass for a desktop speaker
Stylish look
Minus
Slightly edgy midrange at high volume levels

THE VERDICT
Def Tech’s desktop speaker succeeds in bringing dynamic hi-fi sound to the home office.

Most early examples of desktop computer speakers were funny-looking, bad-sounding, cheaply constructed things. There were exceptions (models from Audioengine come to mind), but these tended to be rare. Although things have improved somewhat since then, any new desktop speaker trying to earn some respect still has its work cut out for it.

Michael Berk Posted: Sep 28, 2012 2 comments

You might have noticed that we were very enthusiastic about the Paradigm MilleniaOne speaker system - it did, after all, end up as our Product of the Year for 2011. Well, Paradigm's continued on developing that line, applying the MilleniaOne's tech to a couple of 2.1 systems (dubbed CT for "Compact Theater") meant to answer the challenge of the current crop of soundbars. And we've gotten our hands on one of them - the Paradigm Millenia CT - to give away to one of you lucky readers.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 21, 2005 0 comments
Let's face it, i-anything is pretty hot now that the iPod has become the fastest-growing product in consumer electronics. Sales of MP3 players shot up by 255 percent during the first eight months of 2005, and you can bet Apple's smallest and prettiest child was the driving force behind that dizzying growth. Enter Klipsch, one of the few good speaker brands you're likely to find in a national chain store. Now that the the company's iGroove is playing on my desk, I'd say Klipsch deserves its piece of the pie.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 31, 2006 Published: Jan 01, 2006 0 comments
The Pod person when he's at home.

Shortly after Steve Jobs became a music mogul, the iPod became something of a home audio server. This brilliant left turn has made everyone's favorite white object of desire a doubly useful device that entertains whether you're at home or on the go. Although a Mac is something of a technological island unto itself, the iPod is a more pragmatic creature. It's on speaking terms with not only—shock, horror!—Windows PCs, but with a variety of other devices, from staid-black surround receivers, to far-flung multizone empires, to slick standalone compact systems like Monitor Audio's i-deck.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 21, 2008 0 comments
Plant a seed, grow an iPod docking system.

My first impression of the mStation was that it had grown out of the ground. Having just uncrated it, I knew it hadn’t really sprung out of the carpet, of course. Yet somehow it seemed more like a young stand of trees than a floorstanding iPod docking system. If I waited long enough, would this self-contained trio of cylinders erupt in branches and leaves? No, and yet there was something organic about it. The pair of metal speaker tubes seemed to rise up from the base, while the subwoofer drum suspended between them seemed to levitate in midair. In addition to having a whiff of the arboreal, it also resembled a headless robot.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 26, 2012 7 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $600 At a Glance: 2.1 independently amped channels • Bluetooth and dock connectivity • Tweaked by Paul Barton

The NAD VISO 1 was an immediate hit in my household from the moment it was uncrated. Between my roommate and myself, it received Bluetooth input from an iPad 2, iPhone 4, and iPod touch 2G. The dock played host to two iPod nano 6Gs and two nano 2Gs in addition to the nano 5G actually used for formal demos. Though not portable in the strictest sense—it won’t slip easily into a briefcase or carry-on—the system was still movable, and eager hands shifted it from living room to bedroom to kitchen. It was pressed into service to provide music for ballet exercises, cooking, reading, and bedtime listening.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Dec 11, 2006 0 comments
The biggest bang for the box.

I was smitten with Polk's I-Sonic tabletop system when I first laid eyes (but no hands-this was a prototype) on it at a Polk press conference. The strong fixation, no doubt, grew out of my need to replace an aging Bose Wave radio that had served me well but was clearly at its watts' end. I was also enticed by the unusually swanky set of features (a built-in DVD player, XM capability, and HD Radio). And then, of course, there was the fact that I couldn't get my hands on one; exclusivity is often enticing.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Mar 12, 2012 0 comments

Were we to travel to, say, Jupiter, and abduct its leading audio engineer (turnabout is fair play, after all), we might want to ask him (or it) this question: what’s the very best way to design a loudspeaker for the reproduction of high-fidelity music?

There’s no doubt in my mind as to how our Jovian guest would answer: “Active/powered!”

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 0 comments

Audioengine is the darling of the desktop audio set, producing mostly small, affordable powered speakers that tend to be used on desks and credenzas. The P4 is the company’s sole passive speaker, with a 0.75-inch silk-dome tweeter, a 4-inch Kevlar-cone woofer, and a front-slotted cabinet. At 9 inches high, it’s the second most compact model in this roundup.

Michael Trei Posted: May 09, 2013 0 comments

Most of us who write about technology tend to become the go-to guy when friends and family seek gear recommendations. Last Christmas, my 16 year old niece wanted to know about speakers to use with her iPod Touch. When I asked whether she wanted a dock or something that used a cable to connect, the look she shot back told me that I might as well have asked if she wanted 8-Track or cassette.

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