HOME THEATER SYSTEM REVIEWS

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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.

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.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 22, 2005 0 comments
Feed your hungry eyes and ears on an attractively entertaining meal of lean on-wall speakers and tender, choice electronics.

Whether by nature or nurture, I'm a speaker guy. I'm more captivated by speakers than any of the associated electronics in a home theater system. As a result of this singular infatuation, I've always believed, as a general rule of thumb, that you should allocate at least half of the total cost of the audio portion of your system to the speakers. I don't know why the math seems to work out that way, but, in my mind, it just does. So what am I to make of a system in which the Primare electronics cost twice as much as the Sequence/REL speaker package?

Chris Chiarella Posted: Aug 30, 2005 Published: Aug 31, 2005 0 comments
In a nasty world, Sonos makes wholehouse music distribution friendly.

Not to sound cynical, but, at this stage of the distributed audio game, "me too" products don't cut it anymore. What we want is something new, something different, something better. Luckily for Sonos, that's what their Digital Music System delivers. Much of the allure in these gray and silver boxes lies in the freedom they promise. It's not just a question of wired or wireless—although wireless is an option here, sort of, and it's mighty desirable. This system is also independent from the computer, so that you can connect it to a PC, a Mac, or even Linux—or directly to a network storage drive for even greater flexibility.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 20, 2005 0 comments
You'll be hearing things that aren't there, like surround channels.

The wheels of compliance grind slowly, but they do grind. With the ongoing mad rush to embrace DVD's audio and video potential, many consumers have expressed an interest in wireless surround speakers to simplify setup, while others—spoilsports, really—insist that they lack either the room or the desire for dedicated surrounds. As a result, we saw and heard more products than ever at this year's Consumer Electronics Show that put all of the gear up front while creating an illusion of surround, some more successfully than others. So expect to see more reviews in this burgeoning category from me and the gang. Even your run-of-the-mill home-theater-in-a-box requires a dollop of basic HT know-how to configure: running wires, connecting speaker cables, and, of course, allocating space for five loudspeakers and the subwoofer. Don't get me wrong: I've never viewed these steps as a chore, but, for some, it's just too much, and it's perpetuating the schism betwixt DVD wannabes and DVD gurus.

Adrienne Maxwell Posted: Jun 16, 2005 0 comments
It's all in the name.

Let's see. The CP 35 features a DVD player, receiver, and 7.1-channel speaker system that arrives packaged in one box. Around these parts, we'd call that a home-theater-in-a-box, but Harman/Kardon has wisely chosen the descriptor "home theater system" instead. I say "wisely" because the HTIB moniker brings with it certain expectations (for better and for worse), and Harman/Kardon doesn't want to confuse us reviewer types by forcing us to realign our expectations when evaluating this system. How thoughtful.

Chris Lewis Posted: May 01, 2005 Published: May 17, 2005 0 comments
Turn on, tune in, strap down. I was standing in an area of last year's Home Entertainment Show in New York that had no demonstration rooms anywhere nearby. It started with a boom and a rumble, like the gathering of a distant but powerful storm. It wasn't enough to shake me yet, but it was enough to grab my attention. Then came another boom, another rumble, and enough curiosity that I felt compelled to find a tactful way out of my conversation and make my way toward this growing intensity. Not only could I feel the floor moving under my feet as I got closer, but I even started to believe I was seeing Sheetrock flakes on the floor, steadily gathering into a distinct trail. Soon enough, the rattling of the walls, the low-frequency energy waves hammering my senses, and the shaken but excited looks of people coming the other way told me I had arrived. MiCon Audio, the door announced. Curious, I thought—or tried to think, before another sortie ripped out from inside—and a belief that the door might literally be blown off its hinges began to monopolize my thoughts. Finally, the door opened, and the answer to all of the riddles awaited me inside—but, for that, you'll have to read on.
Chris Chiarella Posted: May 01, 2005 Published: May 17, 2005 0 comments
HTIB goes Wi-Fi.

In case you're just joining us, there's a whole new world of entertainment material to be enjoyed in your living room, beyond what you'll find in your DVD rack or emanating from your cable/satellite feed. Many folks like me are amassing quite a large collection of music, videos, and photos on the PC, and that there Internet has a lot to offer, too. The convergence of PC and home theater is certainly nothing new, but, until now, this union has been attainable only through a series of clever add-ons (not the first marriage to benefit from the use of electric appliances). What if the connection to the computer—and its many perks—was an integral part of your home theater gear, and it was wireless to boot?

Kevin Hunt Posted: Mar 18, 2005 0 comments
The only game in town?

If you're going to mess with the Kenwood HTB-S715DV, better put on your game face. This home-theater-in-a-box comes to play. The HTB-S715DV blends a 6.1-channel surround package with creature-comfort features for the gamer of the house. It's a modern-day multitasker, too. While you're grooving to "Nasty Girl," your favorite little game-boy or game-girl can play Pikmin 2 on the big screen while immersed, oblivious to the outside world, in the gaming sounds of the HTB-S715DV's Dolby Headphone technology.

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.

Kevin Hunt Posted: Feb 15, 2005 0 comments
De-wired (partially) and de-lovely (totally).

If not for all the wires, Sony's wireless DAV-LF1 DVD Platinum Dream System would be absolutely dreamy. Even with today's technology, a home theater can't do wireless like a cell phone or a home network or laptop stoked with Wi-Fi. The best it can do is wireless surround speakers—that is, no wires between the surround speakers and the A/V receiver. But, as with the DAV-LF1, these speakers are routinely wired to each other and require a nearby electrical outlet for a wireless receiver. If this were the meat department, home of the semi-boneless ham, we'd call it semi-wireless.

Kevin Hunt Posted: Aug 19, 2004 Published: Aug 01, 2004 0 comments
Is that all there is? The one-speaker HTIB.

Throw Niro Nakamichi's name at the iPod generation, and you'll stump the panel. To an older generation, however, Nakamichi's three-head cassette deck, the Nakamichi 1000, elevated the lowly cassette to the world of the best recording medium of the day, the cumbersome reel-to-reel tape deck. In a way, the Nakamichi 1000 was an iPod forebear in the miniaturization and portability of recorded sound. After the Nakamichi family sold the company name in 1998, Niro Nakamichi started Mechanical Research to develop big-ticket electronics like the awe-inspiring $22,000 Niro 1000 Power Engine monoblock amplifier.

HT Staff Posted: May 01, 2004 0 comments
If you've got $5,000 to spend, we've got five great systems to show you.

It's tough being a consumer in the home theater market these days. You want eye-popping visuals and earth-shattering sound, but sometimes the only eye popping and earth shattering that occurs is when you find out the prices of some A/V systems. Never fear. We at Home Theater hear your cries for a powerful system that won't give your wallet a beating, and we understand. That's why we've gathered our top minds and put together five excellent home theater systems that cost around $5,000. Loudspeakers, universal disc players, HDTVs, projectors, and screens—you name it, we've got you covered. So take a peek over the next few pages, and see the systems for yourself. With all the money you'll save by purchasing the systems we've shown you, you'll be able to spend a little extra to upgrade your wire, cable, and interconnects—and maybe even purchase a sexy stand to hold your new gear. You definitely deserve it.

Kevin Hunt Posted: Jan 01, 2004 0 comments
The low price of well-heeled HTIBs.

Consumer confession: A little more than three years ago, I bought my first DVD player for $300. It was a basic player in a nondescript black box with none of the now-standard features like progressive-scan video and component video outputs. It couldn't even read recordable CDs.

Kevin Hunt Posted: Sep 09, 2003 Published: Aug 01, 2003 0 comments
Panasonic's striking—and strikingly similar—HTIBs.

Another case of separated at birth? If you close your eyes during a movie, it's difficult to distinguish Panasonic's top-of-the-line SC-ST1 from the middle-of-the-pack SC-HT900. Open your eyes, and it doesn't get any easier to tell these two home-theaters-in-a-box apart. Aside from the Penn-and-Teller, tall-versus-small DVD receivers and slightly different center-channel speakers, the two systems are dead ringers.

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