BOOKSHELF SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Adrienne Maxwell Posted: Jul 20, 2005 0 comments
Thinking outside the box.

Who says you have to sacrifice performance to create a small, affordable speaker system? Not Atlantic Technology. With the new $899–$999 System 920, they set out to prove that we can and should expect more than we're currently getting from most tiny sub/sat and HTIB speakers. I put their claim to the test for this Spotlight review by mating the speakers with Onkyo's brand-new $300 TX-SR503 A/V receiver. Add an inexpensive universal disc player to this combo, and you've got a complete home theater system for about $1,400.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 16, 2005 0 comments
A little Danish for your sonic sweet tooth.

Flat-panel TVs—and the speakers that love to be with them—receive such obsessive attention from the press that you'd think all other forms of video display—and the speakers that love to be with them—had disappeared. Jamo has fed the trend with their remarkable 2F speaker system, which teams perfectly with a plasma display. But rear-projection sets are still around. In fact, with DLP-, LCD-, and CRT-based models to choose from, they're taking on slimmer shapes, waxing in both cool factor and diversity.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 16, 2005 0 comments
From Portland's mouth to your ear.

Aperion makes a big deal out of selling direct. Frankly, this implied criticism of large chain stores has the fishy odor of opportunism. There are many worse places to buy speakers than a huge electronics store. You might, for instance, buy them from the back of a van in a parking lot, as our editors once did. Or you might leave a thick wad of bills on the sidewalk, using a rock as a paperweight, then come back the next day to see if anyone has left any speakers there. When you've exhausted all of those opportunities, call Aperion and say, "Help me, please. I'm not tough enough for the retail environment." You wouldn't be the first.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 17, 2005 0 comments
Small-speaker virtuosity trickles down.

Speakers needn't be big. Smaller speakers are better candidates for wall-mounting, they're less-visually intrusive on stands, and they're more-harmonious mates for flat-panel displays.

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.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Mar 18, 2005 0 comments
It's three omnidirectional speakers in one.

Here's a tip for home theater newbies: Don't shop for speakers using just your eyes. That advice holds true for any speaker, regardless of size or price; when it comes to what we euphemistically refer to as "lifestyle" speakers, though, please try to listen before you make a purchase, or you'll deserve what you get. Lifestyle-inflicted design compromises too often exact a toll on performance—skinny towers can sound undernourished, wall-mounted speakers can produce pancake-flat imaging, and pint-size satellites can come up short.

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.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 18, 2005 Published: Jan 19, 2005 0 comments
Heard and not seen.

I've just ignored Morel's Nova system for more than a month. Occasionally a man of letters gets busy. An editor called: Have you got time for another assignment? Sure. A few more called: Can you get this, this, and this done in two weeks? Take the money and run, I always say. My column was due. My other column was due. I was putting the finishing touches on two books at the same time—please buy them both, they're very good—attacking printouts with a red pen to get myself away from the computer.

Adrienne Maxwell Posted: Dec 14, 2004 Published: Dec 15, 2004 0 comments
Swing low, sweet subwoofer.

Curse you, JBL, for giving me yet another reason to want to move out of my apartment. As if paper-thin walls, the inability to own a dog, and the desire to dine more than 20 feet away from the toilet weren't enough, I must now contend with colder stares than usual from my neighbors—stares that coincide with the arrival of the SCS300.7 7.1-channel sub/sat system.

Chris Lewis Posted: Dec 15, 2004 0 comments
Post-time for B&W, Dynaudio, Phase Tech, and PSB.

The odds of finding a horse for $3,000 that will win the Kentucky Derby are about as good as they are of me hitting the Pick 6 at Santa Anita Race Track—in other words, it ain't gonna happen (although, in the case of the latter, it won't be for lack of trying). Even Seattle Slew, one of the great bargains in horse-racing history, carried an initial price tag of $17,500.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Dec 14, 2004 Published: Dec 15, 2004 0 comments
Hallelujah! A custom-installation speaker package even an audiophile can love.

Klipsch's new THX Ultra2 speaker system boldly goes where poseur speakers fear to tread. Let's face it, the speaker industry is obsessed with producing ever skinnier and sleeker designs; you know, the sort of trendy speakers that look cool straddling plasma TVs. For their new high-end line, Klipsch's product planners took a different approach: The THX Ultra2's raison d'étre is the rapidly expanding custom-installation market. No doubt most of these big-'n'-brawny speakers will be tucked out of sight or flush-mounted in a posh home theater, but I'd bet a bunch of these systems will be sold to performance-oriented buyers. They're that good.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 07, 2004 Published: Nov 01, 2004 0 comments
Follow the bouncing surrounds.

There's more than one way to skin a cat—as mine will quickly discover if he claws my armchair again—and surround sound needs skinning. I've lost count of the number of potential home theater buffs who have asked for my advice and then balked at the idea of running cables for surround speakers. Mount a flat panel to the wall or a projector to the ceiling? No problem. Run speaker cables to the back of the room? The thought makes them flinch—I can see it in their eyes even before they start equivocating—and the dark forces of stereo claim another soul.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Nov 07, 2004 Published: Nov 01, 2004 0 comments
Close encounters of the audiophile kind.

Peter Tribeman, Atlantic Technology's CEO and founder, is a serious movie buff. So, when Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind advanced the state of the special-effects art in 1977, Tribeman, a native Bostonian, had to fly to New York City to savor the film's full magnificence—in 70mm, six-track surround—at the legendary Zeigfeld Theater. That's commitment. Not wanting to make the trek alone, he invited Dotty, a woman he had just met at a party, on his quest—"but it wasn't a date." They thoroughly enjoyed the film, immediately flew back to Boston, and married a few years later. Tribeman's wedding present to his bride was a signed Encounters poster: "To Peter and Dotty, on the occasion of their ultimate close encounter. Best Regards, Steven Spielberg." Not bad.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 07, 2004 Published: Nov 01, 2004 0 comments
Infinity's CAI: constant acoustic improvements.
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.

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