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TOWER SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 18, 2008 Published: Dec 18, 2007 0 comments
Dress your home in cherry and amber.

If I didn't know better, I'd suspect some kind of hands-across-the-water design coordination in this month's Spotlight System. When the people at Aperion Audio hit upon the handsome cherry veneer finish that graces the Intimus 533 Cinema HD speaker system, the last thing on their mind was the amber display, a longstanding traditional trait, incidentally, of Yamaha receivers. Nonetheless, a harmony did arise between the two golden hues. Of course, the speakers also come in a high-gloss, piano-black finish, but then, the receiver has a black chassis. This merely proves my point, doesn't it?

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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Jan 18, 2008 Published: Dec 18, 2007 0 comments
Three Ones in this five.

There are two questions you could—maybe should—be asking right now. The first, "Didn't y'all just review some PSB speakers a few months ago?" And two: "Aren't you the video editor?" Well, yes. That either question should come to mind should say something about these speakers.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 10, 2007 0 comments
Back when surround sound meant Dolby Pro-Logic, most informed enthusiasts preferred dipole or bipole surround speakers. Since Pro-Logic was an analog matrix system that derived four channels from two, resulting in a monophonic surround channel, the idea was to create as diffuse a surround sound field as possible to avoid "localizing" the position of the speakers and to prevent the creation of a "phantom" center channel for those sitting midway between the surrounds.
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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 10, 2007 0 comments
Back when surround sound meant Dolby Pro-Logic, most informed enthusiasts preferred dipole or bipole surround speakers. Since Pro-Logic was an analog matrix system that derived four channels from two, resulting in a monophonic surround channel, the idea was to create as diffuse a surround sound field as possible to avoid "localizing" the position of the speakers and to prevent the creation of a "phantom" center channel for those sitting midway between the surrounds.
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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Nov 15, 2007 0 comments
Sound design.

A few weeks before I started on this review, I went to a press event in New York City for the premiere of a "re-performance" of Glenn Gould's legendary 1955 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations. No, they didn't play a new CD or even the original master tape; we heard Mr. Gould, who passed away in 1982, virtually playing a Yamaha Disklavier Pro concert grand piano. And it was no scam. Zemph Studios (a music technology company based in Raleigh, North Carolina) converted the original recording to high-resolution MIDI files and played them back over this very special Yamaha piano. The concert thrilled everyone, especially those in attendance who were lucky enough to have heard the flesh-and-blood Gould perform back in the day. The event organizers gave each of us a copy of the new Sony/ BMG Masterworks SACD of the re-performance.

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Fred Manteghian Posted: Nov 15, 2007 0 comments

So here I sit, my furniture all rearranged like an overcrowded antique store, just so I can be in the sweet spot. It is speaker review time again at the Manteghians.' It takes a long time to break out and set up speakers, and you've lots of boxes to deal with. But the simplicity of a speaker is what is most appealing. No HDMI to DVI handshaking problems, no video cross-coding issues, no 3:2 pulldown. You just sit down and listen to music and watch movies. Of course, it's only enjoyable when the speakers in question sound great – like this Definitive Technology Mythos system does.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Oct 22, 2007 0 comments
A bigger bang.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit up front that I have a thing for big speakers. Not because they can play louder, reproduce much wider dynamics, and make more bass than smaller speakers—it's that the big ones are just more fun to listen to. Yes, a lot of them come with big price tags, and Klipsch's full-size Reference RF-83 Home Theater definitely sounds pricey. Its formidable transparency and resolution are a big part of that; you hear subtleties that other speakers gloss over. When I turn up the volume, the sound's character doesn't change, and there's no sense of increasing distortion or strain; the sound simply grows louder. No small speaker I've used, and certainly no in-wall speaker I've heard (no matter how advanced or expensive), has matched the big References' ease under pressure. The six-piece Klipsch Reference RF-83 system sells for $6,394, a slam-dunk bargain, at least by high-end standards. Stereophile magazine reviews interconnect cables with a price tag higher than that.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 21, 2007 0 comments

The Revel Ultima series has survived for an unusually long time in the competitive loudspeaker market. I reviewed a Revel Ultima home theater package built around the stand-mounted <A HREF="http://ultimateavmag.com/speakersystems/44/">Ultima Gem</A> way back in 1998. When a line of speakers can remain a fixture in the audio world for so long, largely unchanged, it's a reflection on its solid performance out of the gate.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 15, 2007 Published: Oct 15, 2007 0 comments
Surround that stretches for miles.

Although they're now owned by Klipsch, Mirage continues to follow their own ears. The Toronto-based company's name derives from a key design goal—to make speakers so immersive that the listener forgets the product is in the room. In addition to a goal, Mirage also has a method: to favor more omnidirectional sound over direct sound using an unusual reflector assembly built into the top of the speaker, creating a spacious feeling that is the company's sonic signature.

Jerry Kindela Posted: Nov 15, 2007 Published: Oct 15, 2007 0 comments
Price-sensitive yet refined, sophisticated sound.

Paul Barton doesn't merely talk about Canada's National Research Council; he preaches about the facility, acting as the Billy Graham for Canadian scientific research. And well he should. The NRC was founded to provide scientific, practical, and developmental support to Canadian companies wishing to compete in a global economy. Barton began using the NRC's facilities and its scientific minds in 1974, just two short years after he launched a modest little speaker company called PSB. Within a year, PSB released the Avante, the first speaker the company designed with the NRC's help. Since then, Barton has continued to design well-received and well-reviewed speakers, each delivered with assistance from the NRC facilities.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 05, 2007 0 comments

Spending a lazy summer afternoon running wires around the room to hook up a 5.1-channel speaker system is not a favorite family activity. Polls have shown, in fact, that most consumers who buy home-theater-in-a-box systems never even hook up the surrounds. Or if they do, they put them up front, further apart than the left and right speakers! Of course, that doesn't apply to owners of more advanced systems. Or does it?

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 03, 2007 Published: Aug 03, 2007 0 comments
We could be heroes.

What would your life be like if you'd married the first person you ever dated? If you want a great home theater system, sometimes it pays to dig deeper. OK, American Acoustic Development (AAD) stands in the shadow of larger and more prestigious brands, so this may be the first time AAD's M Series speakers have come to your attention. And you're not likely to find the Rotel RSX-1057 receiver in the big chain stores that fill cavernous spaces with little worth hearing. But these two brands have more to offer than many of their market-leading, deep-pocketed rivals.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Sep 03, 2007 Published: Aug 03, 2007 0 comments
Melodious metal.

Monitor Audio has the metal thing down. I remember thinking that after my first encounter with a pair of Monitor Studio speakers in the mid-1980s. In those days, metal drivers had a reputation for adding an annoying metallic zing to the sound, but the Monitors were as sweet as could be. Over the years, Monitor continued to hone the technology; even now, when there are a lot of great-sounding speakers with metal drivers, to my ear, nobody does it better. Monitor's current product range includes a healthy selection of custom-install models and the heavy-metal contenders, which run from the entry-level Bronze, the Silver, the Gold, and up to the flagship Platinum speaker lines.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jul 30, 2007 0 comments
Supersize me.

When it comes to TVs and speakers, bigger is most definitely better. Smaller models can be perfectly acceptable, and, in small rooms, they're a necessity. But, if you have the space, you can't beat a large screen matched with a set of heavyweight speakers and subwoofers. The appeals of big-screen video and high-end audio are not so different; both deliver incredible scale, clarity, lifelike depth, and a more emotional experience. The only downside to a big system is that, once you get used to living with it, there's no going back; a 30-inch TV and pint-sized speakers won't get your mojo working ever again.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jul 16, 2007 Published: Jun 16, 2007 0 comments
An affordable speaker system you just might take a shine to.

My daughter has been coming home recently with holes in her slacks—and, no, they aren't the holes she puts her legs through, as she wryly pointed out the other day. (That's what I get for raising a family full of wiseacres.) The cause of these holes is a bit of a mystery, seeing as how they appear and reappear at the same spots on each leg at random times. I've toyed with the idea of treating them as the fashion equivalent of crop circles or the result of an obsessive-compulsive moth, but these are, as you might conclude, unfulfilling answers. None of her peers have similar apparel problems, so it appears to be an extremely localized phenomenon. It remains an enigma.

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