<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/headshot150.mf.jpg" WIDTH=150 HEIGHT=180 HSPACE=6 VSPACE=4 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Voom shut down for good on April 30, 2005. It was sad to watch the promise of an HDTV-based satellite system with almost 40 HD channels, including a lineup of stations unique to Voom, go dark. Ten of those channels should be available on Dish Network by the time you read this, which isn't surprising—EchoStar, Dish Network's parent company, recently bought the Voom satellite and other assets.
<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/headshot150.mf.jpg" WIDTH=150 HEIGHT=180 HSPACE=6 VSPACE=4 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>A <I>Wall Street Journal</I> exposé last April on television "tech gurus" who are paid by manufacturers to show products on the air caught the attention of many media watchdogs. The story, by James Bandler, also caught a buzz among working journalists, including those of us at <I>Stereophile</I> and <I>UAV</I>, since the story's main focus was on former <I>Stereophile</I> writer and current <I>Today Show</I> tech editor Corey Greenberg.
<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/headshot150.mf.jpg" WIDTH=150 HEIGHT=180 HSPACE=6 VSPACE=4 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>This column had to be submitted just <I>before</I> I left home for CEDIA so predictions are all I have to offer you here. Based on the feeding frenzy of calls and emails coming my way in the months leading up to the convention from manufacturers and PR flaks alike, this year's Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association's annual EXPO is going to be a frantic carnival of a convention.
<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/headshot150.mf.jpg" WIDTH=150 HEIGHT=180 HSPACE=6 VSPACE=4 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Out-of-the-box product failure is an unfortunate fact of life for both consumers and reviewers. Failure curves for most consumer-electronics products spike early and then drop sharply to residual levels (unless they're lemons) until late in their life expectancies when they once again begin to rise, though gradually this time.
Price: $11,250 At A Glance: Silky-smooth sonics • Refined, furniture-grade cabinetry • Depth-charge deep bass
Show Vienna Acoustics’ living-room-friendly Beethoven Baby Grand system to your hesitant significant other, and you might get the long-awaited nod you’ve been looking for. This is a speaker system an interior-design-conscious, non–audio enthusiast can make peace with.
Price: $58,390 At A Glance: Huge dynamics • Enormous, transparent soundstage • Foundation shaking, boom-free, tuneful bass • Exquisite musical delicacy
Painting Pictures With Sound
To produce room-filling sound, a speaker has to move a lot of air—even in a relatively small room. Moving a lot of air, particularly in a big room, necessitates a large woofer placed in an even larger box. Refrigerator-sized speakers were commonplace in audiophiles’ living rooms back in the 1950s. When stereo arrived and required two large expanses of wood-framed grille cloth, significant others objected. Downsizing began, aided in part by Edgar Villchur’s invention of the sealed-box acoustic-suspension woofer.
Price: $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.