The name is different, but the speakers are basically the same. MK Sound’s resurrection of the classic 150THX speaker system delivers controlroom sound to those seeking precision, clarity, and detail in their movie and music presentation.
AT A GLANCE Plus
Neutral tonal balance
Honest vocal and dialogue presentation
Handsome, understated looks
Limited volume output
Fine vocal and musical balance from an elegant, though not inexpensive, soundbar.
Pity the poor soundbar, the dancing bear of the audio world. (The audience applauds not how well the bear dances, but the fact that he dances at all.) And pity more the poor soundbar reviewer, tasked with saying something cogent about a not-inexpensive product that, while worlds better than any TV’s built-in speakers, is almost always demonstrably inferior to any number of affordable freestanding speaker suites, including the same manufacturer’s. Monitor Audio is a long-established, widely respected maker of just such speaker suites, a firm that presumably can read the handwriting on the wall just as well as the next guy: s-o-u-n-d-b-a-r-s-&-h-e-a-d-p-h-o-n-e-s.
If, that is, you consider the new Clarity HD Multimedia Speakers from MonsterCable (yes, the ex$pensive-wire people) to be "desktop audio." I do – they're flanking my 20-inch monitor as I write this, and while it's true that they rather crowd the work-top, they sound sweet enough in doing so that I'm willing to overlook their bulk.
AT A GLANCE Plus
Fine performance and sound
No mute control
Limited detail in volume readout
As an integrated amplifier/DAC combo for serious listeners, the D 3020’s audio quality and value are unmistakable.
Audio types old enough to have viewed Chevy Chase’s pratfalls live rather than on demand may remember an unprepossessing integrated amplifier from an unfamiliar brand. The NAD 3020, despite a power rating laughably modest even in 1978 (20 watts per channel) and next to no features, gained notice because, as the lore went, “it sounded great.” And it did—thanks to intelligent amplifier design, a conservative power rating, and the value—widely underappreciated, then and now—of dynamic headroom.
Almost 20 years ago matrix-encoded Dolby Surround videotapes and laserdiscs brought surround sound to home theaters. Almost 15 years ago Dolby Pro Logic decoding raised the ante by extracting a center-channel signal from Dolby Surround recordings. And more than half a decade has passed since Dolby Digital brought discrete digital 5.1-channel surround sound home.
Audio Performance Video Performance Features Ergonomics Value
AT A GLANCE Plus
HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2-compliant
Solid amplifier performance
Fine Qdeo video processing on tap
Upgradeable for Dolby Atmos
Some menu layouts a bit unintuitive
Cramped, non-illuminated remote
Onkyo’s latest high-value offering arrives in an up-to-the-minute HDMI 2.0 flavor.
Want to know what next year’s $700 AV receivers will offer? Just take a look at this year’s $1,000 models. With every spring season, a whole new crop of receivers sprouts up, offering more for less. Competitive pressures and the relentless march of HDMI standards are the likely catalysts, but whatever the reasons, all the major brands roll out whole phalanxes of new AVRs. And with each iteration, last year’s step-up features seem to move one place lower on the price grid.