Michael Trei

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Michael Trei Posted: Dec 10, 2014 0 comments
It’s tough to be an audiophile these days. In the ongoing push by those pesky spouses and decorators to make our audio systems increasingly basic, simple, and invisible, some of us have felt the tug to hang our HDTVs on the wall and step down from a full-blown 5.1 surround sound home theater rig to a nice, slender soundbar. More often than not, that means having a subwoofer, typically supplied with the soundbar, just to fill in the bass, which inevitably goes missing during that slimming process. But, depending on how well the sub is integrated and its position in the room, that can often lead to other issues, including localization of deep male voices at the sub and possibly a gap in upper-bass frequency response that becomes most noticeable when playing music.
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Michael Trei Posted: Dec 10, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Detailed, focused sound with tuneful bass
Excellent connectivity and feature set
Nice display
Minus
Can’t disable surround mode
Credit card remote

THE VERDICT
The SoundBase.670 proved itself a great all-rounder that’s at its best for movies and regular TV watching.

ZVOX created the TV soundbase category over a decade ago, but they’ve not been sitting on their heels for the last ten years. While other companies have only just jumped on the bandwagon with a soundbase of their own, ZVOX has continued to expand its offerings and up its game on sound quality and now has eight different soundbase models available.

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Michael Trei Posted: Dec 10, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $350

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clear, transparent sound
Well-thought-out feature set
Minus
Minimal display information
Credit-card membrane remote

THE VERDICT
Pioneer delivers a soundbase that puts good sound ahead of bells and whistles or sheer volume.

Over the last few years, Pioneer’s chief speaker designer Andrew Jones has become kind of a rock star in budget audio circles. Unlike some other companies that simply get a design committee to slap something together for their low-cost gear, Pioneer with Jones at the helm spends months tweaking and refining even the most modest speakers. At the other end of the scale, Jones also designs state-of-the-art speakers for Pioneer’s high-end TAD division, including the $80,000 Reference One, so the man clearly knows his way around a woofer cone.

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Michael Trei Posted: Dec 10, 2014 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $250

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Plays very loud
Lots of hookup options
Good remote
Minus
Sounds congested when pushed hard
Cryptic display
Minimal stereo separation

THE VERDICT
Vizio’s Sound Stand plays remarkably loud for such a small and affordable soundbase, but its sound lacks the finesse of even the company’s own budget soundbars.

With just a pair of 2.75-inch full-range drivers supplemented by a single 5.25-inch “subwoofer,” the Vizio Sound Stand has the most basic driver complement of the three soundbases under review. No amplifier power rating is specified, although, as you’ll read, it’s clear that the Sound Stand has been carefully tweaked to deliver the maximum possible volume.

Michael Trei Posted: May 09, 2013 0 comments

Most of us who write about technology tend to become the go-to guy when friends and family seek gear recommendations. Last Christmas, my 16 year old niece wanted to know about speakers to use with her iPod Touch. When I asked whether she wanted a dock or something that used a cable to connect, the look she shot back told me that I might as well have asked if she wanted 8-Track or cassette.

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Michael Trei Posted: Apr 19, 2012 0 comments

After having been declared dead sometime back in the 1990s, analog turntables and vinyl records have made a strong comeback in recent years. That's great, but for people who come from the CD or iPod generations, it's hard to comprehend just how tweaky the world of analog playback can be. Unlike a CD player or iPod which you simply connect and play, most turntables require careful optimization to deliver the best possible sound.

Michael Trei Posted: Feb 22, 2012 0 comments

Few audio companies are as closely associated with a single individual as Pass Laboratories is with its founder Nelson Pass, a man who has always blazed his own path when it comes to designing audio gear. Pass founded Threshold Electronics back in the early 1970s, but when he wanted to explore new, simpler circuit topologies in the early 1990s, he created Pass Labs as a way to market his latest creations.

The two integrated amps in the Pass Labs line, the INT-150 and INT-30A, are a good example of his less-than-conventional approach, seeing as both appear to be  identical except for the critical question of output power. Physically the two amps are indistinguishable, with exactly the same functions, weight, dimensions, and even price tag. It’s only when you take a peek at the spec sheet that the differences become apparent, with the INT-150 delivering a healthy 150 watts per-channel, while the INT-30A tops out at just one-fifth that amount.

So what gives? Why would anyone buy an inline four when they’re offering you the V-12 for the same money?

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Michael Trei Posted: Nov 10, 2011 0 comments

Bob Carver has always been a speaker designer who thinks outside the box, and also one who tends to ignore so-called experts when they tell him something can’t be done. As the founder of Phase Linear in the 1970s, Carver in the 1980s, and, more recently, Sunfire, Bob has been proving “experts” wrong for over 40 years.

A great example of his unconventional thinking is the Sunfire True Subwoofer, first launched some 15 years ago. Using a brute force approach, this design bent the rules that traditionally defined how much bass you could get from a given size of driver and enclosure, in the process creating what has gone on to become one of the most imitated subwoofers of all time. Now that same mindset has been applied to creating the Dynamic Series SDS-12 — a lower-cost brother for the True Subwoofer, with an asking price 75% less than the original.

Michael Trei Posted: Apr 27, 2011 0 comments

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