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Michael Trei Posted: Dec 10, 2014 0 comments
PRICE $250

Plays very loud
Lots of hookup options
Good remote
Sounds congested when pushed hard
Cryptic display
Minimal stereo separation

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
Michael Trei Posted: Dec 10, 2010 0 comments
Ask any audiophile to recommend a decent home-theater-in-a-box (HTiB), and you'll probably get the same kind of vacant stare as from a wine snob who's been asked to name his favorite brand of boxed wine. Although a ready-to-roll system like Panasonic's SC-BT730 may not get an enthusiast's heart racing, it can be a great solution for an average person who wants good performance with a minimum of fuss. Simply add an HDTV to the mix and you'll be ready to go.

Michael Trei Posted: Nov 11, 2010 0 comments
Key Features
$6,875 (as tested)
• MMC 2 on-wall speaker ($1,995/pair): 36 x 4-in quasi-ribbon midrange; 36 x 2-in quasi-ribbon tweeter, 36 x ¼-in quasi-ribbon supertweeter; 50 x 10¼ x 1 in; 13 lb
Michael Trei Posted: Aug 09, 2010 0 comments

With its enviable reputation for creating speakers that push the technological envelope, you might expect a company like B&W to burst on to the headphone market with an all-out effort that aims to rewrite the rulebook.