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.
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.
Ever since TVs morphed into something we can hang on the wall like a picture, the tolerance for speakers that take up as much space as regular furniture has gone the way of the Mediterranean-style walnut console.
Connecting and configuring a home theater rig can be pretty daunting. Just one quick glance at those long rows of connectors covering the back panel on most A/V receivers is enough to scare away many potential buyers.
Most of the big recent news in audio has involved a seemingly endless stream of new surround sound formats. First came uncompressed multichannel Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks on Blu-ray Disc. Then last year the listening experience reached new heights as Dolby ProLogic IIz and Audyssey DSX processing brought the vertical axis of our home theaters into play. Now it looks like the surround folks are finally taking a breather, which means we can swing the spotlight back over to stereo, where some big changes have been taking place.