Bookshelf Speaker Reviews

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Steve Guttenberg  |  Dec 14, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 15, 2004  |  0 comments
Hallelujah! A custom-installation speaker package even an audiophile can love.

Klipsch's new THX Ultra2 speaker system boldly goes where poseur speakers fear to tread. Let's face it, the speaker industry is obsessed with producing ever skinnier and sleeker designs; you know, the sort of trendy speakers that look cool straddling plasma TVs. For their new high-end line, Klipsch's product planners took a different approach: The THX Ultra2's raison d'étre is the rapidly expanding custom-installation market. No doubt most of these big-'n'-brawny speakers will be tucked out of sight or flush-mounted in a posh home theater, but I'd bet a bunch of these systems will be sold to performance-oriented buyers. They're that good.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Nov 07, 2004  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2004  |  0 comments
Follow the bouncing surrounds.

There's more than one way to skin a cat—as mine will quickly discover if he claws my armchair again—and surround sound needs skinning. I've lost count of the number of potential home theater buffs who have asked for my advice and then balked at the idea of running cables for surround speakers. Mount a flat panel to the wall or a projector to the ceiling? No problem. Run speaker cables to the back of the room? The thought makes them flinch—I can see it in their eyes even before they start equivocating—and the dark forces of stereo claim another soul.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Nov 07, 2004  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2004  |  0 comments
Close encounters of the audiophile kind.

Peter Tribeman, Atlantic Technology's CEO and founder, is a serious movie buff. So, when Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind advanced the state of the special-effects art in 1977, Tribeman, a native Bostonian, had to fly to New York City to savor the film's full magnificence—in 70mm, six-track surround—at the legendary Zeigfeld Theater. That's commitment. Not wanting to make the trek alone, he invited Dotty, a woman he had just met at a party, on his quest—"but it wasn't a date." They thoroughly enjoyed the film, immediately flew back to Boston, and married a few years later. Tribeman's wedding present to his bride was a signed Encounters poster: "To Peter and Dotty, on the occasion of their ultimate close encounter. Best Regards, Steven Spielberg." Not bad.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Nov 07, 2004  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2004  |  0 comments
Infinity's CAI: constant acoustic improvements.
Daniel Kumin  |  Oct 15, 2004  |  0 comments

No, these aren't HTiB systems - home theaters in a box. You'll need to add more than just a TV to them before you can kick back and enjoy a movie theaterlike experience at home.

Kevin Hunt  |  Aug 19, 2004  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2004  |  0 comments
Is that all there is? The one-speaker HTIB.

Throw Niro Nakamichi's name at the iPod generation, and you'll stump the panel. To an older generation, however, Nakamichi's three-head cassette deck, the Nakamichi 1000, elevated the lowly cassette to the world of the best recording medium of the day, the cumbersome reel-to-reel tape deck. In a way, the Nakamichi 1000 was an iPod forebear in the miniaturization and portability of recorded sound. After the Nakamichi family sold the company name in 1998, Niro Nakamichi started Mechanical Research to develop big-ticket electronics like the awe-inspiring $22,000 Niro 1000 Power Engine monoblock amplifier.

Daniel Kumin  |  Jul 26, 2004  |  0 comments

Back in hi-fi's golden age, there used to be hot debates over "East Coast" vs. "West Coast" sound - no doubt a tame forerunner of the hip-hop wars of the '90s. East Coast speakers were thought to be smooth and mellow, with "concert-hall" sound best suited to classical music and jazz.

Daniel Kumin  |  Jul 26, 2004  |  0 comments

Artison is a new speaker company with more going for it than just a clever name. It also boasts an impeccable pedigree (creator Cary Christie was a founder of industry pillar Infinity), some classy, smart industrial design, and a well-considered answer to the puzzle of how to mate plasma TVs with serious home theater speakers.

HT Staff  |  May 28, 2004  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2004  |  0 comments
Artison Portrait Speaker System and Velodyne DD-12 Subwoofer
Daniel Kumin  |  May 27, 2004  |  0 comments

High-tech wonders like the DVD and Dolby Digital get much of the credit, but the home theater revolution owes just as much to a more mundane development: compact, affordable subwoofer/ satellite speaker systems.

Kevin Hunt  |  May 01, 2004  |  0 comments
Athena's on the money with a petite 5.1 system.

It's called Micra—as in micron and minute—but Athena Technologies really didn't have to be so modest when naming their latest, and smallest, home theater speaker system. Micra, although dead-on accurate, somehow doesn't do justice to this rockin' little package. Visually, it's Micra. Monetarily, it's Micra. But sonically, it's definitely maxi, as in maximum volume. . . and maximum value.

Daniel Kumin  |  Mar 08, 2004  |  0 comments

Many of the new speaker designs I've seen recently look more like a wing, an orb, or an obelisk than a speaker, so it was reassuring to unpack this latest system from Paradigm Reference, the high-end division of Paradigm. The Studio 40 v.3 front left/right speakers are solidly conventional, quadrilateral boxes.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Mar 01, 2004  |  0 comments
Little speakers with big aspirations.

It must be something of a conundrum for speaker designers: Today's buyers are demanding more and more from smaller and smaller speakers. The designers' incredible shrinking speakers work their mojo with ever-more-innovative cabinet designs, and their high-tech drivers push the performance envelope. At least that's what they tell me. No doubt some of their more-extreme claims are jive techno babble, but that's OK—the sonic truth will inevitably be laid bare when the pedal hits the metal on the Fast and the Furious DVD. The pint-size speakers better deliver the goods. . .or else.

Adrienne Maxwell  |  Feb 01, 2004  |  0 comments
The TSS-750 speaker system adds a new chapter to the entry-level guidebook.

Ah, the life of an audio reviewer is a glamorous one indeed. Lugging around speakers and subwoofers. Continually connecting systems, checking levels, tweaking placement, checking levels again, yada yada yada. Spending hours sitting in a room listening to movie and music tracks that you've watched and listened to so many times, your brain is suffering from burn-in. Yep, with all of this glamour, it might come as a surprise for you to learn that even we audio reviewers fall into the dreaded rut now and then.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Nov 10, 2003  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2003  |  0 comments
Feeling blah? I've got the cure.

My friend Gene is a professional musician. Back in the early '80s, he used Klipsch Heresys as PA speakers in clubs. One hot August afternoon, I dropped by his Greenwich Village apartment. Just for fun, he set up the Heresys at home. Hot damn, I was absolutely floored! The first LP (remember, this was in the pre-digital era) he played was the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street. Oh man, I thought I knew that record inside out, but not like that—the Klipschs sounded like a mini version of a concert system. We listened at extremely high levels, easily 100-plus decibels. Gene's neighbors must have thought Mick and the boys were gigging in his apartment.

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