All Systems Are Go! Page 5

A neat feature lets you choose how many speakers will play in any mode (you could play stereo CDs over five speakers, for instance). There are also comprehensive equalization, crossover, and tone controls so you can fine-tune your multichannel system's sound. This receiver lets you operate the basics with just a few buttons, but there are also plenty of sophisticated controls to satisfy any audiophile urges you might have. Kumin concluded that the AVR307 "will certainly please the more technically adventurous shopper, as well as those who demand very high power and performance levels along with tremendous adaptability to different kinds of system setups and room acoustics."

Let's be honest. A high-class system has to look at least as good as it sounds - and for a beautiful lady like you, I'd recommend the beautiful MartinLogan Scenario speaker system ($5,185, September 2000), made up of the Scenario left/right front speakers, the Script surround speakers (not shown), and the Cinema center speaker. This system looks as good as it sounds, and it sounds utterly fantastic. Electrostatic speakers like these have a wonderfully clean, transparent sound that seems precisely natural.

Al Griffin affirmed that this system's "unique looks are sure to satisfy listeners who care about styling, while its hybrid dynamic/electrostatic design yields a refined sound that's a clear cut above what you'll hear from your average home theater speakers." This system's presence, imaging, and sense of spaciousness will impress even the snobby audiophiles who somehow manage to crash your parties.

But electrostatics do fall short in the bass. That's handled here by using conventional cone woofers for everything below 500 Hz. So if you like to rock out now and then, you'll want to add a powered subwoofer like the Velodyne SPL-1200 ($1,399, June). This power-packed sub has a 750-watt Class D amplifier and a nice big 12-inch driver with a multilayer resin cone and die-cast aluminum basket. As Tom Nousaine put it in his report, "When I ventured underground with The Matrix, The Jackal, and End of Days, the SPL-1200 put me in the subway, surrounding me with heavy ambient sound, shaking my floor and rocking my chair." The cabinet - a 15-inch cube - is a little large, but its black woodgrain vinyl finish is unobtrusive.

Finally, for your video needs, I recommend the Pioneer Elite Pro-510HD 53-inch widescreen rear-projection monitor ($6,300, June). The 16:9 screen is set in a cabinet whose black lacquer finish rivals anything Steinway can offer. More important, it can display stunning high-definition pictures from an external HDTV tuner and almost as stunning standard-definition pictures from the Integra DVD player's progressive-scan output.

The Pioneer's line doubler also does a terrific job of converting standard interlaced video inputs to progressive scan. As a result, the set's picture "looked excellent with every source I tried," said reviewer David Katzmaier. "In the helicopter-attack chapter of Apocalypse Now, the deep orange and blue of the sky and sea look spectacular, and the shadows inside the choppers showed fine gradations of gray." But as with any videophile monitor, you might want to ask an expert for help in tweaking the factory settings a bit. So give me a call anytime.

  • Pioneer Elite Pro-510HD rear-projection HDTV monitor ($6,300) | 800-746-6337
  • Onkyo Integra DPS-9.1 DVD-Audio/Video player ($1,800) | 201-785-2600
  • B&K AVR307 digital surround receiver ($3,500) | 800-543-5252
  • MartinLogan Scenario front speakers ($1,995), Script surround speakers ($1,795), and Cinema center speaker ($1,395) | 785-749-0133
  • Velodyne SPL-1200 subwoofer ($1,399) | 408-436-7270