Review: So-Na-Wall SonaPod Speakers Page 3


I started my sPodak eval with Death Race, a Blu-ray Disc that was particularly helpful to me in evaluating Audyssey DSX and Dolby Pro Logic IIz. The big-sounding, raucous generi-metal soundtrack that plays during the race scenes highlights the difference between systems with height speakers and those without. With sPodak connected, the sonic presentation sounded much bigger and more exciting, the way I imagine it would have sounded in a commercial cinema during Death Race's cruelly brief theatrical run. I noticed no downsides at all: no artifacts, no frequency response anomalies, nothing.

Next I cued up Ratatouille, another great height-speaker demo disc. The rainstorm that appears in the first few minutes of the movie sounded far more convincing with sPodak connected than without, actually more so than with the Pro Logic IIz systems I've tried. The effect wasn't as in-your-face as I've heard from DSX systems though the sPodak didn't mangle the disembodied voiceover that follows the rainstorm with phasey artifacts the way DSX does.

I ran my system with the sPodak connected for about two weeks, not paying it a whole lot of attention, but waiting to see if some sonic anomaly jumped out at me. Through numerous Blu-ray Discs, TV shows, and documentaries streamed through Netflix, the sPodak never bothered me. I did notice on occasion, when I was focusing more on the sound of the SonaPods, that certain high-frequency sounds pulled my attention into the upper corners of the room. Did it bug me? Maybe slightly, once in a great while, although not anywhere near enough to take away from the excitement the sPodak added to 5.1 programs.

But adding extra drivers to a speaker system must cause some problems somewhere, I figured, so I pulled out some "normal" movies with straightforward orchestral scores and lots of dialogue. First up was the DVD of the children's movie Matilda. I didn't expect the sPodak to have much effect on this tame material, but it actually made the orchestral score sound more theatrical. I finally did notice one slightly weird effect, though, in a scene where a waiter is talking and his voice moves from the center speaker to the right speaker. As his voice traveled to the side, it suddenly sounded bigger. The effect was fleeting, though, and I doubt I'd have noticed it if I weren't listening for it.