Bowers and Wilkin's (B&W) is a name that anyone even casually interested in audio and speaker manufacturers will undoubtedly know. With their distinctive look and stellar reputation, B&W speakers have found their way not just into many home audio set-ups, but also of the world's most iconic professional recording studios (raise your hand if you've seen the picture of an array of B&W speakers and Classé electronics at Abbey Road studios). Despite having known of B&W for as long as I've been involved in this field, I have personally had little experience with the speakers directly. I was therefore excited to have the opportunity to evaluate the B&W's 805 Diamond bookshelf and HTM4 center channel speaker and I am eager to pass along my thoughts.
Receivers are hard to review. It's almost impossible to directly compare them to another model as there is so much wiring involved. Attempting to rely on memory has its own challenges, as it can be unreliable when it comes to audio. With all the difference sections of a receiver, from audio and video handling, to room correction and amplifiers, it is difficult to determine what is performing right and what is wrong. It was with great anticipation I delved into the new Arcam AVR750 receiver, the flagship model from the well-regarded UK company.
The "soundbar" business must be booming, or at least manufacturers are banking on it doing so, as just about everyone has come out with one if not several offerings. The gambit seems logical: jam a bunch of audio transducers into an enclosure which tucks in under the typical display panel, usually with a separate small subwoofer, offering better-than-built-in sound. Onkyo is a big name in consumer AV, best known perhaps for their much lauded Surround Sound Receivers. The subject of the current review is their latest take on this mass market soundbar segment: The LS-B50, part of their "EnvisionCinema" line of products.
The HP20 is a welcome addition to the in-ear (earbud) headphone family from none other than NAD. These little guys pack a lot of punch into a small package and at $169 they cost almost half as much as the $299 NAD HP50 headphones. Like the HP50, the HP20 also takes advantage of the years of research spent at the acoustic labs of Canada's National Research Council. This research is what Paul Barton utilized to create RoomFeel, the concept of making a headphone sound more like listening to a pair of speakers in a room.
GoldenEar Technology has been making some fairly dramatic waves in the loudspeaker market over the past few years. The Triton Seven home theater system, reviewed here, is anchored by the Triton Seven stereo loudspeakers for front left and right channels. The rest of the system consists of the SuperCenter XL center channel speaker, the ForceField 5 subwoofer and two pairs of SuperSat 3 bookshelf speakers for side and rear surround duty. This makes a full 7.1 channel home theater speaker setup with an MSRP of about $4200. That's definitely not home-theater-in-a-box money, but it's actually a reasonable sum to spend for someone who cares about getting good sound. So….let's see how these babies stack up!
The Alpha PS1s are PSB's first powered speakers, and are bookshelf in size. Driven by built-in Class D amplifiers, they feature 3.5" metalized polypropylene main drivers and 0.75" aluminum dome tweeters in elegant ported enclosures. These speakers are the latest member of PSB's Alpha line which has been very popular and well received by the audio press and consumers alike. Late last year, PSB announced they would be releasing a super compact powered subwoofer. This new sub was designed to go along with PSB's incredible little PSB Alpha PS1 ($299) desktop speakers that I reviewed in July 2013. So I promptly requested a review sample as I wanted to write this quick follow-up to my earlier review.
B&W 601S2s were the first loudspeaker I ever bought for myself. Charged on a credit card in college, and beyond what I should have spent, they wound up saving me hundreds of dollars in the long run. With their intoxicating sound, far beyond anything I'd owned before, I'd spend hours listening to them. With a 300-disc CD changer and a La-Z-Boy recliner, many nights and weekends were spent listening to albums uninterrupted. As soon as the new CM10 tower speaker was introduced, I set out to spend some quality time with it and return to where the audiophile in me was born.
The S-550i is the larger of two new integrated amps from Krell. Both of these amps feature circuit boards that utilize surface mount components. This means they can pack more power into smaller chassis than ever before. The S-550i is rated at 275 watts per channel into 8 ohms, and that doubles to 550 wpc into a 4 ohm load. This being from a box that is less than 6 inches tall. So now you can get tons of Krell goodness in a small package and at a very affordable price.
1983. The compact disc is introduced and record companies everywhere rejoice at the prospect of selling everyone worse sounding versions of music they already own. The universe, however, seeks a balance. The same year, Naim unleashes the first Nait integrated amplifier and the product category is never the same. The runtish, low-powered amplifier was controversial on many fronts, but its astonishing degree of musicality was never in dispute. The Naim Supernait 2 integrated amplifier does not deviate from their unique path that began more than three decades ago.
The NAD HP50 is the latest headphone design from Paul Barton, founder of PSB, a sister company of NAD, and features a new trademarked concept called RoomFeel. RoomFeel attempts to recreate the sound of listening to high-end speakers in a room. Most listening rooms add a low frequency bump to the sound that is often not taken into account when designing headphones. A room gain compensation transfer function was developed to add a +3 dB per octave boost from 200Hz down to 50Hz in order to replicate the fuller, warmer sound of a room. Clearly a lot of time and engineering has gone into the development of these headphones, the only question is, did it pay off? Yes it most certainly did.
Horn speakers have been around nearly a century. They were used in movie theaters when the films became "talkies", and their advantage is that they are extremely efficient, which is good, because the power amplifiers in the theaters during the 1930's were very low powered. Linn Audio has built horn speakers for several decades, but most hi-fi enthusiasts may never have heard a horn speaker. They are characterized by wonderful, effortless midrange. The Linn Audio Athenaeum horn speakers are reviewed here.
Listening to my records one night, I received an email from Susan Johnson asking if I would be willing to review the Emotiva Stealth DC-1. Would I ever! Last year I tried the Emotiva USP-1 preamp and UPA-200 amp in my system and I have been very happy with the combination. Needless to say I was very curious to see and hear this reference piece from Emotiva.
Don't you often wonder why expensive televisions are sold with speakers that sound like they're made of tissue paper and powered by a cell phone? No matter what the price of the set, it always seems that sound quality receives little of the design budget. This results in predictable audio quality – tinny, prone to distortion, and adequate only for the most basic of dialogue. The good news is that there ARE alternatives! Pinnacle Speakers offers an array of high quality powered sound bars, surround speakers, subwoofers, and in-wall/in-ceiling speakers that can bring your television's sound to life!
The new "X" line of M&K Sound subwoofers consists of three models: the X8, X10, and X12. When asked how the new "X" line subwoofers were different from the previous generation, Claus Glaesner, President of M&K Sound USA, replied, "These subwoofers are a major step up in every way from our previous subwoofers. The build quality, driver quality, and sound quality represent a new reference level of subwoofer that was previously not available on the market."
Anthem's second-generation MRX receivers now offer more HDMI inputs, dual HDMI outputs, 4K upscaling and pass-through, faster HDMI switching and come in three models with the primary difference being the amount of amplification and number of channels. The entry level receiver is the MRX 310, which offers 80 watts per channel for 5.1 channels. The MRX 510 is the middle receiver in the MRX lineup and offers 100 watts per channel for 7.1 channels. The flagship model is the MRX 710, reviewed here, which offers 120 watts per channel for 7.1 channels. As for other differences between models, the MRX 710 and MRX 510 allow the front left and right speakers to be bi-amped. The MRX 710 and MRX 510 have seven rear and one front-panel HDMI input, while the MRX 310 has seven rear HDMI inputs. All three models support software updates via USB.
Marantz is one of the legendary names in audio and has remained a brand noted for high quality audio devices from power amplifiers to CD/SACD players, integrated amplifiers, home theater receivers and processors. The PM6005 integrated amp and CD6005 CD player are part of Marantz' Slim Line components and are updated versions of the PM 6004 integrated amplifier and CD 6004 CD player reviewed by Secrets' writer Jared Rachwalski in May, 2012.
Compared to mounting a flat panel TV, installing a projector is a pain. You need to get the screen perfectly level and flush with the wall. Then you have to mount the projector to precisely line up with the screen. It has to be perfectly parallel to the screen or you'll see distortion. Getting the projector perfectly level usually means lifting it up to make small adjustments to the feet, placing the projector down, and checking again. Since I review multiple projectors every year, I do this dance too many. By the time I get a projector perfect it's almost time to box it up and send it back to the company. The PJT40 projector mount from OmniMount is designed to make this easier than before and so I decided to install one in my home theater to find out.
The ADE-24.1 Analog Digital Enhancer is an accessory that has been around for a long time. It works at low voltage (e.g., RCA analog output from CD player, iPod, etc.) and manipulates the harmonics. I got one of these units at the California Audio Show and the demonstration definitely indicated that it could improve sound (make it sound more appealing, and widen the sound stage), so I decided to bench test it to see what it does.
The REL T-9 subwoofer is the largest sub in REL's "Serie T" line. It is a solidly built sub with a 10" Ultra Long Throw main driver, a 10" front-firing passive radiator and a 300 watt Class A/B plate amp. In keeping with REL innovation (and tradition), theT-9 has a number of flexible hook up schemes, the most unique being by way of the included high level hook-up cable.
I am probably in the minority now. I am still a dinosaur that watches almost all of their movies off of physical discs instead of streaming, downloads, or Pay-Per-View. I do watch plenty of streaming content, as it is convenient, but I can't bring myself to pay for an inferior quality product that I download compared to buying a disc at the store. Now after spending a month with the Kaleidescape Cinema One Media Server, I can see a future, one that is very close, where I won't buy a disc again. I see a reality where convenience and quality are not mutually exclusive. What does the Kaleidescape do that has managed to change my mind about this? A lot.