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Product Review - Gift List #1 - December, 1996

By John E. Johnson, Jr.

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Well, we have rifled our files and catalogs, ordered and tested, and now we have a list of gifts for that special audiophile friend, spouse, significant other, etc., for whom you have so much trouble figuring out what to give on various occasions. Obviously, our first list is published in time for Christmas (stocking stuffers), but these carefully selected items can be bought and stored away for any time you feel the need. Hey, perhaps you should just print out this list, circle the item(s) you would like, and put it in a visible spot. Depending on whether you are naughty or nice, you might even get what you want.

Felt FeetGift # 1: Felt pads for the bottom of speakers. Lillian Vernon item # 1278 (Furniture Protectors) $9.98/pkg; Lillian Vernon, Inc., Virginia Beach, Virginia 23452; Phone 1-800-285-5555. We found the small ones to be extremely handy when putting bookshelf speakers on... well, shelves of course. However, there are some larger ones in the package that we used on the bottom of our reference Monitor Audio Studio 20SEs when they were sitting on hardwood floors. They make a BIG difference in the cabinet resonance and won't scratch your shelves or floor. Put two of them sticky face-to-face, with the final result being one pair under each corner of the speaker. This doubles the pad thickness and prevents any pad from sticking to the enclosure or the floor (of course, you CAN stick them to the enclosure if you want). Enough pads are supplied for several sets of speakers.

DYNAMITE CD-1 Gift # 2a: DYNAMITE CD-1. The Classical Film Music of Bernard Hermann. (Silva Screen Records America; SSD1051) This is a must have CD for anyone who likes hair raising film scores. Included are musical arrangements from Psycho, Cape Fear, etc., . . . the kind of stuff that will make your skin crawl. A veritable showcase from one of the finest artists who ever composed for the silver screen.

DYNAMITE CD-2 Gift # 2b: DYNAMITE CD-2. The Great Fantasy Adventure Album. (Telarc CD-80342) This CD will put a home theater system to the test, especially the subwoofer. There are some VERY low frequencies in these soundtracks. Lots of stuff by Academy Award winner John Williams, including the theme from Jurassic Park, along with Mr. T- Rex roaring through the bushes. Robin's arrow will whiz overhead in surround sound mode. The music of El Cid is thunderous, and the wide screen laserdisc of this movie is fortunately now at the rental stores.

Gift # 3: AudioQuest Big Feet. Four Sorbothane hemispheres support up to 40 pounds, isolating components from surface-borne vibrations. $60/set of four. AudioQuest, P.O. Box 3060, San Clemente, California 92674; Phone (714) 498-2770; Fax (714) 498-5112. We have found these to be very handy under center channel speakers, CD transports, and laserdisc players (we use them in all three of these situations), helping to prevent vibrations of the platform (top of TV, shelf, etc.) from being transmitted to the component. Unlike rubber balls cut in half, these don't bounce, because Sorbothane does not transmit vibration. An alternate is Little Feet which will support up to 20 pounds and costs $39/set of four.

AudioQuest Jumper Cables Gift # 4: AudioQuest Jumper Cables. I have always wondered why AV Receivers have cheesy little U shaped hooks to connect the pre-outs to the main-ins (see photo). Well, maybe it is so we can buy gadgets like the AQ Jumper Cables (see photo). They use silver conductors, surrounded by Teflon, which is a superb dielectric. Definitely an improvement! They cost $39 for a set of two. AudioQuest, P.O. Box 3060, San Clemente, California 92674; Phone (714) 498-2770; Fax (714) 498-5112.

AudioQuest RF Stoppers Gift # 5: AudioQuest RF Stoppers. Obviously, AudioQuest makes lots of doohickies that we like, and here is another one. RF (Radio Frequencies) is a significant problem, because all the wire in the system, including the AC supply, acts like a radio antenna. These radio frequencies can interfere with the proper handling of audio frequencies. Ferrite is a known absorber of RF, and it is often used at the AC input of components. Well, what about the interconnects? They are antennae too. So, put these around the interconnects just before the plugs. We use them between the preamp and power amp. A set of four large ones is $60, and a set of eight small ones is $39. AudioQuest, P.O. Box 3060, San Clemente, California 92674; Phone (714) 498-2770; Fax (714) 498-5112. AudioQuest products can be mail ordered from Audio Advisor 1-800-942-0220


Gift # 6: CD Jewel Cases. This is something that everyone with a CD collection must have. The cases (called Jewel Cases) are easily cracked or broken, so go down to the Blockbuster Music Store and get a package of 10 for $7.99.

Radio Shack SPL Meter Gift # 7: Radio Shack SPL Meter. This little gizmo has become a staple in audio/home theater rooms across the world. Now they have a digital version as well as the original analog. Get the digital one (Digital Sound Level Meter; Cat # 33-2055; $59.95). It reads 60 dB - 120 dB in 1 dB increments, with "A" and "C" weightings. It is an invaluable tool in optimizing the "sweet spot", balancing various channels for surround sound, subwoofer, etc. If you have to, buy one as a present to yourself. Don't forget the 9V battery.

 


Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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