For most people, sound bars are the best way to get better sound quality in the living room. They're simple and inexpensive, and don't have all the frustrating wires that come with a true surround-sound system. Sound bars don't sound as good as true separate speakers -- especially with music -- but if you're mostly looking for better sound with movies and TV shows, they're vastly better than your TV's built-in speakers.
Onkyo's rightfully known as the king of AV receiver value and its new 2013 line looks worthy of that reputation.
The company announced its new AV receivers this morning, with the step-up TX-NR626 and TX-NR727 models getting two big new features for 2013: built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. All of the models are also packed with HDMI connectivity, with even the entry-level TX-NR525 offering six inputs.
Here's how I'd break down the most-important features:
TX-NR525 ($500): 5.2 channels, six HDMI inputs, Audyssey MultEQ, networking, unpowered second zone TX-NR626 ($600) step-ups: 7.2 channels, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, … Read more
The real audio power comes from the low end, the bass. When you feel the rumble in your chest, that's bass.
Most of us want this at home, but with myriad subwoofers out there -- and even more specs and sizes -- what's the best choice? Though the simple "the biggest, most powerful you can afford" is easy to say, the correct answer is little more complex.… Read more
Back in February I first posed the question, "Do separate components sound better than AV receivers?" when I checked out the Outlaw Audio 975 surround processor and 7125 power amp and compared their sound with a Denon AVR-1912 AV receiver. The Outlaws handily trumped the receiver.
I ran another comparison with the Denon, this time with the Emotiva UMC-200 seven-channel surround processor ($599) and UPA-500 five-channel amplifier ($399). If you just go by the numbers, the AVR-1912's 90 watts per channel might appear to be slightly ahead of the Emotiva UPA-500 amp, which has 80 watts per … Read more
FreeRIP extracts and converts your audio tracks, as well as detecting CD and song info and making all of that info editable right from the interface. It's easy to start right up with FreeRIP, which supports the most common audio formats--MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, WMA, and WAV. It can also convert files between any of those formats, play your audio files, and edit tags. With the release of version 4.0, the app now adds burning audio CDs to the mix of features that free users can access.
FreeRIP's bare-bones interface is set up for easy access and … Read more
HANOVER, Germany--For those who want to take their music with them, a more convenient option than lugging loudspeakers is now available: fist-sized, battery-powered devices called vibration speakers.
These chunky widgets transform a table, floor, car roof, or even window into a large speaker. One one end is a tweeter for playing higher-frequency pitches, and on the other a driver that moves the surface to which it's attached, converting it into a giant woofer.
The devices were thumping loudly on the CeBIT tech show floor here as manufacturers tried to drum up customers, distributors, retailers, and business partners. … Read more
DoubleTwist (free) If there is an adequate iTunes-like music player available on Android, DoubleTwist is it. It is an incredibly simple app that lets you keep your personal collection organized, sync to your desktop, subscribe to podcasts, and even listen to live radio. It can also function as a video player, though it is unquestionably best for listening to tunes.
One of DoubleTwist's most important features, AirSync, lets you wirelessly sync your Android music collection with your desktop PC. This feature is only available as a $4.99 upgrade, but considering the convenience it offers, it is well worth … Read more
Slacker Radio (free) This is a great option for listening to streaming radio, with an intuitive interface that makes it easy to find what you want quickly. To use Slacker you must sign up for an account or log in with your Facebook credentials.
You can search for artists using a field at the top; check out the Music Guide curated by Slacker; or search by genres, stations you've previously listened to, specialty stations, or news, talk, and sports stations. Each selection on the first screen leads to another list where you can swipe to browse selections to find … Read more
This is an update of a deal I wrote about last year. Hopefully it won't sell out as quickly this time!
Looking to add a decent sound system to your laptop, or even an HDTV? When you're doing an end run around tiny, tinny built-in speakers, there's nowhere to go but up.
Today only, and while supplies last, Overrunz.com has the refurbished Logitech Z313 2.1-channel speaker system for $24.99, plus $5 for shipping. It sells elsewhere for at least $40, and new for $50.
This 25-watt system includes two satellite speakers and a subwoofer. … Read more
I never had any doubt that readers of this blog have the coolest systems, but the magnitude of the flood of homemade speakers, desktop systems, headphones, and all sorts of groovy turntables totally knocked me out. There's some sweet gear here, so click to the slideshow and check out the systems. Thanks to all who sent JPEGs -- I heard from well over 100 readers, so I can't show everyone's gear.