MonoPrice's speakers and subwoofers may be priced at the extreme low end, but they offer respectable performance for very little money. I wrote about the company's subs a few days ago, today we'll look at two MonoPrice "bookshelf" speakers: the 8250 ($28 per pair) and the 8251 ($54 a pair). When the speakers and subs are used together they can serve as a viable alternative to a sound bar home theater system, for buyers who already have a receiver.
I've heard some surprisingly decent-sounding, dirt-cheap speakers over the years, but quality subwoofer prices bottom out around $250. Sure, you can find deals on closeout models for less, but $250 or so has defined the lower limit of what you'd have to pay for a nice subwoofer.
That's what I thought, until I heard MonoPrice's 8-inch, 60-watt powered sub (model 8248). It sells for $57. Granted, for that kind of money my expectations were low, but the sub's fit and finish are respectable. The black wood cabinet measures 13.75 inches by 11.75 inches … Read more
Lets face it: sound bars are popular mostly because they reduce home theater clutter. The other big plus is that they eliminate the need to buy an AV receiver, and the cost savings can be considerable. That's all good, but I'm still waiting to hear a sound bar an audiophile could love.
I had hopes for Klipsch's new Gallery G-42 sound bar ($699), but it doesn't have internal amplifiers, so it must be used with a receiver. That's potentially a very positive sign, because the amps built into sound bars aren't as good or as powerful as the ones in Denon, NAD, Onkyo, Pioneer, or Yamaha receivers. Like all Klipsch speakers, the G-42 sports horn-loaded tweeters (more on that later). The sound bar is part of a new Klipsch series of Gallery speakers and 5.1 channel speaker packages.
Decked out with a gorgeous glossy black finish, the G-42 has a high-end sheen, and its 6-inch-high, 42-inch-wide, and 2.4-inch-deep cabinet feels sturdy. The 12-pound speaker can be wall-mounted or set on a cabinet with the included table top stand. The rear panel houses all-metal connectors for the speaker's left, center, and right channels. … Read more
A lot of people think good sound is good sound, but music and movies have very different requirements. Starting with home theater, remember that today's films have nearly unlimited soft-to-loud dynamic range; dialogue is mixed to the center channel; surround effects may be ambient or point-sourced; and deep bass demands can be extreme. Just about every feature film released over the last 20 years has a multichannel soundtrack.
How different is music? Let me count the ways: an exceedingly small number of new music recordings are available in multichannel sound; stereo rules in the music world; most, probably 99 … Read more
I cover a lot of high-end, audiophile-oriented gear in this blog, but I also love finding great-sounding affordable products. Match any of the stereo speakers on this list with any amp from my post on "Top 10 great-sounding amplifiers from $40 to $450," and you'll get amazing sound value. Unless noted otherwise, the prices listed are for pairs of speakers.
Dayton B652 ($40) The price is no typo; the Dayton Audio B652 is a midsize, black vinyl-covered monitor speaker, 11.7 inches high, 7.1 inches wide, and 6.5 inches deep. Fit and finish are decent, but the rear panel's spring-clip wire connectors won't provide a tight grip on the wires, so they may fall out when you move the speakers.
I've seen clips on $100 speakers, so I can't really complain about spring clips on $40 speakers. Bass definition is fine, but deep bass is lacking. The B652's bass is reasonably flat to 70Hz, so you may not need to add a sub. The speaker earned its reputation by delivering surprisingly accurate tonal balance, exceptional detail, and transparency. The B652 speakers are available for $40 a pair from Parts Express.… Read more
It's a powerful fantasy: the totally wireless hi-fi or home theater speaker system. If such a system were to exist, it would not only receive music signals wirelessly, but also AC power to run its internal amplifiers.
"Wireless" speakers always have an AC power cable (wire) that needs to be plugged into the wall. Normal "wired" speakers get the music over the wire, and the power that travels over the same wire from the amplifiers in your AV receiver. So if you're keeping score, you'll see that wired and the best wireless speakers … Read more
CNET reviewed the SW-8 subwoofer as part of Pioneer's SP-PK21BS 5.1 speaker system. While we didn't directly compared the SW-8 with other subwoofers sold individually, the full 5.1 system offers outstanding sound quality for the price.
For more information on the SW-8, read CNET's full review of the Pioneer SP-PK21BS.
Subwoofers aren't easy. Sure, adding a decent subwoofer to a system to supply more bass is no big deal, but getting the best possible sound out of a subwoofer is. I've written a few How To Set Up A Subwoofer articles and blogs in my time, but Brent Butterworth's recent "Subwoofers: 4, 2, or 1?" feature in Sound and Vision magazine tackled one of the more difficult aspects of home theater setup: do multiple subwoofers offer any performance advantages over a single sub? Butterworth's premise was simply this: Should I spend my $1,200 … Read more
I view the rising popularity of sound bar speakers as proof positive that more and more people are rejecting the notion of deploying five or more speakers in their home theaters. It's not just the number of speakers, people are also not thrilled by the idea of running wires to the far corners of their home theaters. Truly "wireless" surround speakers are a recurring fantasy, but I've yet to see a wireless surround speaker that doesn't have at least one wire; most have two (one for signal, one for power), which as far as I … Read more
The home-theater-in-a-box systems (HTIBs) I reviewed 10 years ago were pretty lame, but I've been amazed by the progress of these systems over the years. The best of the breed, like the Onkyo HT-S990THX and the Samsung HT-BD1250, produce astonishing sound quality for not a lot of money.
But the market appears to be moving away from HTIBs, as more and more of today's buyers are opting for easier-to-install sound bar speakers. I can understand why; HTIBs may be one-box solutions, but they still require extensive setup routines, and you have to run wires to five or more … Read more