The best I can say about most cheap subwoofers is they make bass. The bass won't be the deepest, most powerful, or the clearest, or blend all that well with most speakers, but all subs make bass. Better subs, like the $449 Hsu Research VTF-1 MK2, generate deeper, less distorted sound, so you can actually hear distinct bass notes, and can play louder and fill larger rooms better than most cheap subs.
I've long admired Aperion Audio's Intimus speakers, but for one reason or another, I never auditioned the company's higher-end Verus speakers. The line starts with the $350-per-pair Verus Forte satellite speakers, but I went for the bigger Verus Grand bookshelf speakers that run $598 a pair. The speaker has a 1-inch dome tweeter and 5-inch woven Kevlar woofer. It measures 13 by 7.5 by 9 inches, weighs 14 pounds, and the curved sided cabinet feels like it's well put together.
Aperion Intimus speakers' satin real cherry wood or high-gloss black finishes are superb, but the … Read more
When Apple released iTunes 11, an update was pushed for the iOS Remote app. The Remote update enabled users to take advantage of the new "Up Next" feature when playing music from a local iTunes library, along with on the Apple TV.
At the same time the Remote update and iTunes 11 was released, an update to the Apple TV itself was also released. This update enabled Up Next when streaming music through Home Sharing or iTunes Match on your TV. Here's some tips for using Up Next via the Remote app or directly on an Apple … Read more
Every now and then, I like to report on the best new discs that have come my way. Let's get started!
Amy Winehouse: "At the BBC" (CD/DVD) Fourteen stunning performances from 2004 to 2009 showcase aspects of her talent that the studio recordings gloss over. The DVD, "The Day She Came to Dingle," is a documentary featuring Winehouse at the height of her powers in December 2006 in a tiny church in Ireland. She's backed up with just guitar and bass, so her voice, in all its glory, is upfront and clear. Awesome!… Read more
I recently wrote about a Hsu Research subwoofer, "Shaken & stirred: The Hsu VTF-1 MK2," but today I'll cover a complete Hsu 5.1 channel sub/satellite system. There are four HB-1 MK2 sats, one HC-1 MK2 center channel speaker, and the VTF-1 MK2 sub. The six pieces sell for $1,159, and the sound is truly astonishing for the money. A Denon AVR-1912 receiver and an Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player completed the test system.
The Hsu system has extraordinary power and dynamic oomph. It also sounds sweet at late-night listening levels, but it can rock with … Read more
This is a follow-up to last week's "Before you buy a sound bar speaker, read this" post, but this time I'm setting my sights on expensive, $400-plus iPod and Bluetooth speaker "docks." They have built-in limitations common to all single-speaker systems. They might have two sets of speaker drivers housed in a single cabinet, but when the drivers are just a few inches apart, "stereo" sounds more or less like mono. In the quest to make these speakers as sleek and lightweight as possible, bass and dynamic range capabilities are limited, compared … Read more
The Hsu Research VTF-1 MK2 is, hands down, the best-sounding affordable subwoofer I've heard to date.
It was designed by Poh Hsu and I have fond memories of the first time I met him, at a Consumer Electronics Show in the late 1990s. He had a room filled with subs and a single pair of tiny speakers hooked up to an inexpensive receiver. He played a short series of music pieces with thundering bass drums, mighty organs, and hard-hitting rock bands, and those baby speakers sounded like heavyweight towers. It was a great 2-minute demo, and when it was … Read more
People love sound bars for a lot of good reasons: they eliminate most of the wiring and setup hassles associated with traditional 5.1-channel home theaters, they don't take up a lot of space, they are less expensive than subwoofer/satellite packages, and since most sound bars are self-powered, you don't need to buy an AV receiver. A skinny sound bar positioned under a sleek display is certainly a more appealing solution than a 5.1 or even stereo pair of speakers. There's just one problem: sound bars can't fill a room with sound nearly as well as separate speakers can.… Read more
A well-calibrated Panasonic TC-PVT50 TV will look exactly the same in almost any room with the lights turned down. Video performance is reliable and predictable, but audio is the exact opposite. Speakers will sound very different in different rooms, sometimes to a frightening degree. AV receivers' speaker calibration systems might help a little bit, but they can never eliminate the problems created by sound reflecting off a room's walls, floor and ceiling. The size and shape of the room, furniture, floor covering, mirrors, windows, and drapes all play their parts in the sound environment.
When I was a hi-fi … Read more
I love little speakers, especially when they're as fine as the Music Hall Marimbas I wrote about recently, but the best little ones can't touch the big guys for sheer power. If you've only heard little speakers at home, you have no idea what you've been missing. Big speakers sound, well, bigger, and more like live music.
That's why I'm so jazzed by the Tekton M-Lore. This 34-inch high tower sports an American-made 8-inch natural fiber woofer and a European-designed 1-inch silk dome tweeter, so the M-Lores can really belt out a big sound. … Read more