Update 12/21/2009: Since this product preview was written, CNET has reviewed the highest-end member of Mitsubishi's Unisen line, the LT-249 series. It features 2 more speakers than the 151 and 153 series described below, and also includes a few other enhancements (namely support for Vudu), but we still expect its audio and video quality to be very similar to the step-down models. For more information, check out the full review of the Mitsubishi LT-249 series.
Not to be outdone by LCD TV makers touting LED backlights, 240Hz refresh rates, and stratospheric prices, Mitsubishi brings its own twist to the game of HDTV step-up-oneupsmanship with its Unisen models, each of which sports a new 16-speaker audio system.
Nestled below the pursed lips of the simulated image above, you'll find 16 speakers, an array that even when turned off should impress visitors to your living room.
When turned on, according to Mitsubishi, the "intelligent speakers...direct perfectly balanced audio waves beside and behind you to reproduce 5.1 surround sound and create an unprecedented depth of sound experience." We haven't tested the system, but on paper it sounds a lot like the principle employed by virtual surround speakers like the Polk Surround Bar.
Then there's the myriad true surround systems out there with actual rear speakers--although they're not direct competitors to Unisen, since the biggest benefit of simulated surround is lack of rear speakers, wires, etc.
Mitsubishi's three series of Unisen models include 40-, 46-, and 52-inch sizes, and the least expensive, the 40-inch LT-40151, costs a suggested retail price of $1,799. Compared with competing 120Hz LCDs, like Samsung's LN40B650 ($1699) or Sony's KDL-40V5100 ($1499), that's not a massive premium.
All of Mitsubishi's Unisen models will be available in May. Pricing and step-up details follow.… Read more
Considering its full plate of goodies--built-in Blu-ray player, iPod dock, and the capability to stream Netflix movies and Pandora's online music service--the $800 price tag on Samsung's HT-BD8200 sound bar is quite reasonable. But that's not to say it won't be a tough sell in these economically anxious times. And that's where the new HT-WS1 comes in. The smaller sound bar is strictly audio-only--no Blu-ray, no DVD, no video connectivity whatsoever. It's more of a glorified TV speaker, accepting either an analog stereo or digital-optical input (it can decode standard Dolby Digital and DTS … Read more
In the beginning of recorded sound, there was mono. One speaker, period.
Mono speakers were plopped wherever it was convenient, and that was that. Consumer audio remained strictly mono until the late 1950s with the introduction of stereo tape and LPs. Now you needed two speakers.
Home theater upped the ante to 5.1 channel surround sound--five speakers, plus a subwoofer--and setup hassles were getting tricky. Dolby's Web site offers very specific requirements for the placement of the front left, center, right speakers, and the side surround speakers. 6.1 and 7.1 systems add rear surround speakers.
It's one thing to look at a diagram, but your room probably doesn't look like the diagram. Reality sets in, so very few 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1 system buyers get remotely close to the recommended speaker placements.
I've seen countless 5.1 home theater in a box systems in real people's homes with all five satellite speakers clumped in a row under or over the TV. Some buyers spread the speakers out across their entertainment furniture, still with all the speakers in front, near the TV. Obviously, those people don't want to string wires across the room. I don't blame them.
On one hand it'll sound "fine," but the envelopment the film sound mixers worked so hard to achieve will be lost. Don't worry, the Dolby Police won't arrest you for improper placement and the certain destruction of the filmmaker's intent.
If you have all of your speakers sitting in a pile, but I've made you a little curious, temporarily move the surround speakers out into the room. Put 'em on something to get them off the floor: A chair, bookcase, furniture, and so on. Play a few big action flicks and see what's up with surround. It might surprise you and just maybe you'll be inspired enough to make the effort to find permanent, around the room locations for the surround speakers. Hey, in 5.1 it's only two skinny wires.… Read more
Home-theater-in-a-box systems are often associated with tiny speakers and underpowered AV receivers, but Onkyo (like Yamaha) bucks the trend, packing its home theater systems with big, boxy speakers and component-grade AV receivers. The company announced two new HTIB systems this week, both of which look impressive in terms of value, at least from the specification sheet. Let's take a look at the new systems:
Key features of the Onkyo HT-S3200:5.1 home theater system with 110-watts per channel Two-way front and center speakers, each with 3.25-inch woofer and 0.75-inch tweeter Smaller rear speakers, each with 3.25-inch woofer 110-watt subwoofer with 8-inch driver Component-style 5.1 AV receiver Audyssey Dynamic Volume and Audyssey Dynamic EQ Three HDMI inputs Two component video inputs Three digital audio inputs (two optical, one coaxial) Currently available in black, $380 list price
Key step-up features of the Onkyo HT-S5200:7.1 home theater system with 130-watts per channel Two-way front speakers, each with a 5-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter Three-way center channel with two 3.25-inch woofers and a 1-inch tweeter… Read more
I'm asked this question all the time: "Are there any great-sounding TV speakers?"
People want "something good," but they don't want hassles, and they sure as hell don't want to decipher techno-babble setup instructions. Nowadays there are plenty of single speaker systems to choose from, but most of them don't sound all that good, and setup--while way better than a bona fide multichannel system--is still more complicated than it ought to be.
We first saw the Polk Audio SurroundBar 360 DVD Theater at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2008, where we chose it as one of only three home audio finalists for Best of CES. While it ultimately didn't take the crown, we were still looking forward to the final product. However, the product was pushed back from its April release date, and didn't end up arriving until the autumn of 2008. Looking at it now, more than a year after its coming out party, the built-in DVD seems a bit quaint--most of the home theater systems in the … Read more
We've tested a lot of sound bar speakers for CNET, but none as ambitious or expensive as GenevaSound's Home Theater system. It's a 2.1 channel virtual surround system with an all-digital 700-watt amplifier, seven speakers, and integrated 12-inch subwoofer.
There's also a CD player, radio, and an iPod/iPhone dock. Considering its $3,999 list price, you might expect this super-size home theater to include a Blu-ray player, or at least a DVD player, but you're on your own. Your TV can be placed on the cabinet or wall mounted.
Oh well, the GenevaSound … Read more
When CNET reviewed the Sony HT-CT100 in the spring of 2008, we hailed the $300 single-speaker audio system as one of the best values in its class. For 2009, Sony will be offering a step-up version, the HT-CT500. The $500 system retains the same basic two-part design (soundbar plus subwoofer), but supersizes it with a wider speaker unit and more powerful onboard 400-watt amplifier. The overall system delivers a 3.1 effect, thanks to the left/center/right speakers mounted in the soundbar.