The Anthony Gallo Acoustics Micro SE speaker ($239) is a tiny steel sphere, just 4 inches in diameter -- that's the size of an orange. It's an audiophile quality performer, capable of delivering high-resolution sound and a big, downright spacious stereo image. In fact, the imaging of the Micro SE and the slightly larger A'Diva SE reminds me of the wide-open, boxless sound I get with large, flat-panel speakers. Since these Gallos have just one full-range driver, they don't need a crossover network to direct high frequencies to the tweeter and bass to the woofer, and … Read more
No one can deny the popularity of sound bar speakers, but I've always been frustrated by their sound quality. There were exceptions; the $899 Atlantic Technology PB-235 and $699 SpeakerCraft CS3 are quite good, but in the more popular $300-to-$400 range the 'bars weren't all that great. Granted, they were a big step up from TV speakers, but their sound was still a compromise, compared with what's available from the better $300-to-$400 Emotiva and Audioengine self-powered stereo speakers (they get hooked up from your TV's stereo analog jacks).
A few weeks ago I spent … Read more
I've said it many times: the very best audio is frighteningly expensive, and so are the world's best cars, cameras, clothing, boats, and so forth. The good news is there are really pretty spectacular finds at the other end of the audio rainbow. I love it when I come across an over-performing budget-priced speaker, and lately, I've found quite a few. Here's a newly revised list of standout designs.
Since this list covers a broad range of speaker types, there's no ranking order; each one is exceptional in its own right. I have spent time … Read more
PSB Speakers is one of my all-time favorite brands. Its little Alpha B1 monitor ($299 a pair) is excellent, and a couple of years ago I was blown away by the Imagine Mini ($759 a pair), an even smaller but bona fide high-end speaker.
Small speakers are great, but the lucky folks with huge living rooms who like to occasionally play movies and music nice and loud need big speakers. And since it's been a while since I spent quality time with a PSB tower I requested a pair of Image T6s ($1,298 a pair).
The 40.… Read more
Late last year when I had my first encounter with a Tekton Design speaker, the M-Lore ($650 a pair), I was so bowled over by the sound I could hardly wait to try another Tekton. The time has come today with the all-new Enzo, a 40-inch-tall tower sporting three tweeters and two 8-inch woofers.
Multiple tweeters are rare on audiophile speakers, but Tekton's Eric Alexander developed a unique patent-pending approach that changes the way multiple tweeters are used. Unfortunately, he was mum about the details of his technology, but the Enzo's sound tells me all I need to … Read more
Much as I like sound bars and other compact, affordable audio solutions for the living room, there's something to be said for an old-school speaker setup -- especially when it's still affordable.
From now until May 9, Fluance has the AVHTB 5-speaker surround-sound system for $199.99 shipped. That's after applying coupon code AVCNET at checkout. Regular price: $249.99.
When I said old-school, I meant it: this is a five-piece, wood-enclosed setup consisting of two floor-standing towers, two compact surround (i.e. rear) speakers, and a full-size center channel.
What's missing, alas, is a subwoofer, … Read more
When I dropped by the Oswalds Mill Audio (OMA) showroom/loft space, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I'd heard OMA speakers at hi-fi shows and was always impressed by the sound, but the full immersion OMA experience was a very different trip. The wildly retro-futuristic designs looked more extreme than I remembered them. Jonathan Weiss, OMA's founder and CEO and also my tour guide put on quite a show, but not by hammering my ears with a high-decibel attack. I have no doubt Weiss' huge Imperia four-way horn speakers and 21-inch subwoofer could easily reproduce … Read more
Regular Cheapskate readers know of my fondness for sound bars, which supplant the usually sucky speakers built into HDTVs with bigger, better, forward-facing audio.
One gripe with most bars, however, is the lack of bass. Another: price. Typically, these babies ain't cheap, especially if you opt for one with a subwoofer.
Exception! For a limited time, and while supplies last, Best Buy has the Vizio VSB210WS sound bar and wireless subwoofer for $84.99, shipped (plus sales tax where applicable). It originally sold for $349, currently lists for $259.99, and sells elsewhere for as much as $227.
Before … Read more
I can't name one truly high-end preamp with tone controls, and that's because most audiophiles wouldn't dream of altering the signal in any way. Home theater buyers see things differently, so virtually all AV receivers have bass and treble controls and many employ auto setup programs that feature extensive speaker and room correction processing. Some say the processing improves the sound. Personally, I'm far from convinced these calibration systems really do that, they change the sound, but the results are too inconsistent to be counted on. If your receiver has auto setup, try turning it off, … Read more
The Wilson Alexia speakers and Dan D'Agostino electronics in the Innovative Audio room at the New York Audio Show stopped me in my tracks. I heard a lot of great gear at the show, but the sound in that room was closer -- a lot closer -- to the sound of the real thing than anything else. The system had a "this is happening now" quality that takes you back to the recording session, proof that cutting edge high-end gear is getting better all the time. Yes, ubergear prices are in the stratosphere, but there were plenty … Read more