Hard-Fi: the joys of turning it up to 11

Listening loud, what a blast!

Playing music and movies really loud is a lot of fun, too bad most of you are missing out on that part of the experience. Obviously, the speakers built into TVs aren't up to the job, and that's the way 80% of you experience TV. HTIB owners are likewise out of luck. Yeah, they may boast of having "1,000" watts on tap, but if you believe that, well, puhleeze! That 8 pound amplifier may, on a good day, squeeze out a few hundred watts.

Big speakers make big sounds. Klipsch

If you really want to feel something when you're watching a flick, listening to Nine Inch Nails, or playing a game, you need big speakers. Something along the lines of Klipsch's Reference RF-83 I reviewed in Home Theater magazine, and a healthy A/V receiver like a Denon AVR-4308CI. If your budget allows, forget the receiver and go for a bona-fide surround processor/separate power amplifier combo, say a Sunfire Theater Grand TGP-5 and TGA-5400, four hundred watt-per-channel amplifier (also reviewed in Home Theater magazine). Sure a hulking subwoofer, a Klipsch RT-12d subwoofer with three 12-inch drivers and an 800-watt amplifier, would come in handy. Pump up that system and you'll feel something. I bring this up because I see the market moving towards ever smaller speakers that just don't have the muscle to rock my world.

Sunfire's pre/pros and amps sound swell. Sunfire

We Americans love super-size everything else--Hummers, TVs, houses, Big Gulps--so why do we turn sensible when it comes to sound? Hi-def pictures look pretty, but sound conveys emotion. Pint-size speakers with 3-inch "woofers" ain't gonna cut it.

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.


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