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Acoustic Research HD510: surround-sound speakers that Martha Stewart could love

Acoustic Research HD510: surround-sound speakers that Martha Stewart could love

On the surface, the Acoustic Research HD510 home-theater system looks and sounds like pretty much any other 5.1-channel surround speaker system. But the $900 package has a secret identity: It's got a special line of covers that allow it to blend into any home environment. The satellite speakers can be placed into decorative stands or covers--ranging from planters, wall sconces, candleholders, clocks, and even fake books--while the beefy 10-inch subwoofer can be hidden away underneath a variety of trunks. The result is a recipe for domestic bliss: the Martians get their 5.1 surround sound, while the Venusians get to keep the living room free of those ugly, intrusive speakers.

The speaker covers come in dozens of varieties, so it's easy to mix and match them to specific home-decorating needs, such as existing color schemes and styles. Most of them are in the $30-to-$60 range, though some of the subwoofer covers may run as high as $100. But they're not just cardboard cutouts; the covers have real heft to them, and they've been specifically designed to be "acoustically transparent," with the sound emanating from cleverly disguised grilles. The speakers include a cover/no cover toggle so that the sound quality can be optimized when listening in either mode; you may wish to buy covers for the front three speakers and leave the back two unstealthed, for instance. But don't try to use these covers with the petite speakers from any other similarly sized "lifestyle" speaker system--the covers are specially designed to fit snugly around the HD510 speakers and subwoofer, to elimate any unwanted rattling or echoing.

To see the full assortment of Home Decor covers available for the HD510, check out