CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Niro MovieMouse review: Niro MovieMouse

Niro's home-theater-in-a-crotch system is a winner.

Steve Guttenberg
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 Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
2 min read
Niro MovieMouse
As if Niro HTIBs' radically innovative single-speaker surround technology weren't cool enough, the company has another new idea: the $199 MovieMouse personal speaker, which does what surround headphones are supposed to do but sounds more natural--like a miniature home theater.

The disclike MovieMouse resembles a tiny flying saucer and is fitted with a total of five 1.5-inch drivers. A pair of drivers are arrayed on the MovieMouse's sides, and the center speaker is on the top panel. Clearly, it's a different type of speaker, one designed for listening for a single person (or two very friendly people).


Niro MovieMouse

The Good

This mini mouse roars in surround with its five tiny speakers; sounds swell with or without Niro's subwoofers.

The Bad

Works only with selected Niro receivers and amplifiers.

The Bottom Line

MovieMouse delivers a personal surround experience that won't disturb your family or neighbors.

The silver-plastic MovieMouse is relatively small--11 inches wide, 2.5 inches high, and 7.4 inches deep--so you can stick it on a coffee table right in front of you or even in your lap (it weighs 1.8 pounds). It comes with a 23-foot tail, er, wire, and a special speaker connector that fits Niro's 400, 600, Reference, or 1.1Pro II receivers (it won't work with any other brands of electronics, or with older Niro systems). It's ideal for late-night home theater, music, or games, because the MovieMouse's focused sound won't disturb people in adjacent rooms or on other floors in your house or apartment building.

For our auditions, we had the MovieMouse hooked up to a Niro Reference amplifier, checking out the Man on Fire DVD. Yes, it was a little odd at first, listening to sound from a speaker placed in our lap, but as the opening credits were rolling by, the music score and sound effects seemed to come from way out to the sides. The thing really works!

The traumatic kidnapping scene in the middle of the movie was frightfully realistic, and the little MovieMouse positively roared. Later on, just before a police helicopter flew into view, we heard it coming from what sounded like the extreme left side of our home theater.

The MovieMouse's blend with the Niro Reference subwoofer was seamless; we never detected the sub as a separate source of sound. Of course, the sub's prodigious bass might disturb people trying to sleep in other rooms, so we also listened with the subwoofer turned off. We tried that during a scene where our hero, Denzel Washington, fires a grenade into the bad guys' car, and while the sound lacked the impact of the sub's low bass, it didn't sound weak.

Next up: alternative country singer Buddy Miller's new CD, Universal United House of Prayer. The rich sound again defied our expectations, projecting a wide soundstage out to the sides of the MovieMouse.

Bottom line: If you already own--or are thinking of purchasing--one of Niro's receiver/speaker packages, the MovieMouse may not quite be a must-have accessory, but it's pretty close.