Even before you hear KEF's new LS50 speaker, there's no doubt it's a unique design. The speaker's single "rose"-color driver sports radial fins, and the cabinet has a swept-back front baffle. I've never seen anything quite like it before. The speaker stands 11.9 inches tall, 7.9 inches wide, 10.9 inches deep, and weighs 15.8 pounds. The MDF cabinet has the build quality of a very high-end design. The sound is just as extraordinary as the look, and the LS50 can be used as a desktop monitor or as … Read more
Most audiophiles don't self identify as audiophiles. I suppose that's because audio is something of a guilty pleasure, best enjoyed solo, and that's part of the problem. Wine aficionados or guys that collect Corvettes aren't shy about their pursuits, but audiophiles have a hard time admitting they love gear.
Audiophiles are the other "one percent." We might be the only people listening -- really listening -- to music at home; the other 99 percent don't. They have music "on," in the background. To me, owning expensive gear doesn't make you … Read more
Pedestal-style sound bars are the latest evolution in the simplification of home audio. Instead of placing a long sound bar in front of your TV, pedestal sound bars are designed to sit under your TV, for a cleaner look with considerably less clutter. It's by far the easiest way to improve on the sound of your TV with the least intrusion on your living room decor.
The trade-off is that these systems generally don't sound quite as good as traditional sound bars, largely because they lack a separate subwoofer to handle the low end. It's yet another … Read more
I've covered a lot of great sounding budget gear this year, but the very best audio is far from cheap. That's hardly unique to high-end audio; the best cars, cameras, and clothes are always pricey, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that cutting-edge audio can be crazy expensive. What follows is a list of most astonishing gear I listened to this year. I love my job!
Sound bar buyers' performance expectations are pretty low; all the 'bar has to do is sound better than the lousy speakers that are built into their TVs. So if that's all you need, a sound bar will get the job done -- but there are better-sounding alternatives, starting with a pair of self-powered Audioengine A2 ($199) speakers. The A2s are terrific, but the Paradigm Millenia CT ($700) is a 2.1-channel subwoofer/satellite system, and it sounds better than the Audioengines. A lot better, and it's really pretty amazing.
Spread 64 inches apart, the Millenia sats produced a … Read more
The best I can say about most cheap subwoofers is they make bass. The bass won't be the deepest, most powerful, or the clearest, or blend all that well with most speakers, but all subs make bass. Better subs, like the $449 Hsu Research VTF-1 MK2, generate deeper, less distorted sound, so you can actually hear distinct bass notes, and can play louder and fill larger rooms better than most cheap subs.
I've long admired Aperion Audio's Intimus speakers, but for one reason or another, I never auditioned the company's higher-end Verus speakers. The line starts with the $350-per-pair Verus Forte satellite speakers, but I went for the bigger Verus Grand bookshelf speakers that run $598 a pair. The speaker has a 1-inch dome tweeter and 5-inch woven Kevlar woofer. It measures 13 by 7.5 by 9 inches, weighs 14 pounds, and the curved sided cabinet feels like it's well put together.
Aperion Intimus speakers' satin real cherry wood or high-gloss black finishes are superb, but the … Read more
Despite the move to tiny portable music systems, some of us still long for the good old days of extremely noticeable boomboxes. You can indulge your nostalgia by dressing your iPhone up to look like one, or you could strap some wearable speakers to your feet.
The Sneaker Speaker from New York design group Ray Kingston Inc. wraps a set of speakers over the top of the shoe. Information about both the product and the designer is pretty sketchy so far.… Read more
This is an update of a deal I wrote about nearly a year ago.
I'm a big fan of Bluetooth speakers. Plunk one down just about anywhere and you can wirelessly stream tunes from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. I have one of those Jawbone Jamboxes, and it's proven a great little accessory.
But pricey: they sell for around $120 and up. Here's a much more affordable alternative: for a limited time, and while supplies last, Meritline has the refurbished Logitech 980-000589 Bluetooth Wireless Speaker for $49.99 shipped. Though a discontinued product, it sells elsewhere for … Read more
I recently wrote about a Hsu Research subwoofer, "Shaken & stirred: The Hsu VTF-1 MK2," but today I'll cover a complete Hsu 5.1 channel sub/satellite system. There are four HB-1 MK2 sats, one HC-1 MK2 center channel speaker, and the VTF-1 MK2 sub. The six pieces sell for $1,159, and the sound is truly astonishing for the money. A Denon AVR-1912 receiver and an Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player completed the test system.
The Hsu system has extraordinary power and dynamic oomph. It also sounds sweet at late-night listening levels, but it can rock with … Read more