Back in November, I asked the question, "What's the best midpriced AV receiver?"--but had to confess that we hadn't reviewed as many as we would've liked. Since then, Senior Associate Editor Matt Moskovciak and resident Audiophiliac Steve Guttenberg sequestered themselves in the CNET listening room and put several models to the test.
When the smoke cleared, the Sony STR-DG920 was at the top of the heap, with the Pioneer VSX-1018AH and Onkyo TX-SR606 impressing us as well. The Denon AVR-1909 sounded great and was packed with features, but that model's confusing remote control … Read more
There was all sorts of buzz earlier this week about TV on the Radio's apparently abysmal performance on Saturday Night Live. If you like the band, as I happen to, you have to wonder what happened: their recordings are immaculate, and they have a solid live reputation.
Today, music blog Idolator performs an interesting experiment, embedding the band's performance of "Dancing Choose" on SNL directly above the same song performed on last night's edition of The Colbert Report. The difference is immediately noticeable.
So what the heck happened on SNL? Idolator jokes that they're … Read more
Truth be told, sound bar speakers don't sound very good.
That hasn't stopped them from selling like gangbusters. People happily buy the fantasy of single-speaker surround sound, mostly because they don't want to deal with all the wires and hassles of a bona fide 5.1-channel home theater.
I don't blame them. Even stereo, HT 2.0 systems are too intrusive for some buyers. Enter Canton's nifty CD 90 SB sound bar, it looks and sounds terrific.
I have to admit sound bars can look pretty slick mounted under a flat screen display, but there is the tricky matter of mounting the thing and running wires through walls. I suppose that's why most sound bars wind up sitting on a shelf under the display.
My real beef with sound bars is they don't sound all that good. The worst offenders are the ones that try to do some sort of fake surround sound. True, the better ones spread the sound well out to the sides of the room. Some project sound forward, towards the listener. But it's never as good as real 5.1.
Most sound bars' "surround" is only heard when you're sitting directly centered relative to the display and speaker; once you're over to the left or right the surround effect fades away. Worse yet, the sound quality of these things is iffy: it's either harsh or dull (most sound bars don't have tweeters). Mind you, sound bars aren't cheap: the better ones sell for between $1,000 and $1,800. For that much dough you could buy a really decent 5.1 speaker/subwoofer package with way better sound.
Granted, sound bar sound is passable when you're watching a movie, but try listening to music, and you'll realize just how lame the sound is. … Read more
Typically, the pitch behind single-speaker sound bars is that they'll recreate the immersive experience of a true 5.1 home theater system, but without all the wires and hassle associated with such a system.
The Canton CD 90 SB is decidedly different than the average sound bar: it doesn't do surround sound, it requires an AV receiver, and you'll still have to run three sets of speaker wire to the unit. The upside is that it's one of the best-sounding speaker bars we've heard, especially when it comes to music.
With a $650 suggested retail … Read more
The worst part of installing a home theater is getting the little satellite speakers around the room without wires running all over the place. How about getting them installed right where the lightbulbs are, or more specifically, inside the lightbulbs?
This idea is what a few designers put together and call the SoundBulb.
Basically, they want to put a Bluetooth wireless speaker inside an LED lightbulb. The speaker then works independently from the light, or with the light, to create different levels of illumination depending on the level or pitch of the sound.
The speaker can be controlled at the … Read more
In what can only be considered a wise move in the current economic climate, Ultimate Ears is expanding its line of noise-isolating earphones to include a $49.99 pair, the MetroFi 170, and a $79.99 pair, the MetroFi 220. The new earbuds will replace the MetroFi 2, which were previously UE's cheapest set at $80. The company is also offering smartphone-compatible models with microphones built into the cables. These versions, the MetroFi 170vi and the MetroFi220vi, will sell for $59.99 and $89.99, respectively. I'd say that 10-buck increase for call-answering capability is as easy to … Read more
Ever since the hands-free calling legislation went into effect in California, I've often found myself using the cell phone's speaker phone while driving. While my iPhone 3G's speaker phone works relatively well, it sounds a little distorted when turned all the way up and yet still not loud enough.
That might now change with the SoundClip, a new little accessory Ten One Design introduced this week that amplifies the iPhone 3G's external audio by 10dB between 5kH and 20kHz.
As the name suggests, the device is a clip that fits securely in the 30-pin dock connector … Read more
Think your clackety keyboard is loud enough? Think again! Funny Typing's fairly simple purpose is to make some noise each time you press a key. It's not bad looking, with a straightforward interface and a nice toolbar with large icons. It comes with several themes and the ability to easily download new ones from inside the program.
All the features are easy to find, and seem easy to understand, even without a Help file. You can use the predefined themes, alter them, or create your own. Response time between key press and sound was frequently lagging, and pressing … Read more
Philips doesn't have a big presence at CES this year but it does appear to have some noteworthy products, especially when it comes to its new line of home-theater sound bars. The company's announced four new sound-bar packages, each geared to a slightly different target consumer.
Here's the rundown of the various products:
Model: The HSB2351
*All-in-one sound bar features integrated DVD player and subwoofer with 300 watts of total power
*Space-saving sleek design fits easily on an entertainment center or can be mounted on the wall
*Dolby Virtual Speaker for theater audio experience and HDMI 1080p … Read more