For every person who loves the idea of 6-foot tower speakers at each corner of the room, there are 20 others who prefer their home theater to be heard but not seen. It's for that latter group that the Sony DAV-IS10 Micro Home Theater System was designed. The system crams an entire 5.1 home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) down to Mini-Me proportions: the 2-way 100-watt subwoofer barely outsizes a couple of phone books, the DVD/CD player head unit is a bit larger than a Mac Mini, and the five satellite speakers are--as Sony's press kit helpfully points out--"about the size of a golf ball." Despite the minuscule size, the DAV-IS10 will include the much of the same impressive features found on Sony's trio of Bravia HTIBs: DVD upscaling to 720p and 1080i via the HDMI output, automated speaker setup (which Sony calls "Digital Cinema Auto Calibration," or DCAC), and HDMI-CEC capability (the ability to control compatible TVs via the IS10's remote when connected via HDMI--"Bravia Theater Sync," in Sony speak). The system also features a Digital Media Port, so it can interface with Sony's quartet of proprietary digital audio accessories--though that's less of an enticement, now that we've been underwhelmed by the first two we've reviewed, the TDM-IP1 iPod dock and the TDM-BT1 Bluetooth interface. … Read more
Japan's Tomy is making little plastic replicas of American birds that, in an interesting cultural twist, will sing with an American accent. Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, you name it. Tokyomango says they're "touch sensory," meaning that the song begins as soon as the bird is handled. (I still like Tomy for the corny basketball-suspended-in-water games it made eons ago.)
Before you invest in one of these plastic twerps, you'll want to select the proper birdsong to match your mood or decor. Check out real calls at Whatbird.com or the best American bird sound library … Read more
As some of you may have noticed, I have somewhat of a history with ridiculous wearable gadgets. Who am I to let that legacy die? Enter the TubeSurround Sound Headphones, which are, to say the least, interesting-looking. You wear them halo-style around your head, then adjust the two tube-style earbuds into your ears. There is a point to this not-so-low-profile design: it serves to position six minispeakers in different spots around your head, thus creating a true surround-sound experience. The TubeSurround then uses a combination of bone conduction and traditional audio to create an immersive experience.
Naturally, I got to … Read more
There must be something in the air--or the water, to be precise. Just as we were wrapping up an item on a waterproof LCD, we got a note from our friends at Electronic House about a speaker that's designed specifically for the shower.
That alone is hardly new, but this one is still worth noting for its unobtrusive design. While most bath-friendly speakers blend into the decor about as seemlessly as an aloha shirt at the cotillion, the "SoundTile," does its best to live up to its name by looking like an intentional part of its surroundings … Read more
Many an audio purist will insist that you need large tower speakers for a truly "weighty" sound in your home theater. Meanwhile, the other 90 percent of the population can't abide their living room being taken over by giant, black sonic monoliths--thus the ever-growing market for fashion-friendly "lifestyle" speakers. Canada's Paradigm already offered a variety of smaller speakers (such as the Cinema 110CT 5.1), but the company's upped the design ante with the just-announced Reference Millenia 20 Trio. The $1,000 unit combines the three front channels of a surround system--left, center, … Read more
At Crave we're very fond of iPod-ready speakers and we're not averse to those that claim to be of a superior quality. How do you think we felt this morning to see a set that look like our studio monitor speakers and claim to be the most dynamic-sounding smart speaker system on the market? We felt good inside.
Sierra Sound has a history of producing high-end studio audio equipment, so theoretically it should know what it's doing designing the iN Studio 5.0 iPod speaker system. (We don't think the same can be said of … Read more
Last month I wrote about the release of Korg's mini, battery-powered version of their Kaoss Pad audio effects processor. Well, I finally got my hands on one, and I'm happy to report it is every bit as cool as I had hoped. To refresh your memory, the Korg Mini Kaoss Pad is a palm-sized, battery-powered effects processor that lets you warp and remix any stereo line signal. My full review (with video) of the Mini Kaoss Pad posted on CNET this week, but it didn't have any audio samples to let you hear what it can do. … Read more
With HDMI and optical digital output, Apple TV should eventually be able to pass DVD-like surround sound just as soon as Apple adds surround-encoded movies and TV shows to its iTunes Store--right?
According to the specs on Apple's Web site, the Apple TV's maximum audio track bandwidth for video files is 160Kbps (that doubles to 320Kbps for audio-only files such as MP3s and AACs). That is far below the 640Kbps and 768Kbps surround Dolby and DTS soundtracks you'll find on any old DVD. And that doesn't even begin to account for the next-gen Dolby Digital … Read more
Sure, the Internet is abuzz with news about the "YouTube killer" that several major media companies just announced yesterday, but let's not forget that other supposed YouTube killer, Joost. The broadband video start-up from the founders of Skype and Kazaa, which announced a major content partnership with Viacom last month, has a new deal that's sure to excite the party animal and nightclubbing crowd.
Joost, which is still in private beta, announced Friday that it's partnering with dance music hub Ministry of Sound's broadband video division, Ministry of Sound TV (MoSTV). When Joost launches … Read more
What would it take to flood sound into every inch of a 7,500-square-foot home? Try 49 speakers and $30,000.
That's how Marge and Chuck Dushek did it with their Midwestern home, where "even the steam shower and walk-in closet have their own speakers," according to Electronic House. "There are absolutely no dead zones in this house," Ken Walker of Sound Design Systems says.
Top-grade Sonance speakers were built into walls and ceilings of the great room, master bedroom and an area adjacent to the kitchen. Alas, compromises had to be made in the … Read more