All four of Niro's models are ostensibly available in silver or dark gray. Be aware, however, that the color difference applies only to the main speaker. The subwoofer and amp included with both sets are the identical gray color.
Setup is as easy as it gets: hook up the speaker's and subwoofer's plug-in cables to the amp, then connect your preferred A/V sources: DVD player, cable/satellite box, game console, and so forth. That's it. There's nothing to adjust and no menus to navigate--you'll be watching DVDs in five minutes.
The digital amplifier is a little thing, just 2.2 x 7.9 x 11.7 inches (HWD)--it's a fraction of the size of an A/V receiver. Naturally, its control buttons are correspondingly teensy. To further save space, you can place it standing vertically on end and tuck it in next to your TV.
The remote control offers direct access to the amplifier's bass and treble controls, as well as command over the subwoofer and the center and rear channels' volume levels. It's nothing more than functional. As always, you're better off trading up to a universal remote that can control your whole home-theater system. Peer through the main speaker's perforated-metal grille and you'll see five 3-inch full-range drivers: the center one fires straight forward while the two drivers at each end--sitting at varying angles--handle the front and surround channels. To eliminate interaction between the drivers, each one is housed in an individual compartment. The subwoofer has a down-firing 8-inch driver. The digital amplifier sends 30 watts to each of the speaker's five drivers and 50 watts to the sub. The Niro can handle Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, and DTS surround decoding, into which it intermingles its own proprietary processing to maximize the surround effect.
Connectivity is fairly minimal. Crammed into the amp's tiny back panel is a single analog stereo input (red and white RCA jacks), plus three digital ins--one coaxial, two optical. The front panel offers an additional analog in, a third optical digital input, and a headphone minijack. That's it, and since the amp doesn't offer HDMI inputs or video switching, you'll have to hook up your video sources straight to your TV and manually toggle your audio and video separately. (For instance, you'd have to go to the DVD input on Niro for the DVD audio track, plus switch to the corresponding input on your TV--using two remotes or a universal remote programmed to do the job.) For a $990 home-theater system, that's a disappointment.
If you're looking to enhance the Niro experience, the company has you covered. The optional Subwoofer Amplifier ($250) is a separate 150-watt amp that not only boosts the amount of power available to the sub, it allows the Niro 800's internal amps to deliver more power to the speaker. If you have a large room or just love bass, it's worth the extra money. If you'd prefer to listen to the Niro 800 in a more intimate setting, the $230 Niro MovieMouse may be of interest; it's a sort of "home theater in your lap" speaker. Niro also offers a wide variety of stands, mounts, and other accessories at its Web site.
The Niro 800 is one of four current models in the company's line. Each has the same basic design and amplifier head unit hardware, with the following distinctions:
- Niro 420 ($580): 5x 2-inch drivers, 6.5-inch sub, 160-watt amp
- Niro 620 ($780): 5x 2-inch drivers, 8-inch sub, 180-watt amp
- Niro 800 ($990): 5x 3-inch drivers, 8-inch sub, 200-watt amp
- Niro 1000 ($1,390): 5x 3.5-inch mid-woofer drivers; 3x 1-inch super-tweeters, 8-inch sub, 300-watt total power (150-watt main amp is augmented by the included 150-watt subwoofer amplifier)