Picture this -- you are sitting down with a bowl of popcorn to watch your favorite movie on a home entertainment system, hand-selected for you by the CNET editors. I know it sounds too good to be true, but for one lucky … Read more
I wrote a Top 10 music Blu-ray list late last year, so it's time for an update.
Patricia Barber, "Modern Cool"Sultry jazz singer Patricia Barber's "Modern Cool" album was a hit with the audiophile crowd soon after its release in 1998, so I was surprised to see it come out on Blu-ray with a new 5.1-channel DTS Master Audio mix. Even more surprised that the surround mix totally works. You're in the middle of the band, which I usually don't care for, but it clicks here. Barber wrote a lot … Read more
I have fond memories of the original Aragon 4004 power amplifier from my days when I worked as a high-end audio salesman. That was in the late 1980s and the big 200 watt amp sold for a lot less money than the reigning high-end amps of the period. The distinctive styling, with a "V" cutout in the 4004's chassis, made it stand out from rows of lookalike designs at the store. While the Aragon amps sold for a couple of thousand dollars, they were more affordable than most high-end amps. A few years after the 4004 arrived … Read more
HDTVs have notoriously bad speakers. That's understandable, if only because there's just not a lot of room for cones and whatnot inside those skinny LCD and plasma panels. It's also disappointing: here you spend all this money for a beautiful screen, and your ears pay the price.
The best way to improve the audio situation is to invest in a surround-sound system or a good set of stereo speakers plus receiver -- but that gets expensive.
A more affordable option: a sound bar, which is a speaker/receiver combo that sits above or below the screen and … Read more
At the end of May, Onkyo will start selling Dolby TrueHD 5.1-channel music downloads, first in Japan, and by the fall of this year worldwide. That's either a brave or foolhardy move.
Multichannel music formats -- starting with quadraphonic LPs and tapes in the early 1970s, DTS encoded surround CDs in the 1990s, and DVD Audio and SACD in the early 2000s -- have all suffered from a lack of consumer demand. Very, very few surround releases were initially recorded in surround; most rock and jazz titles are remixed from older stereo recordings. The Blu-ray format has now … Read more
Print advertisements for home theater systems aren't always the most exciting to look at -- visualizing surround sound on a printed page isn't easy, after all.
The recent ad campaign for LG's latest home-theater-in-a-box systems, which feature "3D" surround sound, however, is among the more creative we've seen. The ads are pretty accurate copies of the original movie posters for the Hollywood blockbusters "Kill Bill: Volume 1," "Forrest Gump," and "Pretty Woman" -- if posters were made in 3D. … Read more
First off, congrats to Craig S. of Yuba City, Calif., for winning a Zero1.tv VooMote One in last week's giveaway. Looking to turn the volume up to 11? Then you'll want to tune in to this week's giveaway.
We're giving away an Aperion Audio Zona Wireless Surround Speaker System, which consists of two powered speakers and a wireless transmitter for broadcasting audiophile-quality sound throughout your home.
It's a versatile little system. You can use the Zona speakers to blast audio from your computer or mobile music player. Or you can use them as wireless surrounds for your home theater or as a stand-alone stereo system for your office, bedroom, den, or secret hideout. … Read more
Typically, sound bars are horizontal speakers that are designed to be placed below your TV.
Samsung's upcoming HW-E550 Surround Sound Bar is just that--but with a twist. Not only can you place it horizontally below your TV (the speaker weighs 4 pounds), but you can split it in two and turn it into a traditional 2.1-channel floor-standing system using the included bases.
Yes, there's also a subwoofer, but the sound bar (or speakers if you split it in two) connects to it wirelessly using Samsung's proprietary dual-band 5.2/5.8GHz wireless technology. Samsung says the … Read more
I've received so many great-sounding Blu-rays over the past couple of months, I had to put together a Top 10 list.
A lot of them didn't make the cut; just because a Blu-ray has a high-resolution soundtrack doesn't automatically mean it sounds great; the variables of the original recordings and mixing can make or break the sound. For example, Tom Petty's "Mojo" Blu-ray doesn't sound much better than the CD version of the same music, but it does have an uninspired 5.1 surround mix. All of the following discs are distinctly better … Read more
My unofficial goal this week is to post only items that won't sell out. Yesterday's $25 American Express credit, for example.
Today, let's talk actual products. If you're willing to brave the crowds this Friday, you might come away with something like a 42-inch HDTV for $199.99 or a 24-inch HDTV for $79.99--both of which are among the "doorbusters" at Best Buy. (I take back what I said about this year's Black Friday; there are some deals to be had!)
Of course, as I've mentioned many times before, the speakers … Read more