I rarely get all that excited by the sound of iPod speakers, if only because you can so easily get better sound from a good set of desktop speakers. I've cited Audioengine's terrific little speakers many times in this blog, and I still love them, but there's a new speaker from Emotiva Pro, the airmotiv 4, and it's raised the sound quality benchmark for $399 per pair speakers.
Yamaha basically created the sound bar category and continues to sell its best-in-class Digital Sound Projector line, but it can be hard to recommend the company's sound bars when they generally cost in excess of $1,000.
The YAS-101 ($250 street price) is Yamaha's entry into the increasingly crowded budget sound bar field, and it's one of the few that manages to stand out.
That's largely because of Yamaha's decision to eschew a separate subwoofer, instead using a built-in subwoofer, which gives the speaker system a more streamlined look. The YAS-101 also has a very … Read more
Unity is the brainchild of Todd Beauchamp, an ex-Apple audio engineer (he worked closely on iPhone acoustics, for example) and Mike Fidler, an individual with a strong marketing and engineering background in Sony.
The sound system looks familiar because it has a design similar to the many sound bar and subwoofer combos out there, but stacked on top of each other. Unlike most sound bars, Unity's modular design has a depth to it that can support a 60-inch TV.
I quickly learned that the idea is a "system that can be set up in little as 15 minutes," Beauchamp said enthusiastically. You can tell that a lot of time and dedication went into the first version of the home theater and future versions could be compelling as the design evolves. … Read more
Now with the dust settling on CES 2012, the home video landscape looks surprisingly like it did before CES, albeit with a few bright spots. But any streaming-video lover (i.e. me) who was hoping for some major progress (and maybe even a few surprises) at this year's show was likely more disappointed than otherwise.… Read more
Aside from the usual role of charging the Ion, it also has several features worth looking at.
For example, like with several other Android smartphone docks out there, an HDMI port mirrors your phone's display on the TV. You can see in our hands-on picture that there's a simple interface for browsing among content and features. Certain TV remotes will also be able to control media playback, presumably through HDMI-CEC.
Perhaps what's most interesting … Read more
LAS VEGAS--Sound bars have gotten cheaper, and they sound better and have more connectivity than ever before. Now, apparently you can snap them in half, even if you never wanted to.
Panasonic and Samsung both had "splittable" sound bars here at CES 2012 and I felt like I saw more of them on the show floor. The idea is you can split the bar into two speakers, place them on a stand, and create a more traditional 2.1 speaker system.
It's a nifty-looking feature, but it doesn't solve a problem anybody has ever had with a sound bar. I get plenty of reader mail about sound bars, but nobody has ever asked about a sound bar that can transform into separate speakers, probably because when they bought a sound bar, they wanted a sound bar.… Read more
LAS VEGAS--These are not your typical iPhone/iPod speakers, and that's the way Lanchiya, a Chinese digital audio company, likes it.
We're guessing you've probably never heard of Lanchiya, but you might already be familiar with one of its products, the iPig stereo dock. The cute pig-shaped iPod speaker is just one of those novelty products that make for fun gifts.
Lanchiya's whole goal is to make high-quality, great-sounding speakers at a fraction of the prices set by some of the other high-end home audio companies, such as Bose. And it's doing it with flair. … Read more
LAS VEGAS--Boston Acoustics' SoundWare XS 5.1 system is about as small as you can make a 5.1 speaker system. Unless of course you ditched three of the speakers and the need for a separate AV receiver.
That's the thinking behind the new SoundWare XS Digital Cinema Surround Sound Speaker system, which features just two tiny SoundWare XS speakers, a compact subwoofer, and built-in amplification. It comes with a credit card-style remote and brackets for wall-mounting the front speakers.
The 100-watt system features both optical and analog inputs, as well as Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to stream … Read more
LAS VEGAS--When CNET reviewed Polk's I-Sonic ES2 almost four years (!) ago, we knocked it for lacking then-cutting-edge features like a CD/DVD player, satellite radio, USB port, and network audio functionality.
Fast-forward to 2012 and the story is the same, but the details have changed, with Polk's recently announced I-Sonic ES3 lacking many of the cutting-edge features we've seen on competing iPhone speakers, such as AirPlay and Bluetooth. Even the USB-looking port on the back, but close inspection reveals it's for service-use only.
Still, the I-Sonic's real claim-to-fame was always performance, not features, which is … Read more
LAS VEGAS--Having hauled my record collection from state to state, I know that vinyl is pretty much the antithesis of portability. Ion Audio's LP 2 GO is making me think differently about my stash of Dylan and Stones records.
Ion has been spinning around in the digital turntable market for a while. The LP 2 GO takes that same tech and shrinks it down to something you can toss into a backpack. You'll still have to pack those big record platters around, though.
LP 2 GO has a built-in speaker and headphone output. You can blast your tunes or convert them to MP3 format via USB with the bundled software. It plays both 33s and 45s.… Read more