In the past, we've been impressed with Niro's virtual speaker systems, but we hadn't heard from the company (founded by Nakamichi's founder, Niro Nakamichi) for a while, so we assumed it had gone belly-up. Not true. Niro's back with several new 1.1 surround systems that all have a low-profile, "made-for-plasma" look. The entry-level 420 starts at $$580 while the top-of-the-line 1000 is priced at $1390. All are due out shortly.
Niro says that first and foremost the new speakers have an "expanded soundstage and enhanced surround effects, thanks in part to new digital filtering software and the extra wide speaker cabinet." The bigger box and thicker panels allow for improved bass response, and the high-end 1000 features a separate subwoofer amplifier "to boost levels even further."
The company also says owners of the original Niro series can swap out their older speakers and add the new speakers and subwoofers to their existing amplifiers. You just have to update your amplifier's firmware (a memory card dock is built into all of Niro's amps for firmware upgrades).
Here's how the systems stack up (for more info go to Niro's Web site):
Niro 420 ($580: gray or silver main speaker): 5x 2-inch drivers, 6.5-inch sub.
Niro 620 ($780: gray or silver main speaker): 5x 2-inch drivers, 8-inch sub.
Niro 800 ($990; gray or silver main speaker): 5x 3-inch drivers, 8-inch sub.
Niro 1000 ($1390; gray or silver main speaker): 5x 3.5-inch mid-woofer drivers; 3x 1-inch super-tweeters, 8-inch sub.