2005 Audioholics Product of the Year Awards P2
Award: Compact Surround Loudspeaker System
YSP-1 Digital Sound Projector System
We found the ease with which the YSP-1 could engulf the listener in a three-dimensional, immersive environment, was only equaled by its sleek appearance, and ease of installation, with no wires or fuss. That the YSP-1 easily and handily out-performs the popular cube systems in the same price ballpark isn't the point. Rather, Yamaha's Digital Sound Projector marks the first, almost perfectly executed volley in a new consumer electronics category - Digital Sound Projectors. Pair it with a very budget friendly, yet potent subwoofer such as the Rocket ULW-10Yamaha DVD C-750 DVD Changer (msrp:$329) and you are in for a complete surround experience at the fraction of cost, size and complexity of a full fledged 5.1 speaker system solution.
MSRP: $1500 | Locate a Dealer Online
Award: Budget Subwoofer
ULW-10 Subwoofer with Auto PEQ
Rocket dazzled us with their high performance UFW-10 (msrp: $599) earlier in the year which our reviewer felt it to be without peer in its category based on performance, fit and finish and feature set. While we were still dazed and confused, Rocket released a similar performing subwoofer but with an automated single band Parametric Equalizer (PEQ) and for $100 less! The PEQ was part of a joint venture with Speaker City which sells the Subwoofer Optimizer System (SOS) technology as a stand alone unit for $269. This sub is an ideal solution for small to medium sized rooms and works even better in pairs.
MSRP: $499 | Buy it Now from AV123
Award: Universal Remote Control
Remote Osiris MX-350 IR/RF
It was hard to overlook this budget priced remote's learning power and configurability. Its IR and RF function, easy programming, sleek modern design and battery life put it over the top on our budget universal remote list. Universal Remote makes some pretty incredible products at the higher levels, but with the Osiris MX-350 coming in at under $150, this is the remote to get if you're looking to really grab a hold of a system by the reigns and tame it.
MSRP: $149 | Find the Best Price Online
Acoustics Rapid Run Modular Cables
With all of the bogus marketing and snake oil surrounding cables, it's often hard to differentiate reality from fantasy. We consistently find Impact Acoustics cables to be among the best value and best kept secret in the industry satisfying all of our Cable Budget Guidelines and avoiding all of our Top 10 Snake Oil Gimmicks. Impact Acoustics gets our cable innovation of the year award (if we had one, that is) for their ingenious and much needed modular cable system which is a godsend for custom and residential installers alike. It comes in two "flavors" for both data and audio/video and terminates into a variety of pigtails or wall plates with more ease and simplicity than we would have thought possible.
MSRP: $14.99 - $149.99 | Buy it Now from Impact Acoustics
Award: HDMI/DVI Cables
SHR DVI/HDMI Cables
Up until DVIGear released their new Super High Resolution (SHR) copper HDMI and DVI cables, the maximum reliable length for sending 1080p was around 15 feet. With this new technology from DVIGear, 1080p over copper HDMI and DVI cables can have a range of 33 feet (with 720p/1080i possible at lengths up to 50 feet.) Later this year, DVIGear is planning on releasing active correction circuitry which promises to extend the range of copper cables even further - up to 200+ feet!
MSRP: $49.95 - $299.95 | Buy it Now from DVIGear
Award: Calibration Tools & Equipment
SpyderTV Television Calibration System
Many television units ship from the manufacture calibrated for one purpose: impress people walking around under florescent lighting and grab their attention. Enter Datacolor who, until July of 2004, dealt primarily with professional computer display calibration tools and software. SpyderTV is the first consumer-targeted television calibration tool to hit the market that we are aware of. Considering the average price of an HDTV set falls between $1500 and $2500, I think the price is on-target for consumers looking to get improved performance (and life) out of their displays.
MSRP: $269 | Find the Lowest Price Online
Award: Power Conditioner Device
S15 Power Conditioner & SBATT Battery Back
Just like with cables, most exotic power conditioner products are laced with snake oil and bogus marketing claims about how they will magically transform your home theater system into a state of nirvana. APC makes no such claims. Instead, they promise uninterruptible, clean and stable power delivery to your home theater system. And, unlike most competitor companies, APC actually backs it up with UL, CSA and FCC Part15 certifications. Take a look at the back panels of most competitor products and you won't find any of these markings for two very good reasons (1. Most products wont pass these stringent certifications ; 2. It's a very costly test procedure). What further sweetens the deal is the S15 provides voltage regulation, and battery backup. You can even add on more battery back up via their SBATT module should you require it. It's easy to see the amount of thought that went into the design of these products via our APC FAQ Interview and why we chose them to be our official sponsor for all of our primary staff reference systems.
MSRP: $1500 S15
MSRP: $500 SBATT | Locate a Dealer
Award: LFE Accessory
There are times when we find products that are just plain fun. The Butt-Kicker LFE kit is one such product. This kit is complete with everything you need to add extra Wow effect to your system. The kits easy installation, high build quality, and low price make it an easy pick for product of the year. Have a seat layout that makes it hard to run a sub cable to the chairs? Get the optional $99 ButtKicker-Link RF-Kit and run the system wirelessly. This is one neat product.