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Recent Soundbar & Surround Speaker Reviews

Orb Audio Peoples Choice Mod2 Speaker System Review

Orb Audio Peoples Choice Mod2 Speaker System Review

These may not look like much, but these little spheres are speakers from Orb Audio. The company has a unique approach to audio that is simplistic. These Mod2 speakers, for example, are full-range drivers rated at 8-ohms. Orb does something unusual, however. They let you configure the aptly-named Mod speakers as singles, pairs or even quads - letting you achieve more output. Each Orb speaker has a frequency response of around 120Hz-18kHz, but when you gang them up and increase the output, we found that the response gets more efficient. In either case, crossing over these speakers to the included Super Eight Subwoofer really brings the system together.

We reviewed the Orb Audio People's Choice system. Orb does something unusual. They let you configure the aptly-named Mod speakers as singles, pairs or even quads - letting you achieve more output.

— July 02, 2012 06:20 in Soundbars and Surround Speaker Reviews

Yamaha YSP-2200 Digital Sound Projector Review

Yamaha YSP-2200 Digital Sound Projector Review

Well, we're not new to digital sound projectors like the Yamaha YSP-2200, but maybe you are so here's a quick - and I mean quick - summary. A traditional sound bar has several speakers that simply replace the speakers on your TV and give you a bit better sound quality. Well, given just how bad TV speakers are getting, they give you MUCH better sound quality. Still, if they do any simulated surround sound it's merely phase-induced and not very sophisticated. Sometimes it even kinda ruins the sound. Yamaha's Digital Sound Projectors, on the other hand, use any number of tiny speakers that work in conjunction with a very sophisticated algorithm to literally place 5 virtual speakers in your room. That means that, unlike a traditional soundbar, you can "steer" the beams so that your surround speakers are exactly where you want them to be.

Well, we're not new to digital sound projectors like the Yamaha YSP-2200, and the traditional sound bar has several speakers that replace the speakers on your TV. The is much more than that.

— June 10, 2012 18:15 in Soundbars and Surround Speaker Reviews

harman/kardon SB16 Sound Bar & Wireless Sub Review

harman/kardon SB16 Sound Bar & Wireless Sub Review

The folks at Harman Kardon know speakers. It didn't mean that this one, the harman/kardon SB 16 Active Speaker Soundbar would necessarily sound great - but it definitely gave it a fighting chance. So, I hear your wife won't let you install a real 5.1 system in her living room... Wait, let me try that again. So you're in an apartment and can't hang those surround speakers on your ceiling... Whatever the reason, soundbars are a viable alternative for those who - try as they might - can't pull off a true discrete speaker system. We were kinda excited about this Soundbar because it's from harman/kardon.

We were kinda excited about the harman/kardon SB 16 Active Speaker Soundbar because it's from guys know speakers. It didn't mean that this one had to sound great, but it was a great indicator.

— May 06, 2012 21:25 in Soundbars and Surround Speaker Reviews

Bowers & Wilkins M-1 Compact Speaker and PV1D Sub Preview

Bowers & Wilkins M-1 Compact Speaker and PV1D Sub Preview

The M-1 speakers will run you $250 a pop and the PV1D sub another $1700. For the B&W name, a sub-$3000 5.1 system is pretty reasonable. If you are looking for small speakers not because you can't afford larger ones but because you don't have the space, these should definitely be on your list. While we'll believe the 7.5 Hz extension of the sub when we feel it (since you can't hear it), the PV1D seems to have a lot of very impressive technology. The M-1 satellite speakers also look to be top performers given their size. Now all we need to do is measure them and see how they perform in room to be sure.

If you are looking for small speakers not because you can't afford larger ones but because you don't have the space, the B&W M-1 compact speakers and PV1D subwoofer should definitely be on your list.

— February 26, 2012 18:20 in Soundbars and Surround Speaker Reviews

Vizio VHT215 Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer

Vizio VHT215 Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer

I just love this thing. It's not a surround sound system. It's not the best set of speakers money can buy.... but for a street price of less than $275 you get a product that will actually make decent sound and far outperform anything your TV has to offer. With shrinking TV thicknesses come shrinking speakers... and at this point, what's left is really starting to hurt the overall experience of watching TV. It's that bad. And Vizio knows it's on to something, too, because the VHT215 is showing up everywhere. It's very visible and the company apparently wants you to be able to get your hands on one. So let's talk about what it is exactly. The VHT215 is a sound bar - which is to say that it replaces your TV's speakers and gives you something that you can actually play loudly and which has some fidelity.

The VHT215 is a sound bar - which is to say that it replaces your TV's speakers and gives you something that you can actually play loudly and which has some fidelity. It does this with dual speakers.

— February 15, 2012 19:05 in Soundbars and Surround Speaker Reviews

Boston Acoustics SoundWare XS Digital Cinema Speakers Preview

Boston Acoustics SoundWare XS Digital Cinema Speakers Preview

We're not going to write much about this because we already reviewed the Boston Acoustics SoundWare XS 5.1 Speakers system. This system is designed by Boston Acoustics to be a simplistic "right out of the box" solution for surround sound. The 100-watt SoundWare XS Digital Cinema Surround Sound Speaker system delivers the same elegant, ultra-compact system we looked at earlier, but it also introduces some improved connectivity, with on-board decoding and the ability to handle various audio input sources. Inputs now include optical digital and analog Inputs and the SoundWare XS Digital Cinema System now allows for Dolby Digital decoding as well as Boston’s Digitally Optimized (discrete) Virtual Surround processing. The system is also Bluetooth enabled for music streaming and the remote can learn other commands to be more useful in your home theater.

We're not going to write much about this because we already reviewed the Boston Acoustics SoundWare XS 5.1 Speakers system. This system is designed by Boston Acoustics to also include digital inputs.

— January 09, 2012 19:20 in Soundbars and Surround Speaker Reviews

Samsung HT-E5500W 5.1 Blu-ray 3D Home Theater System Preview

Samsung HT-E5500W 5.1 Blu-ray 3D Home Theater System Preview

This six-speaker 5.1 channel system offers a virtual 7.1 channel sound experience by using an advanced algorithm that analyzes the sound in the two rear speakers to create the effect of two additional channels of sound. The home theater system also features Samsung's new 3D Sound technology, which syncs the audio track of 3D content to match 3D motion on the screen and adds vertical 3D sound effects for a uniquely immersive visual and audio experience. The HT-E5500W's BD Wise Plus feature automatically adjusts the Samsung TV setting to provide optimal picture for each scenario.

Central Hall is alive as Samsung debuts a new range of home theater systems and the first of those was their 7.1 Channel Blu-ray 3D Home Theater System with wireless surrounds, model HT-E6730W.

— January 09, 2012 12:55 in Soundbars and Surround Speaker Reviews

Samsung HW-E550 Soundbar & Wireless Sub Preview

Samsung HW-E550 Soundbar & Wireless Sub Preview

Sound bars are nothing new, but Samsung is attempting to multi-purpose its new HW-E550 by giving it greater flexibility of placement. The new HW-E550 Surround Sound Bar with 3D Depth Sound can either be placed horizontally below a TV or split into two sound vertical soundbar speakers. That is way cool and extremely versatile in a way that we hadn't seen before. Additionally, by attaching each speaker to an included base, the soundbar can also morph into a traditional looking 2.1-channel system with half-tall speakers. The HW-E550 has two HDMI inputs and one HDMI output so users can easily connect to Blu-ray players, set-top boxes and gaming consoles. And, support for HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC) means that you can use all of the inputs of your TV and feed the sources back to your soundbar using that method.

Sound bars are nothing new, but Samsung is attempting to multi-purpose its new HW-E550 by giving it greater flexibility of placement. How? How about Bluetooth, USB, ARC and a wireless subwoofer!

— January 09, 2012 12:55 in Soundbars and Surround Speaker Reviews

Samsung HT-E6730W 7.1 Blu-ray 3D Home Theater System Preview

Samsung HT-E6730W 7.1 Blu-ray 3D Home Theater System Preview

Central Hall is alive as Samsung debuts a new range of home theater systems and the first of those was their 7.1 Channel Blu-ray 3D Home Theater System, model HT-E6730W. This is the first home theater system to feature Samsung's proprietary vacuum tube amplifier technology. Basically, the system incorporates both vacuum tubes and a digital amplifier into one unit. Vacuum tubes are not new to audio - in fact they are extremely old, but there have been many discussions among audio enthusiasts over the benefits of digital and vacuum tube amplifiers. Many appreciated the pure sound that digital amplifiers deliver even in a small form factor, but felt that vacuum tube amplifiers create a richer and fuller sound. We think they help energy efficiency since they both product warm audio AND warm air to help heat your home during the winter. Go Green!

Central Hall is alive as Samsung debuts a new range of home theater systems and the first of those was their 7.1 Channel Blu-ray 3D Home Theater System with wireless surrounds, model HT-E6730W.

— January 09, 2012 12:25 in Soundbars and Surround Speaker Reviews

MonoPrice 5.1 Home Theater Speakers & Subwoofer Review

MonoPrice 5.1 Home Theater Speakers & Subwoofer Review

MonoPrice's 5.1 Channel Home Theater Satellite Speakers & Subwoofer is a starting point, nothing more. That's right, we're not going to wax eloquent about the incredible quality of the drivers or the deep authoritative bass response. BUT... BUT... it's a better experience and sound than any TV speaker I've yet heard. First of all, we really don't like TV speakers. They just don't sound good. They're designed as a necessary evil and most of the time they are firing off the back of the set into the wall and bouncing back to you with, hopefully, some kind of intelligibility left intact. So there's a compelling reason why you'd want to add a sound bar or a 5.1 system where you can offload your audio into a different set of speakers that's I dunno - maybe at least POINTING at you?

MonoPrice's 5.1 Channel Home Theater Satellite Speakers & Subwoofer is a starting point, nothing more. That's right, we're not going to wax eloquent about the incredible quality of the drivers...

— January 09, 2012 05:05 in Soundbars and Surround Speaker Reviews

Wharfedale DX-1 HTiB Preview

Wharfedale DX-1 HTiB Preview

For a Home Theater in a Box, $800 for the Wharfedale DX-1 is somewhere near the upper-mid of the price range. This is targeted for the consumer that isn't afraid to pay a bit of money for decent speakers but is afraid of introducing large speakers into their space. The wall mounting for the satellites is convenient. The center channel has to be shelf mounted so CRT folks will take note that the center channel offers no magnetic shielding. The satellite speakers are rather bass deficient so a higher crossover setting in your receivers bass management system of about 100Hz is recommended to compensate. As a result greater care may be needed for placement of the sub to help it blend into the system better. For those wanting a HTIB solution alternative to lousy cubed speakers at an affordable price, the Wharfedale DX-1 certainly fits the bill for well under $1k.

HTiB buyers just want something that looks good, disappears, and has a good name. The 5.1 Wharfedale DX-1 satellite/subwoofer system certainly fits the bill for well under $1k.

— November 23, 2011 16:45 in Soundbars and Surround Speaker Reviews

Vizio VHT215 Home Theater Sound Bar w/Wireless Sub Preview

Vizio VHT215 Home Theater Sound Bar w/Wireless Sub Preview

Price, location, and buzzwords - that's what sells sound bars. Performance is of little note when a consumer is looking to pack one more thing in his or her cart with that brand new, huge display. With an MSRP of $320 and a retail price sure to be less, the Vizio VHT215 Sound Bar has everything this type of consumer is looking for. Wireless subwoofer? Check. 3D? Check. Glossy and high-tech looking? Check. On sale? Probably, check. While the specifications on this bar are so slim that they don't even list the size, that doesn't matter. Performance doesn't enter into the picture when making an impulse buy.

With a MSRP of $320 and a retail price sure to be less, the Vizio VHT215 Sound Bar has everything some consumers are looking for. Wireless subwoofer? Check. 3D? Check. On sale? Probably check.

— November 16, 2011 00:45 in Soundbars and Surround Speaker Reviews

EMPtek E56Ci Center and E55Wi Surround Speaker Preview

EMPtek E56Ci Center and E55Wi Surround Speaker Preview

We've had great experiences with the EMPtek line of speakers, as have many of our forum members. This is a line for those that aren't willing to sacrifice looks OR performance but have a limited budget. While the new E55Wi Surround speaker fills the much needed void of a dedicated on-wall surround in the line, the E56Ci introduces a new, more powerful center channel to keep up with the larger E55Ti towers. The new EMPtek offerings look just as good as the previous ones and we suspect they'll be greeted enthusiastically. And before you ask - yes, we are going to get these in for a full-fledged review.

The new EMPtek E55Wi Surround speaker fills the much needed void of a dedicated on-wall surround and the E56Ci introduces a new, more powerful center channel to match with the E55Ti towers.

— November 14, 2011 04:35 in Soundbars and Surround Speaker Reviews

Energy Power Bar Soundbar Preview

Energy Power Bar Soundbar Preview

In what appears to be an effort to be completely un-searchable on Google, Energy has released their Power Bar Soundbar. Yeah, search for Energy Power Bar and see how many speakers pop up. As you may be aware, there are two types of bar speakers - soundbars and surroundbars. The surroundbars try to simulate a full 5.1 speaker setup with a single speaker. A Soundbar, like the new Energy Power Bar, is only attempting to provide an improved two-channel experience. While both have their place, we tend to prefer the more attainable goal of the Soundbar solutions. When they come with a wireless subwoofer, we are all the more intrigued.

The new Energy Power Bar, is only attempting to provide an improved sonic experience over your display speakers. When they come with a wireless subwoofer, we are all the more intrigued.

— October 06, 2011 20:00 in Soundbars and Surround Speaker Reviews