Aon 2 Speaker System Performance Build Quality Value
ForceField 5 Subwoofer Performance Features Build Quality Value
Price: $3,000 At A Glance: Broad dispersion • Good power handling • Powerful subwoofer
A review is more interesting when it tells a story. How should the story of the GoldenEar Aon 2 begin? There’s the technology angle: The Aon 2 is among the few speakers on the market with an unusual pleated tweeter design that uses a squeezing motion (as opposed to a piston motion) to generate the changes in air pressure that we hear as sound waves. Because the benefits—wide horizontal dispersion and vivid imaging—are easy to describe, that would be a good way to begin. And then there’s the human interest angle: GoldenEar is the third brand to be cofounded by Baltimore-based loudspeaker impresario Sandy Gross, whose genuine love for audio is balanced by his love for gourmet food, Expressionist canvases, and ancient statuary. The only thing wrong with these angles is that reviewers hither and yon have used them so often in the past. That leaves the musical angle. Here I believe I have a variant that might qualify as an exclusive.
Bigger is better. That’s probably the dominant argument in favor of buying a separate multichannel amplifier and surround processor instead of an A/V receiver. It’s also the wrong argument. There are three good reasons for you to choose separates: to scale up your system to a larger room, to power more-demanding speakers, or to achieve higher performance than you can get with an average AVR.
In a global economy convulsing with change, middle-level journalists in my dusty corner of the technology sector don't get many invitations to board a plane for Tokyo. Especially when the ticket is business class. But that's where I found myself a few weeks ago, in a luxurious seat with four different points of adjustment, on my way to visit one of the world's great audio companies: Sony. True, Sony isn't the first company most American audiophiles would think of in connection with high-end audio, or even the second or third. Yet I've been consistently knocked flat by demos of its two new loudspeaker lines in recent years. And it looks as if Sony is also looking to improve its game as a maker of surround receivers. Following is a brief summation of what you need to know about Sony's rebirth as an audio brand.
M25 Speaker System Performance Build Quality Value
MSubwoofer Performance Features Build Quality Value
Price: $3,345 At A Glance: Leather-like enclosure finish • Beefy subwoofer • Easy-listening, aggression-free treble
The question “what speakers should I buy?” is increasingly giving way to the more provocative “why should I buy stand-alone speakers at all?” Loudspeakers have to argue for their very existence in a world where consumers are logging fewer listening hours with component systems. Instead, stylish music sources such as tablets and smartphones are driving listeners toward equally stylish all-in-one wireless/docking systems and headphones. Today, the poor old loudspeaker has to work harder to attract attention. It has to convince you to buy it—oh, and one of those pesky audio/video receivers to power it.
Audio Performance Video Performance Features Ergonomics Value
Price: $499 At A Glance: Switch-mode power supply • Full Apple functionality • Unique Media Manager app
If you don’t enjoy paradox, life is no more fun than a sack of dirt. Here’s a long-running paradox in the home theater sphere: Some folks are turned off by audio/video receivers because they are so complex and loaded with features. So how do the people who design AVRs make them more appealing? Add more features!
Back during the analog TV era, a well-regarded manufacturer offered me a rear-projection set—not for review, just for my own use. I turned it down. I didn’t want one of those big, butt-ugly things in my living room. In later years, RPTV went high def, slimmed down, and became the best buy in big-screen TV in terms of inches per dollar. But that wasn’t enough to save it. In the closing jingle-bell months of last year, the one remaining RPTV manufacturer pulled the plug, and the product category quietly passed into history.
Price: $1,299 At a Glance: DAC, headphone amp, preamp for digital sources • Asynchronous USB input • Makes your audio files sing
The Wadia 121 calls itself a decoding computer. While the term DAC (digital-to-analog converter) also fits, Wadia understands that nomenclature is destiny. This product just may be destined to change forever the way you hear high-resolution music files, signaling a new chapter in audio history that no audiophile can afford to ignore.
Whenever I see a bunch of people running in one direction, I run the other way. Let them paw over whatever is enjoying its 15 minutes of fame—I'd rather explore what they've overlooked, at a leisurely pace, in splendid isolation. During the waning days of the LP era, just as the CD's "perfect sound forever" campaign was coming on strong, I refrained from discarding most of my vinyl. Oh, I bought CDs, especially for new releases. But I also haunted the Tower Annex in Lower Manhattan, filling holes in my classical library with used LPs at two or three dollars a pop. For a junior-grade inkstained wretch, vinyl was more affordable than full-priced $15 CDs (in 1980s dollars) though I bought plenty of those too.