Naim Audio n-System

Naim n-systemSat-sub speaker systems are a mixed bag, many of them look appealing enough, but lack the real fidelity needed for the accurate playback of music. On the other side of the coin many of the satellite / subwoofer speaker systems that sound good are still too big to blend into a rooms surroundings.

I’m confident in saying Naim has created the ultimate sat / sub speaker system. The n-System benefits from Naim’s long pedigree of tonally accurate, musically satisfying hi-fi gear.

Configured in a mirrored front / rear, separate center channel plus subwoofer arrangement, the n-System is capable of not only astonishingly realistic hi-fi playback, but impressive surround sound performance as well. All hyperbole aside, I worked in a specialist hi-fi shop for several years, and time and time again we saw Naim win in head-to-head demos with other speaker brands. If realistic full range sound reproduction is as important to you as the speaker’s aesthetics, I strongly recommend auditioning the n-System.

Onkyo CB-SP1200

CBSP1200Yesterday I wrote about an equipment rack for your flat-screen television, that held the display and associated equipment, well here’s a stand that is part of the associated equipment. The Onkyo CB-SP1200 is a sleek minimalist stand with built-in left, center and right channel speakers.

Designed for a plasma or LCD monitor, the Onkyo CB-SP1200 rather ingenuously solves the ‘where to put the speakers’ dilemma once and for all, their built in! The finish is a hand-rubbed, seven-coat black lacquer, and the CB-SP1200 includes a cable management system on the rear of the stand.

The integrated left, center and right channel speakers are rated at 40 watts each, so while the stand would provide adequate sound reproduction from a small receiver or the speaker outputs from a plasma or LCD monitor, a beefy dedicated home theater receiver might be over kill.

BDI Cielo equipment stand

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More often than not, the stand A/V equipment is placed on isn’t on par visually with the equipment itself. I’m pleased to say that BDI makes several furniture/stand solutions to bridge this gap.

The Cielo 9324 is a three shelf A/V stand capable of supporting up to a 50″ flat panel television, and has the necessary accoutrements for wire management and proper ventilation of your audio video equipment.

BDI stands and furniture can be found at specialty retailers across the US.

The Elac Imago, on-wall speaker system

imagoLet’s face it, even a gorgeous speaker still occupies precious floor space, but the Imago’s from Elac aren’t typical floor standing speakers. The Imago is actually an on-wall speaker that resembles artwork more than hi-fi, but to be perfectly honest the Imago’s aren’t speakers at all, they’re sonic transducer’s, meaning the flat panels ‘radiate’ sound as opposed to the audible vibrations created typical cone speakers.

Don’t be fooled by the technical specifications however, the Imago’s are meant to be seen as well as heard. The speaker is in essence a ‘picture frame’ with a screen-print front adhered to the transducer, on which various renderings, themes or even known artists can be displayed.

Philips Streamium WACS700

WACS700Wireless music throughout the home is a reality, either via iTunes and an AirPort Express or similar product. What about those seeking to stream music around the house, with a little more panache?

The Philips Streamium WACS700 Wireless Music Center ($1,000, available second half of 2005) promises just that. With head turning looks and a 40GB hard drive capable of holding up to 750 CD’s, the WACS700 might just be the all in one answer to those desiring music anywhere around the home, without the potential headache of setting up a wireless network.

The Streamium hub uses an 802.11g Wi-Fi connection to stream music to up to five satellite stations ($300 each). Included with the system is a two-way remote control with an LCD for displaying artist and track information from the built-in Gracenote CDDB database. Another handy feature of the WACS700 is the ‘Music Follows Me’ feature which allows your music to move with you seamlessly as you go from room to room.

Plasma perfect speaker system

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The idea of combining left center and right channels in a single cabinet, under plasma’s might not be new, but Mirage appears to have a product on their hands, which redefines how it’s done. The UNi Theater speaker system takes the LCR in one cabinet, beyond just simple driver placement. The divers of the UNi-Theater incorporate Mirage’s “Omnipolar” technology, which is said to give a much larger sense of spaciousness than the typical closed baffle design of other manufacturers.

Note: the above photo shows off the driver layout, but keep in mind, the included one-piece grille cover, would be much easier on the eyes for final installation.

Ruf-Cinema

 rufAlong the same lines as the (The M.I.S.S – Music Image Sofa System) comes the Ruf-Cinema, this seems to be a popular idea of late, but to be honest I’m just not feeling it. Perhaps I’ve heard the ‘No TV’s in the bedroom’ speel one too many times, or maybe I’m just to tired to do anything but zonk out when I make it to the boudoir, but hey to each their own.

Regardless the Ruf-Cinema includes all the needed accouchements for bedroom cinema minus the actual projector. The screen (included) pops up from the foot of the bed via a remote control. Price you ask? $11,000.

Feng Shui your audio video system

 feng_shui_standI can’t say as I’ve actually ever been a follower of Feng Shui, but I do understand and incorporate a few principles of the ancient methodology into my designs. Well low and behold what do I run across, an article over at CE Lifestyles about just that.

The basic premise isn’t new, (blending your electronics into their surroundings) but in practicel these are all sound (pun intended) ideas here. The biggest one I’m in accordance with is ‘dumping the old CRT televisions’, I have to hope the days of 15″ deep TV’s are long since passed.

Sony Qualia SACD player

qualia_007Ask anyone ‘in the know’ what has been one of the hottest names in consumer electronics recently and Qualia has to be in the top ten. Sony (Qualia) introduced a snazzy new SACD player at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, The Qualia 007 (gotta love that name). This is no mere ‘CD player’ as evident in how the discs are moved through the transparent display. A ‘show’ of sorts take place in preparation of playback, reports from CES indicated it has a rather unique way of handling and cueing up to disc’s prior to play.

The 007 includes built-in 75-watt per channel S-Master digital amplifier. Sony also designed a set of custom speakers for the 007 as a bundled option. The system will read both SACD and CD audio discs, but before you place your order prepare for the sticker shock. How about a hefty 10k for the system itself or 12k for the package with speakers. Qualia products are sold exclusively though it’s stores in New York and Las Vegas and Cierge dealers.

Optoma redefines ‘Home Theater’ in a box

optoma_movie_timeAmong the home theater equipment introduced at this years CES 2005, was Optoma’s Movie Time, The Movie Time features an integrated digital DVD player, speaker system and short throw lens projector, easily turning almost any room into a instant theater. Setup and playback is quick easy and with a suggested retail of $1499, affordable.

In theory this projector could pull double duty as a self contained presentation projector by week and home theater entertainment center by week’s end. This is a great idea and I’m honestly surprised someone hasn’t packaged such a unit together in the past, at least one as aesthetically pleasing as the ‘Movie Time’.

Sofa or theater?

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Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most impressive. Want to incorporate a home theater into an existing space, but didn?t plan for it ahead of time, or simply just don?t have enough extra space? The M.I.S.S (Music Image Sofa System) incorporates a Dolby surround system with subwoofers built into the arm rests and a retractable video projector that uses the M.I.S.S. media cabinet as a projection surface. All in all a self contained home theater system/sofa. In my line of work you really couldn?t ask for a better blend of form and function.

More information at Cassina USA

Bang & Olufsen BeoVision 7

BeoVision7Typical consumer electronics have never been B&O’s forte. Some would argue that the Danish electronic designers should have fell in-line with more ‘mainstream’ manufacturers years ago, but B&O remain true to their stylish but simple roots, at least aesthetically. Most consumers have little knowledge of the real innovation that goes into these products, ‘under the skin’ of their metal housings.

The BeoVision 7, B&O’s latest entry in video displays, is a 32″ LCD television with a built-in DVD player. One interesting feature is the optional motorized floor stand that allows the display to be panned left or right according to the viewer’s preference. In addition to that rather handy feature, something I’ve long wished for in a video display is included here; the BeoVision 7 can automatically adjust picture quality to match current lighting conditions. Using VisionClear technology, i.e. the brightness, contrast and other picture settings can recognize changes in room light and compensate accordingly.

Altoparlante Bello ? Sonus Faber’s beautiful Cremona

cremonaIf you dreamed of owning an Italian sports car growing up, like I did, but ‘grew-up’ before your bank account matched your dreams, maybe there’s another Italian product with sleek, smooth lines in your future. Sonus Faber long known for their gorgeous speaker cabinets manufactures the ‘Cremona‘ in limited numbers, at their factory in Vicenza Italy. Of which Stereophile magazine noted “It is also one of the best-looking speakers I have had in my listening room. Sweet, smooth, completely free from grain”.

Having seen some of the smaller Sonus bookshelf speakers for myself, I can attest these cabinets are on par with the finest cabinetry work I’ve ever seen, anywhere. Better than that, they actually play wonderful music as well.

Sonus Faber’s are available from specialty dealers, who can be contacted through their distributor ‘Sumiko‘ at 510.843.4500

Classe Delta Series

classe The Class Delta Series offers some of the most stylish electronics around, with cutting edge surround processors that integrate the latest Dolby EX, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS-ES Discrete and DTS-ES Matrix as well as THX Ultra2, all current surround sound formats are supported. The CDP-300 universal disc-player handles all CD formats including SACD, as well as all current DVD formats, Its HDMI output ensures compatibility with all future display types.

Class’e has been manufacturing hi-end audio components since the 1980’s and in the last few years has introduced some exciting video products as well. If performance and style are concerns then Classe might just be for you.

Sonos music system

sonos The Sonos digital music system may provide the whole-house what iPod delivered to individuals, your music your way, no compromises. Place up to 32 of Sono’s ZonePlayers throughout your home attach speakers to each, rinse and repeat as many times as you like and viola instant networked music throughout the home. The 10.2 x 7.2 x 4.4-inch boxes will establish a wireless network for distributing, playing, and amplifying digital music.

The Sonos ZonePlayers can handle MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, and Internet radio files. You’ll need to connect the first ZonePlayer to the computer or hard drive where your music is stored. The system works with Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, or a network-attached storage drive. It also has inputs for connecting an iPod or CD player. A proprietary 54-Mbps wireless network lets you either treat each room as an autonomous zone or group them. With the remote, you can route different songs to different rooms or sync up the same song on multiple players and have it play in perfect harmony throughout the house.

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