Jim Clements

Harman Kardon and Definitive Technology

This is a complete 5.1surround sound system. The front end is the new Harman/Kardon BDP1 Blu-Ray player. The Harman/Kardon receiver is also a new model, the AVR 3600. The speaker package is the Definitive Technology ProCinema 800. These products are not typically discounted, so the anticipated system price comes in just under $2,700. This places the system just over the threshold we've established for "Mid Priced" systems which we have defined as systems with a street price between $2,500 and $5,000.

JBL LS 80 Floor-Standing Speakers, LS Center, LS 40 Rear Surround Speakers, and LS 120P Subwoofer

I was smitten by the JBL LS 80 speakers when I first saw them at the 2009 CEDIA Expo in Atlanta. They were on static display in the JBL booth when I came across them. Even though I couldn't hear them playing, I was impressed by their bold look and solid build quality. In person, their finish is downright striking. It also doesn't hurt that they won the 2008-2009 European Imaging and Sound Association (EISA) "European HT Loudspeaker of the Year" Award or that they are very reasonably priced. Here, we review the LS 80's for the front left and right channels, the LS Center, LS 40's for the rear surround channels, and the LS 120p subwoofer.

Integra DTR-50.1 7.2 A/V Receiver

Integra is a major electronics manufacturer which markets and sells their products through custom installation supply chains. Their focus goes beyond sheer performance and encompasses upgradability, system integration and multi-zone capabilities. These are qualities that are widely needed and used within the custom installation industry. The Integra DTR-50.1 Receiver is right in the middle of the lineup of Integra's receiver offerings.

Klipsch Icon W 5.1 Speaker System

Klipsch designed the Icon series of loudspeakers for smaller rooms and spaces. They also wanted the Icon speakers to blend well with contemporary decors. The system I reviewed here incorporated speakers from the Icon "W" line. These speakers have a sweet real wood veneer with a furniture-grade finish. Was Klipsch able to produce a compact, horn-loaded speaker system which epitomized these design goals while delivering the Klipsch signature sound? Read our review to see what we found.

Canton GLE 5.1 Speaker System

This 5.1 speaker system by Canton hails from Germany, a country famous for the design and manufacturing of all manner of precision products: cars, medical devices, tools, and so forth. So I was really looking forward to seeing if the German engineering, manufacturing and QA/QC tradition would benefit this speaker system.

“Imagine” (NAD Blu-ray Player and Receiver, PSB Speakers)

Welcome to the inaugural Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity system review! We are planning to publish a series of similar reviews to highlight system packages in the Low (up to $2,500 MSRP), Medium ($2,501 - $5,000 MSRP) and High (over $5,000 MSRP) price categories. The systems will all include a source component, receiver (or prepro and amp), speakers and sub (optional). We will also evaluate products in the burgeoning soundbar category. We will strive to select balanced systems that will offer the best value in their respective price ranges. These reviews will be focused on helping readers select turnkey systems for new installations or upgrades.

NAD T587 Blu-ray Disc Player – Benchmark

The NAD T587 represents NAD's first foray into the Blu-ray arena. NAD started big by building the T587 to the Blu-ray Profile 2.0 spec. The T587 can also handle CD and DVD discs among other formats such as DiVX. It is not a universal player and will not spin DVD Audio or SACD discs. Its circuitry is based on the Broadcom decoder. A nice touch is that the player comes with auxiliary feet that closely resemble Vibrapods.  This player is reviewed as one of the Imagine Affordable System components.

PSB Imagine B Bookshelf Speakers

The Imagine speakers are PSB's newest speaker line. There are four models in this line – The Imagine T towers, the Imagine B bookshelf speakers, the Imagine C center speaker and the Imagine S surround speakers. I opted to review the Imagine B's for the mains versus the much more common towers for two reasons – first, this is the inaugural Secrets system review and the point is to review affordable system and the bookshelf speakers are somewhat less expensive than the towers and secondly, my system works better with bookshelf speakers.

PSB SubSeries 6i Subwoofer

The PSB Subseries 6i subwoofer is a very unassuming-looking product, albeit a little on the large size by today's standards. It has a single 12" driver in a ported enclosure. There are two ports that exit at the bottom front of the cabinet. The volume and crossover controls are mounted along the bottom of the front part of the cabinet as well. This arrangement allows the 6i to be mounted inside a cabinet.

NAD T 747 AV Surround Sound Receiver

The NAD T747 AV Surround Sound Receiver is a 7-channel two zone receiver that is capable of decoding bitstream inputs of all the latest high-resolution audio formats. I like its understated styling a la NAD. The minimalist front panel has a simple two-line VFD display in the center of the panel. The characters on this display are about 3/8" high. This is a major improvement over the super small logos that are commonly found in so many of today's receivers and processors.

Emotiva ERT-8.3 Tower Speakers, ERM-6.3 Monitor, and ERD-1 Surround Speakers

Emotiva has been recognized as a value/performance leader in amplifiers for quite some time. Recently, they have ventured into the speaker arena with several models. In this review, we cover the new ERT-8.3 Towers, ERM-6.3 Monitor (used as the center channel), and ERD-1 Surrounds. I enjoyed these speakers about as much as any I have ever had in my system. They are well-designed and solidly constructed. They represent an excellent value as well. Learn more about these exciting new speakers by clicking on the photo to read our review.

ZVOX Z-Base 550 Surround Sound Solution (Sound Bar)

ZVOX is an e-tailer based in New England. They currently manufacture and market seven different models of sound bars. Their products are available on-line direct from the manufacturer. All purchases carry a 30-day no-risk guarantee.The low profile Z-Base 550 is one of their products. It is designed to support a stand-mounted flat panel display. Will a compact 20-pound single box surround system prove worthy of recommendation?

Velodyne Optimum-12 Subwoofer

I remember marveling at the sound being produced by a pair of small bookshelf speakers during a recent visit to a local high-end dealer's shop. I asked the salesman, "The bass extension on these speakers is amazing for their small size. How do they do it?" "Technology" was his reply. I sat there stone faced for a second while the wheels turned. Great bass extension with useable output is still governed by the laws of Newtonian physics. Technology can't violate those laws. The designer must work within the framework of the laws to produce a design that will fulfill their objectives. Velodyne has worked within these laws to produce a compact subwoofer that will surprise you with its amazing bass output. Read more about what Jim Clements has to say.