Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity

Home Surround Sound Speaker Systems

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Surround Sound Speaker Systems

LG LHB535 Home Theater in a Box

LG LHB535

I come from a world of slowly building a system, upgrading one piece at a time, to achieve the best performance for my dollar. So buying an entire solution in one box has never crossed my mind. The LG LHB535 was my first experience with a "Home Theater in a Box" system. Like many people's first time, I was nervous.. apprehensive.. What if it doesn't perform?

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

JBL LS 80 speaker system for Audiophiles

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.

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Kef IQ Series Speakers and HTBSE-W Wireless Subwoofer

Kef IQ Series Speakers and HTBSE-W Wireless Subwoofer

KEF is the venerable British-based loudspeaker company founded in 1961 by former BBC electrical engineer Raymond Cooke. The company first became famous for its monitors and Reference series speakers. In 1988, KEF introduced the revolutionary Uni-Q system, which mounted a neodymium-based tweeter in the center of the woofer voice coil. Since then, KEF has expanded its product line to include the ultra high-end Muon down to the entry level C Series speakers. The subject of this review, KEF's Q Series speakers, is the next step up from the C Series. As the name implies, it offers the Uni-Q technology in each of the five main speakers.

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Paradigm SE Series Home Theater Speakers

Paradigm SE Series

Forever it seems here at Secrets (and everywhere really) people come asking for a home theater gear shopping list, hoping there is some inside knowledge to be unearthed which will get them world class audio for a ridiculously low price. More sympathetic to the notion of "limited funds" I could not possibly be, but fact is, with speakers at least, it is quite literally impossible in that unlike electronics and "digital" stuff which gets smaller and cheaper by the minute, speakers are inherently analogue, physical, mechanical devices. Top shelf quality IS going to cost you something.

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Klipsch Icon W 5.1 Speaker System

Klipsch Icon W 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.

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B&W VM6 Floor-standing Speakers, M-1 Surround Speakers and PV1 Subwoofer

B&W VM6 speakers, M-1 Surround and PV1 Sub system

B&W have a long history in the speaker biz since their formation in the 60's and the company as a whole probably needs little introduction to most Home Theater and Hi-Fi fans. With Rotel and Classe in the corporate stable there are components for everyone. While B&W is probably best known for its evolving 800 series speaker line and its range topping Nautilus flagship the company has branched out significantly over the last 20 years into in wall / in ceiling speakers (Custom Series) and speakers that compliment the emergence of flat screen TV's (FPM and VM6). Here, we review their VM6 floor-standing speakers, M-1 surrounds, and PV1 subwoofer. See our Demonstration Video on the B&W M-1 Speakers here.

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Mixing and Matching: The Paradigm Reference Signature C5 Center Channel Cone Speaker vs. Electrostatics

paradigm-c5-center-speaker-teaser

In most A/V publications, they will tell you to stick with one brand and line of speakers so that the tonality will be the same across the entire soundstage. That's true. But, if you look for neutrality in sound, you can mix and match with no problem. I have used electrostatic speakers (ESLs) in our home theater lab as a reference for years. The problem has always been the center channel. The front left and right ESL are 6 feet tall, and the center channel ESL was only 4 feet, and even then, the motorized projection screen would come down in front of it about a foot. Secondly, ESLs cannot be driven to high SPLs like cone speakers.....So, I decided to use a conventional (cone) speaker for the center channel, the new Paradigm Reference Signature C5 center channel speaker.....Was I disappointed in the results? Read our review to see.

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Paradigm Rock Speakers

Paradigm Rock Speakers

I admit, I've always been a little cynical about outdoor speakers. What better chance for a manufacturer to knick you a little extra for the ability to leave them out in the rain. Just walk into any big box store and you will see models of outdoor speakers from ho-hum manufacturers that command at least twice what their comparable indoor speakers cost. In this case though, Paradigm is the source, and they are definitely not ho-hum. And, making them waterproof does add to the cost. But, it is the sound that matters most, and Paradigm delivers. Read our review to see what I am talking about.

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Canton GLE 5.1 Speaker System

Canton's GLE 5.1 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.

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MartinLogan 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System

MartinLogan Home Theater System

I remember the first time I saw a pair of MartinLogan electrostatic speakers. It was 1993 and I was still in high-school, shopping for a new car stereo. And then I saw them, a pair of tall ominous black panels. I was immediately intrigued by the strange looking panel. Asking for a demonstration, I was politely refused, who would think a teenager with a scratched rap CD fresh off the car audio demo system could afford (or even appreciate) such a speaker? Here, we review a 5.1 set of MartinLogans, consisting of the Summit X as the front speakers, Vista as the rear surround, Stage as the center channel, and Descent i subwoofer.

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Mirage MX 5.1 Speaker System

Mirage MX 5.1 Speaker System

I've always been intrigued by Mirage speakers. Their brand and styling are unmistakable. Having never owned a pair and only partaking in a few brief demos, I was eager to spend some time with the MX 5.1 speaker system. I knew the MX speaker system was compact but when the shipping company arrived with a box that was smaller in diameter than my reference subwoofer I started to feel a little disenchanted.

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