Home Theater Systems Reviews

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Kevin Hunt  |  Feb 15, 2005  |  0 comments
De-wired (partially) and de-lovely (totally).

If not for all the wires, Sony's wireless DAV-LF1 DVD Platinum Dream System would be absolutely dreamy. Even with today's technology, a home theater can't do wireless like a cell phone or a home network or laptop stoked with Wi-Fi. The best it can do is wireless surround speakers—that is, no wires between the surround speakers and the A/V receiver. But, as with the DAV-LF1, these speakers are routinely wired to each other and require a nearby electrical outlet for a wireless receiver. If this were the meat department, home of the semi-boneless ham, we'd call it semi-wireless.

Krissy Rushing  |  Jul 18, 2000  |  First Published: Jul 19, 2000  |  0 comments
What Dreams May Come . . . The new Sony DVD Dream System is a bargain that's almost too good to be true.

Far be it for me to expound the simplicity of a system's hookup. My home system is a wreck, with wires running hither and thither that I trip on almost daily. Oh what a tangled web I've woven! Yet my M&K THX speakers sound excellent, and my video system (a Panasonic DVD player and an RCA 36-inch TV) is a godsend. This is my main system, and my conscience would be partly cloudy with a slight chance of regret if I were to bring another system into my house (especially into my bedroom). But when Sony sent me the DVD Dream System (which is perfect for a second system), the trumpets sounded, and I suddenly found myself wearing a red cape and spandex outfit with the letters "EHW" scrawled across the front. I was, for a short while, Easy Hookup Woman (and I don't mean that lewdly, men in the audience).

John Higgins  |  Dec 22, 2006  |  0 comments
  • $500
  • XM ready with included XM Connect & Play antenna
  • Component setup, so upgrading is easy
  • Adjust the setup with Digital Cinema Auto Calibration and the included microphone
Sony's HT-7000DH is a component-style 5.1-channel home-theater-in-a-box. It includes a receiver (STR-K7000), a five-disc carousel DVD player (DVP-NC85H), four satellites, a center-channel speaker, and a subwoofer. The speakers have a black faux-wood finish. Aesthetically, there's nothing about them that stands out, so they should blend in easily among bookcases and shelving units. The DVD player upconverts over the HDMI connection to 720p or 1080i. It can read all DVD video formats, as well as VCD and JPEG. Being a Sony, it can also play SACDs. As for other audio formats, it is limited to CD, CD-R, CD-RW, and MP3 playback.
HT Staff  |  Nov 07, 2001  |  First Published: Nov 08, 2001  |  0 comments
Got money? HT editors tell you the best value for your $$$.

As editors of Home Theater, everyone asks us questions about the consumer electronics business. This is fine—it's our duty to help those who may not have the time to spend all day playing around with really cool gear. Some questions are easy, like "How do I hook this up?" or "What does anamorphic mean?" Unfortunately, the one question we get all the time is not as simple to answer: What gear should I buy?

Kevin Hunt  |  Jan 01, 2004  |  0 comments
The low price of well-heeled HTIBs.

Consumer confession: A little more than three years ago, I bought my first DVD player for $300. It was a basic player in a nondescript black box with none of the now-standard features like progressive-scan video and component video outputs. It couldn't even read recordable CDs.

Adrienne Maxwell  |  Jan 01, 2003  |  First Published: Jan 02, 2003  |  0 comments
Yamaha's DVX-S100 has all the makings of a good HTIB.

Like the proverbial chain, a home-theater-in-a-box is only as strong as its weakest link. What's the point in putting outstanding speakers in your HTIB if you top them off with a weak amplifier that can't exploit the speakers' gifts? Does it matter that everything is conveniently located in one box if the consumer can't figure out how to set up the system because the manual and remote are too confusing? Keeping in mind a target audience that consists of entry-level home theater consumers, any good HTIB's goal should be to offer the most well-rounded package for the least number of dollars. In this respect, Yamaha's new DVX-S100 HTIB is a qualified success.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Aug 03, 2009  |  1 comments
Price: $650 At A Glance: A/V receiver, five slim speakers, and powered sub • Slightly rolled-off treble, but pleasing sound • Good remote, lousy supplied cable

Home Theater Comfort Food

On my first trip to London, when I was much younger, my first meal was a mediocre steak in a fifth-rate restaurant full of reveling Australian soccer fans. It was one of the most disappointing meals I’ve ever had. While Britain doesn’t exactly lead the world in cuisine, you can eat well there if you know what you’re doing. The reason I got stuck with a leathery, tasteless, uninspiring piece of meat was that I was jet-lagged and desperately hungry, I didn’t know my way around, and I couldn’t find anything better. HTIBs can be like that. People who might be better served by a higher-quality component system settle for a less fulfilling one because they don’t know their way around the labyrinthine world of A/V receivers and speaker systems. Mixing and matching surround gear can be too steep a hill to climb.

Kim Wilson  |  Dec 03, 2007  |  0 comments
Is the age of the traditional loudspeaker almost over? Never before has there been so many alternatives to the typical monolith speaker, from in-walls that disappear into the décor to ultra-tiny speaker enclosures that sit on a shelf. A general aversion to complex and highly visible multichannel audio systems has left a good many consumers with only half the home theater experience. According to a September 2006 article from the Consumer Electronics Association, called "Home Theater Opportunities," 76% of all flat panel TV users are not using a separate audio system. As the article points out there are a good deal of opportunities for audio equipment manufacturers to develop alternate methods for delivering quality audio for high-definition TVs.
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jul 27, 2008  |  0 comments
Taking the shortcut home.

Some people would call it cheating. Others might be less pejorative and consider it a shortcut. Either way, setting a rectangular box on top of your TV, plugging in an analog stereo RCA cable, finding an outlet for a single AC power cord, and pressing the power button isn’t what God intended when he gave us home theater. No, a real man’s home theater demands a separate processor and amplifiers, multiple speakers, many long runs of speaker wire, and an inconvenient place to put a subwoofer. It should take real work to set the whole thing up—and more than a sporting chance to wire something incorrectly.

Chris Chiarella  |  May 20, 2006  |  0 comments
A lot of sound from a little box.

As I speed-dial my cell phone to reach my wife in the kitchen, to ask her to bring me another Dr. Pepper, it hits me: People want it easy. Too often, however, "easy" and "home theater" don't mix, unless, for example, you have the means and the know-how to hire a good custom installer to hook up your gear and configure your universal remote. ZVOX clearly understands the critical anti-work ethic of home entertainment. Their original 315 Sound Console (in our April 2005 issue) connects to a TV or audio source with a comforting "Set it, and forget it!" philosophy, previously applicable only in the realm of Ron Popeil's famous rotisseries. ZVOX's goal is to deliver spacious home theater audio with only one cable connected to a single box.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Mar 30, 2009  |  0 comments
Price: $500 At A Glance: Fits under flat panels that weigh 90 pounds or less • Five 2-inch drivers, one 5.25-inch woofer • Balanced sound with minimal surround

What’s in That Black Box?

What if you opened up your home-theater-in-a-box system only to find—another box? Would you suspect you had suddenly plunged into an unpublished chapter of Through the Looking Glass, a strange alternate universe where boxes contain boxes? Would you be afraid that inside the second box, there might be a third box? And inside the third, a fourth? Was dropping acid and going to the Museum of Modern Art in 1978 really such a good idea?