Michael Trei

Michael Trei  |  Jul 31, 2019  |  0 comments
Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,499 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clean and tidy sound
Excellent tonal match between models
Superb high-gloss painted finish
Minus
Sound is a bit polite with some material
No wood finish option

THE VERDICT
This RSL CG5 system offers relaxed sound that's easy to like, impressive build quality, and great value.

Everybody loves a great comeback story. Whether it's Tiger Woods winning The Masters after a decade of disappointment, or Apple's return to global dominance after nearly going bust twenty years back, it's nice when someone or something can make a strong return.

Michael Trei  |  Jul 03, 2019  |  8 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
IMAX Enhanced certified
Nine channel amp for flexibility
Extensive wireless options
Minus
Ample power for a medium-size room
Limited crossover control Non-illuminated remote

THE VERDICT
Pioneer's first A/V receiver to carry IMAX Enhanced certification offers fine sound and bang- up-to-date technology at a mid-level price.

More than any other category of home theater gear, A/V receivers are subject to an ever-evolving list of "must have" technologies. The required logos for each of these licensed features now forms a long row extending the full width of most receivers, with IMAX Enhanced counting as the latest logo gunning for real estate on any AVR that wants to be up-to-date.

Michael Trei  |  Jun 05, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $500/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clear and dynamic sound
Bargain price
Minus
Plain-Jane appearance
Limited finish options

THE VERDICT
The A170 is a refined, capable speaker that draws the best from recordings, and punches way above its bargain price.

It's funny how old impressions die hard. Remember the loudspeaker wars of the 1960s and 1970s? I certainly do. Back then, people would describe speakers as having either an East Coast or a West Coast sound, with the buttoned-down and refined east represented by brands like Acoustic Research, Bozak, and Dynaco, and the more raucous, wild west dominated by Altec Lansing and JBL.

Michael Trei  |  Apr 03, 2019  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,800 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Neutral balance
Close timbral matching between models
Excellent value
Minus
Pedestrian styling
Basic finish options

THE VERDICT
PSB's long-running Alpha Series has been a value leader for more than 25 years. Now in their third generation, these speakers sound equally good with music and movies, and the value quotient is stronger than ever.

I think of PSB's entry-level Alpha Series speakers as being the loudspeaker equivalent of the Toyota Corolla. The Alphas may not be the sexiest speakers around, but they do offer solid engineering, long-term reliability, and excellent performance at a very reasonable price. Speakers from PSB's now sadly discontinued flagship Synchrony line have served as my personal home theater reference for over a decade, so you could call me a bit of a fanboy. As you might expect, that means I'm also interested in seeing what the company can deliver when keeping costs down is part of the equation.

Michael Trei  |  Mar 20, 2019  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $996 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Dynamic and lively sound
Good stereo and surround sound imaging
Minus
Requires careful setup for best performance
Basic black finish only

THE VERDICT
Klipsch’s R-41M speaker system amply demonstrates how a 5.1 surround package can outperform a same-priced soundbar. Enthusiastically recommended for both movies and music.

Putting together a home theater system on a limited budget can be a daunting task. That's why so many people instead take the easy route and buy a soundbar to handle audio. Sure, a one- or two-box (with subwoofer) solution is simple to shop for and a snap to hook up, but what about the sound quality? With soundbars, the amplifiers, speakers, and signal processing are all designed to work together in an integrated unit, so it's often possible to squeeze surprisingly big and powerful sound out of the bar's tiny drivers.

Michael Trei  |  Feb 13, 2019  |  3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $8,250

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Class-A sound with improved efficiency
Exceptional transparency and control
Minus
Not the most powerful amp on the block
Display unnecessary for most users

THE VERDICT
Krell returns to form with an exceptionally capable amplifier for well-heeled home theaters where quality takes precedence over quantity.

It's hard to overstate the importance of Krell Industries in the history of high-end audio. Founded by Dan and Rondi D'Agostino in 1980, Krell was the audio equivalent of Lamborghini—an audacious riposte to more Ferrari-like rivals such as Mark Levinson and Audio Research. For almost three decades, Krell went from strength to strength, introducing a stream of ever more ambitious products that tested the depth of their customers' pockets, along with the strength of their audio equipment shelving. Then, starting around a decade ago, the brand slowly slipped off the radar screens of most audiophiles.

Michael Trei  |  Jan 11, 2019  |  0 comments
When PSB launched its entry-level Alpha series over 25 years ago, they were hailed as one the greatest values in low-cost loudspeakers right out of the gate. Now, the long-running line has undergone a full revision—only its second in nearly three decades—with the introduction of the new T20 tower speakers ($599/pr), P3 ($199/pr) and P5 ($299/pr) bookshelf speakers, and C10 ($349) center-channel speaker. All models are available in both black ash and walnut woodgrain vinyl finishes.
Michael Trei  |  Jan 11, 2019  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful, full-bodied sound
5.1.4 and 7.1.2-channel surround options
AccuEQ Advance room calibration
Minus
No multichannel preamp outputs
Basic remote control

THE VERDICT
Onkyo's versatile nine-channel receiver delivers an impressive blend of performance and features at a middle-of-the-pack price.

It's easy to get overlooked when you're in the middle. A middle child misses out on both the attention that's lavished on the first born and the doting care parents give to the baby of the family. The same thing can happen with an audio company's product lineup. Onkyo makes more than a dozen A/V receiver models at varying price points, but most of the acclaim inevitably goes to the flagship with its flashy bells and whistles, while models at the entry level get lots of love for providing good value.

Michael Trei  |  Dec 26, 2018  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,099.95

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Versatile configuration options
Excellent iOS/Android control app
Music and movie optimization modes
Minus
Wireless module costs extra
Only available in black finish

THE VERDICT
The Dynamo 1100X subwoofer's impressive performance is enhanced by room correction, flexible setup options, and an excellent control app.

When I was a kid, the closest thing my family had to a remote control was me. As the youngest child, it was my job to get up off my butt and turn the knob if someone wanted to watch a different TV channel. Today, it seems that just about any device that plugs in can be remotely operated with a clicker from the comfort of your chair, but a subwoofer? Isn't that the kind of set-and-forget product that completely takes care of itself? As it turns out, remote control adjustment, a key feature of MartinLogan's revamped Dynamo line, can be a really handy feature in a subwoofer, but we'll talk more on that in a bit.

Michael Trei  |  Nov 21, 2018  |  5 comments
603 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
ASW610XP Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $4,399 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Engaging, transparent sound
Powerful, tuneful bass
Clean, contemporary look
Minus
Treble can overwhelm with some music
Center speaker tonal match could be better

THE VERDICT
The latest update to the Bowers & Wilkins 600 Series brings technological improvements trickled down from the company’s 700 and 800 Series speakers. This system delivers engaging, upfront sound and good value.

Maybe it’s because our country is still young, but Americans tend to think of the British as having lots of long-standing traditions. Is that impression still valid? These days, Jaguar Cars is owned by India’s Tata Motors. Mini Cooper, Rolls Royce, and Bentley are owned by German companies. Even Marmite, that most British of toast toppings, is half-owned by the Dutch. Following that trend, it should come as no surprise to learn that a quintessentially British hi-fi company like Bowers & Wilkins is owned by a Silicon Valley, California-based startup called EVA Automation. Engineering and design still takes place at the company’s headquarters in Worthing, England, even if most of the actual production now takes place in Asia.

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