Michael Trei

Michael Trei  |  Mar 24, 2021  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $6,193 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Dynamic sound for on- wall speakers
Versatile installation options
Solid build quality
Minus
Sub pricey compared with standalone units

THE VERDICT
PSB’s classy but low-profile PWM1 on-wall speakers and CSIR SUB subwoofer won’t attract attention, and they're not meant to. An excellent choice if you want a great-sounding speaker system for movies and music that won’t take over your room or your life.

A common notion among audiophiles who dismiss on-wall speakers is that speakers need to be positioned well out into a room in order to get big, spacious sound. But that kind of thinking misses the point. For many, on-wall speakers can be an excellent option if you don't want to dedicate your living room to a hi-fi or home theater audio system, but also expect dynamic and enveloping sound that's a step above what you'd get from in-wall speakers.

Michael Trei  |  Dec 30, 2020  |  8 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
HDMI 2.1-ready (via firmware update)
Versatile speaker switching
Built-in phono preamp
Minus
Small front panel and onscreen displays
Lacks analog video connections

THE VERDICT
Yamaha's latest mid-priced A/V receiver promises—and delivers—cutting-edge features at an unprecedented price.

The big car companies refresh their lineups on a pretty regular schedule. Honda, for example, brings out all-new versions of its models every four to five years, and it makes smaller upgrades and improvements in the years between the big changes. How many people know that the A/V receiver manufacturers do pretty much the same thing?

Michael Trei  |  Sep 02, 2020  |  6 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $650/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Extraordinary sonic transparency
Large, well-focused soundstage
Bargain-priced exotica
Minus
Requires adequate amplification
Finicky about placement
No deep bass

THE VERDICT
Magnepan's latest entry level speaker can be demanding, but it delivers compelling performance when set up properly and matched with the right gear.

Imagine that Ferrari introduced a new mid-engine sports car that sold for only $30,000. Sounds like a killer deal, but would you jump at the opportunity? The answer to that question will probably depend on your life situation. For a single person who just wants to head out and have fun, then maybe. But if you have three kids who need rides to school and soccer practice, probably not.

Michael Trei  |  Jun 24, 2020  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Very good performance
Exceptional ease of use
Accommodates typical turntables
Minus
No remote control

THE VERDICT
The Spinbase is a fulfilling high-performance alternative to an entry-level component-based stereo system.

At first glance, almost everything about the Andover Spinbase turntable speaker system seems wrong. Why? Audiophiles go to great lengths to make sure their turntable, a delicate vibration sensor, is isolated from external sources of mechanical vibration. But with the Spinbase, you plunk your turntable on top of the worst offender in a system—the speaker. That's a bit like asking a ballerina to do a pirouette while being tackled by the Green Bay Packers' offensive line.

Michael Trei  |  Jun 17, 2020  |  5 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $899 (piano gloss black), $799 (black ash)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Big bass punch from a small form factor
Excellent value
Versatile smartphone control app
Minus
No auto-calibration/room EQ feature

THE VERDICT
The new SB-2000 Pro delivers big punch for a reasonable price, with tremendous fine-tuning capability offered by its smartphone control app.

With 12 different subwoofers in its line, I'm pretty certain that SVS makes more models than any other subwoofer manufacturer. In providing so many options, not only does the company cover a wide range of price points, but they can also offer subwoofers matched to different use cases, from high-end audiophile setups to big, slamming home theater rigs.

Michael Trei  |  Apr 15, 2020  |  4 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $8,000 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Refined sound
Powerful, feature-rich subwoofer
Minus
Tweeter on 60XTi tower sits high off the ground
60XTi tower requires careful placement

THE VERDICT
Upgrades in style and performance take MartinLogan's Motion series speakers to the next level, while its Dynamo 1600X subwoofer is a feature-packed beast.

Ask a car guy to identify any classic American car from the 1950s or 1960s, and most would be able to pin it down to the exact year of production. Back then, the auto companies would change up styling every year, even if the mechanical stuff under the sheet metal remained essentially unchanged. The problem with that approach is that tooling up to build new models every year gets really expensive, so these days most cars have a life cycle of a few years before an all-new generation is introduced. To keep these longer-lasting designs looking fresh, at some point in the life cycle they'll give the car what's known as a facelift, replacing a few key parts like the grille, taillights, and trim to lend it a new look.

Michael Trei  |  Apr 08, 2020  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Digs deep to leave records sparkling
Far more effective than brush cleaners
Affordable
Minus
Hands-on manual operation
Loud vacuum motor

THE VERDICT
The Record Doctor VI is a bare-bones wet record cleaning system that delivers superb results at a bargain price.

It's easy to dismiss the recent resurgence of interest in vinyl records as a youth-driven phenomenon, with millennials embracing vinyl more for its hipness factor than for the great sound that it can deliver. But in the course of my day job setting up and maintaining high-end turntables, I'm finding that much of the rekindled attention is actually coming from my fellow Boomers and Gen-Xers. Some of us never stopped playing our records. Others, it seems, simply stashed theirs in the basement decades ago when CDs seemed so convenient and are just now pulling them out to appreciate all over again.

Michael Trei  |  Nov 13, 2019  |  0 comments
Audiophiles gathered at the 2019 New York Audio Show to explore an eclectic mix of gear — from MartinLogan’s towering Neolith electrostatic speakers to a Luxman tube setup commemorating 50 years in the U.S. to quirky horn speakers from China’s ESD.
Michael Trei  |  Oct 09, 2019  |  6 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Punchy, music-friendly sonics
Flexible speaker configuration options
HEOS wireless streaming
Minus
Limited custom installation features
Non-backlit remote

THE VERDICT
Marantz’s SR6014 proves that an A/V receiver can deliver both great music performance and the latest home theater audio formats, all at an affordable price.

Marantz has been a premium audio brand for more than 65 years, so it makes sense that the company's A/V receivers focus squarely on audio performance, rather than racking up loads of home theater bells and whistles only a few will use. But while it's clear that Marantz's offerings tip the scale a bit more toward music enthusiasts than the custom installation scene, the new SR6014 isn't some stripped-down product aimed at hair shirt-wearing audiophiles. Instead, it's a bang-up-to-date home theater receiver that ticks off all the boxes for most-wanted surround sound features.

Michael Trei  |  Sep 11, 2019  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,900 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Lively and dynamic sound
Optimized for movies
Outstanding value for money
Minus
Awkward form factor
Drab cosmetic

THE VERDICT
By combining the benefits of both THX certification and Dolby Atmos, this superb high-value home theater speaker package from Monoprice knocks it out of the park.

What's in a name? If visions of $10 HDMI and iPhone Lightning cables pop into your head when you hear the name Monoprice, you should know that the company introduced the premium Monolith brand a few years back to move beyond its image as an online peddler of low-cost cables. Think of Monolith as being a bit like Genesis is to Hyundai: a fresh name free of the parent brand's bargain basement associations.

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