Home theater

A super deal on super audiophile speakers

Ah yes, the Pioneer SP-BS21-LR -- it was love at first listen back in 2011 when I reviewed it as part of Pioneer's awesome SP-PK21BS six-piece, subwoofer/satellite home-theater system. I used the SP-PK21BS package as one of my reference speaker systems in reviews after that and was always amazed by the speaker's sound and build quality. The SP-BS21-LR speakers sold for $130 a pair. It was later replaced by the SP-BS22-LR, which is the current model (the SP-PK21BS package has also been discontinued). The old and current speaker models have the same retail price, $130 a pair, … Read more

Can an audiophile find joy in an under $100 amplifier?

The Dayton Audio DTA-120 stereo integrated amp isn't very big, but for anyone searching for a decent amp that won't break the bank it's a real contender. First, let's look at the numbers: It's rated at 50 watts per channel for 8 ohm speakers; 60 watts per channel for 4 ohm speakers; the rear panel has stereo RCA inputs and speaker cable binding posts. The front panel has a 3.5 mm stereo minijack input, a 6.3 mm headphone jack, and a volume control. The DTA-120's extruded metal chassis feels solid, it's … Read more

Three ways to make your HDTV sound better

There's an undesirable trend happening. It seems that the thinner HDTVs get, the worse they sound. And no matter how much I tweak the audio options, nothing helps.

Welcome, fellow TV owners, to the BYOS (Bring Your Own Speaker) era. Flat-panel TVs are meant to simply look fabulous, and although there is sound, it's there only to hold you over until you buy some kind of audio system.

In this guide, I'll give you three of the best options for adding audio to your HDTV. There's a "splurge" option, a cheap set-and-forget route, and … Read more

Easily mount your HDTV

When I moved into my new place, I left behind my ancient, embarrassingly small TV. I jumped up to a 47-inch HDTV, which is still modest by today's standards, but big enough where I had good reason to worry about it toppling over -- especially with a kid in the house.

I decided to wall-mount the TV, not just to protect my kid (and the TV) but because a beautifully mounted TV looks amazing. It's like it's just floating there, defying gravity.

After doing some research on wall mounting, three things became clear. First, mounts have become … Read more

How to quickly hide unused icons on an Apple TV

As Apple continues to add more content options to the Apple TV, the main screen is starting to feel a bit overwhelming. Not everyone takes advantage of all the different apps (or channels, or services, or icons) on the Apple TV, making it necessary to hide some icons.

In the past, hiding an icon required a lengthy process of diving into the settings. Thankfully, with the latest update to the Apple TV OS (6.1), Apple has made it very simple for users to hide icons directly from the main screen.

Hiding an icon now requires you to highlight the … Read more

The Fix: Building the ideal home theater

By the end of this week's episode, you'll be able to call yourself a home theater specialist. (At least, to your family and friends.)

First, Eric Franklin offers his definitive guide to finding the perfect TV distance. A clever formula will help you figure out if you need to scooch the couch closer to the screen, or inch it further away. Then, Donald Bell deserves extra accolades this week as he single-handedly wall mounts a 47-inch TV. And you won't believe what it cost him. (Hint: It was really inexpensive.)

And finally, I help you solve one … Read more

Enable Chromecast streaming in latest Chrome Beta for Android

On Monday, Google pushed out an update to Chrome Beta for Android. As usual when it comes to the beta build of its popular browser, Google included some new features for users to try out. The features are often not ready for the stable build, but ready enough for beta users to use, or at least try to break.

The update included the ability to push any HTML5 video from Chrome Beta on an Android device to a Chromecast.

To use the new feature, you'll need Chrome Beta installed on your device, and then you can enable it with … Read more

Photo Cast lets iOS devices send photos to Chromecast

After Google opened up the Chromecast to all developers who were interested, it was only a matter of time until we started seeing apps hit Android and iOS markets alike.

One such app that's especially useful for iOS users, will send photos to a Chromecast. The app is called Photo Cast and is available for free.

After installing the app the only setup required is to grant the app permission to access your photos, and tapping on the Chromecast icon to select the device you'd like to send the photos to.

Then, any photos you select will show … Read more

Is surround sound for music and home theater on its way out?

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, surround-sound music looked like the next big thing, but in the intervening decade and a half, precious little rock, jazz, or world music has been recorded in surround. True, in the early days of SACD and DVD-Audio formats there were hundreds of remixes of older stereo recordings, and some were recycled on Blu-ray, but the number of newly recorded 5.1 titles remains paltry. Looking back, the early 2000s should have been an ideal time to launch surround music; multichannel home theater was peaking, so there was a large number of households … Read more

Turn off Bluetooth to fix AirPlay mirroring bug in OS X

AirPlay, Apple's technology for wirelessly streaming audio and video between devices, makes it convenient to watch or listen to media that's stored on one Mac on another Mac, an Apple TV, an audio system, or a similar device as long as it is on the same local network.

This technology involves minimal configuration, but some people report experiencing connectivity issues in which the image shows static, is choppy, or presents frozen images while the connection gets dropped. In particular this affects owners of the late-2013 MacBook Pro and Mac Pro systems when connecting using a 802.11b or … Read more