SVS Ultra Tower speaker: A force to be reckoned with

I've always had a soft spot for great-sounding big speakers, like the SVS Ultra Tower. It stands 45 inches tall, and the cabinet has a unique, aggressively styled trapezoidal shape. Decked out in a gleaming piano-black finish or black oak veneer, the Ultra Tower projects a distinctly high-end aura; it looks a lot more expensive than it really is. The three-way design features a 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter sitting between twin 6.5-inch composite glass-fiber midrange drivers, and mounted on the lower side flanks, a pair of 8-inch woofers. All three drivers are proprietary SVS designs. The speaker weighs … Read more

An awesome-sounding desktop subwoofer-satellite system from PSB Speakers

It wasn't that long ago that desktop "computer" audio was synonymous with awful-sounding, cheap 'n' cheerful plastic speakers, but over the last few years Audioengine, Emotiva, Adam Audio, and many others started making seriously good high-quality monitors, with prices starting around $200 a pair.

I mostly focus on desktop speakers a la carte, but this time out I'm checking out PSB Speakers' ultracompact Alpha PS1 monitors paired with the almost-as-small SubSeries 100 sub. This three-piece system reaches lower into the bass than any of the aforementioned monitors without breaking the bank. Alpha PS1s run $299 per … Read more

The low, low lowdown on the Hsu Research VTF-3 MK4 subwoofer

Just as with speakers, size matters with subwoofers. Pint-size subs can make bass, and the best mini subs can deliver fairly deep bass, but the volume capability, bass quality, and definition of baby subs can never match what you can get out of something like the $449 Hsu Research VTF-1 MK2 sub I reviewed on this blog last year. That bruiser measures 18x14x17 inches, and has a down-firing 10-inch woofer and a 200-watt amplifier. It's the best under-$500 home theater and music sub I've heard, but I was curious about Hsu's $699 VTF-3 MK4 monster, to … Read more

The 404 1,279: Where we get Spherical bacterial (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Steve endorses the VPI Industries turntables built in Cliffwood, N.J., and the VTF-3 MK4 subwoofer from HSU Research.

- Sony MDR-R10: The world's best headphone?

- The top 10 reasons why music is compressed.

- Compare your favorite albums in the Dynamic Range Database.

- Catch Steve on a panel with Avery Lipman, COO of Republic Records, at the New Music Seminar 2013.

- Follow Steve "Sphere" Guttenberg on Twitter.… Read more

Get a Vizio sound bar and wireless subwoofer for $84.99

Regular Cheapskate readers know of my fondness for sound bars, which supplant the usually sucky speakers built into HDTVs with bigger, better, forward-facing audio.

One gripe with most bars, however, is the lack of bass. Another: price. Typically, these babies ain't cheap, especially if you opt for one with a subwoofer.

Exception! For a limited time, and while supplies last, Best Buy has the Vizio VSB210WS sound bar and wireless subwoofer for $84.99, shipped (plus sales tax where applicable). It originally sold for $349, currently lists for $259.99, and sells elsewhere for as much as $227.

Before … Read more

How to hook up a subwoofer to a stereo system

Subwoofers are used in most home theater systems, but subs can also radically improve the sound of stereo systems -- and not just the ones with small speakers. Subs can provide a foundation to the sound that few speakers can muster on their own. So adding a sub is not just about adding more and deeper bass; rather, a properly integrated subwoofer can improve the overall sound of the system.

Subwoofer connection to a two-channel system differs from the methods used in home theaters. AV receivers feature bass management to direct the low bass frequencies to the sub and the … Read more

Things to think about when buying speakers

The No. 1 question I get from readers is something along the lines of "What's the best speaker?" Some readers include a price range, which is a huge help, but there are a lot of factors that should be considered when selecting a speaker. Or to be more precise, a speaker system.

Speakers "play" the room, so room size and acoustics should be taken into consideration when buying speakers. The pair of 8-inch tall speakers that might sound great in a 10-by-12-foot bedroom probably won't cut it in a 25-by-40-foot living room, where you … Read more

How to pick the right subwoofer

The real audio power comes from the low end, the bass. When you feel the rumble in your chest, that's bass.

Most of us want this at home, but with myriad subwoofers out there -- and even more specs and sizes -- what's the best choice? Though the simple "the biggest, most powerful you can afford" is easy to say, the correct answer is little more complex.… Read more

Get a Logitech 2.1-channel speaker system for $24.99

This is an update of a deal I wrote about last year. Hopefully it won't sell out as quickly this time!

Looking to add a decent sound system to your laptop, or even an HDTV? When you're doing an end run around tiny, tinny built-in speakers, there's nowhere to go but up.

Today only, and while supplies last, has the refurbished Logitech Z313 2.1-channel speaker system for $24.99, plus $5 for shipping. It sells elsewhere for at least $40, and new for $50.

This 25-watt system includes two satellite speakers and a subwoofer. … Read more

The overachieving TR-1D subwoofer from Gallo Acoustics

I'm not a big fan of really small subwoofers. Not that the little ones can't make deep bass -- the best of today's mini subs can deliver lots of low-end oomph, but the quality of the bass won't be anything to write home about. The bass is usually sloppy and poorly defined, so individual bass notes blur together. That's not such a big problem when reproducing the sound of explosions and special effects, but most small subs are less adept with music.

The Anthony Gallo Acoustics TR-1D ($599) sub is fairly small, but still handles … Read more