While we may be a little partial here at ABI to some great sounding headphones paired with a clean sounding DAP on the go, there are surely those times when you just want to share your tunes with everyone around you. Those of us that don’t venture into the iOS world have a little harder time pairing up to a speaker dock, but there are still some choices out there. This is when the Sony SA-NS500 portable speaker comes into play. A portable speaker rated up to 8 hours of operation without being plugged in, 4 tweeters spreading 360 degree sound, and an upward firing woofer packaged in a….dare we say eye catching design, is sure to land on our radar. To top it off, the NS500 is DLNA compatible, Airplay compatible, and is set up for Sony’s Party Streaming feature to spread music around your house in different rooms wirelessly. How does this intriguing package stack up to the dime a dozen companion speakers out there? You’re going to have to read on to find out. Continue reading…
Archive for Home Audio
I have been a Boxee fan for quite some time, but to be honest I haven’t used as much as a fan should since getting it to a TV was a pain. There was no dedicated hardware that ran Boxee and getting Boxee to your TV involved hacking onto a device or on computer. So ever since I saw the Boxee Box at CES 2010 I’ve had my money out ready to buy one. Today, it has finally arrived at my door step.
It’s a rather half-assed unboxing, but I just like the way “Boxee Box Unboxed” sounds and of course the rest of the title indicates I will be sharing my feelings… read on…
I hate my cable TV provider. I won’t go into diatribe like any sane person would rage into if you mention the name of their cable provider. But I will say, I want to see the 500 channel $100/month cable TV bill abolished. This is why I have been so excited about Boxee and this whole IPTV mass appeal tipping point we are rapidly approaching. Us nerds have been able to get our online and P2P videos to our TVs for the last decade, but it is becoming more and more out-of-the-box-plug-and-play.
I have been a big fan of the Kicker zKick ZK500 and use it almost daily. It has great room filling sound and some serious piss-off-your-neighbors bass. Paired with a Zune Pass you will never be without any fresh tunes. Being that the Zune Pass allows you to have up to 3 devices under the same account I thought I would check out one of Kicker’s other docks for another room in the house.
Currently for my bedroom I use an iHome ZN9 clock radio, but it’s not something I like to listen to music on since it sound harsh and hollow. It’s not bad to wake up to, but getting ready in the morning or evening you want to have some good sounding tunes to kick off your day or night out.
The time where home theatre computers and expensive media boxes were the only ways of getting content onto your TV is over, and the market is filled with cheap solutions that will let you play music, photos and videos on your TV. One of the cheapest and most popular such device is the Western Digital TV HD player which retails at around $80 these days. But is it any good?
Kicker and I go way back to my early days as a car audio enthusiast. Even before I had my license, as a 15 year old I started packing Kicker subwoofers in my trunk paired with various amp and crossovers. Yes, I will admit, I was one of those obnoxious kids with more subwoofers than wheels- the one who rattled your window sills from a mile away. It turned into quite the hobby/obsession even entering a few local car audio competitions and even winning a few first places.
Being no stranger to car audio and Kicker products my interest was piqued when they introduced the ZKick. So I have had my eye on the ZKick dock for quite some time only having had a chance to preview it in the stores. It may be helpful to demo a dock like this in the store for features and build quality, but it can be hard to get a sense of sound quality and output in a big box store with kids screaming and Guitar Hero being played in the background. I finally got a chance to pick one of these units up and have been using it daily for the last two months.
True studio monitors have been out of the reach of consumers for quite some time, given the generally high cost. Sure a few companies have marketed what they call monitors at a low cost, but they do not sound very good or monitor like at all. Along comes KRK with a low cost high quality line of studio monitors they call the “Rokit” series. This leads me to the RokitG2 6 studio monitor that I recently picked up for the sole purpose of listing to music from a computer or mp3 player, and not the normal use of a monitor for studio applications. At $199 each ($398 per pair) the Rokit 6 is not a cheap solution and I didn’t know how well they would work for a living room setting, considering as they a marketed as studio fixtures. Continue and find out if they are a hit or miss for listening to music in a home environment.
One of the questions I get a lot is, “How do I convert my record collection to MP3s?”. In the past this was not an easy task since many turntables only offered phono out as opposed to a standard line out. This required you to use a phono pre amp or mixer. When standard line out came to turntables, this improved the situation, but you still had to deal with analog cables that introduced noise into your vinyl recordings.
The next ideal step is digital out as well as the convenience of USB on newer versions of turntables. In this mini-review, we will take a look at the Stanton T.90s.
Open source software has made strides as of recently from full blown operating system, games, and even media management and playback software. The obvious advantages of open source software to the end user is both innovation and cost. The disadvantage with a great deal of open source software has been the user interface and ease of use. Xbox Media Center started as an open source media organizer and player for a modified original Xbox console. Recently the Xbox Media Center project has expanded to support Windows based computer as well as a host of other platforms.
A major benefit to running a full screen media management and playback application is the ability to use it comfortably in the living room with a consumer electronic feel, rather than a computer feel to the interface. In this article I will focus on the Windows version of Xbox Media Center with it’s well thought out interface and how it can be useful in the living room setting for music playback and organization.
If you have a Bluetooth player you might have considered the option of going wireless at home. Freely moving around the room with your player as a very advanced music remote sure sounds good, but then there’s the issue of sound quality. With Bluetooth receivers becoming more and more popular it’s hard to keep track of what actually sounds good and whether or not to go for a cheap receiver from a no-name brand or more expensive models.
The Sony Ericsson MBR-100 falls into the latter category with a US MSRP of $79.99. Though made by a cell phone manufacturer it will work with any A2DP device and so is an option also for Bluetooth MP3 players. Is it really worth the extra money or will any $25 device do the same job? Read on for the full review.
Not quite the typical “portable media center” you see here at abi>>, but more of a compact version of the Mvix MX-780HD I recently reviewed. This condensed media player handles all the same codecs of the larger 780 including MPEG 1-4, XviD/DivX, and my favorite DVD ISOs (with 1080i upscaling).
The small unit houses a 2.5” hard drive and sports component outs for HD video along with digital optical out for 5.1 audio. It is on sale now for $150 sans hard drive. If you would like to get a better feel for this unit, please check out the 780HD review.