If you're tired of using headphones to listen to music on your PC, you might want to give the Bose Companion 3 speaker system a try. The multimedia system comprises a pair of 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 2 3/8 satellites, an Acoustimass bass module with a 5 1/4-inch driver, and a mouse-size pod with a volume control and headphone jack. An auxiliary input lets you use the Companion 3 with another source without disconnecting it from your PC. The supplied brackets should help the satellites blend with your monitor, and each speaker weighs only half a pound. TruSpace signal processing is said to give them a wide soundstage even when placed close together. Price: $249. Compare Prices.
We've all heard of home theater in a box; now Sonance introduces Distributed Audio in a Box, a system that includes everything you need to feed stereo audio to six rooms (except the speakers), along with a wall keypad for every zone. The controller has a built-in AM/FM tuner with 12 presets and is rated to deliver 35 watts to each channel. You can choose between four sources hooked up to the line-level inputs, or three if you're using the tuner. RS-232, Ethernet, and Cat-5 connectors allow you to integrate the DAB1 into a larger system and control it externally. Each keypad comes with a custom-labeling kit and has backlit LEDs for the mute and on/off buttons. PC-based software is supplied. Price: $1,999.
Universal Remote Control
Too many remote controls? The only magic wand you need to make them pull a disappearing act is a universal model like the URC-300 Customizer. Controlling up to 15 separate components, it comes preprogrammed with hundreds of codes, or it can learn them from your existing remotes. Keeping the backlit keypad from getting cluttered is a 1 3/8 x 1 7/8-inch touchscreen LCD, which lets you select components and customize their names. Hard-core do-it-yourselfers can program hundreds of macros, each one executing up to 190 commands at a touch. A supplied DVD tutorial should help the less tech-savvy muddle through. The 9-inch-long URC-300 transmits both infrared and RF signals so you can use the remote even when your gear is over yonder. Price: $200.
Is 20 feet too big for a TV picture? If you answered no, SIM2 Multimedia wants you to have a look at its Domino 30 front projector. This relatively compact and lightweight (11 pounds) picture sprayer uses DLP (Digital Light Processing) technology - specifically, Texas Instruments' HD2 chip - to render images with 1,280 x 720-pixel resolution. Picture size can range anywhere between 50 inches and 20 feet (diagonal), and contrast ratio is rated as 2,000:1. High-def signals can be fed to either the VGA or RGB+HV/component-video inputs. Price: $8,995.
Running speaker cable underneath a carpet can lead to unsightly bumps. Running speaker cable above a carpet . . . well, let's just not go there. There is a solution - flat speaker cable like River Cable's Flexygy six-conductor wire will all but disappear under rugs. The low-resistance cable is said to use more copper than standard cables and puts the six conductors side by side. Terminated with gold-plated banana plugs, the Flexygy is 5/8 inch wide and only 1/8 inch thick. Price: $50 a meter.
Sony Pictures Digital
Lots of software will let you edit digital sound, but Sound Forge 7.0 from Sony Pictures Digital (which recently acquired Sonic Foundry, the creator of Sound Forge) has abilities that the audio connoisseur will crave. Features like automated time-based recording and a prerecord buffer that makes sure you never miss the beginning of a new recording have been added in this version. It supports digital audio resolutions up to 32-bit/192-kHz and many file formats, including MP3, WMA, and WAV. You can work on one sound file while another is processing in the background, and there are 40 audio effects to help when you're putting together your final tracks. Price: $500.
Aiming to achieve room-filling sound with in-wall speakers, Polk Audio borrows technology from the company's LSi Series for its LCi in-wall models. The familiar tweeters, housed in cups, can swivel up to 15° so you can aim them for the best imaging, and Polk's patented Power Port bass vent is said to reduce turbulence at the mouth of the port to lower distortion. The LC265i (shown) has a 6 1/2-inch woofer, another 6 1/2-inch driver for the upper bass and midrange, and a 1-inch tweeter. It'll fill a 8 1/2 x 20 7/8-inch space on your wall, and the mounting depth is 2 3/4 inches. Price: $650 each.
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