In addition to everything a THX Ultra-certified preamp/processor can provide, Krell's Showcase includes a digital room equalizer that compensates for listening-room acoustics. It has four memory presets, each storing filter type (such as high-pass) and equalization settings for up to seven channels. You'll need 'em for those Dolby Digital EX and DTS-ES soundtracks. There's a multichannel analog audio input for hookup of a DVD-Audio or SACD player, and you can switch among three wideband component-video inputs. The populous back panel also includes four coaxial and four optical digital audio inputs, four composite/S-video inputs, and eight balanced XLR and eight RCA analog outputs. Price: $4,000. www.krellonline.com, 203-799-9954
As any traveler knows, taking your CDs on the road can be a risky endeavor. A storage wallet may help put your mind at ease, but if you want some really stiff protection, consider one of Atlantic's CD Steel Cases. Available in 24- or 60-disc capacities (or half that with booklets), the cases are made of hard plastic covered by metal casts. A two-ring binder keeps the removable disc sleeves inside, and the case's metal finish is said to reflect the sun's rays to prevent warping. The 24-disc cases come in four designs: Classic (shown); Dot, with 16 raised beads; Line, with four accentuated stripes; and Tailgate, which resembles a truck's back end. Prices: 24-disc, $12; 60-disc, $22. www.atlantic-inc.com, 562-903-9550
Not just a pretty picture: Sampo's PME-42X6 plasma set is an ultra-thin 42-inch HDTV monitor that you won't spend years paying off. Its 3 3/4-inch thickness makes it perfect for wall mounting, but the supplied stand will ease tabletop placement. High-def signals connect to the set's DVI, VGA, or component-video inputs for display on the 1,024 x 1,024-pixel screen. The contrast ratio is rated as 580:1, and stereo speakers are built in. There are also composite- and S-video inputs as well as USB and RS-232 ports. A multifunction remote control is included, and an optional NTSC tuner costs $299. Price: $4,999. www.sampoamericas.com, 866-726-7622
"Think about direction," said R.E.M., and Phoenix Gold agrees-its directional cables have an internal drain wire intended to reduce noise by shunting it to electrical ground level at the source component. As the drain wire is electrically connected only at the source's RCA jack, you have to pay attention to which end you put there. Arrows on the jacks indicate proper signal flow. A second, twisted drain wire is encased in a Mylar foil to shield the signal from RF interference. The company says the cable's construction should shield the signal without creating a ground loop. The cables come in audio and S-video versions. Prices: $30 to $200, depending on length. www.phoenixgold.com, 503-286-9300
As home theaters expand to include back surround speakers, receivers are adapting to keep up. Rated to deliver 110 watts each to seven channels, Denon's AVR-3803 is ready for Dolby Digital EX and DTS-ES soundtracks. The receiver has seven composite/S-video and two component-video inputs, but it upconverts composite- and S-video signals to component, so only one monitor output is needed. An eight-channel analog input allows hookup of an SACD or DVD-Audio player. There are stereo line outputs for a second zone, and if your system isn't set up with seven speakers, you can drive the Zone 2 speakers with the back surround amplifiers. You also get five optical and two coaxial digital audio inputs, two optical outputs. Price: $1,200. www.usa.denon.com, 973-396-0810
For those who favor dipole surround speakers, KEF has introduced the Q2ds in its Q Series. Identical driver arrays on opposite sides of the cabinet fire out of phase to produce a sound field that's more diffuse than that from direct-radiating speakers. Each proprietary Uni-Q driver array includes a 5-inch woofer coaxially mounted with a 3/4-inch aluminum-dome tweeter. Frequency response is rated as 80 Hz to 27 kHz ±3 dB. The 8 3/4 x 17 1/2 x 8 3/8-inch cabinet is curved to minimize internal standing waves, and it comes in black ash, maple, and dark apple finishes as shown. Price: $600 a pair. www.kef.com, 732-683-2356
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