Definitive Technology PowerMonitor 700 Home Theater Speaker System
(original review, October) At $3,200, the PowerMonitor 700 system stretches the limits of how much bass you can expect from highly compact speakers without dramatically stretching your budget. Whether you use just the front pair of PowerMonitor 700s for two-channel listening or add in the C/L/R 2500 center speaker, BP2X surrounds, and PF15TL+ subwoofer for movies and multichannel music, you'll get deep, smooth, honest bass without sacrificing dialogue clarity or accurate tonal balance. The amplifiers that drive the woofers in the front speakers are built in, as in the subwoofer, so your receiver or system amp doesn't have to bear that load. This arrangement provides a perfect match between amp and driver, leading to powerful bass with very low distortion. And since the left/ right front and surround speakers all have enclosures not much bigger than an unabridged dictionary, they can be placed wherever they sound best. This is the rare home theater system that not only fits almost anywhere but also combines oomph with Oooh! and Ahh!
Definitive Technology - www.definitivetech.com, 800-228-7148
- Rich Warren
Philips SACD 1000 Super Audio CD/DVD-Video Player
(original review, April) It was a no-brainer to give a Reviewer's Choice Award to the Philips SACD 1000. This flagship, "statement" component represents digital audio technology at its finest. (For $1,999, you'd expect no less.) The SACD 1000 was the first on the market to play both stereo and multichannel Super Audio CDs, and while the number of SACD titles is still small, what's available sounds fantastic. If you need a bigger discography, the SACD 1000 also plays DVD-Video discs. For extra credit, it includes a Dolby Digital decoder and a progressive-scan component-video output. However, proving that there is a difference between excellence and perfection, its bass management works only with DVD-Video discs, not SACDs. Yes, it would be better if the player was able to redirect bass to a subwoofer if you have small main speakers. Still, the SACD 1000 is easily one of the best disc players to cross our threshold this year. Now, if only it played DVD-Audio discs, too . . . .
Philips Electronics - www.philipsusa.com, 800-531-0039
- Ken C. Pohlmann
B&K AVR307 Digital Surround Receiver
(original review, January, "Receiver Paradise") Like most B&K products, the flagship AVR307 receiver ($3,498) is straightforward almost to the point of bluntness. It provides excellent sound quality with ample power in a reasonably compact chassis. It does Dolby Digital, DTS, THX Surround EX, and Pro Logic decoding, and it delivers 150 watts to each of seven channels (so you can use two back surround speakers). That's pretty much it - no Hall or Club ambience modes, no fancy onscreen displays, and no touchscreen remote control. But the remote it has is well equipped, and the receiver is loaded with intelligent touches, like flexible crossover and equalization options. Best of all: a powerful set of 40 user presets lets you customize virtually every adjustable parameter not only for each program source, but also for different kinds of listening. Each preset can store surround mode, source selection, and master volume level as well as indicate the number of active speakers and their relative levels, EQ settings, and more. I've used the AVR307 extensively and have always been able to rely on it to perform well and sound great.
B&K Components www.bkcomp.com, 800-543-5252
- Daniel Kumin
Sony KV-40XBR700 40-inch HDTV Monitor
(original review, December) In our country's tradition of Chevy Suburbans, Joe's All-You-Can-Eat Ribs, and the New York Giants' offensive line comes the biggest flat-screen picture tube yet. Sony's KV-40XBR700 ($3,499) is bigger than many Americans' living-room windows. It weighs more than a running back, costs more than an ATV - and looks better than just about any other HDTV available. Sony put nearly all of its best video technology into the biggest direct-view set in its Wega (pronounced "vay-ga") line, including a 1080i-format display for high-def signals from an outboard digital tuner. A clever circuit recognizes anamorphic widescreen DVDs and automatically resizes the display to take advantage of their full resolution. The 2:3 pulldown processing can stabilize nasty moving lines, and the Pro preset provides a picture that'll please the pickiest video geek. And this is one big TV that looks great even during the 17 hours or so a day that you aren't watching TV.
Sony Consumer Electronics - www.sonystyle.com, 800-222-7669
- David Katzmaier
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