Wharfedale Speaker winner!

Congratulations to Mary Jo Skinner of Aloka, MN, our Wharfedale speaker winner!

Wharfedale Speaker Giveaway

Enter my Wharefdale Speaker Giveaway here.

Good luck, everyone!

Home flight simulator cockpits

I have a column about home flight simulation coming up soon.  Here are some examples of home cockpits!

http://www.737homecockpit.com/

http://users.skynet.be/fc513729/index.html

Videos: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=home+737+cockpit&qpvt=home+737+cockpit&FORM=VDRE

You can see some more modest implementations at www.simsamurai.com.

Questions?  Email Don

Cambridge SoundWorks Clearance Sale WOW20OFF coupon code

 

I’ve received a few emails about the special deal at Cambridge SoundWorks, where you can get the Ambiance 2 WiFi Music System for only $119 instead of $349.  Apparently some readers are having trouble using the code.

The code will NOT work at Amazon.  You must go to the Cambridge SoundWorks Clearance Sale site:

http://store.cambridgesoundworks.com/info/Model_Clearance_Sale

There you can use the WOW20OFF code and save 20%.

If you buy the radio be sure to try my sound settings:

http://www.soundadviceblog.com/table-radios/cambridge-soundworks-ambiance-settings-2/

Hope you get a radio before they sell out!

Questions?  Email Don

Cambridge SoundWorks Ambiance Settings

I have a column about the Cambridge SoundWorks Ambiance 2 Radio coming up soon.  These are audio settings I have found to produce excellent sound.

Equalizer: Custom
Treble + 1
Loudness: off

X-Fi Settings

Suurround: 15%
Crystallizer: 100%
Bass: 15%
Dialog Plus: 50%
Smart Volume: 50%

Questions?  Email Don

The SJ1000: Great Action Camera for $80

In an upcoming column I discuss GoPro vs the marketplace and mention an amazing value on an action cam that is available online for less than $80, the SJ1000. It’s made in China by Shenzhen Hongfeng Century Technology and sold on Amazon and eBay. The footage rivals the better GoPro models and it even has an LCD screen like a digital camera, a standard feature that GoPro lacks. No WiFi on the SJ1000, though.

If you will use the camera a lot or simply want the best, I recommend the GoPro Hero 3+ Black. Otherwise, check out the SJ1000 before spending a lot on an action camera.

SJ1000 Action Camera on Amazon.com

Click the MORE link below for some sample footage from the SJ1000. Sorry for the obnoxious music chosen for some of these edits! Try and concentrate quality of the footage, and on the camera’s audio when you hear it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Olympus E-PM2 two lens kit for $349 (55% off!)

Another incredible Amazon deal of the day on a great Micro Four Thirds interchageable lens camera! The Olympus PEN E-PM2 duplicates the image quality of the award-winning Olympus OM-D E-M5 but has a simpler image stabilization system (which is still effective.) The 14-42mm and 40-150 lenses provide all the zoom range most anyone needs.

Can’t beat this deal. Amazing!

Questions? Email Don

Panasonic DMC-G6 for $534 on Amazon.com

This is a great deal on one of my favorite Micro Four Thirds cameras. Not only are the still photographs great, the video from the DMC-G6 is absolutely amazing, it looks broadcast quality! A few days ago my fraternity little brother Ted bought the outfit below, upon my recommendation.

http:

I love the Olympus lenses but with most Panasonic camera bodies you are often better served with a Panasonic lens, since most Panasonic lenses have optical image stabilization. (Olympus cameras have the stabilization in the body, as does the Panasonic GX7.) This kit lens, when added to the DMC-G6, will cover all of most anyone’s photographic needs. It covers a 35mm equivalent range of 28mm-300mm and both lenses are very sharp, with great color rendition.

This $750 outfit will give you beautiful pictures and beautiful videos, while allowing you to explore lots of creative options as well. Highly recommended!

Questions? Email Don

Panasonic DMC-G5 on Amazon.com for $299

Amazon Deal of the Day! Panasonic DMC-G5 camera with kit lens for only $299, reduced from $699!

Get it while you can!

Panasonic 50-inch S60 plasma for $649 at Best Buy

Best Buy has the Panasonic 50-inch plasma TC-P50S60 on sale for $649.  It is a Smart TV without 3D and the picture is exceptional for the price.  It’s $879 at Amazon right now, so you save and have the convenience of buying from a local store.

I came across this deal while doing some research for a reader.  Thanks to his question, everyone can benefit!

Panasonic TC-P50S60 for $649 at Best Buy

Here is an Amazon link in case they beat the price or you would rather by from them.

Panasonic TC-P50S60 at Amazon.com

Questions?  Email Don

 

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G5 with kit lens, only $399

Regular readers know I am a big fan of the Micro Four-Thirds mirrorless system cameras.  My preference usually runs towards Olympus but Panasonic is a player as well.  Panasonic is especially notable for their great lenses. I’ve owned and used the Panasonic 20mm/1.7 for years and absolutely love it.

The latest Panasonic bodies are a big improvement over their predecessors.  I owned a DMC-G3 and much preferred the Olympus cameras of their time.  I have been spending some time lately with the latest model, DMC-G6 and so far am quite impressed with it.  I think Olympus is still the picture quality king, but the DMC-G6 pictures are excellent as well and the video performance stands out in its class. In all respects it is a big leap over the G3, and both the G6 and its predecessor the G5 have been highly rated and recommended.

The Panasonic LUMIX  DMC-G6 is $749 and worth it, but my recent foray into Panasonic LUMIX G cameras has uncovered an excellent deal for anyone who wants to try Micro Four-Thirds, add a second camera body to their Micro Four-Thirds outfit, or get started with an interchangeable lens camera.  The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G5 is on sale for only $399 with 14-42mm kit lens.  It you have a Micro Four-Thirds system and want to add a camera body you can buy the G5 body only for $279.

Read up, if you need a camera you won’t go wrong with this.

 

Panasonic’s LUMIX site: http://www.panasonic.net/avc/lumix/systemcamera/gms/

See pictures at the LUMIX Luminaries photostream.

Questions?  Email Don

Oontz Angle for $39.99.,Oontz for $49.99 on Amazon.com!

What more can I say?  A tremendous bargain on a tremendous product!

Oontz Angle for only $39.99 on Amazon.com

Looks like the regular Oontz is only $49.99. Another wonderful deal.

Oontz for $49.99

The difference?  Tonal character and sound is the same, but The Oontz goes deeper in the bass and plays louder.  The Oontz Angle is lighter and has 20 hours of battery life vs. 10 hours on the The Oontz.

You won’t go wrong either way.

Questions?  Email Don

Samsung NX1000 and NX1100: super cameras, super bargain


I’ve been testing Samsung’s NX1100 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (compact system camera) and have to say, I like it a lot. You will read about it more in an upcoming column, but for now I will say it is a 20.3-megapixel APS-C sensor camera with excellent image quality, an intuitive user interface, and WiFi for easy sharing between devices and the internet. It appears to be identical to the NX1000 model, which is still shown on Samsung’s website as the main model in the series. The camera is available in black or white and includes a flash unit.

What is especially compelling about the NX1100 and NX1000 is THE DEAL. The NX1100 is available in a bundle with a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.0 and Adobe Lightroom 4 for only $599, and you can get the NX1000 kit on its own for under $350.

NX11000 Bundle at Sam’sClub

Samsung NX1000 on Amazon.com (Black Body)

Samsung NX1000 on Amazon.com (white body)

Samsung’s lenses have received praise for their high optical quality and there is a nice, and growing, selection of them. After using the NX1100 I can say I definitely prefer it to the Sony NEX models I have owned and used, and consider them a better buy and a better long-term prospect due to the excellent and affordable lenses. (Lens selection is where Sony’s NEX system falls down.)

Overall I would have to say Olympus still has the crown for compact system cameras due to the advanced camera bodies, superior jog pictures and huge lens selection. You can get an NX1000 for about $200 less than an Olympus E-PM2, however and it has charms of its own. That makes it an amazing buy and a great way to give this class of camera a try, either as an upgrade to a point-and-shoot or a supplement to your SLR system. Highly recommended.

Questions? Email Don

A new look for the Oontz

Tell A Friend!

I wrote a rave review of the $69 Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz Bluetooth Speaker not long ago, and quite a few readers have been contacting me with some raves of their own.  Here are a few samples of what they have to say about The Oontz:

“After reading your column I purchased the Oontz Bluetooth speaker. I love it. It is a great musical companion when paired with my iPad. No more annoying headsets or earbuds to contend with and I can happily go about my household chores.  I am thoroughly enjoying the sound of my affordable Oontz as I write this. Thanks for the recommendation.”

-P.K., Bethel Park, PA

“A HUGE “thanks” for making me aware of the Oontz!  I’ve been trying to find a way to use a speaker phone for business calls for the past year or so.  The quality of consumer phones is so poor that the speakers are unacceptable for business calls.  I did not want to pay the $500 or so to get top-of-the-line business speaker phones, so I bought a refurbished business speakerphone and had nothing but grief from it (it worked on occasion but not reliably).

The Oontz arrived a day or so ago, and it was easy to use with the Bluetooth on my iPhone and will solve my need–all for about $70.  Also, the quality of playback from my iTunes library is way better than I ever expected.  And, all from such a tiny speaker.  Thanks, again!”

-D.B., San Farncisco, CA

“Love, LOVE them.  I was about to purchase a Jambox, which everyone said is great, but heck. At the oontz price I was willing to trust the reviews.  Worst case, I could give it to my underemployed recent college grad or her sister, the senior.  Well, it was too bad for them.   I loved it and bought two more. All for me!  The holidays are soon upon us, though, and Cambridge is running a volume purchase sale. We’ll see…”

-J.C., Minneapolis, MN

My only criticism was the look of the Oontz logo on top of the speaker, which I thought was a bit cartoony and seemed out of place on such a high quality product. See the original look below.

I thought it very minor and hardly a big deal, but Cambridge SoundWorks was listening and they changed the logo.  Wow.  That is some fast action!  See the new look below:

Here is the new logo on the Oontz Angle:

 

Very nice, don’t you think?  I was caught off guard when they told me they took my suggestion to heart so quickly, and am impressed that they did and in the process came up with such a nice visual improvement.

If you have not heard about The Oontz, let me tell you, it is something special.  For only $69 it offers phenomenal sound, plays quite loudly, and makes a great speakerphone.  I recently demo’d it for a friend who works at The Apple Store.  She was going to but the $179 Jambox for her son for Christmas.  (They sell The Jambox where she works.)  When she heard The Oontz she thought it clearly sounded better, and for about a third of the price.  I am not usually a big devotee’ of portable audio products and tend to like my gear full-sized.  The Oontz has won me over, and that is saying a lot!

See it at www.theoontz.com. Want to try it? Trust me, you will be glad you did… you can order from Amazon below, and ordering from my Amazon links supports my site as well.

The Oontz has more bass and plays louder than the Oontz Angle, and battery life is 10 hours.  The Oontz Angle is smaller, lighter and features 20 hours of battery life.    Get the Oontz for the best sound, get the Angle if portability and battery life are of paramount importance.  I prefer the Oontz but the Angle sounds  very good as well.

The Oontz on Amazon:

Oontz Angle at Amazon:

Questions?  Email Don

Ohm Acoustics Black Friday Sale

Regular readers know I am a big fan of the Ohm Acoustics Walsh Speakers. They have a special Black Friday sale coming up so if you have been thinking of giving their speakers a try it would be a good time to check them out.

Visit their site at www.ohmspeakers.com.

Questions? Email Don

Polk LSi series speakers: now a high-end bargain

Polk Audio LSi9 Speakers in Cherry Finish

Tell A Friend!

Polk Audio’s wonderful LSi series are being phased out with the introduction of the new, improved and more expensive LSiM series.  If you have ever wanted speakers with true high-end looks, feel and sound but have thought they were priced out of reach, this could be your chance. Here is what I wrote about the Polk Audio LSi9 in a previous blog post:

“When the LSi series was announced and touted to be a genuine competitor to high-end brands, there was a bit of skepticism.  Polk Audio was recognized as a quality speaker brand that mainly served the mass market, not a truly high-end manufacturer.  However, Polk Audio is also run by audiophiles and after decades of success was a large, well-funded company with a lot of resources, resources few if any high-end manufacturers (which tend to be small companies) can match. The resulting LSi series made believers out of everyone from the moment they heard them play.

The LSi9 has a sound that can be described as sweet, rich, delicated, with a wide tonal palette, yet extremely accurate.  I’ve compared them to speakers costing many times the LSi9?s $995/pair asking price and never come away feeling let down.  They really are that good!  While they lack the imaging and spatial qualities of the Ohm MicroWalsh Tall, my absolute favorite $995/pair speaker, I think the LSi9 has a slightly more full sound.  I can’t think of any other two speakers selling for under $1,000 that I would rather listen to than the LSi9 and the MicroWalsh Tall.”

Read the whole post here.

Polk Audio LSi15 Speakers in Ebony Finish

The closeout deals are showing the LSi speakers to be selling at around 50% of retail. I never thought I would ever see a deal like this on such a high quality speaker.  Here is what a reader who recently ordered them on my recommendation had to say:

“I am listening to them right now! They got here in two days! I am listening to Supernatural by Santana, and just finished with Two Against Nature by Steele Dan. If they sound this good out of the box!? Boy I can not wait till they are broken in! My wife whom says she is OK with a boom box, came in and said these sound so much better than the old ones. I am still a Cherry wood (we have Brazilian cherry floors) fan, but she is real happy with the Ebony finish. To me it is more about the sound, so if she likes the other finish, I will just have to suffer. They do look good I will admit.”

Check ‘em out, and if you order please note they are 4-ohm speakers and need a beefy amp… the more powerful, the better.

Questions? Email Don

Polk Audio LSi7: smallest LSi speaker. MSRP $799 closeout prices $399 to $425

Polk Audio LSi7 speakers

Polk Audio LSi9: hefty stand-mounted speaker, one of my all-time favorites! MSRP $999, closeout prices $499 to $599

Polk Audio LSi9 speakers

Polk Audio LSi15: tower speaker with side-firing, unpowered woofers. MSRP $1,799 per pair, closeut $900 to $1,000 per pair.

Polk Audio LSi15 speakers

Polk Audio LSi25: tower speakers with side-firing powered subwoofers. Top of the line! MSRP $2,799 per pair, closeout price $1,200-$1,300 per pair

Polk Audio LSi25 speakers

New prizes added for 10th anniversary giveaway

I am pleased to announce that I have added a few more prizes to flesh out my 10th anniversary giveaway! Updating the post after this announcement.

One first runner-up prize: An Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB turntable!

This is a fantastic turntable for the money.  See what I said about it in my AT-LP120USB review.

Three second runner-up prizes: A set of Denon AHD-510R headphones!  Learn more about them at Denon’s website.

 

 

Sound Advice Column: Adding a subwoofer to a stereo receiver, Pioneer VSX-1021

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Fourth week of December, 2011

Q:A salesman in a big box store told me that a powered subwoofer cannot be connected to a 2-channel stereo receiver. Is he right?

- Ron Lassow, Minneapolis, MN

A. Though two-channel stereo receivers do not have an RCA subwoofer output, you can still use a powered subwoofer. Just buy a subwoofer that has speaker-level (high-level) inputs. Run speaker wires from the receiver to the sub’s speaker wire inputs, and then run another set of wires from the sub’s speaker wire outputs to the speakers. Adjust the volume and crossover point on the subwoofer’s control panel and it will reproduce the low frequencies and send the midrange and treble to the speakers. A lot of enthusiasts (and speaker companies) think this actually produces better sound quality than using an RCA subwoofer connection.

There are some excellent and inexpensive powered subwoofers with speaker-level inputs. The 10-inch, 125-watt Dayton SUB-100 has long been a favorite for only $120. The new 12-inch, 150-watt subwoofer from Monoprice.com is receiving rave reviews from the media and end users, and its $85 price tag nearly defies belief. If you are building an entire system, spending only $85 on the subwoofer frees up funds for better main speakers, a better receiver or a better television, all of which are likely to make you happier than a pricier subwoofer.

Holiday product highlight: Last week I discussed speakers without mentioning a receiver to use with them. This week’s holiday product highlight is an affordable receiver.

Pioneer’s VSX-1021-K is a 7.1-channel home theater receiver with 90 watts per channel and five HDMI inputs. What makes it special is how easy it is to set up, how great it makes your speakers sound and the way it integrates with your computer and wireless devices.

The ease of setup and great sound can be credited to Pioneer’s Advanced Auto MCACC system. With MCACC, you set up your speakers in the room, connect them to the receiver, then plug a microphone into the front panel and place it in the middle of the listening area. MCACC sends out a series of test tones to not only set the type of speakers and the balance for the entire system, but also analyze the room’s acoustics and match each speaker’s response to the room. Though many such systems are available, MCACC is the only modestly priced (under $1,000) system I have tested that has actually improved sound quality, making the room come alive with perfectly balanced sound. Every other system I have tried makes the system sound worse!

AirPlay allows you to wirelessly stream content from your computer’s iTunes music collection and listen to Internet radio. Just use the ethernet port or attach the optional AS-WL300 wireless adapter and select the receiver on iTunes. The free Apple Remote app or Pioneer’s free iControlAV2 app (iPad only) will convert your iPod or iPad into a remote to control it all. A Bluetooth adapter allows you to stream music directly from your Bluetooth device.

At only $549 retail and $399 street price, the VSX-1021 is impossible to beat. The sound quality and MCACC alone are reasons to recommend it, but the connectivity knocks it out of the park.

Questions? Email Don

Back in the saddle

Hello everyone- I am back after a long hiatus on posting fresh content. First order of business is to get the weekly columns all up here, and along the way I will be posting exceptional deals that I find. I am working on a promotional giveaway for my 10th anniversary, coming up this July 4th. That’s right, my first column ran on July 4th, 2002!

-Don

Weekly column: Polk, Axiom, Ohm speakers all should satisfy

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Third week of December, 2011

Q: I’m buying a new home theater system and need wall-mounted bookshelf speakers due to room configuration. I have seen you speak highly of both the Polk Audio LSi9 and Axiom Audio M22 speakers. Are there significant differences?

-Larry Mulmed, Minneapolis. MN

A: Both are great choices, but there are indeed significant differences between the Polk and Axiom models.

The Polk LSi9 speakers are big, heavy and very finely crafted with real wood side panels. They are rated at 4-ohms and as such require a powerful receiver. With proper amplification, the sound is sublime, with a rich tonal palette rendered with lots of fine detail and perfect balance. The LSi9 was recently discontinued and replaced by a new, higher-end model that I have yet to review, the $1,500/pair LsiM.

You can now find the LSi9 on clearance for $699/pair vs. the $999/pair MSRP. This is a truly wonderful deal. But if you are building a whole surround system, the matching LSiFX surrounds and LSiC center channel are $999 and $559 respectively. That puts you around $2,300 before you have purchased a subwoofer and a beefy $1,000-plus receiver to drive the five 4-ohm speakers.

If you are willing to spend the money, I am sure you will be thrilled, but be advised that to get the sound they are capable of will require an expensive receiver and very substantial wall mounts to support the LSi9′s weight of 33 pounds each. Given their weight, I usually recommend stands vs. wall mounts for these speakers ( www.polkaudio.com ).

The $498/pair Axiom Audio M22 is now in its third version, the M22v3. I recently tested its smaller stablemate, the M3v3, and found it a noticeable improvement over its predecessors, which were no slouches to begin with.

Axiom speakers have always been extremely transparent, dynamic and detailed, bringing out sounds you never knew existed in your recordings. This tremendous clarity has led some to comment that Axioms can sound bright at times. The new v3 models preserve Axiom’s best qualities while adding even more detail to smoother sound, along with a touch of warmth that will end comments that Axioms sound bright. At 8-ohms they are easy to drive with even a very modest receiver, and the Axiom QS4 surround speakers are one of the best-designed speakers of its kind.

You can get an entire Axiom M22v3 home theater system with a powered subwoofer for as little as $1,839 delivered. They can be customized in many different simulated and real wood finishes and a variety of grills, which make them easy to match to any décor ( www.axiomaudio.com ).

Armed with this information, visit the Polk Audio and Axiom Audio websites and take a look. You won’t go wrong either way.

Holiday product highlight
Walsh speakers from Ohm Acoustics are another great choice for anyone looking for top-performing speakers. They use unique, patented technology to effortlessly create an extremely realistic 3-D soundfield in your room, no matter where you sit.

I love them because you forget you are listening to speakers at all — they sound like sweet, beautiful music you can reach out and touch.

Handmade in the U.S. for almost 40 years, they range in price from $750 to $6,500 per pair with complete home theaters available ( www.ohmspeakers.com ).

Questions?  Email Don