By Don Lindich
Week 24, 2007
Q: When we bought our home, it came with wires sticking out of the wall at about seven feet high for small speakers that were part of a home entertainment system. We would like to add speakers in that location. Do you have any suggestions as to brand or type of speakers?
-Michael Dole, Golden Valley, MN
A: With almost any speaker ideal placement has the tweeters at ear level. For the best listening experience use wire connectors to add to the wire and bring the speakers down closer to ear level. If you are going to place them close to the seven-foot high location, buy wall brackets that allow you to angle the speakers downwards. This will minimize reflections from the ceiling and ensure as much of the sound as possible makes it into the listening area intact.
With the proper bracket you can mount most any speaker you want. For the best sound quality avoid tiny, teacup-sized speakers and use small bookshelf speakers.
Axiom Audio makes excellent bookshelf speakers, as well as brackets for wall mounting. They also allow you to custom design your own speakers from dozens of different finishes and grill cloth. The M2 v2 is only $296 delivered and has great sound quality. You can see them at www.axiomaudio.com. Many of my readers have purchased Axiom at my recommendation and have been very pleased.
For good sound at a bargain price, check out the Insignia NS-B2111 at Best Buy. At only $79.95 per paid they sound and look far better than you would imagine. With some judicious component selection a wonderful system can be built around them. They may be a little harder to use with mounts because of their curved cabinet design, but given the great value they offer it may be worth your while to find a mount that works.
If you must go with very small speakers (smaller than bookshelf speakers), check out Polk Audio’s RM6801 for $220 per pair, and the Paradigm Cinema 70 satellites. With either of these you will need to add a subwoofer to fill in the low end of the sound spectrum.
Q: If my television has only one HDMI input and my satellite receiver has only one output, do I have to choose between my TV and home theater receiver as to where I route the satellite HDMI signal? I know they make splitter boxes that purport to sense which signal is active. Are these reliable? I know my wife doesn’t want to have to fire up the receiver every time she just wants to watch TV!
-Tom Strait, Moorhead MN
A: I cannot vouch for the reliability of the splitter boxes, as I have not used them. However, I have seen a lot of complaints on internet message boards about HDMI compatibility across components, including receivers.
With only one input, on the TV, you are going to run into trouble when you want to add a HD DVD player, upconverting DVD player or other HDMI component. Routing the signals through your receiver is really the easiest way to run the system, and it should not be to hard for your wife to turn on the receiver when she turns on the TV. If it is, then run the HDMI from satellite to TV and use a separate digital audio connection to send the audio to the receiver.