We are now an Authorized Marantz Dealer!

Happy Olympics, Everyone!

We are proud to announce that we are now an Authorized Marantz Dealer!  After going back and forth on whether we would offer any electronics products or just services, it became obvious that we should promote the Marantz brand.  There really is no other company out there that offers such a great product at this price point.  I've done my fair share of installs and setups over the years, and many of them have included Marantz products.  Those were the installs that went well and the customers were happy.

 

Here's a quick synopsis of their offerings...

Marantz has Home Theatre Receivers starting at $449 CDN.  The NR1403 is a compact, yet powerful 5.1 receiver that is excellent for smaller rooms.

Marantz has Home Theatre Receivers starting at $449 CDN.  The NR1403 is a compact, yet powerful 5.1 receiver that is excellent for smaller rooms.

The SR7008 is a beast of a 9.2 receiver.  It is Marantz's flagship receiver at $2199 CDN.  

The SR7008 is a beast of a 9.2 receiver.  It is Marantz's flagship receiver at $2199 CDN.  

For those looking for a bit more refinement and performance, Marantz offers separate Home Theatre Components.  For processors, there is the AV7701 and the AV8801 (pictured)...

For those looking for a bit more refinement and performance, Marantz offers separate Home Theatre Components.  For processors, there is the AV7701 and the AV8801 (pictured)...

... and of course matching separate amplifiers as well, including this MM8077 7-channel amp.  There are also 2 channel and 5 channel amps in their lineup.

... and of course matching separate amplifiers as well, including this MM8077 7-channel amp.  There are also 2 channel and 5 channel amps in their lineup.

Speaking of 2-channel...

Speaking of 2-channel...

Marantz has an excellent lineup of 2-channel integrated amps and CD Players.

Marantz has an excellent lineup of 2-channel integrated amps and CD Players.

Marantz also offers their Turntable in 2 varieties... with and without the phono preamp built in!

Marantz also offers their Turntable in 2 varieties... with and without the phono preamp built in!

Needless to say, we are very pleased that we can offer Marantz to our clients.

Custom Home Automation & A/V Control with iRule

We have created an excellent template for whole-house control using iRule.  The pictures speak for themselves... Check it out!

The Home Screen... Simply Choose the room you'd like to control!   

The Home Screen... Simply Choose the room you'd like to control!

 

Once in the room you'd like to control, the most commonly used commands are at your fingertips.  Select the level of each light or the height of your window coverings!  Of course, you can also choose what you would like to listen to, watch or play!   

Once in the room you'd like to control, the most commonly used commands are at your fingertips.  Select the level of each light or the height of your window coverings!  Of course, you can also choose what you would like to listen to, watch or play!

 

Full control of all your audio/video components!  Extra options are accessible by simply swiping left or right... keep that main screen clear of clutter and lower the BPSI factor (Buttons Per Square Inch)!   

Full control of all your audio/video components!  Extra options are accessible by simply swiping left or right... keep that main screen clear of clutter and lower the BPSI factor (Buttons Per Square Inch)!

 

Have direct access to your favourite channels!  My photoshopping skills need work... working on custom buttons for our Canadian networks!   

Have direct access to your favourite channels!  My photoshopping skills need work... working on custom buttons for our Canadian networks!

 

I can't express enough how much I am a fan of iRule.  After years of setting up complex systems and using expensive and unreliable hardware to Control customer's systems... iRule comes along and makes it easier, less expensive, more customizable and more reliable.

 

Just as a comparison... let's say you'd like to be able to control your living room's A/V system as well as the lights in the room with a tablet interface.

With a system like Control4 (probably the most popular system at the moment), you are forced to use their proprietary hardware and software and require a Control4 dealer to setup and program.  For the living room scenario above, you would be looking at close to $1800 after all is said and done.

iRule allows you to integrate a wide assortment of automation, audio and video products and the same (better, actually) results can be had (with custom images and a personalized design) for less than half the price!  Love it!

What TV should you buy and why you SHOULDN'T BUY A SMART TV!!

One of the most common questions I get from family, friends and clients is...

"What TV should I buy?"

 

It's a tough question to answer... and I think the reason it is asked so much is that it's so confusing for a typical consumer to buy a TV nowadays.  Plus, it's kind of like asking "what car should I buy?"  There isn't a blanket answer I can give and there's a few questions that I would want to ask first.

Here's some of the most typical questions I get and my recommendations.

 

Should I get a LCD, LED, a Smart TV or a Plasma?

Ok... Here's the deal...

A LCD is what you are probably looking at right now.  Our phones, computer screens and even old-school calculators and Gameboys use LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) technology.  There's nothing wrong with it with one exception... the way that it's backlit (LCD's don't "glow", they need to be lit up from behind).  Remember the Gameboy?  The screen wasn't lit up and you had to have abundant light to play Tetris on it.  A TV that is referred to as an "LCD TV" is most likely lit up by CCFL light tubes that are located on the top, bottom and/or sides of the screen which light it up through the LCD panel.

The advantages of a LCD?  They're pretty cheap now.  The picture can be razor-sharp, very detailed as well as very, very bright.

The disadvantages of LCD?  Since the entire image is constantly being lit up, the areas that are supposed to be black will not appear to be black, especially when viewed in a darkened room.  There also may be uneven lighting since the light sources are usually around the edges of the screen. LCD's usually have motion blur with fast moving images. Since LCD's are considered the "entry-level" technology now, manufacturers might deliberately make them as cheap as possible and therefore the TV might not have a great picture or last very long.

 

A LED TV is actually not really a LED TV.  It's a LCD (See above) that is lit up by LED lights instead of CCFL tubes.  I will refer to them as a "LED backlit LCD TV" since "LED" is incorrect.  Lower power consumption, a brighter picture and a thinner chassis are usually traits you would find in a LED backlit LCD TV.  Many of the more advanced models also offer "local dimming" or an equivalent technology (probably uniquely branded by the manufacturer) that allow certain sections of the screen to be lit up more or less, allowing better black levels than the constantly lit LCD cousins.

The advantages of a LED backlit LCD?  Lower power consumption.  Better black levels on some models.  Brighter picture (if you need a bright picture).  Usually thinner bezels and a smaller footprint.

The disadvantages of a LED backlit LCD? They are usually more expensive. Still not the best black reproductions since the picture is still backlit. Potential for motion blur. You'll probably get a lot of features you don't want and/or don't need.

 

A Plasma TV is the best way to go if you are interested in the most accurate picture and is usually at a lower price.  Since plasma technology allows each individual pixel of the image to be lit up separately, the areas that are supposed to be black can be much closer to true black.  

The advantages of a Plasma TV? Excellent contrast and black levels. Plasmas do not suffer from motion blur. Super clean image and excellent colour reproduction.  Best looking technology in a darkened room. Wider viewing angle than LCD. The screens are protected by glass or plastic... very durable.

The disadvantages of Plasma TV?  They are usually heavier than other technologies.  They emit more heat and consume more power than other technologies (but not as much as you think!)

 

A Smart TV isn't a different technology for the way the TV displays the picture, but simply a TV that has some sort of internet connectivity.  Whether it's Netflix, youtube or an internet browser... the term "smart TV" really doesn't mean much.  I get asked "should I buy a LED or a SmartTV?" a fair bit, so that is why I lumped "Smart TV" in this comparison when it really doesn't belong.  See "why you shouldn't buy a smart tv" below.

 

So, my answer is usually "Get a Plasma!"  They really are the best TV's out there for picture quality.  Specifically, the Panasonic ST series is the perfect balance of quality and value.  The only exception where I wouldn't recommend a plasma is if the TV is going to be placed in a VERY bright room and you are going to watch in daylight or with all the lights on.

 

There's an excellent article from CNet that answers the same question.  Here's the link:

http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-33199_7-57344058-221/led-lcd-vs-plasma-vs-lcd/

 

Why you shouldn't buy a Smart TV!

"Smart TV" is a term that I despise.  It doesn't really mean anything.  All it really hints at is that the television connects to the internet and pulls in content from an on-line service such as netflix, youtube etc.  If the Smart TV features just happen to be included with the TV and you aren't paying extra just for them, then sure, go for it!  But don't specifically look for a Smart TV... and here's why...

-You can use an external device such as an AppleTV, Roku, a game console or even a Blu-ray player to get the same kind of functionality.  Most of these devices are around or even under $100.  These devices usually will give you a better and easier to use interface, work much more efficiently and probably also have more features (airplay, itunes interoperability, disc playback, etc.)

-If there's some new service or format that comes out that your TV doesn't support... you're out of luck!  You'll have to buy an external device anyway!

-Using a web browser on a TV (with a remote) is a nightmare!  The best way to display web content on a TV is to send it from a tablet or computer to the TV wirelessly.  This can be done with external devices such as the AppleTV.

-The Wi-Fi in the TV is probably pretty lame.  Too much happening in a small, metal chassis.

-Ads!  Many of the Smart TV's out there have ads or unwanted content all over the screen.

-Price!  You're probably paying more than the $100 these external devices cost for Smart TV features... so if you have the option to get the same display for less money without... then I'd recommend that.

 

Other things you probably don't need...

Remember when we only replaced TV's every 15 years or so?  Things haven't really changed that much... you still don't have to replace it as often as you think.  The manufacturers are constantly finding ways to try to get us to buy new stuff and here's features you may have seen that might have made you consider upgrading:

3D!

I admit it.  I have a 3D TV.  I have watched ONE 3D movie on it, then the novelty wore off.  I'm sure that there are some people out there that love 3D, but I think the majority of us just don't really care for it at home.  I'd recommend only if it doesn't cost anything extra.

 

240/480/960hz!!

Ok... this one drives me nuts... Most films are 24 frames per second, most video/tv content is 30 frames per second and TV's have traditionally "updated" their screens 60 times per second.  There is an advantage to a 120hz TV since to convert both 24 and 30 frames per second into 120 is easy... just duplicate 5 or 4 times per frame (the conversion to 60 from 24 is kind of messy.)  Manufacturers kind of ran with this idea and figured that if consumers were buying 120hz over 60hz, then they could bump that number higher and they would spend even more money, right?  Well... we've seen that number go higher and the belief is that the higher the number, the better the picture quality.  Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.  I usually turn this feature off when I can, since the process of displaying at higher frequencies often makes the picture worse!!  The TV can't magically make the content look better than the way it is broadcast or encoded on disc... we should just want the TV to display the image as close to it's original source as possible.  It's like adding extra seasoning and spice to an already perfect dish... you're probably not going to make it taste any better than the chef did!

 

4K (for now)

4k is awesome.  Unfortunately there's nothing to watch in 4k yet.  I would wait on this one and get a good "standard" HD set for now.  Prices are only going to go down.  Besides... we are just barely adopting 1080p (2k) right now and most consumers aren't even getting the best out of that yet! (See "About Calibration..." below)

 

Voice and Hand Gesture Commands

Really? You'd rather wave your hand or yell at the TV than use a remote?  A novelty in my opinion.  

 

Audio

TV's are so thin and light, there's barely any room for speakers in them.  It's rare that you'll see audio promoted as a feature on the TV anymore... and it shouldn't be.  You're better off with an external audio system, even if it's just a sound bar or a basic stereo.

 

Wi-Fi

TV's aren't very good at receiving Wi-Fi.  Too much going on in that cabinet that is usually encased in a metal chassis.  You're better off with an ethernet cable direct to the router or an external device that will receive the Wi-Fi for it (such as an Apple Airport Express for $99).  Besides... you're most likely better off with something like a AppleTV or a Roku instead of the TV's internet features.

 

Skype

Most clients that use Skype typically will use a tablet instead of a TV's camera.

 

Extended Warranty

Sorry to my retail friends out there... but I just can't justify the cost of the extended warranties these days.  It's just too much for something that I will likely be able to replace for super-cheap in a couple years.

 

Expensive Cables

Again... sorry to the retailers... but expensive cables are usually not worth it.  For short distances, a cheap-o hdmi cable will usually perform just as well as an expensive one.  Long distances are a different story... but if you're sending HDMI 25 feet or more, I would probably recommend a HDBaseT device that sends the signal over a single cat5e or cat6 cable instead.  

 

 

About Calibration...

Most retailers are offering calibration as an extra service.  Is it worth it?  Depends what you're watching.

-If you want the picture to be as close to what the film creators saw when they made the movie, then yes... you want calibration.

-If you want your picture bright and punchy, then you DON'T want calibration.  Calibration will darken your image and mute your colours... which isn't a bad thing... just not what you might want.

 

I would always recommend keeping your TV off of it's brightest mode and use the "cinema" or "movie" mode.  Keep the contrast down a bit and keep that sharpness control down around 30% too (-1 or -2 on Sharps).  Change the colour temperature to anything but "cool".  Play around with these features and see what you like.  It's YOUR TV, so make it look good to you.

There is usually one setting in the TV that changes the size, aspect or dimensions of the picture.  I know it sounds weird... but your 1920x1080 TV is probably not actually displaying things that are 1920x1080 in real 1920x1080.  By default, most TV's are zoomed in a bit, cutting of a significant portion of the image and decreasing the picture resolution you are seeing.  Check the settings to be sure you're getting the "full", or "just scan" or "dot by dot" or "normal" picture size.  

If you have a dedicated theatre room with controlled lighting... then I'd recommend Michael Chen with the Laser Video Experience for a THX calibration.

Mid-Range ($1000ish) AV Receiver Comparison and the best one is HALF PRICE!

Audioholics did a fantastic Comparison of a bunch of popular mid-range receivers.

http://www.audioholics.com/how-to-shop/best-midrange-receiver-2013

 

I mostly agree with the article... here's my 2 cents.

 

The Yamaha RXA830 is a fantastic AV Receiver.  Pretty much every feature you would want and need for a great home theatre.  I adore the sound of Yamaha's receivers which usually translates to a punchy yet well balanced sound. Instead of the $900 MSRP they have it listed at, you will find this receiver at $849 at VISIONS electronics.

If I were to give a score to the Yamaha RXA830 at $849, It would be a 7/10.

 

The Onkyo TXNR828 was the other receiver in their "Winner's Circle".  I disagree with this choice, and here's why.  Although the 828 is a great receiver with a long list of features, the extra couple hundred over the Yamaha isn't worth it in my books.  It has a higher power rating which could translate to better sound, but the bottleneck in most systems is other factors like the setup, speaker placement and room acoustics; not the extra 30 watts per channel that this thing offers.  It lacks AirPlay, which is a deal-breaker for me.  If you gotta have an Onkyo, London Drugs has last year's TXNR717 model at $499 right now.  That's a steal!  Otherwise, you can find the TXNR828 at $1099 at Visions electronics and Best Buy.

My score for the Onkyo TXNR828 at $1099 is a 5/10.

 

Secret Time!  In Canada, we are fortunate to have a massive retailer that can request "exclusive" models from manufacturers.  Future Shop will quite often have models from Pioneer that you wouldn't find anywhere else.  Usually, the exclusive models will be variants that have slightly different features, modified cosmetics or sometimes just a different model number.  Why am I telling you this?  Glad you asked...

 

The Pioneer SC71 that audioholics compared is a great receiver.  At $1000, they really liked it but it didn't make the winners circle because it doesn't have pre-outs for all channels (a feature that VERY few people will actually use).  Future Shop has the Pioneer SC1227K, which is a variant on the SC71.  The SC1227K has the 9.2 pre-outs that audioholics would have preferred, as well as a little bit more power output.  It does have 7 hdmi inputs instead of 8 and only 1 output instead of 2 (in case you want to run 2 TV's off this thing), which I don't think are too much to be concerned about.  Do you want to know the best part?  The SC1227K is only $599 right now at Future Shop.  This is an absolute bargain!  This receiver has all the features you could want as well as great sound and build quality. Hands down the easiest recommendation.

My score for the Pioneer SC1227K at $599 is an easy 10/10.

 

Well... I'm kind of dropping the mic after that one.  The rest of the receivers in the mix are following a pretty tough act.

Quick thoughts on each one:

Denon AVRX3000 is going for $999.  A good receiver, but when you're comparing it to the Pioneer SC1227K at $599 or the Onkyo TXNR717 at $499... I'd pass.

Harmon Kardon AVR3700 is not worth considering in my opinion.  I have had terrible luck with HK receivers the last few years (the switching power supplies are weak and unreliable).  Move along.  Nothing to see here.

Marantz SR5008 is a fantastic receiver.  Marantz has a very smooth sound and great build quality.  But when you have other receivers that are as good or better for a few hundred bucks less, I can't recommend this right now.

Sony's STRDA2800ES might be hard to find right now (it's not even listed on sony's website).  It's pretty long in the tooth and will likely be replaced soon.

 

So... There you have it.  If you're looking for a receiver to power a home theatre and maybe a second set of speakers in the house, it's hard to not recommend the Pioneer SC1227K which is exclusive to Future Shop.  Go pick one up!

She's a beaut!

She's a beaut!

High End Receivers Compared

***Update - December 2013 - This was written back in the spring.  I'll update/revise and post soon. Promise!***

Starting with the highest priced receiver and working our way down...

RCAM AVR600 - $6299.99 - Available at K&W Audio

This thing is amazing, and it better be at $6300.  Hometheater.com and whathifi.com gave it top scores for sound quality, but it falls short in the value and features departments (it's coming up to being 4 years old!)  Can't see myself ever purchasing this thing (I think I'd rather have a hot tub or something.)

Because of it's high price tag and so-so tech, I'll give this receiver a 6/10.

 

 

ONKYO TXNR5010 - $3499.99 - Available at Visions for $3198

Another beast of a receiver.  THX Ultra2 Certified, plus all sorts of other acronyms and cool logos on the front!  Audyssey MultEQ XT32 processing is a big plus, as is the 9 channels of amplification (if you like lots of speakers!).  Pretty versatile, but missing my favourite feature found in many other receivers, AirPlay.

A Great, but not quite spectacular receiver for the dollar.  7/10.

 

 

ROTEL RSX1562 - $2999.99 - Available at Sounds of Music

I like Rotel.  A lot.  I've had a couple Rotel receivers over the years, and they have been  excellent performers in the Sound Quality department.  The features department, a little light.  I'm typically ok with that, but there are a few things that are "must-haves" in my opinion nowadays.  Room correction software and AirPlay are two of the "must-haves" in a surround receiver and at $3000... lacking a couple "must-haves" is a "must-not".  

Sorry Rotel.  It's not you, it's me.  I'm just looking for something different if you're going to cost me this much.  7/10.

 

 

ONKYO TXNR3010 - $2699.99 - Available at Visions for $2398

Very similar to the TXNR5010, Onkyo's Flagship.  Actually, almost identical in features other than the toroidal transformers and the DAC.  Granted, those are a pretty big deal... but $800 big deal?  I think I'd rather get this 3010 and run an external amp for the front LCR speakers.  A great receiver.  Still no AirPlay (darn you Onkyo!).

ood job Onkyo... you're the first receiver to break the 7/10 mark.  8/10!!

 

 

Arcam AVR400 - $2599.99 - Available at K&W Audio

Arcam is a very refined brand that definitely focuses on sound quality.  The AVR400 does not disappoint for those who are looking for the best sound.  It's got enough "ka-rumph" if you're speakers aren't too demanding, but it might not be enough to justify the $2600 price tag if you're looking for a lot of "ka-rumph".  Because this is a 2+ year old model, it might not have the features (aaaaauuuuughhhh.... AIRPLAY!!) that newer receivers have.

Arcam... I think it's time for a refresh.  Some new models might bring you up over a 7/10.

 

 

Sony STRDA5800ES - $2499.99 - Available from Sony

Oh, Sony.  I loved you in the 90's.  LOVED you!!  I miss you!  Call me!  I have had 3 different ES receivers in the past and thought they were fantastic.  I had the pleasure to tinker with the 5800ES a few months ago and was absolutely delighted with this receiver.  Feature-wise, this puppy has it all, 9 channels of amplification, Netflix and Hulu built right in, an ethernet switch, and enough inputs to make Johnny Number Five jealous!  Control4 too! (stay tuned for a future article on home automation systems!)  At $2500, this receiver is a steal (especially if you're going the home automation route).

reat Job, Sony!  Too bad so many people ignore you because you're terrible at marketing!!!  9/10!

 

 

PIONEER ELITE - SC68/67/65 - Available at Sounds of Music and Base Electronics.  

PIONEER SC1527K - Available at Future Shop.

Dear Pioneer, Please stop making so many different models.  I know you quit making TV's, but that doesn't mean you get to make extra models in receivers just to make up for that.  hanks!!  But seriously, folks, I like what they are doing with receivers lately.  I admit, I used to HATE pioneer receivers... they were so ugly!  Today, I also have to admit... I have one in my home theatre.  Excellent audio and video processing.  I like the MCACC calibration/eq.  The sound quality is exquisite!  These receivers use Pioneer's "Class D3" technology, which is a very efficient use of the power you give it.  I personally have the SC1526K, last year's version of the SC1527K.  Totally happy with it.  It's what made me finally retire my 8 year old Sony ES.  The SC1527K is roughly the same as the SC-65, just is a Future shop exclusive and happens to have a pretty amazing price at $1499. Oh... they ALL HAVE AIRPLAY!!!

SC68/67 are fantastic receivers for those of you who know what 192 kHz is - 8/10

SC65 is a tough sell to those of you knowing what the SC1527K is - 6/10

C1527K is a highly recommended receiver, especially when you find it on sale. 9/10

 

 

ONKYO TXNR1010 - $2099.99 - Available at Visions for $1898

After looking at the Pioneer SC1527K at $1499, this is kinda like looking at an ex-girlfriend after upgrading to another, better looking and less annoying-voiced lass.  For $400 less, you're better off with the Pioneer SC1527K.  Not that this is a bad receiver, just not worth the $ after looking at the competition.  orry Onkyo TXNR1010, but I'd rather take the Pioneer out to the movies.

Onkyo, I tried... I really did... but 7/10.

 

 

MARANTZ SR7007 - $1999.99 - Available at Future Shop, K&W Audio, SML Entertainment, Audio Concepts, General Audio, Showcase, Symphonic Systems (geez, you get around!)

I guess there's a reason so many dealers carry Marantz.  It's good stuff!  Denon's bigger brother, Marantz can take care of the bullys and still get to the piano recital in time (meaning it can kick your ass and then play you a sonnet!)  Pretty much every feature (AirPlay!!!) that you'd need, with the exception of Audyssey MultEQ 32XT (Marantz uses Audyssey's MultEQ XT).  The HDAM topology, which sets the 7007 apart from it's siblings, offers better sound quality due to using discrete components versus a "all-in-one" op-amp.  What does that mean?  I don't know!  But better sound quality results!

At $2000, the Marantz is priced right.  Refined sound, great build quality and a proven istory of great products makes me want to have this receiver. 8/10.

 

 

 

OK, the next 3 products aren't considered by most as being "high-end" because they don't have "high-end" price tags.  Don't be fooled though, they are "high-end" performers, but without the extra bells and whistles.

 

Cambridge Audio 551R - $1299.99 - Available at Visions and The Audio Room

Cambridge Audio.  Sound ritzy?  The british tend to know what they are doing when it comes to audio.  They seem to give a crap when it comes to this stuff.  The 551R gives a crap... a big one too.  Great sound quality, but light on features.  This receiver gets to hang out in the "high-end" group due to its amazing sound quality.  Doesn't have room correction or any networking features.  Sounds Grrrreat!

$1300 for an "audiophile" level amp?  I'm in!  8/10!

 

 

Emotiva UMC200/UPA700 Combo - $1049.98 USD plus shipping - Available direct from Emotiva

Emotiva.  Google it.  Really.  Great Stuff, on the cheap!  

 

An easy 9/10.

 

 

Sherbourn SR8100 - $799.99 USD plus shipping - Available direct from Sherbourn

Emotiva (Jade Industries) bought them.  New business model.  Sell to consumers for cheap.  Delightful sound quality, but not for those looking for the longest list of "features", but looking for the best build and sound quality. Isn't that what audio is all about?  I hope so.  This receiver is pretty much the 2 Emotiva products above crammed into one chassis. 

Love it! 10/10

 

 

What would I buy if I was buying right now?  I could narrow it down to these 3...

-If I wanted automation and a whole lotta features?  Sony STRDA5800ES at $2499.

-If I wanted lots of features and great sound at a reasonable price? Pioneer SC1527K at $1499.

-If I want awesome sound quality without networking features and stuff? No brainer.  Sherbourn SR8100 at $799 USD (plus shipping).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feel free to share your thoughts!

Budget Compact Surround Sound Speaker Packages Compared

***Update - December 2013 - I wrote this back in April... but will update and revise very soon.  THE TANNOY PACKAGE IS ONLY $199 AT LONDON DRUGS!!!  That's a steal!***

 

Today, I'm going to look at what small surround sound speaker packages are available in the Calgary market. If you would like to see a certain package compared that I haven't listed, email us at info@calgaryav.com and I can have a look!

ere it goes!

 

 

 


Future Shop's Speaker Packages

The Polk RM705 Package is a good budget/entry level speaker package... but I have found the RM6750 package to be a much better value at $599.  Larger midrange drivers and very comparable otherwise.  Unless you need the high gloss black speakers, go with the RM6750.

n this price category, This is hard to beat!  ***update*** this product is on sale at Future Shop right now, including a Pioneer VSX523 receiver at $599.  Good deal, yes.  For $600, this is unreal value.

 

O NOT BUY!  I have been a huge fan of Energy Speakers over the years, but I cannot recommend this product at all.  These are made in China by who-knows.  You can buy the exact same product (without the energy logos) from Monoprice for under $300 US. Avoid!  I don't really care for the performance of these speakers either... sounds hollow and uninspired.

ose.  People either love or loathe Bose.  At $999, I do not like this package.  Better off with the Polk RM6750 at $599.  Even if this package was $599, I think I would go with the Polks.

like KEF.  I like the aesthetics of this package.  Unfortunately, the sound was rather lacking, especially the subwoofer, which just seemed quite muddy and wimpy.  At $1149, I would look elsewhere.


Best Buy's Speaker Packages

hat's a surprisingly good deal! The same kit used to go for $599.  In this price, category, we have a winner!

mmmm... I haven't heard this package versus it's sibling, the HKTS15.  Looking at the specs (the worst way to judge a speaker, I know!), it seems very similar, but with higher power capability (doesn't matter) and a (possibly) more powerful sub.  The package weighs much less than the HKTS15... Makes me think the HKTS15 is a much better value.

Best Buy also has the Bose Acoustimass Systems... but their prices are higher than their "competitor", Future Shop... so if it's gotta be Bose, go elsewhere!


Visions Speaker Packages

ore Polk.  Heard these before without the matching sub.  Not bad, still very similar to the other polks out there.  Nothing to write home about, but at $488, pretty good value.

have not heard these myself.  Decent reviews out there, including positive reviews from What HiFi and Cnet.  Looks quite similar to the Energy Take Classic II package (also owned by Klipsch).  I'll have to check these out.  My impression is that $748 might be a little steep for what you get here.

Pretty much the same speakers as the T100 system available at Future Shop, but with a smaller (more compact) sub.  Since I don't really like the sub that came with the other KEF system, this might not be much of a "downgrade" (I have not heard this system with this particular sub).  I do like the speakers for their sound and their "flatness" and the fact that they include wall mounting brackets.  If you can go $1000 and want something mounted to the wall to match your flat panel TV, I give this package a thumbs up.

slightly larger version of the T105 package.  Haven't heard it, but I'm afraid that the extra $700 over the T105 might not be worth it.  At $1688, I think there's better alternatives out there.

ame goes here... $2300? Ouch.  At this price I'd much rather get into something a little more refined and not just "same, but larger than the other package".


London Drugs Speaker Packages

'm going to have to get over to London Drugs to check these out.  I've had a fair bit of experience with Tannoy speakers and have always enjoyed their sound.  I have not had a listen to these little guys, but looking at some of the reviews and feedback out there, this might be a package to seriously consider.  Stay tuned for an update on this package.


ML Entertainment's Speaker Packages

mpressed... Very Impressed.  This speaker package from Monitor is actually something worth getting excited over.  Priced higher than most other packages out there, but definitely a product that doesn't seem to have been outsourced to keep their costs down.  A bit of a funky look (don't know if I'm sold on the... whatever shape that is), but absolutely amazing sound.  Big, powerful sub and excellent midrange from the satellite speakers.  SML seems to be new to the audio/video game, but it appears they have chosen to only carry Monitor Audio Speakers... which I would say is a good choice.  If you are looking at a speaker package between $1000 to $1500... I'd say this would easily be the winner!


Conclusions...

f you're looking to spend around $500 on a speaker package, my recommendations would be the Polk RM6750 at Future Shop for $599 (It VERY frequently goes on sale for much less!), the Harman Kardon HKTS15 package at Best Buy ($349) or the Tannoy TFX Package at London Drugs ($499).

If you can go up to $1000, nd are looking for style (especially if mounted to the wall), it's hard to not recommend the KEF T105 package at Visions.

Going over $1000?  Definitely check out the Monitor Audio Mass package at SML.  Sounds great... Looks interesting... Good Value.  Excellent reviews across the board, so I guess it isn't just me.