TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Gift Guide for Geeks 2003: Hear

Volume Number: 19 (2003)
Issue Number: 11
Column Tag: Review

Gift Guide for Geeks 2003: Hear

by Michael R. Harvey

Audio goodies to please the ear

For the audiophile in your life, nothing is better than a holiday gift that appeals to their jones. If you are on a budget, however, the big super duper extra groovy surround system that teleports a real live symphony orchestra into your living room just isn't going to make the shopping list. Never fear, however, as there are options that are almost as good as teleportation, and slightly more affordable.

JBL Creature

It's straight out of B Sci-Fi flick, only not bad. Creature. This three piece, self powered, speaker set from Harmon Multimedia defines cool looking. All three pieces have the same bell curve/UFO look about them. You get the feeling that if the satellites weren't tethered to the Earth with wire, they'd fly right off your desk and back to the home world. Each of the satellites has a small LED underneath that lights up, adding to its other worldly appearance.

Beyond its looks, it is actually a nice sounding set of speakers. The Odyssey+ drivers in the satellites push a total 8 watts, while the Magnum driver in the subwoofer pushes 24. All three parts are shielded so they can be close to a monitor or other magnetically sensitive hardware. However, the bass the subwoofer pushes enough bass to rattle the image on a monitor, so don't put it too close.

Set up is pretty typical for any set of speakers. The power button, however, is on the back of the subwoofer, a necessary evil to keep the looks of the satellites intact, but highly annoying none the less, especially if you have the subwoofer on the floor. Likewise, the bass and treble are controlled from the subwoofer. The two spikes sticking up at the front corners are the knobs for that. At least you have the volume control on the right satellite. The controls for volume are quite nice, actually. They are pressure sensitive touch pads. Tapping once on either the plus or minus button will get you a 2.0 decibel increase or decrease. Holding down either for more that half a second will give you a continuous rise or decline in 5 decibels increments. Pressing both at the same time will mute your speakers.


The Creatures are a nice set of small speakers that will fit nicely into a small, cramped dorm room, the kids room, or anywhere you want to have some speakers ready to plug your iPod into. They have a suggested retail of $129, and come in three colors, white, black, or blue.

Altec Lansing VS4121

Now these are some interesting speakers. They are not nearly as cool looking as the Creatures, but they have a look all their own, and what they lack in outlandish styling, they make up for in pure sound. This set is also a 2.1, self powered unit, with subwoofer and two satellites. The satellites are comprised of tweeters in a sound stick type design, with downward firing midrange drivers incorporated into the base of the satellites. The subwoofer is little more than a wooden box, but the impressive 6.5 inch subwoofer capable of producing a maximum 19 watts of power takes that wooden box and pumps out some good, deep, rattle your fillings bass sound. One note, however. While the satellites are shielded, and can be placed next to the monitor, the subwoofer is not, and should be given some distance from magnetically sensitive devices. All the controls are easily accessible on the right satellite. Volume, power, bass and treble controls are plainly marked and clearly show what their settings are. It also has a headphone jack next to the controls, a very nice addition for those times when you have to be quiet. These speakers sound really, really good. Full sound that does justice to any kind of music you would care to pump through them. Altec Lansing lists them for $129.95, not at all a bad price for the nice sound the give you.

MacAlly Noise Canceling Headphones

Ambient noise can be a problem almost anywhere. Chatty coworkers, noisy kids, roaring jet engines, it's enough to drive you loopy. In steps technology with a solution, and cool technology at that. MacAlly has a set of noise canceling headphones designed to not only sound good, but also eliminate, or at least reduce, all the noise around you. They do this by picking up ambient sounds around you, and then generate a signal that cancels out the sound waves from outside. It works pretty well, too. For most room noise, you will immediately notice a difference. It works quite well on an airplane during flight. Take offs will overwhelm the unit, giving you a static popping noise in the headset while the engines roar. Likewise, under very loud conditions the noise canceling feature will fail. A big old truck with a busted exhaust system will wipe out the capability instantly.


The hardware is a pretty nice compliment the noise canceling technology. White plastics make up the case and other pieces of the headset. Batteries go in the right ear cup, while the controls for power and volume are on the left. The ear cups are well padded, and will remain comfortable during extended wear, although if you've got big ears, you might need to take a break from them sooner than other users. The cord is detachable from the headset, a very thoughtful feature. If you break the cord, it is easily replaceable. Try not to do that, though, as the included cord has an in line volume control, giving you a break from trying to adjust it up on the left ear cup, or digging into your pocket to adjust it on your iPod. There is also an adapter for plugging the mini jack into an airline seat audio jack. Last, the headset folds up and fits into a compact little carry case, a cool feature over some other headsets of similar type, and at around $70, MacAlly beats them all on price.

Conclusion

Whether you want to give that special someone a nice set of speakers, or have on your wish list something to let you tune out the world around you, any of the above audio systems will serve you and yours well. Their prices won't max out your credit cards, either.


Michael R. Harvey

 
AAPL
$99.02
Apple Inc.
+1.35
MSFT
$43.97
Microsoft Corpora
-0.53
GOOG
$590.60
Google Inc.
+1.58

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Acorn 4.4 - Bitmap image editor. (Demo)
Acorn is a new image editor built with one goal in mind - simplicity. Fast, easy, and fluid, Acorn provides the options you'll need without any overhead. Acorn feels right, and won't drain your bank... Read more
Bartender 1.2.20 - Organize your menu ba...
Bartender lets you organize your menu bar apps. Features: Lets you tidy your menu bar apps how you want. See your menu bar apps when you want. Hide the apps you need to run, but do not need to... Read more
TotalFinder 1.6.2 - Adds tabs, hotkeys,...
TotalFinder is a universally acclaimed navigational companion for your Mac. Enhance your Mac's Finder with features so smart and convenient, you won't believe you ever lived without them. Tab-based... Read more
Vienna 3.0.0 RC 2 :be5265e: - RSS and At...
Vienna is a freeware and Open-Source RSS/Atom newsreader with article storage and management via a SQLite database, written in Objective-C and Cocoa, for the OS X operating system. It provides... Read more
VLC Media Player 2.1.5 - Popular multime...
VLC Media Player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, OGG, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It... Read more
Default Folder X 4.6.7 - Enhances Open a...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click... Read more
TinkerTool 5.3 - Expanded preference set...
TinkerTool is an application that gives you access to additional preference settings Apple has built into Mac OS X. This allows to activate hidden features in the operating system and in some of the... Read more
Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.0 - Record and enh...
Audio Hijack Pro drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio with Audio Hijack... Read more
Intermission 1.1.1 - Pause and rewind li...
Intermission allows you to pause and rewind live audio from any application on your Mac. Intermission will buffer up to 3 hours of audio, allowing users to skip through any assortment of audio... Read more
Autopano Giga 3.6 - Stitch multiple imag...
Autopano Giga allows you to stitch 2, 20, or 2,000 images. Version 3.0 integrates impressive new features that will definitely make you adopt Autopano Pro or Autopano Giga: Choose between 9... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Traps n’ Gemstones Review
Traps n’ Gemstones Review By Campbell Bird on July 28th, 2014 Our Rating: :: CASTLEVANIA JONESUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Fight mummies, dig tunnels, and ride a runaway minecart to discover ancient secrets in this... | Read more »
The Phantom PI Mission Apparition Review
The Phantom PI Mission Apparition Review By Jordan Minor on July 28th, 2014 Our Rating: :: GHOSTS BUSTEDUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad The Phantom PI is an exceedingly clever and well-crafted adventure game.   | Read more »
More Stubies Are Coming Your Way in a Ne...
More Stubies Are Coming Your Way in a New Update Posted by Jessica Fisher on July 28th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
The Great Prank War Review
The Great Prank War Review By Nadia Oxford on July 28th, 2014 Our Rating: :: PRANKING IS SERIOUS BUSINESSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Though short, The Great Prank War offers an interesting and fun mix of action and... | Read more »
Marvel Contest of Champions Announced at...
Marvel Contest of Champions Announced at Comic-Con Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 28th, 2014 [ permalink ] Announced over the weekend at San Diego Comic-Con was the fairly exciting looking Marvel Contest of Champions. | Read more »
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review By Jennifer Allen on July 28th, 2014 Our Rating: :: DULL SWIPINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad The pizza power is weak when it comes to this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.   | Read more »
Exploration Focused Puzzle Game Beatbudd...
Exploration Focused Puzzle Game Beatbuddy Set to Make Transition from PC to iOS this September Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 28th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
PlanetHD
PlanetHD By Nadia Oxford on July 28th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SPACE MADNESSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad PlanetHD will keep players busy for a while, though its unpredictable physics are a handful to deal with.   | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: July 21-25, 2014
Another Week of Expert App Reviews   At 148Apps, we help you sort through the great ocean of apps to find the ones we think you’ll like and the ones you’ll need. Our top picks become Editor’s Choice, our stamp of approval for apps with that little... | Read more »
Reddme for iPhone - The Reddit Client (...
Reddme for iPhone - The Reddit Client 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: News Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Reddme for iPhone is an iOS 7-optimized Reddit client that offers a refreshing new way to experience Reddit... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $1099,...
Best Buy has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $1099.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Their price is $100 off MSRP. Price is... Read more
Roundup of Apple refurbished MacBook Pros, th...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros available for up to $400 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. Their prices... Read more
Record Mac Shipments In Q2/14 Confound Analys...
A Seeking Alpha Trefis commentary notes that Apple’s fiscal Q3 2014 results released July 22, beat market predictions on earnings, although revenues were slightly lower than anticipated. Apple’s Mac’... Read more
Intel To Launch Core M Silicon For Use In Not...
Digitimes’ Monica Chen and Joseph Tsai, report that Intel will launch 14nm-based Core M series processors specifically for use in fanless notebook/tablet 2-in-1 models in Q4 2014, with many models to... Read more
Apple’s 2014 Back to School promotion: $100 g...
 Apple’s 2014 Back to School promotion includes a free $100 App Store Gift Card with the purchase of any new Mac (Mac mini excluded), or a $50 Gift Card with the purchase of an iPad or iPhone,... Read more
iMacs on sale for $150 off MSRP, $250 off for...
Best Buy has iMacs on sale for up to $160 off MSRP for a limited time. Choose free home shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Prices are valid for online orders only, in-store... Read more
Mac minis on sale for $100 off MSRP, starting...
Best Buy has Mac minis on sale for $100 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup. Prices are for online orders only, in-store prices may vary: 2.5GHz Mac mini: $499.99 2.3GHz... Read more
Global Tablet Market Grows 11% in Q2/14 Notwi...
Worldwide tablet sales grew 11.0 percent year over year in the second quarter of 2014, with shipments reaching 49.3 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation... Read more
New iPhone 6 Models to Have Staggered Release...
Digitimes’ Cage Chao and Steve Shen report that according to unnamed sources in Apple’s upstream iPhone supply chain, the new 5.5-inch iPhone will be released several months later than the new 4.7-... Read more
New iOS App Helps People Feel Good About thei...
Mobile shoppers looking for big savings at their favorite stores can turn to the Goodshop app, a new iOS app with the latest coupons and deals at more than 5,000 online stores. In addition to being a... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Sr. Product Leader, *Apple* Store Apps - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
WW Sales Program Manager, *Apple* Online St...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.