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

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

LibreOffice 4.4.5.2 - Free, open-source...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
Adobe Lightroom 6.1.1 - Import, develop,...
Adobe Lightroom is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $9.99/month bundled with Photoshop CC as part of the photography package. Lightroom 6 is also available for purchase as a... Read more
File Juicer 4.41 - Extract images, video...
File Juicer is a drag-and-drop can opener and data archaeologist. Its specialty is to find and extract images, video, audio, or text from files which are hard to open in other ways. It finds and... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 9.52 - File, phot...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more
OmniFocus 2.2.3 - GTD task manager with...
OmniFocus helps you manage your tasks the way that you want, freeing you to focus your attention on the things that matter to you most. Capturing tasks and ideas is always a keyboard shortcut away in... Read more
TinkerTool 5.4 - 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
Tinderbox 6.3.1 - Store and organize you...
Tinderbox is a personal content management assistant. It stores your notes, ideas, and plans. It can help you organize and understand them. And Tinderbox helps you share ideas through Web journals... Read more
Parallels Desktop 10.2.2 - Run Windows a...
Parallels Desktop is simply the world's bestselling, top-rated, and most trusted solution for running Windows applications on your Mac. With Parallels Desktop for Mac, you can seamlessly run both... Read more
Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015 9.0.1 - Digit...
Premiere Pro CC 2015 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous Premiere Pro customer). Premiere Pro CS6 is still available for... Read more
Adobe After Effects CC 2015 13.5.1 - Cre...
After Effects CC 2015 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous After Effects customer). After Effects CS6 is still available... Read more

Domino Drop (Games)
Domino Drop 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Domino Drop is a delightful new puzzle game with dominos and gravity!Learn how to play it in a minute, master it day by day.Your... | Read more »
OPERATION DRACULA (Games)
OPERATION DRACULA 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $5.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: 25% off launch sale!!! 'Could prove to be one of the most accurate representations of the Japanese bullet hell shmup... | Read more »
Race The Sun (Games)
Race The Sun 1.01 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.01 (iTunes) Description: You are a solar craft. The sun is your death timer. Hurtle towards the sunset at breakneck speed in a futile race against time.... | Read more »
Tap Delay (Music)
Tap Delay 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Back in the “old days”, producers and engineers created delay and echo effects using tape machines. Tap Delay combines the warm... | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: July 20-24, 2015
July is Heating Up With 148Apps How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out... | Read more »
Red Game Without A Great Name (Games)
Red Game Without A Great Name 1.0.3 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.3 (iTunes) Description: The mechanical bird is flying through an unfriendly, Steampunk world. Help it avoid obstacles and deadly... | Read more »
Warhammer: Arcane Magic (Games)
Warhammer: Arcane Magic 1.0.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0.2 (iTunes) Description: Engage in epic battles and tactical gameplay that challenge both novice and veteran in Warhammer: Arcane Magic, a... | Read more »
Mazes of Karradash (Games)
Mazes of Karradash 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The city of Karradash is under attack: the monsters of the Shadow Realms are emerging from the depths.No adventurer is... | Read more »
Battle Golf is the Newest Game from the...
Wrassling was a pretty weird - and equally great - little wressling game. Now the developers, Folmer Kelly and Colin Lane, have turned their attention to a different sport: golfing. This is gonna be weird. [Read more] | Read more »
Qbert Rebooted has the App Store Going...
The weird little orange... whatever... is back, mostly thanks to that movie which shall remain nameless (you know the one). But anyway it's been "rebooted" and now you can play the fancy-looking Qbert Rebooted on iOS devices. [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

12-inch MacBooks in stock for $20 off, save o...
Adorama has 12″ Retina MacBooks in stock for $20 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. For a limited time, Adorama will include a free Apple USB-C to USB Adapter, free 4-... Read more
College Student Deals: Additional $100 off Ma...
Take an additional $100 off all MacBooks and iMacs at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through August 8, 2015. Anyone with a valid .EDU email address can take... Read more
2015 13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sal...
B&H Photo has the new 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro on sale today for $1199 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
2.8GHz Mac mini available for $988, includes...
Adorama has the 2.8GHz Mac mini available for $988, $11 off MSRP, including a free copy of Apple’s 3-Year AppleCare Protection Plan. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ... Read more
Updated Mac Price Trackers
We’ve updated our Mac Price Trackers with the latest information on prices, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers: - 15″ MacBook Pros - 13″ MacBook... Read more
High-Precision Battery Fuel Gauge IC Extends...
Renesas Electronics Corporation has announced its new lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery fuel gauge IC, the RAJ240500, designed to extend battery life for connected mobile devices such as tablets, notebook... Read more
27-inch 3.3GHz 5K iMac on sale for $1799, $20...
B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMac on sale for $1799 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model from any Apple... Read more
Twelve South Free Dual Screen Backgrounds Co...
Twelve South has posted a second collection of travel Desktop photos, noting: For the Twelve South team, a vacation is never just a vacation. It’s a time to try out new prototypes on the road, visit... Read more
Apple Refurbished iMacs available for up to $...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $380 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac – $1949 $... Read more
Tablets: Why Microsoft’s Surface Is Soaring W...
In contrast to Apple’s record fiscal third quarter reported this week, Microsoft had a miserable latest quarter with its revenues falling by 5.1 percent, hammered by ongoing weak PC demand, and... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales. Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales. Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales. Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales. Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Customer Experience (ACE) Leader - A...
…management to deliver on business objectives Training partner store staff on Apple products, services, and merchandising guidelines Coaching partner store staff on Read more
Project Manager - *Apple* Pay Security - Ap...
**Job Summary** The Apple Pay Security team is seeking a highly organized, results-driven Project Manager to drive the development of Apple Pay Security. If you are Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.