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
$100.96
Apple Inc.
-0.83
MSFT
$47.52
Microsoft Corpora
+0.84
GOOG
$596.08
Google Inc.
+6.81

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.3 - 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
Airfoil 4.8.9 - Send audio from any app...
Airfoil allows you to send any audio to AirPort Express units, Apple TVs, and even other Macs and PCs, all in sync! It's your audio - everywhere. With Airfoil you can take audio from any... Read more
WhatRoute 1.13.0 - Geographically trace...
WhatRoute is designed to find the names of all the routers an IP packet passes through on its way from your Mac to a destination host. It also measures the round-trip time from your Mac to the... Read more
Chromium 37.0.2062.122 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. FreeSMUG-Free OpenSource Mac User Group build is... Read more
Attachment Tamer 3.1.14b9 - Take control...
Attachment Tamer gives you control over attachment handling in Apple Mail. It fixes the most annoying Apple Mail flaws, ensures compatibility with other email software, and allows you to set up how... Read more
Duplicate Annihilator 5.0 - Find and del...
Duplicate Annihilator takes on the time-consuming task of comparing the images in your iPhoto library using effective algorithms to make sure that no duplicate escapes. Duplicate Annihilator detects... Read more
jAlbum Pro 12.2 - Organize your digital...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code!... Read more
jAlbum 12.2 - Create custom photo galler...
With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly, with pro results Simply drag and drop photos into groups, choose a design... Read more
Quicken 2015 2.0.4 - Complete personal f...
Quicken 2015 helps you manage all your personal finances in one place, so you can see where you're spending and where you can save. Quicken automatically categorizes your financial transactions,... Read more
iMazing 1.0 - Complete iOS device manage...
iMazing (formerly DiskAid) is the ultimate iOS device manager with capabilities far beyond what iTunes offers. With iMazing and your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod), you can: Copy music to and... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

View Source – HTML, JavaScript and CSS...
View Source – HTML, JavaScript and CSS 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Utilities Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: View Source is an app plus an iOS 8 Safari extension that makes it easy to do one key web developer... | Read more »
Avenged Sevenfold’s Hail To The King: De...
Avenged Sevenfold’s Hail To The King: Deathbat is Coming to iOS on October 16th Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Just in time for Halloween, on October 16 Avenged Sevenfold will be launching | Read more »
Talisman Has Gone Universal – Can Now be...
Talisman Has Gone Universal – Can Now be Played on the iPhone Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Tap Army Review
Tap Army Review By Jennifer Allen on September 19th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SHOOT EM ALLUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Mindless but fun, Tap Army is a lane-based shooter that should help you relieve some stress.   | Read more »
Monsters! Volcanoes! Loot! Epic Island f...
Monsters! Volcanoes! Loot! | Read more »
Plunder Pirates: Tips, Tricks, Strategie...
Ahoy There, Seadogs: Interested in knowing our thoughts on all this plundering and pirating? Check out our Plunder Pirates Review! Have you just downloaded the rather enjoyable pirate-em-up Plunder Pirates and are in need of some assistance? Never... | Read more »
Goat Simulator Review
Goat Simulator Review By Lee Hamlet on September 19th, 2014 Our Rating: :: THE GRUFFEST OF BILLY GOATSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Unleash chaos as a grumpy goat in this humorous but short-lived casual game.   | Read more »
A New and Improved Wunderlist is Here fo...
A New and Improved Wunderlist is Here for iOS 8 Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Evernote Update for iOS 8 Adds Web Clipp...
Evernote Update for iOS 8 Adds Web Clipping, Quick Notes, and More Posted by Ellis Spice on September 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Apple Names Ultimate Productivity Bundl...
Apple Names Ultimate Productivity Bundle by Readdle as the Essential Bundle on the App Store Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 19th, 2014 [ permalink | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

iFixIt Tears Down iPhone 6; Awards Respectabl...
iFixit notes that even the smaller 4.7″ iPhone 6 is a giant among iPhones; so big that Apple couldn’t fit it into the familiar iPhone form factor. In a welcome reversal of a recent trend to more or... Read more
Phone 6 Guide – Tips Book For Both iPhone 6...
iOS Guides has announced its latest eBook: iPhone 6 Guide. Brought to you by the expert team at iOS Guides, and written by best-selling technology author Tom Rudderham, iPhone 6 Guide is packed with... Read more
How to Upgrade iPhone iPad to iOS 8 without D...
PhoneClean, a iPhone cleaner utility offered by iMobie Inc., reveals a solution for upgrading iPhone and iPad to iOS 8 without deleting photos, apps, the new U2 album or anything. Thanks to more than... Read more
Inpaint 6 – Photo Retouching Tool Gets Faster...
TeoreX has announced Inpaint 6, a simple retouching tool for end users that helps remove scratches, watermarks, and timestamps as well as more complex objects like strangers, unwanted elements and... Read more
Worldwide PC Monitor Market Sees Growth in To...
Worldwide PC monitor shipments totaled 32.5 million units in the second quarter of 2014 (2Q14), a year-over-year decline of -2.9%, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide... Read more
Updated 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
Mac Pros available for up to $260 off MSRP
Adorama has Mac Pros on sale for up to $260 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: - 4-core Mac Pro: $2839.99, $160 off MSRP - 6-core Mac Pro: $3739.99, $260... Read more
13-inch 2.6GHz/256GB Retina MacBook Pros avai...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.6GHz/256GB Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1379 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $120 off MSRP. Read more
Previous-generation 15-inch 2.0GHz Retina Mac...
B&H Photo has leftover previous-generation 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pros now available for $1599 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $400 off original MSRP. B&H... Read more
21″ 2.7GHz iMac available for $1179, save $12...
Adorama has 21″ 2.7GHz Hawell iMacs on sale for $1179.99 including free shipping. Their price is $120 off MSRP. NY and NJ sales tax only. Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** At the Apple Store, you connect business professionals and entrepreneurs with the tools they need in order to put Apple solutions to work in their Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** The Apple Store is a retail environment like no other - uniquely focused on delivering amazing customer experiences. As an Expert, you introduce people Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** As businesses discover the power of Apple computers and mobile devices, it's your job - as a Solutions Engineer - to show them how to introduce these Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…Summary** As a Specialist, you help create the energy and excitement around Apple products, providing the right solutions and getting products into customers' hands. You Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.