SMR LogoHardware Reviews
This section includes exclusive reviews of home theatre and audio products contributed by SMR Home Theatre writer/reviewers Philip Brandes, Edward B. Driscoll, Jr., Robert A. George, Alan L. Maier, John R. Potis Jr., Nigel Pond, Ken L. Simmons & Jeff Van Dyne.

Products from Olympus (Eye-Trek), Panamax (surge protector), Pioneer (portable DVD) and Sharp (DTV converter) to name but a few will be included shortly!   SMR Home Theatre would like to sincerely thank all the manufacturers who have submitted their products for review.

SMR Home Theatre Hardware Reviewing Policy

Learn more about the reviews featured within the SMR Home Theatre site, how we obtain our samples and our policy of omitting bad products.  Have we 'sold out' to the manufacturers and do we benefit from the inclusion of occasionally glowing testimonials?  Neither.  SMR Home Theatre's reviewing policy is explained within this section...



Featured Reviews

Theta Digital Dreadnaught Power Amplifier - 9th August 2001
Entech CVSI-1 Component Video Integrator - 22nd April 2001
EdgeAudio Home Theater Loudspeaker System - 21st April 2001
RTI TheaterTouch T2 Remote Control - 31st January 2001
Crisp Solutions UC-515 Remote Control - 2nd January 2001
AudioControl DIVA Equalizer/Processor - 1st January 2001
Xantech 599-00 Pulsed Switching Trigger - 3rd September 2000


ACI Opal Loudspeakers

ACI's Sapphire III loudspeakers are a tough act to follow, they're highly regarded in all circles.  Now Audio Concepts has introduced the Opal, a floor-standing model with increased low-frequency response.  Alan L. Maier a Sapphire III owner had the chance to compare the two and judge the Opals upon their own merits.

ACI Quake Sub-woofer

Impressed with the ACI Titan sub-woofer, John R. Potis Jr., moves down the ACI range to the new Quake, will this budget model live up to the reputation of its older and larger sibling? One, two, three and we're away!

ACI Sapphire III Loudspeakers By Alan L. Maier

ACI loudspeakers and sub-woofers are fast becoming a favourite of ours here at SMR Home Theatre, so we couldn't wait to hear the Sapphire III, a highly regarded model in all spheres.  Alan L. Maier was the first of our reviewers to receive his sample and first to post his review, closely follwed by John R. Potis Jr.

ACI Sapphire III Loudspeakers By John R. Potis Jr.

John R. Potis Jr., a fan of the ACI Quake and Titan sub-woofers joins Alan Maier in comprehensively reviewing the ACI Sapphire III. Will Alan and John agree? Are the Sapphire's really that good? Yes, it seems they are after reading John's excellent review!

ACI Titan Sub-woofer

ACI claim that their "speaker and audio systems offer the finest value and quality in the world". Could the Titan sub-woofer live up to this promise and compete with designs costing more than twice as much? John R. Potis set off on the road of discovery.

Ambiance Acoustics California Cubes

Alan L. Maier was sent a review sample of these most unusual loudspeakers - no woofers, no tweeter a companion equaliser and a big question, just how would they sound?

Anthem MCA 5 Multi-channel Power Amplifier

The modern home theatre with its five full-range channels places enormous strain on amplification and sometimes a receiver just isn't up to the task.  It's time to take a step up and look at a power amplifier that can deliver the goods yet remain refined in a musical role.  Alan L. Maier looks under the hood and wraps his ears around the new Anthem MCA 5 from Sonic Frontiers, could it be the answer?

AudioControl DIVA 7.1-Channel Equaliser/Processor

To address the single most important factor influencing home theater system performance, room acoustics, AudioControl have introduced the DIVA, a 7.1 equalizer/processor that's equally at home in two-channel systems as it is in fully-blown 7.1 installations. Nigel Pond scratches the surface of this incredibly complex product and discovers another AudioControl success story...

AudioControl Rialto 7-Channel Equaliser

Many home theatre loudspeaker systems are assembled piece-by-piece often using components which don't ideally match. Equalising both the loudspeakers and in all cases the response of the room isn't impossible, in fact it's easy! Alan L. Maier discovers that the AudioControl world is indeed flat.

AudioControl Richter Scale Sub-woofer EQ

Ever curious, John R. Potis has possessed a desire to audition the AudioControl Richter Scale sub-woofer equaliser for some time. Is "equaliser" still a 'dirty word' in the world of high-end audio or have specialist EQs finally found their niche in the bass hungry home theatre era?

Audio Spécialiste Audio/Video Loudspeakers

Audio Spécialiste is a relatively new name in the world of loudspeaker manufacturing, yet their designs and construction values demand respect from even the most discerning audio/videophile.   Alan L. Maier was the lucky fellow who had the task of putting just one of the companys many home theatre systems, consisting V303, V101, V-Centre II and V-Sub 112 through its paces.

Avatar Audio Paavani Loudspeakers

John R. Potis Jr., sets out to learn more about the Avatar Audio Paavani, a modest sized monitor loudspeaker from, "...a small (but growing!) company of scientists and engineers who are also musicians, music lovers, and concert attenders".

Cambridge Soundworks Ensemble IV

"The Ensemble IV Home Theater brings the thrill of great Pro Logic surround sound to more people than ever before", or so says the Cambridge Soundworks web site.  At this price-point ($299), are these diminutive loudspeakers really the answer for the budget concious who want quality?   Alan L. Maier decided to find out on behalf of SMR Home Theatre.

Cambridge Soundworks Model Six Loudspeakers

Is it possible to find an accurate loudspeaker system that offers room-filling low frequency capability without an additional sub-woofer on a modest $200 - $300 budget?  A little break-in patience reveals to Alan L. Maier that the Cambridge SoundWorks Model 6 could be the answer to our quest.

Conrad-Johnson CAV-50 Integrated Amplifier

Man can't survive on home theatre alone, sometimes that itch for audiophile two-channel music reproduction has to be scratched. John R. Potis Jr., a two-channel audiophile if ever there was one turns his attention away from loudspeakers and elopes into the sunset with conrad-johnson's newest integrated tube (valve) amplifier.

Crisp Solutions UC-515 Learning Remote Control

We're all looking for ways to streamline our home theatre systems, but not all of us can afford a Pronto, Marantz or Harman/Kardon learning touch-screen learning remote control. Ken Simmons, a man with an eye for a bargain discovers the delights of the Crisp Solutions UC-515, truly a remote for the people.

Digital Format Converters:
Fostex COP-1, Midiman CO2 & MSB Digital Director

The proliferation of digital source components has meant that many receiving components simply don't have enough inputs and to make matters worse, two connection formats are used, Toslink optical and coaxial electrical. Nigel R. Pond investigates products from Fostex, Midiman & MSB which could offer a solution.

EdgeAudio 5.1 Home Theater Loudspeaker System

At CES in 2000, SMR Home Theatre reported on the new DiAural crossover technology developed by Eric Alexander and patented by Ray Kimber. Its purpose is to obtain exceptionally clean driver integration, even in budget loudspeaker designs. One of the first manufacturers to implement the DiAural crossover was EdgeAudio, so we gave Jeff Van Dyne the task of evaluating their latest sub/sat 5.1 home theater loudspeaker system to see if it lived up to our high expectations.

Entech CVSI-1 Component Video System Integrator

Component video has many quality advantages, but because of its pure, unsullied nature, on-screen displays from a DVD player, processor or receiver don't appear and that can lead to added system control complexity. Edward B. Driscoll, Jr. investigates a product from Entech that will solve all those problems, it integrated composite, S-Video and component video signals!

Genesis Technologies APM1 Loudspeakers

"These speakers are positively exhilarating. You sit before them in awe of their musicality, their lack of obvious colorations, their detail, "power", sound staging and their ability to just get the hell out of the way of the music."  John R. Potis Jr., appears to really like the Genesis APM1.

HSU Research TN1225HO Sub-woofer

Do you want thunderous rumbles from a sub-woofer which isn't the size of a house and doesn't cost the same amount of money?   Moreover, is it possible to manufacture such a thing?  John R. Potis Jr., discovers the wonderful world of Hsu Research - and their ability to fulfil both criteria.

Joseph Audio RM7si Signature Loudspeakers

Can a small monitor loudspeaker really outperform a pair of large floorstanding speakers when it comes to frequency response and dynamics? Alan L. Maier found that the Joseph Audio RM7si Signatures certainly could!

Madrigal IRIQ Touchscreen Remote Control

Touchscreen and advanced remote controls were once restricted to the domain of high-end home theatres, but all that changed with the popularity of the Marantz RC2000.  Now complex designs such as the IRIQ from Madrigal are more affordable, but their bewildering array of features can bemuse even the experienced button-pusher.  Nigel Pond casts his experienced eye over the IRIQ and balances complexity against convenience!

Marantz RC2000 Mk.II Remote Control

Home Theatre fanatics are an exacting bunch.  Although the Marantz RC2000 remote control solved a lot of problems it wasn't perfect.  Along comes the RC2000 Mk. II, an improved version of the classic remote - will this version satisfy even the most critical of users?  Nigel Pond buckles down to some serious button-pushing for SMR Home Theatre.

Miller & Kreisel S-1C 'Speakers & MX-200 Sub

There are few loudspeaker companies who enjoy the same level of reverence within the multi-channel world as Miller & Kreisel.  A list of professional M&K users reads like a whos who of surround audio; Dolby, DTS, THX, Pioneer, Sony, Skywalker Sound& and so it goes on.   Alan L. Maier decided to introduce himself to the brand by way of an audiophile-grade pair of monitors and a behemoth sub-woofer, for which the company is most famous.

Mondo Designs Inc. Equipment Racks

Equipment racks can look like the Lloyds Of London Insurance building at One Lime Street - an ugly lump of steel and glass that serves little purpose, so it was refreshing to learn of the approach of Mondo Designs Inc. They produce elegant and functional equipment racks - John R. Potis Jr. finds out more...

N"E"A"R 20M II Loudspeakers

We thought we'd lost Alan L. Maier for a while - it was just too quiet. Then it transpired that he'd gone into hybernation and taken a pair of N"E"A"R loudspeakers with him. Now that summer is here Alan has emerged with dreamy tales of revealing 'speakers which have a "...neutral tonal balance."




NHT 2.5i Loudspeakers

John R. Potis Jr. reviews these impressive floorstanding loudspeakers which were used with the NHT SA-2 sub-woofer power amplifier.

NHT 2.9 Loudspeakers

John R. Potis Jr., a long-standing admirer of the NHT range sets his sights on the newest addition to the family, the 2.9 which enters the market just above the 2.5i and discovers the apple of his eye.

NHT SA-2 Sub-woofer Amplifier

John R. Potis Jr. reviews the NHT SA-2 sub-woofer power amplifier together with the NHT 2.5i floorstanding loudspeakers.

NHT SuperTwo Lousdpeakers

Exciting, innovative and high-quality loudspeakers with the build quality of a grand piano cost a fortune... don't they?  Perhaps not, John R. Potis Jr., unleashes the latest NHT black mini-monoliths and discovers a new industry benchmark.

Ohm Walsh 300 Mk. 2 Loudspeakers

John R. Potis, a former owner of a pair of Ohm loudspeakers decided, together with SMR Home Theatre, to audition the latest generation of Walsh design. These large floorstanding loudspeakers create an impressive soundstage!

Onkyo DV-S717 DVD-Video Player - Alan L. Maier

Alan L. Maier is no stranger to mid-priced DVD-Video players.  Will the latest region 1 machine from Japanese manufacturer Onkyo impress him or is it just another run-of-the mill offering?   Perhaps there is a new kid on the block to rival Panasonic, Sony and Pioneer.

Onkyo DV-S717 DVD-Video Player - Nigel Pond

The mid-level DVD market is competitive to say the least.  A machine has to be fully functional yet easy to use while providing top-notch video and audio performance.  Nigel Pond, no stranger to the upper echelons of DVD playback evaluates the Onkyo DV-S717 in the second half of our unique double review.

Onkyo TX-DS777 Surround Receiver

The Onkyo TX-DS777 surround receiver sits at the heart of Onkyo's 2000 home theater range. Offering to the budget-conscious Dolby Digital and DTS processing as well as being a THX Select certified receiver, the Onkyo is an attractive package... But have the problems associated with previous models been addressed? Jeff Van Dyne plays surround investigator...

Panamax Max 2000 Line Conditioner

Once you've got all that expensive home theatre equipment hooked up, the worst thing that can happen is a power surge wiping the whole lot out, so it's high time to protect your sonic investment with a line conditioner and surge protector... such as the Panamax Max 2000.  Nigel R. Pond explains.

Panasonic DVD-A120 DVD-Video Player

Last year, Robert A. George, otherwise known as 'Obi', reviewed the highly regarded Panasonic DVD-A110.  More than twelve months have passed so now it is time for him to turn his attentions towards its successor, the Panasonic DVD-A120.  Will it improve upon the previous model?

Panasonic DVD-A320 DVD-Video Player

Panasonic has now released their third generation of DVD players, so its time for our resident DVD expert Robert A. George (Obi) to cast his critical eye upon the D-A320. Will this Panasonic live up to the reputation of its predecessors?

Paradigm CC-170, AD-170, PDR-10 & Titan 'speakers

Respected loudspeaker manufacturer Paradigm (pronounced par´ĺ dim) produce loudspeakers for all tastes and budgets, but not everyone can afford a pair of their studio monitors so Nigel R. Pond set out to discover if the Paradigm magic extends downwards, through their less expensive models?

Philips Pronto Touch-screen Remote Control

As the market for complex learning remote controls expands at a staggering pace, mainstream manufacturers have built upon previous and well-received products to provide a high-level of flexiblity at an affordable price.   Nigel Pond follows his recent IRIQ review with an evaluation of it's competitor, the Philips Pronto?

Platinum Audio Studio 2 Lousdpeakers

An exercise in frustration for John R. Potis Jr., as he tries to get to grips with the Platinum Audio Studio 2 loudspeakers. Will all his efforts be in vein or will he discover the magic these 'speakers hide within their cabinets?

Polk RT35, RT25, CS245 & PSW-120 Lousdpeakers

Budget loudspeakers which offer a high level of performance are difficult to find, especially for the novice listener who can soon tire of a choice that was impressive in the showroom.  Could the Polk Audio loudspeakers and sub-woofer assembled before John R. Potis Jr., be the answer?

Polk Audio RT2000P Loudspeakers

John R. Potis Jr., auditions the new Polk RT2000P loudspeakers, can they offer great 'bang for the buck' home theatre performance while also making beautiful music?

Polk Audio RT3000P Loudspeakers

Polk Audio's RT3000 enters the market somewhere between the highly regarded RT2000 and the flagship SRT system. John R. Potis discovers that bridging the gap between powerful home theatre performance and startling yet clean music reproduction doesn't require a crack team of Royal Marines with a pontoon.

Polk Audio RT5000 Loudspeaker System

Polk Audio have assembled a home theatre loudspeaker package which has the potential to raise the roof of your home, but can it do so in a controlled and uncoloured way? John R. Potis Jr., our resident Polk expert, unleashes the power of the RT5000 system on his unsuspecting ears.

ProScan PS8680Z DIVX DVD-Video Player

We've waved goodbye to DIVX, the most universally hated video format of our time, but what of the DIVX capable machines out there on the shelves, are they all bad too?  Robert A. George (Obi) decided to overlook format politics and investigate what one such machine can offer - you may be surprised at the outcome.

RCA VH920 S-Video and Composite Video Switcher

Video switching, both composite and S-Video, has become a necessity in these days of image-based entertainment. The inexpensive RCA VH920 allows a single television input to accommodate up to five individual source components and provides seamless programmable switching. Retailing for just $80, is this switching box too good to be true?

RTI TheaterTouch T2 Touch-Screen Remote Control

Philip Brandes uncovers perhaps the finest, affordable touch-screen learning remote control on the market today, the RTI TheaterTouch T2. Offering a combination of software programming, 'real' buttons and a touch-screen what more could a complex home theatre need?

Sound Dynamics 300ti Loudspeakers

From John R. Potis Jr., a review of the now discontinued Sound Dynamics 300ti loudspeakers. An ideal starting point for a quality home theatre or music system, or for a second system. John explains why they're a great auction site "used" buy.

Sunfire Sub-woofer

John R. Potis Jr. reviews the new Bob Carver designed Sunfire sub-woofer. Setting the standard at this price point, the Sunfire is certainly worth auditioning for any serious home theatre or music system.

Tannoy Mercury Series M4 Loudspeakers

John R. Potis Jr., is a loudspeaker junkie, constantly searching for a design to suit his mood, listening room and budget. Sometimes the quest proves to be fuitless, but there are times when all the hard work pays off and a design gains favour. The Tannoy M4 loudspeakers are such a design... only a few years too late for John.

Theta Digital DaVid CD/DVD Transport

"It's DVD Jim, but not as we know it..." Nigel Pond discovers that the world of DVD extends far beyond mainstream players and into a larger universe where higher performance (and higher price-tags) can be discovered. Join him as he journeys towards planet Theta.

Theta Digital Dreadnaught Power Amplifier

In his long-awaited Theta Digital Dreadnaught review, Nigel Pond discovers an amplifier of note; a design equally at home with all types of music and movies.

Vibrapod Isolation Device

Do audiophile 'tweaks' really work and if so, at what price? John R. Potis discovered that to his surprise, a handful of budget-priced Vibrapod" vinyl isolation 'pods' could elevate even his system to a new level of performance.

Xantech 599-00 Pulsed Switching Trigger

The complexities of the modern-day home theatre demand solutions to simplify operation, such as the automated triggering of components at power-up and power-down. But what if the control switching format doesn't match that of one's amplification? Nigel Pond discovers a solution from Californian manufacturer Xantech.

Zorrilla Video Filter (defeats Macrovision®)

Like it or not, Macrovision is an unavoidable fact of DVD life.  Its aim is to prevent illegal copies of software, but it also plays havoc with some projectors.  High time Nigel Pond investigated a new exernal video processor, one that is capable of rendering Macrovision impotent.


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