Q The 12-inch Monoprice subwoofer for $85 looks like a steal, but I don't want a contact-paper wood-grain finish. I also don't need a 12-inch subwoofer; a 10-inch model would be adequate. Do you have any insights on the smaller model? Of course, for the small difference in price I could just get the Dayton 10-inch subwoofer. I also could just spray-paint the 12-inch Monoprice subwoofer black. What do you think?

A If what you really want is a 10-inch subwoofer, then you should get that. But there are other options.

Since you don't like its finish, you could simply put the 12-inch subwoofer in a hidden location in the room so it isn't seen. Listeners can't localize low-frequency bass sounds, meaning that although you can hear and feel them, if you close your eyes you can't tell where they are coming from unless they are causing objects near them to rattle.

I haven't tested the 10-inch Monoprice subwoofer. The Dayton 10-inch subwoofer is selling for $165, about $80 more than the Monoprice 12-inch. That's almost double the price, and you lose the extra performance of the 12-inch if you ever relocate and have a bigger room.

I would be more inclined to go with the Monoprice 12-inch unless your room is absolutely too small for it. Given its adjustable output, I doubt this would be the case.

If you do decide to spray-paint the subwoofer, be sure to use a lot of masking tape to cover the controls and driver, and test your paint of choice on a small, discreet area on the subwoofer to make sure it doesn't react with the existing finish.

If you are skilled with refinishing, you might want to consider re-covering it with a different kind of laminate or vinyl. Many high-quality speakers have simulated wood-grain finishes that look amazingly close to real wood while being lower-maintenance and more durable. Just don't spend so much refinishing it that your $85 subwoofer becomes a $250 subwoofer.

Wireless headphones

Q Are there any great wireless headphones? The problem I have had in the past is that they tend to have a "white noise" hissing sound and you have to be too close to the TV to engage the "wireless" part. It's very frustrating.

A "Great" can be expensive. Try the Pioneer SE-DIR800C or the Sennheiser KLEER. Both are about $250 and should satisfy you. The Pioneer model, in particular, is known for being noise-free.

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