Q I'm looking to put surround sound in my apartment living room, which is about 12 by 16 feet. I have the TV and Blu-ray already. What would you recommend for about $1,000?
A I'm going to recommend exactly what I bought for myself.
To power the system, get the $399 Marantz NR1402 A/V receiver, which I have praised recently for its excellent sound and ease of setup and use.
Connect the receiver to the new 5.1-channel Definitive Technology ProCinema 400 home-theater speaker system, which includes an 8-inch powered subwoofer and sells for $599. This affordable system offers great sound, a top brand name, high-quality construction and innovative engineering that produces notably superior results. The ProCinema 400 sounds better than some of Definitive's more expensive systems of a few years ago.
The ProCinema 400 satellites have sturdy bases that can be removed if you mount the speakers on the wall. Although tiny, the satellites have a radiator on top of the cabinet that allows them to produce more bass than other speakers of the same size. The extra bass keeps the satellites from sounding thin or weak.
I handle a lot of speakers year after year and it is obvious that a lot of precise, thoughtful engineering went into the ProCinema 400 satellites. Although they don't have the bass oomph of larger bookshelf speakers, the satellites still satisfy.
The sonic performance of the ProCinema 400 system greatly exceeded my expectations, which were pretty high to begin with given Definitive Technology's reputation. The satellites sound pure and clean without any hint of sterility, with precise, richly rendered tone that makes you forget you are listening to speakers at all. They effortlessly fill the room with sound, and the clarity and definition makes surround effects even more enveloping, cohesive and convincing.
I gave the speakers a real workout with the "Avatar" Blu-ray, and there wasn't a hint of strain. At one point, I felt like I was soaring through the skies of Pandora along with the characters on-screen, and it was at that moment I thought, "Wow, this is something my readers would really enjoy in their homes."
The only caveat to this system is that if you put it in a much larger room, it might sound thin, given the 8-inch subwoofer and small satellites. In rooms the size of your living room or a bit larger, the Marantz NR1402 and Definitive ProCinema 400 speakers will provide a first-rate home-theater experience.
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