Q: I recently purchased the Emotiva Airmotiv T1+ speakers. I was able to take advantage of the Emobucks promotion and have a $240 Emotiva credit, which will soon expire. I was looking to use the credit for something that will improve my system, which has a Pioneer VSX-1024 receiver, Emotiva T1+ towers for the front left and right speakers, and Bose center and surround speakers.
I read in your column that the Emotiva A-300 amplifier would further enhance the sound. I use my system for music and surround sound on my television and am interested in clarity, not loud sound. Should I buy this amplifier to use in my system, and if not, what should I buy?
A: Your receiver is not compatible with an external amplifier, and even if it was, it would not be the best use of your $240 credit. The speakers are the most important part of your system, and the Emotiva Airmotiv speakers are dramatically better than anything Bose makes.
Even with top brands, the best practice is to match the speakers so they all have the same tonal quality. Called "timbre matching," having similar speakers for left, right, center and surround creates a more cohesive, balanced and pleasing soundfield. In some of the tests that have been conducted, listeners preferred a matched system with modest speakers over a mixed system using expensive speakers. The subwoofer is exempt from this, so if you want to use a different brand of sub in your system, that is OK.
Use your credit toward an Emotiva center channel and surround speakers to match your T1+ speakers. The Emotiva C1+ center channel is $249, and the $229 Emotiva B1+ bookshelf speakers will make fine surrounds. Together they come to $478. If you don't want to spend the extra $238 above your credit, upgrade the center channel first. Aside from the importance of the center channel, you'll have three matching speakers in front of you. (emotiva.com)
Listen to this headphone deal
Q: I am looking for affordable noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones (over-ear type, not earbuds). I have seen some of the off-brands selling for $50 to $60 on Amazon, but I would prefer to get a known brand. I would like to stay as far under $100 as possible. I need three pairs of them.
A: That is a tall order. Usually the Zvox and Audio-Technica noise-canceling headphones have some kind of promotion going on, but both brands are up around their normal $99 and $149 retail prices right now. But in researching your question, I found something that should work out even better for you and a lot of other readers, too.
I have been very pleased with Soundcore's latest products. The Soundcore Life Q20 noise-canceling headphones have a nice combination of effective noise cancellation and quality sound for $59.95. And until mid-September, they are on sale for $44.95. This will get you three pairs of headphones for under $150. (soundcore.com)
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.