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Review: Velodyne Digital Drive DD-15+ Subwoofer

Expensive, but it delivers on its promise of outstanding performance.

Velodyne Digital Drive DD-15

Velodyne has been producing their flagship Digital Drive series since 2003. We were fortunate to have two of their DD-15’s integrated into the Audioholics Showcase Home reference system for the last few years. When introduced, the DD series of subs marked a first of many features not found in competing products including a fully digital interface with an onboard adjustable 8 band parametric EQ, adjustable crossover and subsonic filter slopes, phase and volume level. We found the configurability and interface of these subs to be excellent, sans the included measurement system which proved too coarse to make precision adjustments. Since the introduction of the DD subs, some of Velodyne’s direct competition have surpassed their products in sheer output and extension for the same given box size. It was time for Velodyne to raise the bar again. Enter the new Digital Drive Plus series of subwoofers - the successor to the venerable Digital Drive series. We wanted to establish if the new DD+ series offered significant performance advantages over the original DD series to truly accomplish this goal. This review directly compares the DD-15 to the DD-15+ sub to make that determination.

New Mini-but-Mighty Systems from Onkyo

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Onkyo has just announced the release of two new home-theater-in-a-box (HTiB) receiver-and-speaker systems. The 7.1-channel Onkyo HT-S5400 and 5.1-channel HT-S3400 offer an array of features typically not found at the announced price points.

Some of those features would are: the latest implementation of the HDMI® connectivity standard with support for 3Di video, lossless audio from Dolby® TrueHD and DTS-HD Master AudioTM, and an Audio Return Channel. The latter feature sends an audio signal "upstream" from a connected HDTV's tuner, eliminating the need for a separate audio cable. Along with four HDMI inputs and one output, each receiver includes a selection of digital and analog A/V inputs to handle a wide range of playback devices.

The amplifier sections for each of these receivers incorporates a massive transformer, optimum gain volume circuitry, and PLL jitter-cleaning circuitry to preserve signal accuracy. Other features include high-quality TI Burr-Brown audio DACs, a new Advanced Music Optimizer to enhance the fidelity of compressed audio files, and a convenient overlaid on-screen display for adjusting the settings. Both receivers also include Audyssey Dynamic EQ® and Audyssey Dynamic Volume®, two volume and equalization technologies that enable users to enjoy audio content with greater control. 

Denon Announces Major Hardware and Firmware Upgrade

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3Di Pass-Through, Audyssey and Dolby Upgrades Added


Denon Electronics is offering owners of its flagship AVR-5308CI A/V receiver and AVP-A1HDCI MultiMedia preamplifier a major hardware and firmware upgrade that will provide full 3D pass-through capability, as well as Audyssey MultEQ XT32, Audyssey DSX and Dolby PLIIz.


"We are very excited to bring these leading-edge features to owners of our flagship products, noted Jeff Talmadge, Director, Product Development & Systems Integration, Denon Electronics. "Early adopters who purchased these components nearly 4 years ago bought them with the confidence that they would experience the very best home entertainment for years to come. This upgrade opportunity is yet another example of how Denon is committed to ensuring that our customers are ‘future ready' and remain at the leading edge of all the latest performance-enhancing technologies."

Power in a Tiny Package For A Little Traveling Music

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JL Audio's Ultra-Compact 3-Channel Amplifier

JL Audio is now introducing the XD500/3, a three-channel, 500-watt amplifier designed to power a component speaker system plus a subwoofer system. JL Audio's efficient NexDTM switching amplifier technology allows the XD500/3 to produce huge power from a very compact package. The main channels produce 150-200W total, giving high-quality component speakers plenty of clean power, while the dedicated subwoofer channel can produce up to 300W of clean, low-frequency power.

"This is a perfect amplifier for powering simpler systems in pickup trucks, sports cars or any application with a single component system plus a subwoofer." said JL Audio's VP-Marketing, Manville Smith. "Because of its tiny size, reasonable price and efficiency, we expect that it will also become very popular for Powersports applications."

Onkyo Proves Everything Old is New Again

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Onkyo, the 60-year old audio manufacturer, has announced a new range of elite hi-fi separate components with a style reminiscent of the company's classic stereo models of the 1980s. All three models, the P-3000R pre-amplifier, M-5000R power amplifier, and C-7000R CD player, incorporate Onkyo's new Dynamic Intermodulation Distortion Reduction Circuitry (DIDRC) to counteract unwanted high-frequency interference.Despite being beyond the normal range of human hearing, frequencies above 100 kHz are susceptible to clock pulses and other forms of distortion from digital devices., Such distortion in the super-high frequency range can generate "beat interference," which in turn affects the character or atmosphere of the original sound.

Grace Digital Audio’s First Wi-Fi Internet Radio Bookshelf System with 802.11n Connection

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Radio Content From All Over ze Vorld

Grace Digital Audio has announced the immediate availability of the Wi-Fi Bookshelf Music System, the world's first internet radio system to incorporate two bookshelf speakers and 802.11n connectivity. 


Grace's micro-system, model #: GDI-IRMS300 includes two bookshelf speakers featuring 3.5" full range drivers, 1" tweeters, and a 16 watt RMS Class D digital amplifier. The compact micro-system provides an inexpensive way to combine Internet radio with the home stereo experience. 

The Wi-Fi Bookshelf Music System provides access to over 17,000 radio stations, 20,000 plus on-demand programs, and over 35,000 podcasts. Compatible with Pandora, Sirius XM Internet Radio, CBS Radio, iheartradio, Live365.com, MP3Tunes, NPR, National Weather Service, and new for 2011, WeatherBug and Rhapsody the number-one premium on-demand music service that provides access to 11 million songs for less that the price of an average CD. Users can connect their iPod, CD player, PC or any additional audio source providing access to other music collections. 

Wi-Fi Bookshelf Music System features include:

•    10 station presets, up to 100 saved favorites, displays song/artist info, alarm clock radio, and 
remote control with Pandora controls 

•    Built-in Wi-Fi 802.11n card connects directly to any 802.11 b/g/n wireless router

•    RCA input/output, headphone connection, and USB port

Now Shipping


or amazon.com    and various retailers around the country 


MSRP: $249.99

Sherwood Unveils Two New High-Performance Components

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At the recently held Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Sherwood announced the introduction of two new high-performance audio/video components, branded with the Sherwood Newcastle designation: model R-876 network A/V receiver and BDP-876 Internet-enabled Blu-ray Player.


Sherwood Newcastle R-876 Audio/Video Receiver

The R-876 features Trinnov Optimizer Room Correction system, which performs a unique 3Di spatial correction by recreating the original soundfield heard by the sound mix engineer and remapping sound images to their proper location, both horizontally and vertically, even when speakers are not ideally placed in the listener's room.

Sherwood's first Control 4 certified A/V receiver, the R-876 can directly integrate into Control 4 home control systems. 3D ready, the receiver features two HDTV displays can be used simultaneously and can connect wirelessly to home networks. Internet Audio streaming is available through the Pandora, Rhapsody and Aupeo interactive music services, in addition to Internet Radio from Reciva and ShoutCAST. The receiver also supports Windows 7 'Plays To.' The R-876 provides seven channels of discrete amplification, rated at 125 watts per channel with no more than 0.05% THD with all channels driven. 192KHz/24 bit Digital to Analog converters ensure audio purity, and lossless audio playback of DTS HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD is on board. Additional decoding includes DTS 96/24, DTS ES and Neo6, along with Dolby Digital and Dolby ProLogic IIz. WMA and MP3 audio playback is also provided, and for non-surround sources, eight synthesized DSP surround modes can be selected. A 1080p bypass is available for purists.Three zones of playback are available to accommodate remote listening, with all audio and video sources available in all zones. The R-876 is also iPod and Sirius-Ready.


Meridian Introduces New Compact Active Loudspeaker, Controller System

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Meridian Audio has announced the introduction of two new products, the DSP3200 Compact Digital Active Loudspeaker and the Audio Core 200 Stereo Audio Controller. The DSP3200 Digital Active Loudspeakers are designed to echo the lines of Meridian's flagship DSP8000 and are the most compact Meridian loudspeakers designed to date.

DSP3200 Active Speakers
The manufacturer touts its Meridian's Digital Signal Processing (DSP) technologies as "delivering powerful, room-filling sound with the performance of a conventional system many times the size." Featuring a wide-range driver that allows the DSP crossover frequency to be well outside the speech band, the DSP3200 delivers an effortless, open and spacious sound, even at high listening levels, according to the manufacturer. In addition, the DSP3200's digital signal processing provides dynamic bass protection with accurate transients. The DSP3200 is designed for a wide range of room positions - on or in furniture, on floor stands or on wall brackets and is offered with two high-gloss paint finishes; high-gloss white and high-gloss black.

Anthem’s First Receivers Now Shipping

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Anthem, manufacturer of high-end electronics for music, home theater and distributed audio systems, has announced shipping of their first receivers. Both models in the MRX series feature seven channels of amplification, four HDMI in/one out and the ability to play music from a flash drive, USB disk drive or the Internet. MRX receivers are also equipped with award-winning Anthem Room Correction (ARC) system. Known for their separate amp/preamp components, Anthem's new MRX receivers deliver high-end performance in a more convenient package and at a more modest price point. Anthem MRX receivers include support for the latest audio formats including Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Pro Logic IIz, and DTS-HD Master Audio. Internet radio is available on both models while HD Radio is supported by the MRX 700 only. 

It’s All Happening at the Zu: New Omen Def Speaker Unveiled

At first glance, it's clear that Zu is not your average speaker company. Company literature is chock full of text, like "Omen Def defines state-of-the-art without all the pussyfootin' of hi-fi, just hook 'em up and let the music and party happen... Omen Def are without rival, if the price fits get 'em."

"Our objective for Omen Def is simple, create and build a loudspeaker that can go toe-to-toe with the best loudspeakers in the world, is happy with the vast majority of amps, looks spectacular, and at a price that most working music heads can afford (without having to sell their car)", says Chuck Williams, Vice President of Marketing and Sales.

The Omen Def, like all Zu products, is built around the critical human voice range (55Hz, through and all the possible harmonics, to approximately 10kHz). To this end, Zu is using their 4th generation (standard motor) 10" paper coned full-range driver. The Omen Def's dual 10" full-range drivers include high frequency diffusion "phase plug" in the face of the pole piece extension, giving Omen Def a more linear management of high frequencies and broader dispersion from the directly-coupled-to-voicecoil inner cone.

One of the technologies utilized in Zu speakers is ZuRG Acoustic Loading - a cabinet / driver / room acoustic impedance architecture. The technology was developed from motorcycle / automotive engine systems for improving power output through pulse and pressure management with wider power band.

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