Tag Archives: speakers

DIY Geek: Home Speakers


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Every so often, I like to get my hands dirty. I needed to replace the ceiling speakers in my bedroom and bathroom ceilings. I had been having issues with audio quality in the bathroom, and found the culprit when I removed the old set: oxidized wires. After talking to my audio/video genius friend Brandon, I knew that my amplifier was over-driving the speakers. It was just time to replace things in general.

While removing the old set of speakers, I learned that the person who had originally installed them had somehow crossed the black and red wires. Could this have led to the audio issues we experienced? It’s hard to tell, but I’m glad to see that the speakers themselves are fine. They are still in great shape, and I’m not even sure what I’m going to do with them at this point in time. Anyone have ideas?

I chose to go with some new Polk Audio RC60i’s and the slightly larger RC80i in-ceiling speakers. I’ve heard some excellent things about these particular products, and the reviews were fantastic. The price point was pretty good, as well.

I happen to have some paint left over from the last time the rooms were done. I keep these handy in case I do a project such as this so that I can touch up any messes I make. I admit that I’m definitely not a professional, but I think it looks okay!

These new speakers sound great – they have a deeper, richer sound. Unfortunately, I couldn’t show off their audio quality since I’m not licensed to share anything with you. I’m totally glad that I did this project.

I love doing DIY projects around my house. What things have you done to improve your home?

Is a Virtual Friend a Real Friend?

Recently, I asked you whether you had met anyone in “real” life who you had become friends with online. Today, I read a heart-wrenching post on Geeks. One of our long-time community members unexpectedly lost his mom two days ago. The poster talks about how he lives several hundred miles from his family. While waiting to travel home, he turned to his friends in our community for support.

The support was instant and unconditional. This reinforces the fact that you don’t have to necessarily meet someone face-to-face in order to form a true and lasting bond. Many deep friendships are made online, only to have the involved persons never lay eyes on each other (beyond webcams and photos). I see it happen every day. I witness the bonds that many of our regular community members share.

This is why I do what I do, folks… YOU. I love the community… the bonds that are formed… the lasting relationships that withstand time and distance. The community we have is why Kat loves her job so much, as well. She’s said it many times, and seeing the post from this community member just proves her point. In the twelve or so years she has been managing communities online, she has been fortunate to form friendships with people from all around the world. These people laugh with each other, cry with each other… get angry together and then become happy again together. They go through life’s experiences together… and that is such an amazing thing to witness.

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced the real power of friendship through a virtual friend? How has someone(s) you may only know online touched or changed your life? Feel free to share your own thoughts on one of our community sites. There are a lot of good things being posted on a daily basis by all of you!

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How to Stream iTunes Music Wirelessly to Your Stereo


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Did you see that packet of information fly by? It came from my wireless network here in my home. Even though you cannot see your wireless network, it’s still there. Sometimes, we need to transmit data wirelessly, such as music. If we want to do this with iTunes to send it to our speakers across the room – we can do that! It’s easy to do with Creative’s SoundBlaster Wireless!

Sound Blaster Wireless for iTunes upgrades your PC or Mac to a premium wireless sound system. Simply plug it into a USB port, and stream your iTunes music wirelessly to your powered speakers or home stereo system via the Sound Blaster Wireless Receiver – no cables or network configuration required. Enjoy your music anywhere in your home by adding Sound Blaster Wireless speakers and headphones. Managing your wireless and playback functions is easy with intuitive software and remote control.

Most of us have iTunes these days, and this makes an excellent gateway to be able to listen to your music via your stereo.

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How Do You Put Together Your Home Office?


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I can’t respond to every email I get, but I do try to answer what I can. A community member wrote in, asking for a tour of my office. He also is interested in buying the same desk that I have, and was wondering how he should go about putting it together, and setting everything up. This will now be the third person that I know of who has gotten the same setup that I have. It’s kinda cool, you know? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! He has some specific questions about my configuration, so let’s get to it!

  • First, he wanted to know how I power the Tix clocks on top of my hutch. Quite simple, really – there’s a power strip mounted to the back of the hutch where the clocks plug in to. If you plug them all in to the same surge protector, you can always hit the switch and reset them all at the same time if you ever need to.
  • Next, he wondered where all my speakers are, were the cables long enough to connect them to the sub woofer, and etc. I have one of them on the corner of the desk, near the bamboo tree. I have the cable for it running along the edge of the desk, and strung through a hole that was drilled into the desk already. The second speaker is behind the iMac. The third one is behind the left monitor. The center speaker is up top on the hutch, and the last speaker is behind me. The sub woofer is over in the corner, near a bookshelf. I keep them hidden, because I don’t need to see them. I just need to hear them.
  • Your UPS and connections – where is everything plugged in, and how do you not overload? I do have a couple of UPS’, and they’re behind the hutch. There’s about a foot distance between the back of the hutch and the wall. I have the two UPS’, a couple of power strips, and the like in order to keep everything plugged in and not suck up too much energy.
  • Your printer/chumby/phone – where are all of these things plugged into? There’s a reason this particular room is my office – it is on its own power circuit in the house. The laser printer itself uses a lot of juice when it’s going, not to mention everything else I have running. The Chumby, my phone, the sub woofer, and the amp are all behind me, and they’re plugged into a regular old power strip. Never plug a laser printer into a UPS, it’s a horrible idea.

That’s it, pretty much. I have my office set up the way that is comfortable and accessible for me. You need to create your own space. It’s really cool and fun that you want to do what I’ve done, but please keep in mind that you need to “own” your own setup. It has to work for you, or there’s no point in all the work you put into it!

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What’s in Your Home Theater?



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Have you set up a home theater yet? I finally had the opportunity to finish our home theater system that was started when we moved in. It’s a chore to pick the right equipment and set up the right environment. I’m happy with how it turned out, though. I have seven tips here passed along from TJ, to help you set up your own home theater.

  • Get good equipment. It’s not only about what’s there, and what you need now. If you want a good setup, don’t try to cut corners. Get high-quality items.
  • Beware of interference. Interference from other items in your house can be a big issue. You wouldn’t want a computer or a non-shielded speaker near your equipment.
  • Get good cables. Be aware of the amount of shielding around the cable. Cheap cables won’t necessarily conduct electricity well, either. It helps to go for digital cable, as they pick up more frequency than analog cables.
  • Get a set of equipment. While it’s not mandatory, you can connect many sets to use only one remote, which makes things simpler.
  • Plug things into each other. Some pieces of gear may have additional outlets built in. This could not only save you wall outlet space, but keep things neater. It will also allow you to turn everything off and on at once.
  • Get good speakers. The best setup in the world will sound like crap if your speakers are crap. You can always build incrementally, in order to have more money to buy good equipment and speakers.
  • Old things are sometimes superior. Things like tape players and radio units can actually be better quality than some of the newer things. This won’t usually hold true for things like a DVD player, though.

Never take advice from a salesman. They will lie to you, to get you to spend even more money. What other tips do you have when setting up a home theater?

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What's the Best Speaker System for an iPod?


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Believe it or not, this mStation 2.1 Stereo Tower was made for an iPod. Yes, it’s big. But man oh man does it ever work! The base is a-pumpin’ when the music is a-thumpin’. Er… something like that. There’s also a USB port so you can charge and/or Sync your iPod from it if you want. It won’t work with the iPhone, it wasn’t made for that. You can connect other devices to it, as well. I hooked up the Korg Kaossilator to it.

The gray and black aluminum mStation 2.1 Stereo Tower is almost all metal, with thick plastic mounting brackets for the two speakers. The separately packed tower speakers connect to the system with an embedded RCA-style connector that fits into a female socket. You secure them by twisting them into place using three guide screws. With a small twist, the speakers are steadily in place. The modern floor-standing design may not appeal to some, but I appreciate the minimalist approach to its chassis. The instruction manual makes putting the system together relatively easy.

A power cable hooks to the bottom of the left leg where a master power switch sits. The unit has a soft on and off switch on the top of the center pylon. The soft switch sits beside the usual controls for volume, play, pause, and track skipping. A USB sync cable and an eighth-inch connector cable are also included. The 42-inch Stereo Tower comes with six dock adaptors for different size iPods.

This system will cost you a bit over $200 on Amazon, which is a bit of a savings from the regular Website price. The quality is amazing, definitely. You won’t be disappointed.

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THX Certified Speakers Unboxing

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When I made the switch and bought the Mac, the speakers I had just wouldn’t cut it. So, I ordered new ones. I’ve been anxiously waiting for them to get here… and finally the wait is over.

After doing some research, I went with the Logitech Z-5500 THX-Certified 505-Watt 5.1 Digital Surround Sound Speaker System.

The technical details are as follows:

  • 5.1 speaker system with 4 satellite speakers, center speaker, subwoofer, and Digital SoundTouch control center
  • Connects to PCs, DVD players, CD players, portable MP3 players, and game consoles
  • Digital SoundTouch unit controls volume, surround sound effects, and more
  • Supports Dolby Digital, DTS, DTS 96/24, and Dolby Pro Logic
  • 505 watts total system power (62 watts x 4, plus 69-watt center speaker and 188-watt subwoofer)

The new, larger 10-inch long-throw subwoofer driver with flared bass port delivers 188 watts of thunderous bass. Polished aluminum phase-plug satellites combine two drivers into one–the clarity of a tweeter with the richness and fullness of a separate mid-range. The Z-5500 Digital actively adjusts frequency response in real time for the cleanest, most accurate sound reproduction. The Digital SoundTouch Control Center lets you control volume to all speakers, set inputs, and much more. And the separate wireless remote is great for home theaters and video game consoles. Cloth grilles are removable for a pro-audio look. Pedestals rotate for easy wall mounting or desk placement. Center channel can be mounted on wall, above or below monitor. You can also simultaneously connect 6 audio sources including PCs, video game consoles, and DVD, CD & portable music players… and control it all from the Digital SoundTouch Control Center.

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Noise Cancelling Headphones

Ponzi purchased the world’s most expensive noise cancelling headphones from Bose the other day… which cost as much as her second iPod (actually, third – if you want to count the Shuffle). I gotta admit, they’re quite comfortable on the ears. I’ll have to give ’em a good spin to decide if I’m going to pick up a pair, too:

QuietComfort 3 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones deliver acclaimed Bose performance in a new on-ear design. Just slip them on and experience the difference our proprietary technologies make. Enjoy full-spectrum noise reduction that fades background distractions. Rich, clear audio that reveals nuances you might have missed. And a compact, lightweight, easy fit for hours of comfortable listening.

I hate earphones – I don’t care how much “better” they are. When I was a kid, my mom told me never to stick anything in my ears – especially if it does nothing but collect wax and make my ear canal sore.

Gnomedex Web Site Overhauled

Don’t ask me why we didn’t do the redesign before announcing Gnomedex, but it’s better late than never! I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. We may just keep the same layout indefinitely (but swap out the header graphics). If you notice any bugs, just consider this new theme “under construction.” I know people are already asking about next year’s Gnomedex, but let’s get through this one first. We still have a few more sponsors to announce, as well as a few more speakers. Of course, you can expect more surprises at the event itself.