Sun, May 16, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Tech review

By David Momphard  /  STAFF REPORTER

Ozaki Nuke
NT$3,000

Computer manufacturers may have single-handedly redefined the way we're entertained at home -- watching DVDs on our PCs and reducing our music collections to MP3 files -- but they haven't given a tinker's farthing about the way we hear it. Speakers on the average computer system are an afterthought. And on a laptop? Forget it.

The onus has been on makers of home stereo equipment to, as it were, speak for the computer guys -- a task they've only recently begun to do eloquently.

The reason for their previous ineptitude has been the nature of the beast: Nearly every speaker designed until relatively recently was made to receive an analog signal. But how to make music out of all those 1s and 0s? Until recently, the answer seems to have eluded them, but they're starting to sound like they know what they're talking about.

Ozaki Nuke

NT$3,000

The unique problem in finding a home-audio solution is the range of tasks to which you might put it. You'll likely be watching DVDs and listening to MP3s run through your computer, but what about games? Are you a musician who uses MIDI equipment? Okazi is a Taiwanese company that has created a line of plug-and-play home theater multi-media speakers -- from simple two-speaker sets to elaborate units that string together two speakers in the front, two in the rear, a center channel speaker and subwoofer and ties them together with desktop control device that looks like something out of a science fiction movie.

With the Nuke system, as it's called, you can independently control volume on each of the channels as well as choosing whether you want 5.1 channel surround sound or simple stereo. The bottom line with this set is that it sounds great ? until it doesn't anymore. I owned a Nuke system for a little over a year before the main control box stopped controlling anything. An inquiry with friends who purchased other Ozaki systems showed that the problem was endemic to the Nuke system; many others had also experienced problems.

Aperion Intimus 5.1

NT$35,000

We'll include this one just for the sake of comparison. Like Ozaki's Nuke system, Aperion's Intimus is a 5.1 channel multimedia solution. But that's about where the comparison ends. Unlike the Ozaki system, it's make from 2.5cm-thick, rock-solid fiberboard and has gold-plated connectors. If Ozaki is the Daihatsu of audio equipment, Aperion is a Lexus, with all the options. You can choose from among three different subwoofer configurations, depending on the size of the room in which you plan to put it, and can produce as much as 200 watts of power -- compared with Ozaki's 55 watts.

Despite swallowing a price more that 10 times that of the Ozaki system, however, you still have no way of controlling the independent channels. Anyone who has plunked down the money to buy this system might argue that you don't need such controls because the system's so good.

Haraman/Kardon Soundsticks II

NT$9,000

One look at these and you're liable to think they're all design and no delight. You'd be wrong. Unlike other systems where the subwoofer slides under your desk, Harman/Kardon wants to be on top. It's designed to utilize your desk to its own advantage; the driver pushes sound down rather than out the front or back -- as with traditional designs -- to provide a less directional bass that fills the room. What's more, at 15cm, the woofer is just over a centimeter larger than most other woofers that are considered "big" for multimedia speaker systems. It can be independently controlled with a dial on the woofer -- placed at the back, lest it muss the design, heaven forbid.

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