Hey, man, tired of waiting for Windows to get its act together so you can finally rip and burn those RIAA-incendiary files without your PC breaking into a sweat and not needing a Pentium VII with a terabyte of memory to handle it all?
And please, forget about LINUX. it's just too old, man. No matter what Linus and his open source bros do, there is still no getting around the fact that the PC LINUX crib is built on a decades old UNIX architecture.
If you want to live ripping phat in the land of the new millennium PC, then BeOS is the only call you can make. BeOS is a thoroughly modern, multithreaded, protected memory, preemptive multitasking, 64-bit OS with a new kernel design. It makes Windows and LINUX both look real old, real fast. To find out more, check out It Ain't ME, Babe.
And to get the maximum audio benefit out of the superlative BeOS system, you need the right listening gear, so let's take a quick spin to see what's totally cool. My favorite desktop PC multimedia system is the LFT-11. It's made by a traditional high-end audio company called Eminent Technologies (www.eminent-tech.com). The ultra thin LFT-11 speakers are push-pull planars (LFT="linear field transducer.") With the LFT-11, Eminent has successfully shrunk the architectural design of its highly regarded, 6 foot tall full range planar speakers into a 9.5" tall, 6.25" wide, just 3/4" thick magnetically shielded desktop speaker. The unique, patented design of this diminutive dipole speaker (the sound emanates front and rear) uses a very thin sheet of aluminum, which is laminated onto a .5 thick Mylar sheet. Via a silk-screening/chemical etching process, a voice coil grid is etched right onto the aluminum sheet. To move the acoustical air, this LFT-11 "planar sandwich" uses shielded magnets to propel the approximately 2-mil thick voice coil grid backwards and forwards.
We've also just cranked up the LFT-11 total system price to $1,400 when you use both the AMP Two and matching Preamp. Ouch! But we wouldn't first tempt you and then just leave you hanging, would we? Fortunately, Eminent Technology has licensed its patented planar design to Sonigistix, the makers of Monsoon PC multimedia systems. I had the chance to compare my all-up LFT-11 system against two of the Monsoon models, the MM-1000 and the MM-700 systems. Appearance-wise, the all-black, industrial design Monsoons are much sexier looking than their wooden Eminent counterparts, which look old world frumpy in comparison. Also unlike the Eminent LFT-11's, all the Monsoon speakers are self-powered.
the case of the MM-1000, the woofer has a 25 watt amplifier and the two Sats
get 12.5 watts each, or 50 watts complete. Monsoon notes these 50 watts are
"short term, continuous average," which sounds like an oxymoron to me. On
the MM-1000 sub woofer, there is a volume control, a bass volume control and
"bass punch" button that offers a 6-dB boost at 55 Hz. In marked contrast
to the LFT-11 full flash rig, the MM-1000 retails for only $199. The MM-700
retails for just $149, which gets six watts less than its bigger brother,
for 44 watts, total. The 700 sub also doesn't get the el-boosto-bass punch
control of the MM-1000.
While they both share the same basic planar technology, the satellite enclosure designs of the two Monsoon systems are quite different. Frankly, I prefer the Bauhaus postmodern look of the wire base frame MM-700 satellites to the all-plastic cases of the MM-1000 units. But much more interestingly, I also preferred the sound of the MM-700's to their more expensive siblings. While the MM-700's didn't have the bass wallop of the MM-1000's, they were better balanced overall. The MM-700 midrange, especially, was smoother and the speakers threw up a bigger, more 3-D soundstage than the MM-1000. My hunch (and it's only a very nonscientific hunch) is that the thick wire frame enclosure of the MM-700 is more rigid, and thereby yields improved sonics due to less flexing of the planar ribbon. Naturally, the marketing people and engineers at Sonigistix will dispute all this. But their bitch is your bargain. Either way, both Monsoon systems rank as true sonic pleasures. And both the MM-1000 and the MM-700 fared extremely well in comparison to the all-up Eminent rig. (And no, I'm not letting go any time soon of my LFT-11/AudioSource system).
But OK, so you are a hard core gamer and less concerned about musical refinement and instead want a bass-pounding, crank 'em up, lease breaking system. No problem. Stop what you are doing and immediately buy the Klipsch "ProMedi" v.2-400 THX-certified multimedia system. This bad boy is spec'd at 110dB SPL at the listening position. This eardrum busting SPL is fueled by a 160 watt subwoofer, and four (!) satellites speakers that get 60 watts apiece, for a make-the-neighbors-nuts total of 400 watts. We've just shot past the AudioSource AMP 2, and left the Monsoons gasping in the low wattage dust. Klipsch is an old-time maker of great audio gear and is famous for its horn speakers. Unlike the Eminent planars, the Klipsch satellites are conventional looking even though their "Micro Tractix Horn" looks kind of funky.
Klipsch midrange isn't as refined and uncolored as the LFT-11s or either of
the Monsoons, and the 3-D imaging isn't as good as any of those little planars,
but that's not what the ProMedia is about. Because, oh mama, does this system
rock! The ProMedia is a take no prisoners system, which, if your remote gaming
rivals could hear it, would have them soiling their shorts and fleeing in
panic. The grin alone is worth the ProMedia's $250 price of admission (submission?).
Between the remarkable BeOS and all this great audio gear, PC multimedia doesn't get any better than this. So go download BeOS 5.0 (the personal edition is free at www.be.com/products/freebeos), strap on a pair of great cans or crank up the sub/Sats, and live large, muchachos.
Copyright 2000, Francis Vale, All Rights Reserved
21st, The VXM Network, http://www.vxm.com