Pet Sounds

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CANTON GLE SERIES HOME THEATER SPEAKER SYSTEM ($3,046)

As tested, this system comprised a pair of GLE 490 floor-standing towers, a GLE 455 center speaker, a pair of GLE 420 surrounds, and an AS 85 SC powered subwoofer. The 1-inch soft-dome tweeter found in all the speakers employs a fabric dome, but this new-and-improved version also uses a finer silk material, and the satellites’ midrange/bass drivers use the same aluminum cone material found in Canton’s high-end speakers. The speakers sport a very gently curved front baffle, and the speakers all feature attractive punched-metal grilles. Each cabinet’s back panel is finished as nicely as the sides. These are particularly handsome-looking speakers; with their aluminum cones clearly visible behind the silvery metal grilles, they’ll fit in with the décor of any contemporary living room. Quick-release clips can be easily attached to the grilles in case of fights, but in testing this problem didn’t arise. The insertion of a wheel was a simple matter of attaching it via the rear panel using a screw. Fans of wire enclosures may well be tempted by the easy wipe interior, and there’s no danger of getting sawdust all over the carpet because the holes in the grille are too small. Customers report that the delivery service was very fast.

Pros:
Handsome, attractive appearance
Easy clean
Quick-release clips
Fast delivery

Cons
:
Too small for rabbits

DEFINITIVE TECHNOLOGY MYTHOS SUPERTOWER HOME THEATER SPEAKER SYSTEM ($4,616)

While it might not rank as high on the innovation scale as its predecessors, the Mythos STS follows a similar trajectory by providing a sensible next step for the line. Def Tech has shrunk the ST’s cabinet down to a 47½-inch height, and is offering the new speaker at a more affordable $3,000-a-pair price. To round out my test system, the company bundled the STS L/R pair with its brand-new Mythos Nine for a center channel and a pair of Mythos Gems for surrounds. Total cost for this package comes to $4,357 ($4,616 with Gem speaker stands), a very fair price when you consider that you get a pair of powered subwoofers thrown in free when you buy STS SuperTowers.

The STS’s black aluminum cabinet has a svelte, stealthy, look, and the scale is friendlier than the company’s more imposing ST model, which tops out at 51½ inches. The base is particularly elegant. Its compact footprint and beveled edges make for a seamless visual blend with the speaker, while the dark granite material offers sturdy support. The STS’s top section, meanwhile, contains a pair of 4½-inch midrange drivers flanking a 1-inch aluminum-dome tweeter coated with a ceramic material to inhibit treble edginess. In testing, it was surprisingly simple to attach a plastic tank, which is great, because you can then add lots of digging material for your pet to enjoy, which helps provide a more natural environment. The cabinet itself has plenty of space for a stainless steel feeding bowl, tubes and a drinking bottle.

Pros:
Compact size, suitable for smaller rooms
Easily modified
Elegant appearance

Cons:
Some might find the design a little too conventional


DYNAUDIO EXCITE HOME THEATER SPEAKER SYSTEM ($4,650)

The Danish count among their national treasures really good speakers, including those from Dynaudio. The company’s latest Excite line reached us in the form of the compact 5.1-channel system reviewed here. All four of the Dynaudio models in the system – the X16 front/left speakers, the X22 center, the X12 surrounds, and the Sub 250 subwoofer – are perfectly conventional in appearance but have quality materials and construction throughout. Two highlights are their unusual metal-finish baffles and the meticulously executed, lacquer-filled real-wood veneers (black, cherry, maple, and rosewood finishes are all available).

I put the X16s on my usual stands, which yielded a tweeter height of about 39 inches – pretty much ideal in my layout. The X22 center arrives with a simple bolt-up metal stand, and the small X12 surrounds went on my usual high sidewall shelves angled toward the rear wall, and I placed the Sub 250 in my proven location left of and behind the left front speaker. All of the Excites have single pairs of high-grade multiway binding posts (from WBT). The extra height placement makes these speakers particularly suitable for chinchillas, which like lots of space, and the wall mounts provide them with comfortable resting places, while the metal rims on the surrounds prevent them from being gnawed. Putting a safety lock on the X22 center prevents accidental opening, and the high quality metal finish ensures your speaker system will be around for a good while.

Pros:
High-quality materials and construction
Provision of extra resting space
Security issues easily resolved

Cons:
Does not come with chinchilla bath
No feeding bowl


SVS MTS HOME THEATER SPEAKER SYSTEM ($4,400)

SVS has gone up-market with its newest and highest-priced lineup to date, which consists of the MTS-01 towers, MCS-01 center, and MBS-01 surrounds. SVS is making a pretty big deal about the tweeter that’s used in this system, a new soft-dome unit from Denmark’s Scanspeak, and its leading-edge features include the use of an array of six small magnets in place of the single large one found in most tweeters. Of course, any customers worried about the effect of magnets on small pets will immediately want to remove them as soon as they get the system home and chuck them in the bin.

The MTS line’s cabinet design is strictly conventional. This is the kind of construction that was standard 30 or 40 years ago, with solid, well-braced enclosures made from heavy wood-composite panels. Though biggish and boxy, these speakers are nonetheless handsome, nicely finished in real wood veneers and constructed with obvious care. The speakers also have some contemporary touches, like a cunning grille arrangement held in place by invisible magnets, which owners will also want to replace with ordinary hinges. The grille is very strong and much better than you’ll find on most ordinary, conventional hutches that even the most placid rabbit gets through in a few days. There is loads of room for small hamsters, however, and a wheel is easy to install. However, the towers are potentially dangerous, and some users report that their hamsters have climbed right to the top and then fallen all the way to the bottom because there’s no central support structure. It’s a sensible idea to construct a ramp from top to bottom to avoid bumps and bruises.

Pros
:
Solid, well-braced design
Handsome appearance with veneer finish
Strong, secure grille
Very roomy for smaller pets

Cons:
Rather boxy appearance. Customers might ask themselves why they aren’t just getting a conventional hutch
Several pets plunged to their deaths


THIEL AUDIO SCS4 SPEAKERS AND SS1 SUBWOOFER ($5,380)

The SCS4, as its name suggests, is the fourth generation of Thiel’s Small Coherent Source (SCS) line. The twist with this latest version is that by having most of the components made in China (only the final product assembly and testing are done in Lexington), the SCS4’s $1,980-per-pair price undercuts that of the older, now-discontinued SCS3 by more than $800.

With a 6½-inch metal-cone woofer incorporating a coaxially mounted 1-inch metal-dome tweeter, the SCS4 is designed to work equally well whether it’s positioned vertically on a stand, lying on its side, or mounted up high. Twin ports flanking the drivers continue the symmetrical layout, while a removable metal-mesh grille partially hides the drivers. The cabinet has a solid-aluminum baffle for rigidity, while the sides and back use 1-inch-thick medium-density fiberboard with an especially attractive real-wood veneer in natural or dark cherry, or black ash. The flexibility of this design means that it can be used for rabbits, rats, mice, gerbils, or hamsters, but cat owners may only want to use it for transportation purposes. A safety-door lock is easy to attach, and the metal-mesh grille should ensure the system lasts.

Pros:
Easy to clean
Flexible design
Attractive appearance

Cons:
No corner toilet, feeding bowl, or drinking bottle
Rather expensive, all things considered.

POLK AUDIO RTi A SERIES HOME THEATER SPEAKER SYSTEM ($1,750)

The Polks’ basic appearance is simple but attractive, with nothing cheap-looking about their smoothly curving real-wood finishes (vinyl for the subwoofer) or knit grilles. The RTi A3 bookshelf speakers and the CSi A4 center channel are straightforward two-ways. Ditto the FXi A4 surrounds. The DSW Pro Series 500 sub is fairly large for a 10-incher, rather heavy, and surprisingly full-featured, given its modest price. All of the Polk satellites include wall-hanging facilities, and the dual-ported A3’s rear vents incorporate a nifty wall-standoff that Polk calls a PowerPort.

This is what we call real value for money. Nothing fussy about the design, but softly shaped and a good, roomy size, with a large living area that can be shut off when it gets a bit cold. The grille provides plenty of fresh air that freshens up the living space, and the wood is of such good quality that there’s no danger of splinters or conflagration. The speakers look like they’ve been painted with animal-friendly wood preserve, too, a really nice touch from Polk. Customers are advised to get a winter cover, however, so they don’t come down one winter’s morning and find their pets stuck to the metal.

Pros:
Great value for money
Healthy living environment for pets
Animal-friendly materials
Comes with PowerPort

Cons:
Requires extra expense on winter cover ($4,780)
Rather heavy. Squashed one gerbil.

Home Theater Speaker System reviews from the May 2010 issue of Animal Homes & Gardens.

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