I remember the first time I saw the Bose Acoustimass 2 channel system way back in the early 90s and how impressed I was by it. Until I listened to it for a long while and decided I didn’t really care for the sound quality. I’m still impressed by the design and all, but just need more oomph in my living room (otherwise my cantankery upstairs neighbour will have less to complain about). When I saw the NXT Insignia system, I assumed it too would be sorely lack in sound depth and quality. Even though their SoundVu laptop and Kensington iPod dock were both impressive, I just assumed that the scene in The Return of the King where they light the beacons (you know it totally made the movie) would leave me wanting more. I was mistaken.
The Insignia line is from Best Buy, and it is a “home theater in a box” (yes, HTIB is acceptable). This means you buy the box, and get all the pieces you need for a home surround sound experience. Typically, all the cable either use proprietary connectors or have colored ends, in an attempt to idiot-proof the setup process. Took me a good 3 minutes to get the whole system in place, plus another minute to hide some of the wires.
I tried the unit with several DVDs and even a few CDs to test the sound quality. I then did some comparisons with my Definitive tower speakers and Velodyne subwoofer. While my existing setup ‘won’ the test, it should be mentioned that I could’ve bought THREE Insignia HTIB kits for the price of JUST my subwoofer! The other key thing to mention is the Insignia kit was by no means a lightweight. The sound quality was great full of rich, vibrant sound. Dialogue was clear, and it functioned great for high-action, tense drama, and the music CDs sounded nice as well.
The Insignia system comes with 5 speakers, all about the size of a paperback book. They can easily be mounted to a wall, and would leave a very aesthetic appearance, especially if paired with a wall-mounted flat-screen TV. If you don’t want to mount them, they also come with little stands to prop the speakers up. One minor warning for the extremely clumsy: the speakers can be dented, so try not to drop them on something pointy.
All-in-all, I was very impressed with the Insignia Home Theater System. If you have a friend who is still living in a hole with only 2-channel audio (a.k.a. “stereophonic”), this might be the perfect holiday gift. In fact, if it weren’t for my ridiculous needs to have about 11 things hooked up in my living room, I’d have probably switched to it myself (it would most certainly make the wife a lot happier with the living room setup).