Product review: Theater 2000

Friday, June 30th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Connecting the black box that Spectrum Research calls Theater 2000 to a two-speaker audio/video system was akin to taking wads of cotton out of my ears.

Theater 2000, employing technology that Dolby Labs has certified as "virtual" for surround-soundlike effects, wrung more audio from my old setup than I would have believed.

Yes, it boosted the volume a tad - about 3 decibels, Spectrum says. But a bypass button let me compare the playing of soundtracks with Theater 2000, then without it, proving to myself that I wasn't just hearing things.

With the unit in TruSurround mode, I winced from the piercing clang of metal on metal when hangar doors opened in a video of Independence Day; explosions from alien missiles seemed to rumble not from the two 18-year-old stereo speakers in front of me but from a much wider area.

In 3-D Sound mode, Theater 2000 produced a clarity and richness from CDs that my system previously couldn't touch. The remote allowed me to adjust the music for the best sound according to where I sat in the room.

For the product to work best, Spectrum recommends that the TV and VCR be run through a stereo receiver with a tape monitor, although alternative hook-ups are explained. Theater 2000 connects to a receiver with RCA jacks.

The $199 Theater 2000 isn't the equal of genuine, five-speaker surround-sound systems. Then again, many of those cost hundreds of dollars more. See or dial 1-877-857-3484.