Aktimate's Desktop Mini

Although I didn't get a chance to audition them—Roy Hall tried to ply me and just about everyone present with Scotch or something to get me to linger, but this extremely moderate drinker decided I could do a better job if I didn't stumble from room to room, dragging cables behind me—I was quite intrigued by the AktiMate Mini ($695/pair) in the Music Hall room. This Australian baby, engineered by folks from Creek Audio and Epos, is an active speaker, similar to the popular AudioEngines, and the master unit is equipped with an iPod dock as well as stereo RCA phono and mini-jack inputs. There is even an RCA stereo out to enable connection to a subwoofer, as well as a volume remote.

The newer AktiMate Maxi ($999) includes an internet radio, internal Wi-Fi capability, FM radio, three auxiliary inputs, iPod dock, and a USB host socket that accommodates music sticks and MP3 players. It even has an alarm clock (though it won't warm your coffee in the morning), and is equipped to play your computer's music files via Airport Express.