The Greenest Audio Systems

This has been a breakthrough year for green electronics, but audio equipment is lagging behind a bit. As you’ll soon discover in our review below, there’s only a smattering of products that are Energy Star certified. Fewer still are those products certified to be free of toxic materials, or packaged in green manner. Perhaps audio manufacturers need to take a cue from the computer manufacturers who’ve made many more inroads into green electronic territory.

iPod Docks

The Vers 2 iPod Dock

Wooden iPod Speakers and Dock: Vers 2

The Vers 2 iPod Dock is the greenest and most efficient piece of audio equipment I’ve come across. This U.S.-based company is a model for other companies to follow. See more details in this previous post on the Vers 2.

Pure I-10 iPod Dock

This iPod dock is almost as green as the Vers 2. The i-10 is part of an EcoPlus range of products from the UK-based company Pure. These products are energy efficient when in use and when on standby. They’re also made with recycled materials where possible, and are finished with water-based varnish.

The packaging, too, has been given some thought. They ship with minimal packing to reduce waste and shipping emissions, and it’s made of 70 per cent recycled cardboard as well. The manuals are printed on 100 per cent recycled paper using soy ink. The company has opened itself up to criticism and advice, telling us that it welcomes further suggestions being sent to ecoplus@pure.com.

The following products are part of the EcoPlus range: Move, ONE, PocketDAB 1500, lan DX-40, lan RV-40, EVOKE-1S, EVOKE-2XT, EVOKE-3, Oasis, TEMPUS-1S, Siesta, Chronos II, Chronos CD, Chronos iDock and DMX-20.


Knoll GSZ67 Amplifier

The Knoll GSZ67 receiver may be the most energy efficient receiver available. This receiver won the Electronic House’s 2008 Product of the Year Award. It’s a multi-room controller that allows you to plug in 7 different audio sources (e.g. an iPod, CD or Satellite Radio and play a different audio source in up to six different places in your home.

Unlike other multi-zone amplifiers, the GSZ67 greatly reduces power consumption (it uses less than 1 watt of power while in standby mode). It was the first product of its kind to be Energy Star rated.

It has circuitry that individually shuts down power to unused channels. This saves electricity and ventilation costs (for heated amplifiers). The Class A/B amp produces 50 watts per channel at 8 ohms and 70 at 4 ohms. The channels that are “off” are truly off, not in “standby” or “mute,” and there’s more reserve power for the stereo channels.

Samsung SWA-4000 Wireless Amplifier

The Samsung SWA-4000 Wireless Rear Stereo Amplifier is an Energy Star amplifier that allows you set up wireless surround-sound audio. This amplifier eliminates the need to run wiring from the back of your receiver to the rear speakers located across the room. It’s compatible with Samsung’s wireless-ready home theater receivers. It’s priced at $150.


Nuvo Essentia E6G Amplifier / Receiver

Similar to the Knoll system, the Nuvo Essentia EG6 is a multi-room sound system. It earned the Energy Star seal of approval by using less than 1 watt of energy in standby mode. The Essentia EG6’s amplifier and up to 12 keypads shut down completely when not in use, while keeping “one eye open” to snap back into action when a button is pushed. It was the first product in its category to earn the Energy Star label.

The Nuvo Essentia EG6 is available from Amazon.

Pioneer VSC 1018AH-K AV Receiver

The Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K is a new 7.1 AV receiver. It’s one of the few receivers that have been certified by Energy Star. It uses only 0.72 watts in stand-by mode.

It features 130 Watts / channel of power and 3 x HDMI inputs. It can decode high-definition audio formats including Dolby TrueHD and dts HD-MA.

It’s available from Amazon.

Home Theater Equipment

ZVOX 415 Home Theater System

The ZVOX 415 is a true single-cabinet surround sound system. The cabinet contains three full-range 3.25-inch speakers, a passive radiator, an amplifier and a “PhaseCue” virtual surround sound system along with a 4-inch powered subwoofer, all built into a single cabinet. The ZVOX is also energy efficient — it uses an external power supply with over 88 percent efficiency, and it’s Energy Star rated. The suggested retail selling price of the ZVOX 415 is $400.

Panasonic SC-PT650 Home Theater System

The Panasonic SC-PT650 is an affordable home theater system that is Energy Star compliant. It uses just 0.5 watts when in standby mode. It features a 5-DVD changer, EZ-Sync HDAVI control with HDMI connection, and an included Panasonic universal dock for iPod playback and recharging.

Other Panasonic home theaters systems in this range are also Energy Star compliant, namely: SC-PT750, SC-PT950 and SC-PT105.

Pioneer Elite AV Receiver SC-07

The Pioneer Elite AV Receiver is a high-end receiver that was recently Energy Star rated. This 7.1 Channel receive features 140 watts of power, and it handles internal decoding of DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-HD High Resolution, Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus, plus support for 12-bit Deep Color and a Faroudja video scaler. It’s available from Amazon.


Escalante Design Speakers

Escalante Designs makes these very green Fremont speakers. The speaker cabinets are made of 100% recycled wood board with a low-VOC glue, no formaldehyde and AFM Safecoat finish (non-toxic paint). The speaker grills are made with recycled paper and covered with organic cotton and recycled polyester fabrics from Patagonia. These are only for audiophiles at $3500-$6500 per pair, but the reviews for these speakers are quite impressive.

Pioneer S-LX70W Speaker

The Pioneer Kuro S-LX70W subwoofer is only the Energy Star rated subwoofer. Its only available in Europe. The Kuro S-LX70W uses 90 watts when in use, and only 1 watt when in standby.

Comments 1

  1. thanks for you best of 2008 series, most interesting!

    i think T-amp’s require a mention here with their 85+ efficiency, stunning sound and low power. if you match these with the right speakers you can get sound to blow away £1000 & 100w per channel amps with £150 & 20w amplifier. i use a home made amp4 kit from 41hz.com, but shall be upgrading to the kingrex on audiomagus.com soon. check the reviews for the super budget sonic impact – http://www.tnt-audio.com/ampli/t-amp_e.html

    i’m using fostex speakers made from banana fibre which is encased in Hemp (Zelfo).

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