So how was Christmas? Mine was excellent. The family got together, feasted, and showered gifts on the kids. Jr. Damage got more toys than he knows what to do with, including just about every Bob the Builder merchandising product known to man. As for me, I got a set of SoundWorks Digital speakers to replace my failing MidiLands. The SoundWorks Digital isn't the most expensive speaker system around, but it's darned good. It's more than big enough to fill the room here with sound, and it's one of the few digital systems that doesn't insist on polluting the room with four or more satellite speakers with wires strung everywhere.

Although Creative Labs (cue Imperial March) bought out Cambridge Soundworks a few years back, the coaxial SPDIF input on these speakers works perfectly with my Turtle Beach Santa Cruz sound card. I know some folks will say it's best to do the digital/analog conversion on the sound card rather than at the amp, but I have to disagree here. These puppies sound great, and they're incredibly free of noise and hiss. I find myself cranking up the volume way past where it should be during song intros, because there's no noise. I didn't realize how much I was keying in on noise to choose volume levels until the noise was gone. Not that I miss it.

I also scored an Antec SX-635 case. The 635 is pretty much just a smaller version of the SX-830 or SX-1030, both of which garnered rare 11 scores on our world-famous 11-point scale. I have wanted to quiet down the DamageBox for a while now, and I finally decided that its SuperMicro SC-750A case was just too freaking huge. It's not easy to get into a Pee Cee and tinker when you need a forklift in order to turn it on its side. And fourteen fans is probably too many; the B-52 effect does get old after a while. The SX-635 is smaller, quieter, and endowed with Antec's marvelous design.

I'm trying to decide whether to stock it with a nice overclocker's KT266A mobo or to throw in a dually Tiger MP. Ah, decisions.

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