Is an album a more substantial work of art than a single? Or is a well-crafted single all we need? There were always singles, but in the days before the Internet, fans were sometimes "forced" to buy albums to get the music they wanted, even when most of the album's tunes weren't great. The hugely entertaining "The Great Debate: Singles vs. Albums" held last Monday at the New Music Seminar in NYC covered the issue in depth.
I get to hear a lot of headphones. Don't be jealous, most of them are different shades of awful. Some are so bad I yank them off my head in a few seconds, some are just cheap copies of famous headphones, and some are built like crap. The Griffin Technology WoodTones jumped out from the pack: they're beautiful, they're comfortable, and they sound great.
True to their name they're available in Beech, Sapele, and Walnut. Handling these $99.99 headphones, I found the real wood earcups make for a very different feel than the more typical … Read more
Headed to the beach? The campground? The shower? Gotta love a battery-powered Bluetooth speaker for those and other destinations.
But which one? Jawbone's Jambox is arguably the best-known, but at $129.99 (down from $179.99), it feels a little pricey. Thankfully, there are more affordable alternatives.
Like this one: Today only, and while supplies last, Tanga has the Urge Basics Soundbrick portable Bluetooth speaker for $33.99, plus $2.99 for shipping. It's available in your choice of colors: white, blue, red, and pink.
Urge Basics? Nope, I never heard of 'em either. But check this out: … Read more
VPI has been making turntables in New Jersey since the early 1980s when Ronald Reagan was president, and everyone thought the CD would kill the LP in a few years. Well, VPI is still there and is currently experiencing a sales boom.
Harry Weisfeld has been at the helm since Day One, but he's about to step down and let his son Matt run the company. Harry will continue to design turntables and tonearms. He makes prototypes, listens to his handiwork, and then goes back and tweaks the design. I spotted lots of failed designs all over the factory, … Read more
I remember the very first Bang & Olufsen product I ever saw, a Beogram 4000 turntable. It was lightyears ahead of the competition's look and feel in the early 1970s. The design hasn't dated one bit -- no wonder it's on permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
It's been ages since I checked out a B&O, so I decided to start small with their brand new BeoPlay H3 in-ear headphone ($249). It's a handsome enough design, but nowhere as striking as B&O's ultrasleek speaker … Read more
I've reviewed a number of portable headphone amps over the years, but they just took the analog output of a phone or MP3 player and made it sound better. Ideally, you want to totally bypass the player's digital converters, but up until recently that was a very expensive proposition. The V-Moda Vamp Verza cuts the price to less than half, and works with iPhones, iPads, and iPods, as well as Androids and computers. I'm really impressed with the little Vamp Verza's sound.
The look and concept were designed by V-Moda's Val Kolton in Milan, Italy, … Read more
The Micromega MyZic is the first headphone amp I've tested that's made in France. The amp shares its chassis and design with the Micromega My Series of components: a phono preamp, wireless streamer, and an integrated amplifier that will come out later this year. The MyZic's street price runs $269.
MyZic sounds like a bona-fide high-end component, but some buyers may quibble with the ABS plastic construction. It seems rugged enough, and it's certainly lightweight. Connectivity is limited to just the basics: a high quality Neutrik 6.3mm headphone jack on the front panel, and stereo … Read more
Is there still a place in the world for the lowly MP3 player? Absolutely there is. It's a great companion for the gym, the hiking trail, the 5K you're training for, and so on.
And for 20 bucks? How can you go wrong? Today only, and while supplies last, DealFisher has the refurbished SanDisk Sansa Fuze+ 8GB MP3 player for $19.99, shipped. I'm not sure I've ever seen this particular player priced this low.
Indeed, this is not the tiny Sansa Clip you often see selling in this price range, but rather the more robust (… Read more
I've heard most of the world's best headphones, but somehow missed the Sony MDR-R10. Only 2,000 were made. Production started in 1989, and at $2,500 a pair, it was the most expensive headphone in the world. The headphone cognoscenti scooped them all up years ago, and right now MDR-R10s rarely come up for sale. When they do, they usually go for more than $6,000!
The MDR-R10's 50mm "Bio-Cellulose Dome Diaphragms" are credited with producing the headphones' superclear treble and oh-so supple bass. The headphone also sported real lambskin-covered ear pads, and the … Read more
Paying for recorded music is a voluntary act -- you can get almost any tune you want on demand from streaming music services or YouTube. Of course, musicians wind up making little or no money from this arrangement, but thanks to crowd-funding, bands can get paid in advance of making a record. At least initially there are no freeloaders, so the band really has an incentive to record! The same Internet that made it harder than ever to make a living from recorded music has made it possible for bands to directly connect to their fans.