I remember just before the CD was introduced 30 years ago thinking that digital audio would be a giant leap forward in fidelity, but as soon as I heard a few CDs I knew digital wouldn't do a thing to make music sound more realistic. The CD was vastly better than LPs and cassettes in terms of noise and distortion, but voices still didn't sound like they do in real life, and pianos didn't sound as big and powerful as they do in Carnegie Hall. That mystified me; those early digital recordings were compression-free, and I was … Read more
DENVER--The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, held in Denver, was a must-see event for audiophiles young and old. The biggest change this year was a bonanza of affordable high-end products -- mixed in with the usual crazy expensive gear -- along with a good helping of midpriced goodies.
Music Hall had a rather plain-looking little monitor speaker, the Marimba ($349 a pair), that sounded big and truly powerful. I have never heard that level of bass "slam" coming out of such a diminutive speaker; I can't wait to get it in for review.
I was a huge Talking Heads fan and saw the band many times at shows in New York. That was a long time ago. Byrne is still a vital creative force, recording new music, performing, and writing books. He's worked with various media including film, photography, opera, and non-fiction. He's still searching for new creative challenges, which is more than you can say about most aging rock musicians. Byrne's new book, "How Music Works" reads more like an autobiography than a how-to make it in the music business tome.
Byrne is hyper-aware of how technology … Read more
Home audio was strictly a single-speaker pursuit from the dawn of recorded sound through the late 1950s, when stereo changed the way we listen to music. Multichannel home theater's popularity peaked in the late 1990s, but starting with iPods and sound-bar speakers, mono was back in style. More recently sales of battery-powered, mono Bluetooth speakers started to take off. While these lo-fi systems may contain stereo pairs of … Read more
I'm definitely in the figurative 1 percent audiophile group, but I'm not wealthy. I know it might seem old-fashioned, but there was a time not so long ago when all sorts of people listened to music at home over a hi-fi. They weren't necessarily audiophiles, but they had a turntable or CD player, an amplifier or stereo receiver, and a pair of speakers. They also listened in cars, but the home hi-fi was where the bulk of their music collection was. Nowadays audiophiles might be the only people listening -- really listening -- to music at home; … Read more
My preferred and better-sounding alternative to wireless audio streaming is a simple plug-and-play solution: it's a wire. There are no hassles with pairing, synching, dropouts, or glitches, and a skinny wire can get the job done with the best possible fidelity. The wire is also "backwards" compatible with any portable device with a headphone jack, and any iPod speaker, hi-fi system, sound bar, or computer speaker you already own! Sit on your couch with your phone or tablet and play your tunes, with a wire running to the speakers.
Sure, if you never sit in one spot, … Read more
John Seaber started JDS Labs in 2007 with the cMoyBB headphone amp, which is based on an open-source design. Seaber revamped the cMoy's power supply and volume control, added a DC power jack, and a special bass boost switch. The tiny amp sold well and got the company off the ground. The cMoyBB is still being made, in an Altoids tin box, and currently sells for $60. Seaber is 26 and has an electrical engineering degree from Missouri S&T University.
The Compact Disc format changed the way we listened to music in the 1980s. Sony's first player, the CDP-101, went on sale on October 1, 1982, in Japan, and six months later here in the U.S. At $1,000 it was pretty expensive, but supplies were limited, so every one sold for full price. Before the CD arrived, the mainstream music market was split between vinyl albums/singles and cassettes, and strangely enough, it wasn't just CD's sound that won over the masses, it was digital audio's no-wear durability and noise-free sound that drew raves. … Read more
There was a time when Sony was the first name in consumer electronics. The company's Trinitron TVs dominated the TV market for decades. In 1975, Sony's Betamax was the first widely adapted consumer video recorder format. The Walkman hit the market in 1979 and changed the way people listened to music, creating the personal audio market category. In 1982 the CD, which the company developed jointly with Philips, changed the way we listened to music even more. Sony extended its reach when it purchased CBS Records in 1988 and Columbia Pictures in 1989, and scored a triumph in … Read more
Face it, most of today's shiny new gizmos will be hopelessly out-of-date in a few years and taking up space in landfills not so long after that. The iPhone 5 may be a marvel of engineering and marketing genius, but like iPhones of years past it's doomed to be cast aside when legions of Apple fanboys and girls stand in line to buy the iPhone 6 sometime next year. And so it goes.