This American Express ad on YouTube runs like an ad for audiophiles. Turntables, tubes, and high-end headphones all get glamour shots. No brands are mentioned, so unless you're already in the know you'll probably never figure them out. Oh well, it's still kinda cool.
The iPhone commercial parody on YouTube with genius filmmaker David Lynch hit the mark for me. His insight about people watching movies on iPhones, I'm paraphrasing--"You think you've seen the movie after watching it on your iPhone, but you'll be cheated. You haven't seen the movie."--could also be applied to music.
Just because you were listening to music while text messaging your boy/girlfriend doesn't mean you've actually heard the music. Exposure to music, art, film, what have you, is not the same as active engagement. It's kind of … Read more
Here's the concept: It's no secret young consumers don't get high-end audio. It just seems like either total BS or an extravagance for the rich. Yes, it can be both of those things, but there's a lot of great, affordable high-end audio that's available to anyone who's truly passionate about music. Here's one quick example, Usher Audio's staggeringly good S-520 speakers that go for $400 a pair (I'll review them in this space soon).
Anyway, a high-end publicist friend of mine proposed this reach out to the youth concept through Rolling … Read more
MA Recordings is a one-man show. Todd Garfinkle is MA Recordings' sole producer, recording and editing engineer. He also handles the label's art direction, which is spectacular. MA is a trans-cultural jazz and classical label, and Garfinkle has been crisscrossing the globe recording music since 1988.
Garfinkle always tries to record in large, acoustically interesting classical concert halls, churches and galleries. "MA" is a Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese character which means "space" or "interval," and Garfinkle believes these acoustic spaces are an intrinsic part of the not only the sound, but also … Read more
The SACD is a "super" CD, it sounds better, offers multichannel, high-resolution sound, and hybrid SACDs are backwards compatible with CD players. Sony initially pushed SACD as a CD replacement and the market yawned. OK, but you would have thought that audiophiles would have, en mass, supported SACD, especially after so many of them bashed CD for its harsh digital sound. SACDs, at least ones sourced from high quality recordings, really do sound better than CD (but a crappy original recording, remastered to SACD, still sounds crappy). No, just a small segment of the audiophile market embraced SACD, … Read more
Chord Electronics aren't exactly a household brand name, but the company has a strong presence in the pro sound field. The British company's electronics have been used at George Lucas' Skywalker Sound, BBC, Abbey Road, Sony NY, Decca, Quad, Dolby Labs, Toshiba-EMI Japan, MCA Studios, CBC, and The Royal Opera House London.
But that's not to say Chord doesn't also cater to the consumer high-end market. The CPA 3000 preamplifier and SPM 1050 power amplifier are the latest designs. When I was an audio salesman I sold Chord and I can tell you that even before … Read more
When I was a kid in the 1960s I was obsessed with the future. The space program was in all its glory, the moon landing was within our grasp, and that, combined with rock music being at its creative peak, what more could a teenage boy ask for? The future looked bright, science would soon feed the starving, cure all disease, and technology would bring prosperity to the entire world. Once those humdrum needs were satisfied we could get to the fun stuff and develop personal flying gear, teleportation machines, and start colonizing other worlds. For kids, at least nerdy … Read more
The Hansen Audio Prince V2 speaker's liquid curves and physical presence demands respect--it all but shouts "this is very serious audiophilia," made for those with ears who appreciate the very best. Well, not just ears, but the means to indulge their vices. The 42 inch high speaker is small enough to fit in an apartment, at least an apartment with floors that can support the 540 pound weight of a pair of these $39,000 speakers.
Fellow Brooklynite Wes Bender, Hansen Audio's Senior Director and National Sales Manager, had me over to audition the speakers. Too bad he didn't have the top of the line King V2s that run $84K a pair, but if that's too rich for you, the Elixirs will set you back a mere $18K. So you see high-end audio is not so different than high-end cars... Lamborghini's new supercar, the Reventon is fourteen times more expensive then the fastest Corvette, but only a little bit faster. That wasn't a problem for Lamborghini, the entire production run sold out before the car was even built. Hansen Audio is likewise pushing the limits of what's possible in speaker design, and that's an inherently expensive proposition. Get over it.
Every aspect of these speakers' design was conceived with performance in mind, so that means not only are most of the drivers designed, engineered, and built in Hansen's Canadian factory; extraordinary efforts were expended on the speaker cabinets to better serve the sound. Which in the case of speakers, the best cabinet is the dead cabinet (acoustically inert), so the only sound you hear with Hansen speakers is the sound created by their drivers. Mass market speakers never get close to that ideal, their cabinets' "sing along" with the drivers, substantially coloring the sound.
The Hansen speakers' paint job also deserves special mention, it's the only element of the design not handled directly by Hansen. It's outsourced to a world famous luxury car manufacturer's factory in Toronto. Painting a pair of speakers takes five days and is a sixteen step process.
The "Hansen Composite Matrix" cabinet is a three-layer composite formulation (proprietary to Hansen) -- each layer is a different thickness from the other. Hansen's "Cloaking Device," the forth and final layer and is applied by hand to the internal cabinet. This sort of no holds barred design fanaticism is what separates high-end from mass-market brands, the drive to make the very best at any cost. … Read more
They're all born with the best of intentions, but only the strong survive.
Formats come and go. Some are barely noticed, and some die a slow, painful death. So now we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD was comparatively brief--unless you're on the losing side, stuck with a slowpoke player and a collection of HD DVD discs. I've already heard from some angry HD DVD supporters. War is tough.
If you're over 35, you probably remember the Betamax vs. VHS wars, which raged from 1975 to … Read more
When I was a kid I was always going to my friends' houses to check out the latest additions to their record collections. We'd sit around playing new records, getting high, eating crappy food, and generally having a great time. As we got older that happened less and less, but we started to trade mix cassettes, and more recently mix CDs. Mixes are hit or miss in terms of finding good new music, but now that everybody has an iPod, it may be the best ever way to tap into my friends' music collections. I figured that if I … Read more