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
If you read CD or LP credits you've probably seen "Mastered by Greg Calbi" a bunch of times, but don't have a clue exactly what Calbi and other mastering engineers do. I don't blame you--it's a mystery to most music lovers. When I heard that Calbi was going to cut some LP masters I made arrangements to drop by Sterling Sound and watch the master masterer at work. He's mastered thousands of records--everybody from Bob Dylan to Talking Heads to The Roots, to the High School Musical soundtrack, and one of my favorite … Read more
If your typical high-end home theater with rows of plush seats, velvet wallpaper, and popcorn machines offers Cadillac levels of performance and luxury, then Jeremy Kipnis' $6 million ultimate home theater is more like a fire-breathing Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, the fastest production Ferrari ever built.
This home theater is all about aggressively advancing the state of the art of picture and sound presentation. Yes, it's comfortable and beautiful, but its prime directive is a quest for the very best. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is overlooked. Kipnis won't settle for second best. … Read more
UPDATE: I just heard the sad news that Future Legend will be closing its doors later this month. I have personally bought more than 200 CDs over the years from that little shop, but now I'll have to go elsewhere for my weekly fix. If you're in NYC drop by and pick up bargains, starting today, 2/6/08, Future Legend will begin selling all merchandise at 50% off the sticker price.
I want to tell you about my favorite record store, Future Legend. I drop in every week to see what's new, and talk about music … Read more
Do you buy CDs, LPs, MP3s, iTunes, or 8 track cartridges?
If so, do you buy them from Amazon or other online retailer, brick and mortar chain store, or local "record" shop?
Do you regularly buy used CDs or LPs? And rarely buy new CDs or LPs?
Do you subscribe to a subscription service, if so, which one? Rhapsody, Yahoo, Napster, etc?
If you really like a tune you heard from a subscription service do you buy it? Do you buy individual tracks or complete albums?
Or do you get your tunes from a P2P like Morpheus or … Read more